How do we test the spirits?
The Bible warns us 1 John 4:1 “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.” NIV
Too often we forget that we live in a spiritual war zone. Eph 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” NIV
The devil will try to mislead you and will show himself as being the truth. 2 Cor 11:14-15 “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” NIV
But remember that deception is his only weapon. He is the father of lies and he has no good intentions on your behalf. John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” NIV
No wonder that the apostle John encourages us to test the spirits. The context of his warning was false prophets. Jesus warned us against those as well! Matt 7:15-16 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” NIV If you believe in a non-biblical prophet, please put that prophet on the test.
However the testing of spirits is not limited to prophets, but to anything that is spiritual.
How can you test them? Here are a few tests that will guarantee you if those spirits are from God or not.
The first test is given by the apostle John himself, in the context of testing the spirits.
Test 1. 1 John 4:2-3 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, 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.” NIV
The first test is to make sure the spirit acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. These verses are best understood in the light of the Gnostic-like errors that existed since John’s time. They were denying that Jesus actually came in the flesh. 2 John 7 “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” NIV and by their action actually denied that Jesus is the messiah.
Be careful though and know that the devil and his agents acknowledge the historical incarnation but do not confess Jesus as Lord. Look at how the evil spirits were recognizing Jesus during his ministry on earth:
Mark 1:23-24 “Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!”” NIV
Mark 5:7-8 “He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”” NIV
As you can see, evil spirits acknowledge Jesus as being the Son of God and were acknowledging his ministry.
The Bible even says: James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” NIV
The big difference is that the evil shutter when the name of Jesus is mentioned and none will acknowledge Him as the Lord and Messiah. Make sure that the spirit you are in contact with acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Messiah. No evil spirit will preach about Jesus being our Lord and being our Messiah. No evil spirit will invite people to accept Jesus in their lives. They loathe the name of Jesus!
Every spirit sent from God will glorify God and worship God. Angels of God do not receive worship for themselves!
Rev 19:10 “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”” NIV
Jesus is giving us the second test.
Test 2: Matt 7:16-20 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” NIV
Test the lives of those pretending to be send by God. Are there inconsistencies in their lives? Is their lives in agreement with God’s Word? Are they receiving glory for what they do, or is God receiving glory? Are they relying on God only for direction or are they basing their teachings on writings from men? Are they or their followers putting their word above the Bible? Have any of their prophecies never come true? (Remember the devil is a liar and will mix truth with lies. If any of their prophecies has never been fulfilled, unless it is predicted for the future, even though they gave some prophecies that were fulfilled, they are not from God!) Any inconsistencies like these will reveal to you if they are from God or not.
Test 3: 2 Peter 3:3-7 “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. NIV
The Spirit of God always speaks in accordance to God’s Word, the Bible. He acknowledges its authority. Anyone putting anything above the Bible or anyone degrading the Bible, is not from God!
1 John 4:4-6 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. ” NIV
2 Peter 2:1-2: “But there will also be false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves.” NIV
You must test every visitation and message with those in the Bible:
a) Here are a few references to angelic visitations. We can compare our own experiences to these: To Abraham: Genesis 18:2; Genesis 22:11-18; To Hagar: Genesis 16:7; To Lot: Genesis 19:1-17; To Jacob: Genesis 28:12; To Moses: Exodus 3:2; To Israelites: Exodus 14:19, Judges 2:1-4; To Balaam: Numbers 22:31; To Joshua: Joshua 5:15; To Gideon: Judges 6:11-22; To Manoah: Judges 13:6; Judges 13:15-20; To David: 2 Samuel 24:16,17; To Elijah: 1 Kings 19:5-11; To Daniel: Daniel 6:22; Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21; Daniel 10:5-10; Daniel 10:16; Daniel 10:18; To Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: Daniel 3:25; Daniel 3:28; To Zechariah: Zechariah 2:3; Zechariah 3:1-2; Zechariah 4:1; To Joseph: Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:13; Matthew 2:19; To Mary: Luke 1:26-28; To Zacharias: Luke 1:11-20; To the Shepard’s: Luke 2:9-11; Luke 2:13,14; To Jesus, after His temptation: Matthew 4:11; To Jesus, in Gethsemane: Luke 22:43; To Jesus, at the sepulcher: Matthew 28:2-5; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:23; John 20:12; At the ascension: Acts 1:10,11; To Peter and John: Acts 5:19; To Phillip: Acts 8:26; To Cornelius: Acts 10:3; Acts 10:30-32; To Peter: Acts 12:7-11; To Paul: Acts 27:23; To John: Revelation 1:1; Revelation 5:2; Revelation 7:11; Revelation 10:9; Revelation 11:1; Revelation 17:7; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8
b) Angelic message will be verified by God’s Word, it will never violate, confuse or twist God’s written Word.
c) An Angelic visitation will be to promote God’s will, not flatter your flesh or promote darkness.
