“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. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already.”
1 John 4:1-4
John, the writer of these words, is such a loving Christian. He addresses us as “Beloved” His whole book is about loving each other as Christians, for love is the signature mark of the Christian and should mark them out as different from the world.
But there is more. John tells us not to believe everything we hear or read. He tells us we must have some way of judging if something is right or wrong. There must be some way to discern if someone is speaking truth, or is trying to deceive us. This is not just what people say, but there is a force behind things that happen. This force is evil and would lead us astray and cause us to believe in something or some one who is false and therefore we are deceived. John calls it the spirit of Antichrist. It is a spirit that is always and completely against the truth and person of the Lord Jesus. It is such a powerful deception, that even the people of God could be deceived.
There are many truths around the Christian doctrines that are believed and not believed and people argue about their rights and wrongs and try to change minds about what is true or false. This can be very challenging to sort out, as there are so many issues involved and we get hung up on our pet subjects and become a bit obsessive about them, or it. Baptism, church membership, communion, etc… are all traditionally the issues that Christians debate about, and make into the issues of the moment.
John tells us that there is really only one issue we need to be concerned about. That is, the truth about Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done. The only reliable record we have of this is in the Holy Scriptures, so if we are to be kept in the right and not led astray, we must know the Scriptures and be taught the right way. Once we know the truth about Jesus we can believe and be kept right with God.
But there is more. We do not just give mental ascent to these truths, but we must know the truth. The truth is Jesus.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.”
Jesus Himself is the truth, and when we know Him, we know the truth. He is a person, and came in to this world, so that we might know Him personally. Our sins separate us from God, but He has come to pay the price for those sins. They cost Him His life, for sin is serious and separates us from God. To be separate from God, means to be under His condemnation, and we bear the consequences of our own sin. God is not willing that we should perish, and has provided this way of escape from certain death in our souls. As we know Jesus the Saviour, He can rescue us from our sin and its consequences and make us right with God. We repent and believe in Him and put our whole trust and faith in what He did not the cross to save us. He can make us new people and put His Spirit in us, so that we know Him and have a new nature to walk with Him the rest of our lives and into eternity. This is life and peace with God.
As you can see, it all centres around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no one else like Him, and there is no other Saviour or way to heaven. What we believe about Him, determines the Christ we are believing in! There are many false christs, called antichrists, and they deliberately lead people away from God and to themselves. This is the mark of the false teacher. Always talking about themselves and encouraging people to follow them, and not the Lord. The Christian is a servant, not the Master! We can easily put ourselves in the place of Christ and lead people astray. Many are building their own empires on the back of God and using God to prop up their egos and make a lot of rewards in this world. This is not the way of Christ. We can easily see that in the Scripture.
“Don’t love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him.”
1 John 2:15
That is very clear, and is a clear view of Jesus Christ. There are so many Scriptures we should look at. Jesus is the eternal God, always has been and always will be. He never stops being God. In Hebrews chapter one it is all set out for us so clearly. Reading the Word of God and meditating on it daily, is key to understanding.
“But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom.”
We need to be clear about who Jesus is and that we are following the true Jesus. We must also have the Holy Spirit working in our mind and heart to understand and believe in Him, and the truth of His Word, the Bible. We must know God, know Jesus Christ personally and up close. It must be true, or we are not believing the truth. The spirit of the Antichrist has always been in the world, waiting to rise up and take over everything. It is insidious and persistent and so subtle it can lead us astray so easily. There are so many false voices in our world and so many platforms they can strut on and put their ideas forward. We need discernment and discretion in dealing with what they say. If we look at their lifestyles it gives us a clue to what they are about, and also how they talk about themselves. We talk about Christ. We live for Christ and become Christ-like. This is the way of humility and deliberately keeping “self” down and putting away the desires of the fleshly part of us that keeps us chained to this world and makes us susceptible to the spirit of the Antichrist.
At the bottom of it all, is lack of love for the Lord Jesus and a lack of knowledge, personal knowledge, about Him. We ignore or soft-pedal the Scriptures at our personal peril. There are many charlatans and they look and sound so credible. We will fall for them, of we do not pay attention to the basic doctrines of Jesus Christ, and His person and work.
If we love someone, it is easy to follow them and not to be taken in by foolishness and error, because we will know them so nearly and dearly. We will know quickly when there is falsehood. Knowing Christ comes through the Scripture and the daily walk of faith with Him. It is having His Spirit in our mind, heart and soul, who will lead us into all truth.
If we are taken in by the spirt of the Antichrist, we cannot belong to the truth, and cannot belong to Jesus the Saviour. We must guard our heart with great jealously and keep ourselves in the love of God.
“But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you that “In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.” These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”
We pay attention to what God says and walk in His way, even though it is difficult and often lonely. We have His gracious presence with us and His voice of cheer to help us and keep us on the heavenly road. The Holy Spirit will minister to us and we will know we belong to Him and not to another.
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.”