1 John 4:1-6 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world's viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.
You see all kinds of scams reported in the news and you wonder how some of these people could think they were being told the truth. We all should know that you cannot believe everything that you hear, people will lie to you just as fast as the devil does, maybe we are a lot more vulnerable to scams than we want to admit. It seems like the most outrageous lie will still have somebody that is willing to believe it.
Jesus warned us that Satan is the father of lies and he has a lot of children that act just like their father. They may be the nicest people that you could ever meet but they are liars. There are people lying to you about the everyday stuff of the physical world as well as people that are false teachers that are lying about spiritual things. You need wisdom to help you test their motives so that you can know the truth.
John 8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Every teacher needs to be put to the test to determine where their teaching is coming from. The most important teaching that must be checked is what they teach about Jesus:
- Do they believe that Jesus is God?
- Do they believe that God's Son came to earth to pay the penalty that we owed for sin?
- Do they believe that Jesus covered our sins without any help from us based on our good works?
Just about all of the New Testament books have teaching about the dangers of bad doctrine and the people who try to teach it. The devil is okay with you knowing about Jesus but he doesn't want you to have the correct beliefs about Jesus.
Jesus wasn't gone for very long before incorrect teaching about Him showed up. Satan was ready with subtle variations of the truth.
The InterVarsity New Testament Commentary explains the problems that false teachers cause:
- They distract Christians from obeying the truth of the gospel (v. 7)
- They replace the call of God with their own deceptive persuasiveness (v. 8)
- They gain control over the whole church (v. 9)
- They cause confusion and discouragement (v. 10)
- They spread false reports about spiritual leaders (v.11)
- They emphasize sensational rituals (v.12)
We need to be concerned about the danger and keep our guard up, we should be motivated to dig into the Word daily so that we will know what we believe and why we believe it.