There are a lot of voices in our world today. Many of those voices claim to speak for God, don’t they? Today, John outlines what was a clear test in his day for the spirits and voices of the time. His first lesson: don’t believe every spirit. Test them. Good advice. How?
1 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. 2 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, 3 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.
In John’s day, there were many people denying that Jesus came from God to earth to live among us. Denying Jesus was a sign of a false prophet in the church in John’s day.
Today, there are still people who deny Jesus. Some deny his virgin birth, or his membership in the trinity of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Some deny his death on the cross and many deny his resurrection. There is a lot of dispute in our world on these matters, and sometimes the debate extends to within the walls of the church.
John calls this denial a manifestation of the antichrist. Antichrists are those who are opposed to Jesus and the truth about Jesus in our world. And John says that those who are pursuing a life following God ought to avoid listening to those who oppose Jesus. Their message is not from God, he says. That’s the test. The Jesus test.
I wonder where else in our lives we could use the Jesus test to help us stay close to God.
Would Jesus like it? Would Jesus do it? Would Jesus say it? Would Jesus bless it? Is this in keeping with Jesus’ teaching? And this is not to say that we should do or say everything Jesus did or said. Some of us should not teach others. Some of us should not drink wine with sinners. The Spirit will lead us every day. The Jesus test, though, helps us process and filter teaching, ideas, and direction in life.
Lead on, Spirit. Help me apply the test.