NOT BELIEVE EVERY SPIRIT!
1 Beloved, 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. 2 By this you know
the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has
come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess
Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which
you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because
greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are
from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world
listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us;
he who is not from God does not listen to us By this we know the spirit
of truth and the spirit of error.
There is maybe something that we should be aware of that we aren’t,
- with being of one spirit. You and me, who have taken our
refuge in Jesus, we are of one spirit. Either we are of God’s Spirit,
just as those John is writing to here: “He who is in you,” – or we are
of that spirit, as he also mentions here: “- he who is in the world”
(v.4), “- the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience,”
as Paul describes it (Eph.2:2).
Notice especially what he says about that spirit, it is now
working in them! It’s not just a talk about a kind of attitude; -
it is no dead spirit, but an alive, conscious and active spirit. It is
the spirit of “the chief over the power of the air,” as he is also
called, that is the devil, nothing less.
It is often said: He is not a personal Christian, but not an
opponent either. Or: He is not a personal Christian, but he is
positive to Christianity!
According to the Word of God this is completely impossible. “He who
is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me,
scatters” (Luke 11:23).
Not much tolerance here! And here Jesus is pointing at what it
really is about; - for or against me! – My person, my testimony,
You cannot be positive to it, and then not want to have anything to
do with Him personally.
But of course it is about more or less evident opponents, and we
should be happy that God tones down this a little. But everything that
is not of God’s Spirit, worked in man by the testimony of Jesus
Christ, which means the Spirit that is dwelling within you by Jesus
Christ, - that spirit is of the opponent.
There is also something showing when God’s Spirit is pressing close
upon a person, lets the light shine inside corners and makes it clear
that the only possibility for a rescue is repentance and rebirth. Then
a positive attitude can in just a moment turn into the most bitter
opponent and evident persecution. Because it is a spirit that is not
of God. These are called separately, the Spirit of truth
and spirit of error (v.6b). Truth and error that are
antagonisms! – Error cannot have a positive attitude to truth, if it
were to stand without a mask, with its true face, - and downright:
truth cannot have a positive attitude to error!
But this is exactly what they are trying to achieve, - also in
Christian connections – today: - we can live with two views, it
Can truth live with lie! But we believe in Jesus, we have that in
common, it says. Oh? But believing in Jesus, that is, to believe what
He has said and what He stands for? – and how this goes, Jesus says
that Himself as He also says about His apostles: “The one who listens
to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he
who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).
It involves believing in Jesus, also believing in His apostles, as
He is saying here: - the one who does not believe in His apostles,
does not believe in Jesus, but have rejected Him, and therefore also
the one who have sent Him - the Father. How can you then say that you
can live with two views on what the Scripture speaks so clearly about,
because you have that In common, that one believes in Jesus!
No, the Scripture describes that believing in Jesus is being
controlled by His Spirit; - it says that grace would reign
through righteousness over them! (Rom.5:21) – They are imbued with a
spirit that completely submits God’s Spirit, and it is among others
described like this: “All Your holy ones are in Your hand, And they
followed in Your steps; Everyone receives of Your words.” (Deut.33:3).
We are addressing one thing here: What does the Lord say?
It is here the spirit of error is revealed, it does not hear the
things of God! That is the seriousness of it, that is, that it’s not
often spoken about difference of opinions, but different spiritual
powers; - the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Therefore he is coming with firm admonition to us, - for you who
wants to go to heaven and not get lost in this worlds swarm: “Beloved,
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
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses
that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;” (v.2).
I think that a secret is revealed in this term confession.
It is not every spirit that says, but every spirit that
confesses. It is accordingly an expression of a hearts
faith and conviction. As Paul says: “And no one can say, "Jesus is
Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor.12:3).
It is not hard to disagree with Paul here, as it immediately
appears to be, - because everybody can say this with their mouth, with
words, - so Paul has to mean something more here: No one can confess,
- that is to say form their hearts conviction: Jesus is Lord! –
except by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore John deepens in this passage what these two spiritual
powers are known by, that is the relationship with the Word of God. He
(the one who is of the Spirit of truth) hears it and receives it,
which means submits to it, - and then John says: Us! He hears
us, - In other words Jesus apostles, Jesus witnesses. You
cannot believe in Jesus and reject an apostle.
John is pointing at the spiritual power that is in this world, -
the power of antichrist, the devils – and the spirit of lies, and that
is frightening, - but then he says something that we should pay
attention to, - he is preaching a truth from God unto us: “You
are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater
is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (v.4).
It doesn’t even say that we shall conquer over them, but
that we already have conquered over them. The enemy that is
attacking us is actually already a conquered enemy! Therefore the Word
says: You shall be on guard for them – or for this spirit, so that you
won’t be deceived or led astray, - but God is the one you
should fear, not them! He has conquered! And just think about
that He is ruling over them (His people) with grace! – By
forgiving them! – He bowed down and washed their feet! – He did the
work of a slave! – And still does today
Do you know Jesus? – It isn’t He who is standing there with the
whip, you see, - no, it is He who asks: What do you want Me to do for
you? – And the more you grow in grace and knowledge in Him, the more
your answer will be: As you wish, Lord! “They lie by your foot,
they receive your words!” (Norw. transl.).
“We are from God!” – John says here (v.6b). Do you dear saying that
about yourself? “I am from God!” If not you need to pray: “Give
me certainty of my salvation!” I cannot give you that, the priest
cannot give you that, and neither can you give it to yourself, - but
God can! – And He wants to! It isn’t He that wants us to wander
around in a state of spiritual haze, where we don’t really know where
we belong! – The joy of the Lord is our strength! (Neh. 8:10),
- but how can you say that you can have joy in Him, if you cannot say:
I am from God
But then you must not ask, as so many do: What shall
I do for Jesus? – But: What have Jesus done for me? Then you will
probably catch a glimpse of something through the haze, that will make
you incredibly happy, - and when you have seen that, you do no longer
doubt what you want to do for Jesus, - you have then become a
witness. You have received something to testify about!
Everything in the kingdom of God is called grace and gift! Freely
you received, freely give! (Matthew 10:8).
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because
greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from
the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world
listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he
who is not from God does not listen to us By this we know the spirit
of truth and the spirit of error.” (v.4-6).
New American Standard
Translator:Benedicte Holtan Smart