I John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
We shouldn’t believe everything we hear. Here are ways to test it. Check the person’s words with what the Bible says. Do that by keeping your Bible open and following what they say. If it can’t be backed up by the Bible, beware. Is that person committed to the body of believers being ministered to? Is he concerned about them? It will be taught/preached out of love, not bitterness or hatred. Otherwise, the Bible calls them hirelings. Also check out their lifestyle. Do they live what they preach? We are to be shown what to do, not just told. Then look at the fruit of their ministry. Does the church grow in the Lord; are the lost being reached? The most important way is told here by John. Do they teach that Christ is fully God and fully human? Jesus was not just a good teacher. He left the portals of heaven. He’s always been. He is God through the person of Jesus Christ and he entered this world through a virgin’s womb. He became God and man.
Some people believe everything they hear. Don’t be gullible. Our flesh wants to feel good. Don’t fall for that. False teachers tell people what they want to hear. That’s like a politician wanting to get votes. Preaching about hell won’t get any popularity, but it’s in the Bible. Sinners who don’t accept Jesus as Savior will go there. We are to test the spirits. Examine the claim. Put them to the test. Only if it lines up with the Bible are you to receive them. In Acts 17:11 Luke said they searched the scriptures daily. Don’t accept things at face value. Search the Book. Examine the person and the message.
Test the teacher/preacher. Where do they stand on the reincarnation of Jesus? If they don’t believe in the virgin birth, don’t give them the time of day. That may sound crazy, but God is able to make that happen. People met in homes in that day. John said don’t let them in to teach. Don’t pat them on the back and say “God bless you.”
Verse 4 is the real reason for our victory. It’s not on our own but because God dwells among us. We battle with sin and temptation every day. I battle. Sometimes I fail. When I want to do what I shouldn’t and I don’t do what I should, I fail. Paul said he battled with the same thing. I long for the day when sin will be gone. Jesus won the battle. He’s our victor. I’m an overcomer through Jesus Christ!
Test the crowd. Look at verse 5. A large crowd doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Every movement is not of God. Some teach the world’s philosophies. The world doesn’t understand the things of God. We’re here to build the kingdom of God.
We can know these things? Follow what the Book says and you won’t go wrong.