“Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Here, fellow believers, is a word for today, a cogent word in every generation of the people of God. Surely there has never been a time where there has been such a plethora of false teachers, prophets and the like, and the attendant false doctrine that goes with them. The media; the society we live in; and the pulpits; are full of them. They all sound plausible and speak seemingly reasonable words to our untrained ears, for the teaching of the Scripture has been disregarded and left undone for so many generations that the truth is almost lost. It has passed out of our social conscience and our collective psyche and we are left spiritually destitute. Many of those false people have huge followings and mighty church structures and systems behind them, so they appear successful and blessed by God. However, the success is worldly success and the blessing is not from God. Many line their own pockets with the proceeds of other peoples labours, to their everlasting shame.
We are warned here in this verse by the loving Apostle, to be very circumspect about who we listen to and trust. We are to inwardly question everything that is said and done and sort out truth from error. We cannot do this alone, for we do not have total insight or complete wisdom, but our guide is the reliability of the Holy Scripture which we have in our possession and can access every day. This is our wisdom and the source of our insight, if we would but use it.
Too many have left off even reading the eternal Word, never mind studying it deeply for protracted periods of time. We skate over favoured passages as comfort and support, but never really come to grips with the message and the doctrine of the faith that are taught to us there. We drink the milk and never eat the strong meat of the Scripture.
How are we to test the falsehood and false spirits that are in the world, if we don’t even know the Word of God? Surely we will be taken in with the superficial religion that is everywhere and find ourselves grieving the precious Holy Spirit in embracing this false religion and teachings?
“… who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
So many religious leaders and teachers are looking for a niche market to peddle their new spiritual approach or ideas about God. This is instantly a bad idea for it undermines the truth of the Bible and creates a false God. The truth about God is clearly seen in the revealed Word, and no one needs to embellish it or present it more clearly than God already has. God has ordained the seeming foolishness of preaching to spread the gospel and the truth from the Word He has written for us.
Beloved, we need to be careful about who we listen to and pray that God will give us insight to decipher where speakers are coming from and what their motivations are.
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.”