Test the spirits
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3 CSB
John from the previous verse in 1 John 3:24 mentioned by name the Holy Spirit, “The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he has given us.” And from our text, the beginning of Chapter 4, John continues to describe to believers the role of the indwelling Spirit. He is the One who attests to the authenticity and witness of those who are truly God’s children. It is the Spirit of God that guides believers to not be deceived by the spirit of lies. It is Him who establishes the believers to distinguish between what is true and what is falsehood. It was presented in the previous devotionals that there were false teachers that infiltrated the fellowship of believers, teaching false doctrines about salvation, placing seeds of doubts within the listeners. John here now challenges the believers, his “dear friends,” to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God.” The spirt here can refer to those who speak on behalf of a prophet or teacher, which can either be real that is from the Holy Spirit or a demon, depending on whether or not this individual is speaking on behalf of the Lord. But once these teachers promote the doctrine that Jesus was not fully human and fully God, then such teaching should be rejected for it is not from God. This is what verse 3 says, “every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.” Essentially, John gave the believers a litmus test: does a teacher believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man? If not, his teaching is to be rejected. Now, this is not the only test that should be applied for there may be teachers that believe that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, and yet have other beliefs that are against proper theology that would qualify them as a false teacher, and as such as John says, “have gone out into the world.” Jesus said Himself that there will be many that will claim to have had a relationship with Him and that were on His behalf, and yet, never had a genuine relationship with Him. “‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven’” (Matthew 7:21). For us, we must be discerning of the truth, being wary of false doctrine, using the Word of God as our guide.
Isaac De Guzman