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Do Not Be Gullible About Spiritual Influences

1 John 4:1-3
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 recognise 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. (NIVUK)

Although it would be nice to think that all religious people basically believe the same things about Jesus and the gospel, it would be naïve, because they do not. John wrote this warning that many false prophets have gone out into the world. His use of words implies that they are 'on a mission' to substitute their philosophies for the authority of King Jesus. So it is vital for church leaders and indeed every believer to know whether a person is speaking truth from God or not.

John gives two simple tests. They are both about Jesus. Firstly, is Jesus Christ honoured as being God who has come from heaven having wrapped Himself in a human body? Such people have God's Spirit for they speak the truth about Jesus. On the other hand many say that Jesus was a great religious leader, a good person, a miracle-worker, a prophet but just a man who died. But if they do not recognise Him as God the Son, they are anti-Christ.

Those people may not understand what they are doing or how their activities are perfectly in sync with Satan's plan to stop sinners being saved. In many ways, instead of trying to convince many people that there is no God, his evil plan works much better by encouraging most people to believe that there is a wide variety of religious routes to God, apart from Jesus. The claim of Jesus to be the only route to Father God (John 14:6) is exceptional and uncompromising. The disciples (including John) believed it and were willing to suffer for their faith and be persecuted by anti-Christs.

The same is true today. True faith induces true courage in people of God. So stay firm; seek the Spirit's wisdom about who you should allow to influence you. False teachers are in the world and in the church – their common ground is that they will not accept that Jesus is God the Son, the only way to Father God. Do not be gullible or naïve about false teaching, but boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Lord. Teach your children the truth about Jesus and share the gospel with your friends. Answer questions about your relationship with Jesus, faithfully according to the Bible. Stand up for Jesus, and on the Last Day He will stand up for you (Matthew 10:32).

God of truth. Thank You for revealing Jesus as Your own dear Son, the Saviour of the world. I am so sorry when I have not honoured Jesus as I should, or stood up for Him when I was challenged. Please help me to identify the spirit of the anti-Christ and not to allow such teaching into my heart or home or church. Give me increased confidence to speak about Jesus as Your authorised way to come into Your presence. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams