By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: 1 John 4-5
Key Scripture Verses: 1 John 4:1-3 (NIV, Life Application Bible) “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.”
Just as we need to be careful from whom we get our counsel as Christians, when we have spiritual experiences, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this from God? Does this make sense with the scriptures? Does this experience glorify Jesus Christ and acknowledge him as the Son of God?”
Should you encounter a spirit or a teacher who means to guide you, you need to discern from where that spirit comes—all spirits who are from God acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, the awaited Messiah who came to earth in the flesh and who died for our sins to reconcile us to the Father.
Spirits, teachers, guides, or leaders who do not recognize and acknowledge Jesus as Lord are acting as antichrists and are not genuine representatives of God, because they do not acknowledge the truth.
“Love comes from God” and “God is love” (1 John 4: 7, 8), so anyone who does not demonstrate love in the way that is Christ-like in manner is deceived and is a deceiver.
This kind of love is not just a feeling, but is an action—this kind of love requires making deliberate choices and acting on those choices in congruence with the will of God. It is not an “if-it-feels-good-do-it” love; it is an “if-God-desires-it-and-it-fits-with-his-plan” love. This is the kind of love that Jesus had for us that drove him to do what no man would want to do—to die for all of mankind through a horrible, humiliating, and painful death. This kind of love requires a sense of duty and empathy towards others.
If the spirits or leaders guide us away from a Christ-like existence or encourage us to make choices that are not within his will, we should be able to discern that they are not of God. If at any point we are unsure of a spiritual being’s origin, we are to test the spirit by determining if it acknowledges Jesus as Lord—that is the ultimate test. The scriptures say that evil spirits will deny him.
May we be careful of any encounters we have with the spiritual world that we use the discernment offered in the scriptures, as there are spirits who would misguide us. There are humans who would misguide us also, willingly or unknowingly, and we must also be careful in discerning whether following their guidance is the will of God and whether it is what Jesus would do. May we know the scriptures and use their discernment for all of our activities.