Tag Archives: discernment

Test the spirits

1 John 4:1-6   Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

In a world that’s full of so much spiritual talk, how can we know who to believe?  The truth is, a lot of Christians will believe anything that comes from someone claiming to be a Christian.  Just walk into a Christian bookstore and take a look around.  You’ll find books ranging all across the spectrum, many contradicting each other.  But how do we know what is right?

The Bible gives one criteria to follow when testing the spirits of the world.  Whether we’re listening to the philosophy of Oprah or Osteen, MacArthur or Bell, the one question is this:  Do they claim that Jesus is God who came in the flesh?  That’s the most important question.  People may disagree on some doctrines or on some practices, but the one thing that makes a belief system something other than Christianity is their view of Christ.

You’ll see some “denominations” in the world that sound very Christian yet deny that Jesus was God in the flesh.  Simply put, that means they’re not Christian.  Test the beliefs of any religious organization on this one thing.  If they deny Christ, flee and never return.  Jesus is God who came to earth as a man, shed His blood and gave His life for the forgiveness of sins, and then He resurrected from the dead and ascended back into heaven where He now reigns.  Upon that truth our entire existence revolves.  Without it, there is not hope.  Without that one belief, there is not Christianity.

Godly discernment

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ


To be sure, there are a lot of “spiritual” people and things out there today.  Take a look around your Christian bookstore and you’ll see a wide range of products all claiming to be spiritual.  As Christ followers, we have to be on our guard against false doctrine.  It’s out duty to be mindful of what we’re bring taught about the gospel.

Paul warned the Colossians of such things, drawing attention to those that teach a deceitful philosophy and keep our attentions on worldly ideas rather than the things of Christ.  There are more than a few wolves posing as sheep, just waiting to catch us in their snares.  Some even believe that they’re correct in their doctrine.  They don’t necessarily have nefarious motives, they’re just wrong. False doctrines can seem harmless, even wise.  They can feel right to man, but in the end, they lead us away from the one true God.

We shouldn’t fear these deceptions, rather we should seek godly wisdom.  Discernment acquired through the Holy Spirit keeps us on the right path.  Such false teaching will be obvious to us if we walk in truth.  We won’t have to sniff out false teaching if we’re truly familiar with Truth.  For those who belong to Him know His voice (John 10:4).  We won’t be inclined to follow another if we know the One who is Truth personally.