Testing The Spirits (TiS Version)
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  • 1. Testing the Spirits Sumair Mirza “Unbelief can be as much a mark of spiritual maturity as belief.” – John Stott
  • 2. The instruction... “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
  • 3. Breaking it down... What not to do? “do not believe every spirit” What to do? “test the spirits” Why? “to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
  • 4. Some questions... • Isn’t this just theological nitpicking? • Isn’t this just going to cause divisions in the church? • Isn’t this just a matter of interpretation? • How do we “test the spirits”?
  • 5. Let’s take a look at 2 aspects of this dialogue.... • Isn’t this just theological nitpicking? • Isn’t this just going to cause divisions in the church? God’s view. • Isn’t this just a matter of interpretation? Our task. • How do we “test the spirits”?
  • 6. What does God have to say about false teachers? • Why is it so important? How prevalent is the issue of which we are warned? • “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.” - Deuteronomy 13:1-4 • It doesn’t end there…
  • 7. Let’s ensure we all agree on God’s view... (Old Testament Highlights) • “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” - Proverbs 14:15 • “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” - Jeremiah 5:31 • “Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.” - Jeremiah 29:8 • “They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the Lord.” - Jeremiah 29:9
  • 8. Let’s ensure we all agree on God’s view... (New Testament Highlights) • "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” - Matthew 7:15-16 • “Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.” - Matthew 24:4-5 • “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” - Romans 16:18 • “But there were also 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.” - 2 Peter 2:1
  • 9. Defining our terms... • “test” • dokimazō 1) to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals 2) to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy
  • 10. Defining our terms... • “spirits” • Pneuma 1) sometimes referring to the Holy Spirit and sometimes not. 2) the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one 3) and other definitions
  • 11. Defining our terms... • “spirits” • Pneuma 1) sometimes referring to the Holy Spirit and sometimeshuman teachers who claim to speak under “all not. spiritual inspiration. A prophet is the mouthpiece of 2) the dispositionSo, behind every which fillsspirit, some spirit…. or influence prophet is a and governsand behind each spirit either God or the devil.” the soul of any one - John Stott 3) and other definitions
  • 12. 1 John 4 - Context • John is instructing the believers as heresy is already creeping into the church. It seems perhaps an early form of Gnosticism is being dealt with here. • As John provides a warning against the “antichrists” in chapter 2 he goes on (in chapter 3) to define the reality of this world as far as humanity is confirmed – children of God and children of the devil. • As chapter 3 closes, John states how the Spirit is what testifies to Christ in us but in chapter 4 he begins dealing with “spirits” that find their origin in false prophets. • Now let’s examine what the text says
  • 13. 1 John 4 gives us a clear path... • 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. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but 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. 4You, 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. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We 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.
  • 14. 1 John 4 gives us a clear path... Children of the devil Children of God 1 because many false prophets have Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, gone out into the world. (b) but test the spirits to see whether they are from God (a) 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, 3 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. 4 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.
  • 15. 1 John 4 gives us a clear path... Children of the devil Children of God 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 but whoever is not from God does not We are from God, and whoever knows listen to us. (b) God listens to us; (a) This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. Calvin presents two aspects: a) private - tested by conscience with God b) public - church-wide scrutiny in a unified, holy manner
  • 16. What does 1 John 4 tell us... 1) Historicity of Jesus (ver. 2) – 1st test is the complete recognition of Christ; the acknowledgement of the historical incarnation of Jesus, that "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh." – Groups were already trying to present different views of Jesus and this is a call and warning against this (2 John 7) – Need to accept Him as Lord and Messiah (in accordance with God's Word not just say His name - Mark 1:23-24, Mark 5:7-8)
  • 17. What does 1 John 4 tell us... 2) Testimony of the Spirit (ver. 4) – 2nd test is the Holy Spirit; We overcoming because of the Spirit in us... when we feel something is wrong... it should be like a radar that helps us seek it out and assess it... false teachers will not be able to completely subdue us when we have the Holy Spirit in us.
  • 18. What does 1 John 4 tell us... 3) Needs to be from the Word not the world – The world likes the message because it is from the world... acceptance from the world will be a red flag. (2 Timothy 4:3) N.B. Looking at other scripture: – Matthew 7:16-20 gives us some other tests but the fruits of their spirit. – Deuteronomy 18:21-22 advises us that when “prophets” speak if they make even a single error in predicting future events they are not from God (Important: For Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults that have had many false prophets make claims that have not come true – they are immediately disqualified as true prophets)
  • 19. 7 key tasks for us. 1. We have The Spirit to test the spirits. (1 Corinthians 12, 1 John 4:4, John 16:13) 2. We must examine not based on feelings or liking the teaching (2 Timothy 4:3) 3. Constantly Test all things and hold on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22) 4. Beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15-16) 5. Constant awareness as heresy will continue (Acts 20:29) 6. Subtlety will be how it begins (2 Peter 2:1) 7. Examine the Word and learn it (Acts 17:11)
  • 20. 7 key tests for us* One fundamental question to test the spirits and our religious experiences; How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… Jesus Holy God Self image Christ Scriptures Other The world Sin Christians * Source: The Best of A.W. Tozer, How to try the spirits (p. 182-194 1978)
  • 21. God How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… • God is meant to be glorified in all (Isaiah 42:8, Revelation 4:11) • Must test emotional experience this way as well (other religious groups have experiences the key that may be "genuine" but based on a false spirit and not of God) • "The heart of man is like a musical instrument and may be played upon by the Holy Spirit, by an evil spirit, or by the spirit of man himself"
  • 22. Jesus Christ How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… • Christ is above all and supreme and The way (Acts 2:36, 4:12) • Christ must always remain in the highest position and any teaching the removes this supreme attribute should be regarded as false (e.g. As the Mormons/Latter-Day Saints Church believe Christ is only an exalted man, spirit brother of Lucifer or Muslims that Jesus is only a prophet or Buddhist and Hindus that He is a grand master or guru only respectively etc.) • "Christ is mentioned from time to time in the same way and for the same reason that a self-seeking politician mentions Lincoln and the flag, to provide a sacred front for carnal activities and to deceive the simple-hearted listeners. The giveaway is that Christ is not central: He is not all and in all."
  • 23. Holy Scriptures How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… • Was the origin of this view found in the Bible or extra- biblical in nature? • Some will say as we are prepared as the Bride for Christ and as the days come revelation will continue to progress hence the new understands/teachings yet when compared to how Scripture outlines the progression of human history and revelation it is polarized (e.g. As time progresses people will seek more falsity and nonsense) (2 Timothy 4:3) • New teaching should make us thirst more for the Scriptures • "The Scriptures are in print what Christ is in person" • "To the word and to the testimony" must always be the last and final proof"
  • 24. Self image How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… • Holy Spirit is opposed to our fleshly desires and nature (Galatians 5:17, Romans 8:5,7) • Christ must be enthroned as we are dethroned, if it brings us up with pride it is not from God • Does the experience humble us and communicate our proper humble/contrite position in comparison to the greatness of God?
  • 25. Other Christians How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… • If the new experience or insight serves as a spiritual steroid the repercussions are clear in our prideful view of ourselves and condescension of others, this is a definite warning. • Love for fellow Christians is a test in itself (1 John 3:18,19, 4:7-8, John 13:35)
  • 26. The World How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… • Carnal enjoyments and desires cannot be at the root of a true teaching or spirit (1 John 2:16-17) • "Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil"
  • 27. Sin How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to… • "Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine" (Psalm 5:4-5) • Natural output of grace that justifies/saves is the teaching of the Holy Spirit to be sanctified to live a Godly life • All teaching must direct us away from sin and towards God • Morality should be viewed as a direction and not a line that we try not to cross, if the teaching/spirit points to sin in any slight way it is false
  • 28. Closing remarks... We cannot add to the word, this was being spoken at a time when the NT canon wasn't completed and God's word was still being decreed via prophets. Anything that adds to God's Word or takes away from it (Revelation 22:18-19) is in violation of God's establishment of Truth. We must contend for the truth and the message as it was once and for all given to us (Jude 1:3).
  • 29. Closing remarks... Warning: 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. – 2 John 1:7 Reassurance: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. – John 16:13
  • 30. thank you.
  • 31. www.theologyinsneakers.com sumair@theologyinsneakers.com
  • 32. Appendix
  • 33. ALL RELIGIONS & CULTS SEEM TO DO ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING… 1. Strip the deity of Christ 2. Bring God down to our level 3. Lift us up to God’s level 4. Focus on self and not God 5. Negate God’s existence altogether 6. Dismiss our sinful nature