I 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.”
Several times a day, my phone rings, and on the other end of the line is someone wanting my money. Sometimes, the person is selling something. Other times, the person wants a donation to this charity or that one. The person always wants me to have faith that they are who they say they are, and that they won’t cheat me or steal my credit card number.
My answer is always “No.” If I want to buy something, I’ll go shopping. If I want to donate my money, I’ll do the research and decide where my money should go. But there is no way for me to test and see if a person is legitimate over the phone.
As Christians, we are called to have faith. Faith is a belief in something which cannot be seen. But that doesn’t mean we should believe in anyone and everyone who claims to have a message from God! Instead, we must “test the spirits.” But how do we test spirits? How do we know whether or not someone is from God?
There are several ways we can test what we see and hear. First of all, does it line up with God’s Word? If not, it is not from God. Second, does the person bearing this “message from God” live a godly life? Does he try to live in a way that pleases God, or does he continue in sin, as John has spoken of before? Finally, we should always trust the Holy Spirit, who lives in us. He will give us insight into whether or not a person’s words and actions can be trusted. If we are unsure about someone, or about something we have heard, we can ask God. He will always give us the wisdom that we seek.
Dear Father, Thank You for giving me Your Word, and Your Holy Spirit. Please keep me aware of false teachers and teachings. Give me Your wisdom as I “test the spirits” around me.
This is a great post. Not everyone has the spiritual gift of discernment (I certainly don’t) and so I have to stop often times and ask myself the very questions you wrote to know if something is of God or not. The Holy Spirit never lets me down if I listen to the gut answer he gives. Praise God for this word and Spirit!
Thanks Melissa! It has helped me, too, to remember practical ways to determine whether something is of God.