Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits

In the post Do You Belong to the Truth?, the goal was to assess the authenticity of one’s commitment to follow Christ. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” In doing so, Jesus not only addressed our own personal commitment, but He also addressed the commitment of those whom we may interact or follow.

Jesus’ barometer to measure the authenticity of one proclaiming to follow Him is not what one says, but what one does. Our actions or our life reveal our theology. Thank you Pastor Robert Benson for that nudge of insight to say that succinctly. During bible study last night, we discussed false teachers in connection with several texts we have been exploring at church. One prominent church leader arose. As I moved to the next passage for my devotion today, that same notion of authenticity challenged me again – Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits. Listen to what John said in 1 John 4:

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. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

John, as an Apostle of Christ, reiterated the precepts of Jesus. Jesus said the one who does the will of His Father is the one who sees Him as Lord. He is the true believer. Similarly, John said “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” In essence, John was saying don’t believe what people tell you. Look deeper. Look at their actions. Actions reveal one’s motivation or heart.

The word used for test/try in verse one of our text is dokimazō (do-kē-mä’-zō). Dokimazō means to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals. Pyrite and cubic zirconia may appear to be gold and diamonds, but after examining the properties or characteristics of those materials, one can determine if they are authentic or not. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.” Jesus and John warned us not to believe every spirit. Because someone demonstrates some spiritual power, we must test the demonstration of the power to verify the authenticity of the spirit i.e. man or woman. John outlines that for us when he said Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits.

How do we Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits1 Corinthians 14:29 tells us to let others judge and 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 tells us to test them all and to hold on to that which is good. All believers are responsible for testing the spirits to determine if it is of God. Furthermore, Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” If you do not know the Word of God, you are seriously handicapped in testing the spirit. We are told that there have been many false prophets that have gone out into the world.

Who are you listening to without checking what he/she has said against the Word of God? David said, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9 and “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 Commit to the Word of God to follow John’s admonition Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits?



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