If a spirit manifests itself to you, here are some biblical clues to discernment.
§ If the spirit tells you it is the spirit of a dead relative or friend, it is not an angel from God. God’s angels do not inhabit human bodies or join themselves to human spirits. God’s angels do not draw attention to other beings other than Jesus and the Father.
§ Does this spirit socialize and spend undue time with you – it is not a spirit of God.
§ Does this spirit use physical things to impress you; sights, sounds, colors, the “supernatural”; it is not a spirit of God. God’s angels deliver messages to God’s people and then vanish. They do not “hangout” with humans
§ Does the spirit flatter you and build up your pride? This is not one of God’s angels.
§ Does the spirit try to force you to do something against your will? This is not a true spirit of God. God’s Spirit in you will lead and guide you into all truth. You will have an inner peace that this being is from God by its message (which must line up with God’s word and pass all tests outlined previously)
§ Did the spiritual encounter bare spiritual fruit? Angels are sent to deliver God’s people, bring God’s message, and help promote the plan of God through His people. Satan’s demons come to deceive, destroy, confuse and confound.
The warning from the apostle John 1 John 4:1 “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.” NIV holds true even more today than ever. We are facing such a prolific of religions and various doctrines, and this all in the name of Christ and the Spirit of God. The exhortation is very relevant and important to us. Are you testing the spirits?
Remember only God’s Holy Spirit will lead you the truth. The devil will only lead you to a mixture of truths and lies.
John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” NIV
Have you tested the spirits you are in contact with? If you are not familiar with the Spirit of God, it isn’t too late yet to accept Jesus into your heart and experience God’s Spirit in your life. He is the only One who can give you inner peace. Will you accept Jesus now by answering the Altar’s call at http://www.answers2prayer.org/saviours_call.html
In I John 4:1 we are told, ” Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
The Greek word used here is dokimazo meaning ” to test or approve, discern, examine or prove” So now that we know what we’re supposed to be doing let’s look at how to go about this.
If we want to know “… whether they are of God…” then we need to look to His Word to see if the spirits align with the truths, principles and promises found there.
Something to remember though, ” But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Corinthians 2:14
So if we are to discern whether something is of the Spirit of God then we must accept God because as natural man we are incapable of discerning it on our own.
And how do we come to know God? Romans 12: 2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
It is by receiving God’s Spirit and being transformed by renewing our minds by His word that we are able to discern whether spirits are of God or not.
In His Love, Crystel
John is speaking to believers. He calls them “beloved.” He says we are not to “believe every spirit” but “test” them as to “whether they are of God.” Why? Because there are “many false prophets” who have “gone out into the world.” Behind every prophet is a spirit. The great question is does the Spirit of God or an evil spirit lead this teacher. Before we trust any teacher, we must “test the spirits.”
In 1 Thess.5:20-22, Paul says “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.”
In Mt.7:15-16, Jesus says “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.
In Acts 20:29, Paul said to the Ephesian elders “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
In 2 Pet.2:1, Peter says “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
In Eph.4:14, Paul says that a sure sign of spiritual immaturity is “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”
If we believe and have faith and have Christ within us and the Holy Spirit leading us, we can test the spirits and know if something is of God or not. If we study the Lord’s word and are biblically mature in the word, then we can test the spirits and know what is right. If there is ever any question in testing the spirits, the answer is always directly in the Bible. MAY ALL BE BLESSED!
Love And Blessings
KJV –1Jo 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
1Jo 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1Jo 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
GW–1Jo 4:1 Dear friends, don’t believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world.
1Jo 4:2 This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every person who declares that Jesus Christ has come as a human has the Spirit that is from God.
1Jo 4:3 But every person who doesn’t declare that Jesus Christ has come as a human has a spirit that isn’t from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that you have heard is coming. That spirit is already in the world
By the fruit they show in their life.
Any spirit that confesses Jesus is lord, Jesus is the son of God and that Jesus came to die for mankind is of God. (1 John4:1-2)