Test the Spirits and Hold Fast to the Faith

The Apostle John writes in his first epistle, “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.” (1 John 4:1). We are to test “the spirits.” Whatever we read or hear, we are to examine it closely.

This couldn’t be more applicable today. The sheer number of false teachings have only multiplied over time. The earliest believers had many serious heresies to guard against despite Christianity still being relatively obscure.

I’ve addressed common false teachings here already, correcting those that deny the need for obedience, repentance, and continued faithfulness to receive the eternal promises. Among the Evangelical churches, such undermining of holy living is an insidious and deadly strain of deception.

If Satan can convince a Christian that they are saved despite disobedient living—simply because they agree intellectually with the primary tenants of Christianity—he’s effectively destroyed their soul. Many people will call out to Jesus on the last day, pleading to be allowed into the Kingdom. And Jesus will say, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!” (Matthew 7:12)

However, there are other strains of deception—too many to mention here.

I came across a blogger who teaches at an American bible college, holds a Master’s degree in New Testament Studies and a Doctorate in Theology. His website focuses on theology, NT studies, Jesus, and the Kingdom of God. He affirms the death and resurrection of Jesus. He knows his Greek and Hebrew, and seems quite well read.

Yet, I knew something was off. And I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. He had no statement of faith to examine. Scrolling through his posts, I noticed a theme of emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. Nothing explicitly wrong with that, since Jesus was indeed fully human (and fully God). Looking at his YouTube videos, he seemed earnest, but something troubled my spirit, or perhaps the Spirit within me.

It wasn’t until I looked at a book he co-authored that the light bulb went off. Everything I noticed on his blog fell into place. I knew his error.

He denies the divinity of Jesus, arguing that Jesus was just a man who did not exist prior to His human birth. Yet, he still teaches that Jesus was the (human) Son of God and the Messiah.

Here we have someone, who knows the Bible, theology, the original languages, but denies the trinity and the divinity of Jesus. It doesn’t matter how correct your theology is in other areas. If you deny that Jesus is God, we’re left with nothing. That is the core. Those that teach that Jesus is not God, simply do not know God. This blogger, despite all his intellectual prowess, does not know God. We can pray for his salvation, but we should not listen to him in the slightest.

The moral is don’t take everyone at face value, just accepting what they say. Test the spirits. Examine their teachings. Know your Bible. Know the doctrinal foundation communicated to us by the Apostles. Hold fast to the faith.

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9 NIV)

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