Try The Spirits
by David J. Stewart
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1st John 4:1,2...
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God."
The word "try" means "to test." Hence, we are to TEST the spirits. What does the Bible mean by "spirit." All human beings are spirits. The Devil is a spirit. The demons are spirits. The angels are spirits. God Himself is a Spirit (John 4:24). We are spirits in a physical world. There is a great spiritual battle taking place. Ephesians 6:12 states, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Thus, every book, every movie, every writing, is produced by a spirit, the human spirit. Ephesians 2:2 teaches that Satan has influence upon the unsaved spirit (person), "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." So we see that there are different spirits at work. 1st John 4:13, "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." A clear distinction should be made between "the spirit (Satan) that now worketh in the children of disobedience," and the Holy Spirit of God.
1st John 4:2 is Only a Test Starting Point
It is important to understand that the test specified in 1st John 4:2 is only a starting point, not a conclusive test. We are told that "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." Obviously this cannot be a final test because many false religions believe that Jesus is the Christ, i.e., the Saviour. Every Catholic believes that Jesus is the Christ; BUT, they are all bound for Hell because they are trusting in their good works and the Church to save them. Ephesians 2:8,9 and Titus 3:5 plainly teach that good works CANNOT merit anyone salvation. Seventh-Day Adventists believe that Jesus is the Christ; BUT, they teach works salvation and that Christ's work of redemption still isn't completed. So it's important to test the spirits with the ENTIRE Word of God, not just one simple test. God is simply providing us with a starting point in 1st John 4:1,2. One billion Muslims would fail this first test, because they don't believe Jesus died on the cross. The Koran states that Jesus was kidnapped, and another crucified in His place. Muslims also teach that God has NO Son. 1st John 2:22 calls them LIARS and ANTI-Christs for denying that Jesus is the Christ.
There are Other Tests Required to Determine if Someone is of God or Satan
The tests we should give to a person's faith, based upon the Word of God, to determine whether or not they are a legitimate Christian, is:
- Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to Heaven? (John 14:6)
- Do they believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ? (Isaiah 7:14)
- Do they believe that Jesus is God Almighty? (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-3,14; 10:33, 1st Timothy 3:16; Colossians 2:9; Revelation 1:8)
- Do they believe that Jesus is the Son of God? (John 3:16)
- Do they believe that Jesus died upon the cross? (John 19:23; Hebrews 12:2)
- Do they believe that Jesus was buried, and rose again physically after three days? (1st Corinthians 15:1-4)
- Do they believe that Jesus ascended bodily into Heaven after His resurrection? (Acts 1:9)
- Do they believe that it is Jesus' blood which takes our sins away, and not just the death of Christ? (Colossians 1:14; 1st John 1:7; Revelation 7:14)
- Do they believe in the Godhead (Trinity): God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? (Romans 1:20; Matthew 28:19,20)
- Do they believe that Jesus is a member of the Godhead, equal in every capacity? (Colossians 2:9)
- Do they believe that Jesus is perfect, never having sinned even once? (2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15)
- Do they believe that Jesus existed in Preexistent form, before He came to the earth? (John 8:58; Revelation 1:8)
- Do they believe in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ upon the cross, Who died in our place? (1st Peter 2:21)
- Do they believe that Hell is a literal place that burns with fire, to punish all Christ-rejecters? (2nd Thessalonians 1:8; Revelation 20:8,11-15;)
- Do they believe in a literal Heaven, for the saved to go to? (John 14:1,2; 2nd Corinthians 5:8)
- Do they believe that Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe? (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16)
- Do they believe that Jesus Christ always existed? (Revelation 1:8; John 5:58; Hebrews 7:3)
- Is Christ's work of atonement completely finished? (Hebrews 9:26)
The answer to every question above should be a confident "YES!"
The answer to every question below should be a confident "NO!"
