2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
FALSE PREACHERS PRESENTED BY STEVEN SCHILLER
So far in this epistle, John has discussed what our relationship should be (or not be) in regards to:
God - 1Jn 1:5-6
1Jn 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Jesus - 1Jn 2:3-4
1Jn 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1Jn 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
The things in the world - 1Jn 2:15
1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him
Sin - 1Jn 3:4-5
1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
1Jn 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
Our brethren - 1Jn 3:11
1Jn 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
As chapter four begins, we find John exhorting us concerning a very real danger: false prophets! - cf. 1Jn 4:1,2,3,4,5-6
1Jn 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.
1Jn 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1Jn 4:3 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.
1Jn 4:4 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.
1Jn 4:5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
1Jn 4:6 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.
[With another term of endearment ("beloved"), then, John exhorts his brethren to...]
TEST THE SPIRITS! (1)
"DO NOT BELIEVE EVERY SPIRIT"
I.e., don't believe everything you hear, or everyone who claims to be from God
How foolish it would be to do so should be obvious...
We would be in a constant state of confusion (believing one thing one moment, and another thing the next)
We would be easily misled by those teaching error
"TEST THE SPIRITS, WHETHER THEY ARE OF GOD"
The word "test" ("try", KJV) means...
To examine, prove scrutinize (Thayer)
To see whether a thing is genuine or not
So don't just accept what some teacher or preacher is saying; examine what is being taught
Those who have this attitude are highly commended in the Scriptures
The Bereans - Ac 17:11
Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
The Ephesians - Re 2:2
Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: BECAUSE MANY FALSE PROPHETS HAVE GONE OUT INTO THE WORLD"
This is the reason we must "test the spirits"
Others have also warned us of this fact...
Jesus - Mt 7:15
Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Peter - 2Pe 2:1,2-3
2Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
2Pe 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
2Pe 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
Paul - 2Co 11:13,14-15
2Co 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
2Co 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
2Co 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
So we must examine, prove, and scrutinize those who would teach us!
Even though some teachers might consider it insubordinate
Even though some might not like the possible controversy it can cause
Whether one teaches in our classes, pulpits, radio, newspapers, etc., we must "test the spirits!"
[But HOW shall we test the spirits? In our text, John shares with us several tests...]
THE TESTS (2-3, 6)
DO THEY CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST HAS COME IN THE FLESH?
Verses 2-3 are best understood in light of the Gnostic-like errors that were prevalent at that time...
In which some denied Jesus Christ actually came in the flesh - 2Jn 7
2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Whose doctrine was leading many astray, possibly because the false teachers claimed inspiration by the Spirit
But those who would teach such falsehood are not led by the Spirit of God, but possess the spirit of the Antichrist! - again 2Jn 7
DO THEY LISTEN TO THE APOSTLES OF CHRIST?
Verse 6 reveals how we can distinguish between "the spirit of truth" and "the spirit of error"
Those who truly know God listen to the apostles
Those who are not of God will reject them
I.e., does the teaching agree with what the apostles teach?
For Jesus taught that to receive them was to receive Him and God - Jn 13:20
Thus the early church continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine - Ac 2:42
For they recognized their words as the commands of the Lord - 1Co 14:37
And even the apostles recognized their fellow-apostles' writings as equivalent to inspired scriptures - e.g., 2 Pe 3:15-16
-- Therefore, those who are of God will heed the apostles, and agree with their teaching!
This is a test that we can easily apply today on virtually every issue!
But it implies knowledge and understanding of the apostles' doctrine on our part
Yet that should not be a problem if we follow the example of the first church in Jerusalem - Ac 2:42
THOUGH NOT MENTIONED BY JOHN, HERE ARE TWO MORE "TESTS"...
The test of Deut 18:21-22
To be used when a person claims to be a prophet of God
If their prophecy fails, they are shown to be a false prophet
The test of Deut 13:1,2,3-4
To be used when wonders are performed, and prophecies seem to be fulfilled
If their doctrine contradicts what God has already revealed, they are to be rejected (this is akin to what John wrote)
In the midst of these warnings to "test the spirits", John provides some comforting words in verses 4-5
By being of God (because they have heeded the words of His apostles)...
They can overcome the false prophets
For the One in them is greater than he (Satan?) who is in the world
Don't be surprised to see the world following after the false prophets...
For the false prophets are of the world and speak in a way as to appeal to the world
Therefore don't be deterred by the "apparent success" of the false teachers (size and numbers are not a proper measure of truth!)
In view of the proliferation of religions and various doctrines bombarding us today, all in the name of Christ and the Spirit of God, the exhortation of John is very relevant and important for us:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God"
Are you continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine so you can properly apply the test?
GOD HAS COME IN THE FLESH TO SAVE ALL MEN, DO YOU WANT TO BE SAVED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION?