“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.“
(1 John 4:1, NIV)
The Bible clearly tells us to test the spirits to see if they are from God. We live in a world full of lying spirits and we must test every spirit for truth. But what does it mean to test the spirits? And how do we discern a Spirit who is from God and a spirit who is not? In 1 John 4:1-6, two different spirits are identified. The first is called “the Spirit of God” or “the Spirit of Truth.” The second is called “the spirit of the antichrist” or “the spirit of falsehood.” The Spirit of God which is the Holy Spirit, will never deceive us or lead us astray. He will always lead us to Truth; Jesus, and a closer walk with God the Father. The second spirit is a fallen spiritual being that has attached itself to something or someone, and is a lying, deceitful spirit. This spirit may look and sound very appealing or might tug at your heartstrings, but under their sheep’s skin, they are vicious wolves looking to devour a sheep in Jesus’ flock (Acts 20:29).
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
(Matthew 7:15-16, NIV)
There are ways to test the spirits. The following are some ways you can distinguish between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of lies.
- The fruit they produce
- Their walk with the Lord
- Are they glorifying God and building up the body of Christ?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us about wolves in sheep’s clothing and says we will recognize them by the fruit they produce. In Galatians 5:19-21, the fruits of the spirit of lies, which are acts of the flesh, are listed as: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Paul warns us, in verse 21, that those who live like this will not inherent the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus Himself says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” I know that I do not want to ever hear those words. Jesus is very clear that not all believers will enter the Kingdom of God, and says “only the one who does the will of my Father will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Many people today are confused by the verse in Ephesians that states that we are saved by the grace of God through Christ Jesus, and not by our works. The enemy has caused confusion and given many people an excuse to not hold themselves accountable for their actions. Scripture tells us Jesus will hold us accountable for our actions on the day He returns. We are saved by grace, His death on the cross washed away our sins and the sins of the world, however, we are to follow Him and live according to His ways and not the way of the world. Jesus Himself was tested in the wilderness for forty days. Satan quotes Scripture to Jesus and twists the Word of God to manipulate Him. Are we above Jesus? If Jesus was tested in the wilderness, then we know that the enemy is definitively testing us daily. We are to test the spirits daily. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, the Bible says do not treat prophesy with contempt, but test them all. Even when listening to your pastor, or your loved ones, hold on to what is good and reject every kind of evil.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, NIV)