Summary: We need to discern whether something is from an evil spirit or the Holy Spirit.


Text: 1 John 4:1-6


1. Discernment in Scripture is the skill that enables us to differentiate. It is the ability to see issues clearly. We desperately need to cultivate this spiritual skill that will enable us to know right from wrong. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and principles from pragmatics. (J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, 44).

2. We live in a world that is more than the eye can see, and things are not always as they appear.

3. They is a spiritual realm that we cannot see with our eyes, but that does not mean that it is any less real. Nor does sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it doesn't exist mean that it doesn't exist.

4. We need to realize that Satan, our enemy is out to destroy us, and we need to be prepared to do battle.

5. John talks about this in our text this morning. He tells us to...

A. Test The Spirits

B. The Spirit In You

C. Spirit Of Truth Vs. The Spirit Of Deception

6. Let's stand together as we read 1 John 4:1-6.

Proposition: We need to discern whether something is from an evil spirit or the Holy Spirit.

Transition: First John tells us to...

I. Test The Spirits (1-3).

A. You Must Test Them

1. Judaism especially associated the Spirit of God with prophecy but acknowledged the existence of false prophets, who John says are moved by other spirits. His readers would understand his point; Jewish people were familiar with the idea of other spirits besides the Spirit of God (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, Under: "1 John 4:1-6 Testing the Spirits").

2. John tells us in v. 1, "Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world."

A. As I have stated several times during this series, when John wrote this letter he was dealing with numerous false teachers who were making false claims about Jesus.

B. Specifically, they were saying that Jesus didnt come in a real human body. So John wanted to teach his audience how to determine who was genuine and who was false.

C. Consequently, Paul had to warn the church how to "test" the spirits.

D. Test: to try to learn the genuineness of something by examination and testing, often through actual use (Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains, 332.

E. In classical Greek the term was used for testing the genuineness of metals and coins.(The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary Delta-Epsilon, Under: "1375. d???µ???").

F. The reality of demonic spirits is not questioned since there are several stories in both the Gospels and the Book of Acts regarding demonic activity.

G. As Christians, however, we need to reminded that demonic activity can actually invade the church.

H. Just because someone claims to have been inspired by the spirit, doesn’t always mean the Holy Spirit.

I. So John found it necessary to remind his readers that not every "spirit" was to be believed.

J. The word "spirit" here must mean either "utterance inspired by a spirit," or a "person inspired by a spirit."

K. In the latter case the idea is that the individual spirit of a prophet, which could be inspired by God or Satan.

L. Since this is the case, those in the church shouldn’t believe what a person says without first testing whether or not the spirit is from God (Marshall, 204).

3. It's always a good thing when someone tells you to do something if they tell you how. This exactly what John does for us. In v. 2 he says, "This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God."

A. Here is the answer to the problem. John presents the positive evidence for determining whether a prophet is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

B. The test involves the profession of faith made by the person who claims to be inspired by the Spirit.

C. John says that a person is truly from God when they recognize that Jesus came in a real body, that as it says in Johns Gospel, "the Word became flesh."

D. What John is saying here is not that Jesus came and took over a human body, but rather that Jesus, though we was God, actually became a human being (Marshall, 205).

E. A true teacher of God believes that Jesus of Nazareth as revealed in the Gospels is the Messiah of God, Gods only and unique incarnation of himself.

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