“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
1 John 4:1
This verse may sound a little New Age-y, but the idea behind it appears many times in Scripture.
To be clear, John is not instructing believers to engage intimately with any Spirit but God’s. And he certainly isn’t suggesting that we try to contact and get to know more about them through seances, etc. God specifically mentions divination as a sinful practice in the Old Testament law, and He hasn’t changed His stance on that.
So then what is John telling us to do here? He is calling us not to practice divination, but discernment – the ability judge rightly, in this case about Godly things. This is how he continues on in verses 2 and 3:
“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
Simply put, John is saying that when we receive some sort of clear, strong message, whether through someone else or our own thoughts, we need to make sure it’s coming from the right Source. In John’s time, and even more so in ours, many different ideas and beliefs are proclaimed as truths. If we’re not careful, we can be led astray without realizing until we’re heading down the wrong path.
The great news is that God desires us to grow in discernment, and gives us tools to help us become wiser. Going to the Bible must be the first step, and the others can be used to add support. I call this my 3-point check:
1. His Word – is a message confirmed or contradicted by Scripture?
2. Prayer – does lifting a message up bring clarity or uncertainty?
3. Mature fellow believers – do brothers and sisters agree or disagree with the message?
Like the Berean church, we can be known as people who are willing to make sure we’re being taught God’s truth, not somebody else’s. And we need each other to stay on the right track.
Click here for more info about Heather and Worship Walk Ministries.