Summary: This is the fifth test that proves if one really loves God.
The fifth test that proves if you really love God deals with true and false teachers. You can tell if someone really loves God by the spirits of the teachers they are following. Following the spirit of a true teacher is an indication that you love God. In contrast, following the spirit of a false teacher proves that you don’t love God.
So we must test the spirits of teaching throughout the world. Today we are going to look at four areas of testing these spirits.
1. Testing the spirits of teachers.
2. Testing the confession of teachers.
3. Testing ourselves.
4. Testing the followers of teachers.
READ 1 JOHN 4: 1
Believers can be misled. John knew this. So he opens this passage by saying don’t believe every spirit. Because some of them might be false. He says to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. How do you do that? It’s not always easy to tell because:
• False teachers may have a spirit of light. That spirit seems to present a way of life that seems to be the truth, the very way to live. He presents a way of life that seems to be intelligent and full of knowledge and enlightenment. It seems to be the way you would want to go. The way that leads to the good life, progress, pleasure, good feelings.
• A false teacher may have the spirit of righteousness. He may preach righteousness, a righteousness that stresses morality, goodness, giving, serving, and helping.
• A false teacher may stress the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. They may stress all the good qualities of life, all the traits that characterize good people. They may tell people to copy the life of Jesus and to focus their hearts on the good qualities of life.
But false teachers make one fatal mistake. John covers that in the next 2 verses. But the point here is that we must test the spirits of false teachers. Test them to make absolutely sure they are of God. Note that John says there are many false prophets. If there were many in John’s day, think of how many more there are today. Paul told the Corinthians to do the same when he wrote, “3For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
So, since these false teachers are so crafty in disguising themselves, how do we know the difference? How do you test the spirits to see if they are of God? READ VERSES 2 & 3. In other words, test the confessions of the teachers. What is it that makes a teacher true or false? Jesus Christ.
Notice, too, what it is about Jesus Christ that exposes the teacher. The incarnation. The fact that God became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. The true spirit acknowledges that Jesus did come in the flesh. It takes the indwelling Spirit of God for a true teacher to confess the fact that God became man. Folks, there are religions out there today that cannot and will not confess that fact. And many of them knock on your door every Saturday morning. Beware of the false teachers.
So remember that a true teacher will always acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. John wrote a familiar verse in another of his books and I proclaim it today, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. “
The false teacher or spirit will deny the incarnation. They will deny that Jesus is from God. Many false religions will talk about Jesus, but they only see Him as a prophet, a smart man, but never the Son of God. Why?
1. Because the false teacher doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.
2. The false teacher doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah and the Anointed One from God.
3. The false teacher doesn’t acknowledge Jesus as sinless.
4. He doesn’t acknowledge that Jesus was the substitute for man’s sins.
5. He doesn’t acknowledge that the resurrection ever took place.
False teaching denies that Jesus is of God and so the false teaching denies that man can ever be saved from this world. The physical world cannot penetrate or cross over into the spiritual world, no matter what some persons on TV may claim.