- Does a person have to be baptized to go to Heaven? (1st Corinthians 1:17; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:13)
- Do you have to do any good works to go to Heaven? (Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5)
- Do you have to join a church to go to Heaven? (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Psalm 118:8)
- Do you have to confess your sins to a priest or a minister to go to Heaven? (1st Timothy 2:5)
- Do you have to keep the sacraments to go to Heaven? (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Romans 4:5)
- Do you have to endure or persevere to the end of life to be saved? (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Romans 5:15; Romans 6:23; Romans 4:5)
- Do you have to earn your way to Heaven? (Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5)
- Do you have to pray the Rosary to go to Heaven? (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Matthew 6:7)
- Do you have to recognize the Virgin Mary to be saved? (1st Timothy 2:5; Exodus 20:4,5)
- Do you have to be religious to go to Heaven? (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Mark 7:6-13)
There are other questions as well; but, these are the main questions. You'll find that 98% of the people in this world DON'T pass the above tests. Please do not misunderstand this article. I'm not saying we should rudely interrogate people concerning their beliefs. What I am saying is that if someone's belief's don't line up with the Word of God concerning salvation, then they're not saved. No one who is trusting in their baptism to save them will go to Heaven. No one who believes that Christ's blood is insignificant is saved. No one who denies the virgin birth, or Christ's sinlessness is saved. These are all fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. There is MUCH deception today, many false Christs, and many liars. The only true way of knowing whether they are of God or not is to scrutinize their teachings with the Light of God's Word. No one who prays the Rosary and trusts Mary will ever go to Heaven. No way! The Bible is clear that such repetitious prayers are sinful (Matthew 6:7). Bowing to any statue is a horrible sin (Exodus 20:4,5). If you'll study the Word of God, instead of following men, then you CANNOT be deceived.
Many False Religions Teach the Basic Gospel
Many professed "Christian" organizations today, put forth a basic Gospel message to the public; BUT, they would fail the above tests. Many false religions are based upon the Gospel. It's true. The Devil always starts with the truth when he wants to create a lie (Romans 1:25; 2nd Corinthians 11:14), then he perverts it. By adding and removing from the truth, it is corrupted. For Example: Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. However, they deny the deity of Christ, the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, and so many other fundamental Bible doctrines. They are a false religion, children of the Devil. Do you see why it is so important to preach the Gospel, while simultaneously EXPOSING Satan's works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11)? Yes, we should preach the Gospel; BUT, many false religions also do that, so we need to give people additional information from the Bible. We need to teach people that good works cannot merit salvation, and that baptism is not required to be saved. We must tell them about the lies of Roman Catholicism, and the deadly deception of Seventh-Day Adventism. We must warn them about imposters like Oprah Winfrey, who denies that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
We should warn those who need to be warned. If I know that someone is following a certain false religion, like Catholicism, then I'll make sure to warn them that the sacraments are evil. They need to know! Do you realize that every Catholic believes the basic Gospel? They believe that Jesus' blood washes our sins away! BUT, they are also trusting the virgin Mary (Our Lady of Fatima), the Rosary, the Pope, the priestly confessional booth, the Church, the seven sacraments, and their good works to save them one day. They're going to burn in the Lake of Fire if they don't get saved. Salvation is found ONLY in Jesus Christ, by faith alone in Christ! If you add anything to your faith, then it is NO faith at all, and you will go to Hell. It is for this very reason that I expose so many CCM (contemporary Christian music) artists today. They all speak a vague message, barely even the basic Gospel; while the world plunges into the abyss of Hell. And they say they care about people? No they don't! They're more interested in making money.
It's time for Christians to start proclaiming the Truth of God's Word. The Gospel is being exploited by many false religions to deceive the ignorant and unlearned. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is His death, burial, and resurrection; BUT, the "good news" also teaches that salvation is a FREE GIFT which absolutely cannot be merited in any way (Romans 5:15; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8,9). So the good news of Christ is no good news at all when you REQUIRE people to get baptized, join a church, forsake their sin, make Jesus their Lord, make a commitment, walk a church isle, perform good works, confess sins to a priest, tithe, persevere to the end, or partake of sacraments. The good news (Gospel) is that you DON'T have to do anything to be saved, just place your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour to forgive your sins. Jesus already did everything for us at Calvary, all we need to do is rest in His finished work of redemption. It's as simple as this: We are sinners, and Jesus is the Saviour.
Again, If you'll study the Word of God, instead of following men, then you CANNOT be deceived.
God's Simple Plan