Summary: EOLS: The Jesus Test will determine whether a message or messenger comes from God.
The Jesus Test
(1) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for 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, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
(4) Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
(3) Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.
How good is your lie detector? I’m not talking about a polygraph machine, I’m asking you about that one that’s right in your gut. Do you ever get a “feeling” that there’s something rotten in Denmark when you hear a certain story?
Policemen call it the “smell test.” I’ve heard them say it when they can’t put their finger on a concrete lie within a story or testimony, but it just doesn’t add up.
Jesus calls us not to be cynical, but to develop discernment in our lives. Jesus had a great metaphor to describe what he’s calling us to:
Matthew_10:16 "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Wise and surviving as a snake, and as sweet and gentle as a dove! It’s a tall order.
(my experience working with police detectives and their interrogation methods; the detective vs. the preacher!) Good cop bad cop, pretending to know more than you do, the bluff etc.
Hopefully this wisdom to know the truth is something we develop as we get grow in life. Some of us think of young people as naïve, while young people think of older folk as gullible! My police buddies thought I was gullible and I thought they were way too cynical!
I don’t want to grow cynical and mistrusting. There’s nothing sadder than someone who is so paranoid that they don’t believe anything-even the good stuff! Someone who is overly skeptical of everything will be bound up in their own fears and miss out. Yet, on balance we have to be careful, because there’s a lot of lies out there. The devil appears as an angel of light, and he is the father of all lies.
Have you ever met a true con-man? I’m sure most of us can see a face when I use that term. More properly, you may have known a sociopath. These are folks who are the best liars in the world. They can lie masterfully and never bat an eye nor feel one whit of remorse. They’ll cry, they’ll charm you, they’ll convince you that they are pitiful and in dire need and you can’t wait to do something for them!
Sometimes my kids will get taken in by someone or something. They’ll tell me all about it and I’ll just listen, knowing they’ve been duped. I might say a word or two, and they will say “OH NO Daddy…this is true!” If it’s something that doesn’t have dire consequences, then I’ll sometimes let it go. It can be good for them to learn how to think critically and use discernment and sometimes I’ll just smile and say “uh huh!”
But, there are times when their thinking can be leading to destruction. Then, you better believe I’m going to speak up and do so loudly. I’m going to sound the alarm to keep my kids out of harms way.
That’s what the Apostle John is doing. Notice he calls these people “Beloved.” That’s a strong term of endearment. In verse four, he calls the same people “Little Children.” He’s not talking down to them, he’s speaking as their spiritual father! He really thinks of these people with deep loving commitment, they are his children! By now John is an old man, and he’s fathered churches and Christians all over Asia Minor, we call his network of churches the Johannine Community.
The people John is speaking to come from backgrounds steeped in false religion. They have been saved, they have trusted in Christ and have followed a radically new way of life, the law of love and grace. They have been delivered from bondage and demonic strongholds in their lives.
There’s war going on in the spiritual realm and the Gospel is being perverted. Satan is smart, and he typically doesn’t come out of left field with something radically different to deceive. He will mix truth and error into a concoction and try to sell it on appeal to people who don’t know better!