I John 4:1-3 says “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth nto that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of antichrist. Whereof, ye have heard that it should come and even now is already is it in the world. (KJV)
How do We Test the Spirit?
What does it mean “to try the spirits?” For a long time, I used to think that testing the spirit meant that you ask a person if that person believed that Christ was come in the flesh, I have since then realized that isn’t the case. Trying the spirit means that we are to observe another person for the spirit that person is using.
The Spirit of Selfishness
One spirit that we might come across is the spirit of selfishness. When someone tells us something, we are to examine whatever they said lines up with God’s word. We also need to make certain that whatever they are saying is not just sell serving. I had a friend who told me that God told her that I was to give her a new coat that I got. I knew that what she was asking was her own doing and that God had nothing to do with it. She liked the coat and wanted it. She used God as an excuse to get me to give it to her.
The Lying Spirit
Another spirit is one of the enemy trying to prevent us from doing God’s will. This spirit tells us that there is a short cut to doing God’s will. It’s basically the same one that the serpent used on Eve in the Garden of Eden. He said “Did God really say?” He in essence offered her a short cut. Nah, he said you won’t really die. You’ll just become gods like him. I can’t tell you how many times I personally played the fool with this one. Shortcuts are never really short cuts.
A friend of mine told me a story once about how when he was a boy a couple friends of his wanted to take a short cut home. The problem was, the road that they were taking was a straight shot to their homes. My friend did not join his friends, but took the road home. He made it home just fine, but his friends weren’t found until the next morning.
The Spirit of Lust
Proverbs talks a lot about spirits. There’s the spirit of the harlot whose siren’s song draws people to their doom. This spirit is any spirit that causes you to lust after someone that belongs to someone else.
The Lazy Spirit
There is also the spirit of the sluggard. This person sits back and waits and doesn’t take action. This person believes that tomorrow is soon enough for anything. This person decides to wait until the eleventh hour, but sometimes unfortunately this individual’s life ends at ten-thirty.
The Spirit of Truth
Jesus Christ coming in the flesh is a demonstration of God’s love for us. If the spirit behind what we are doing (or someone we know is doing) is of God, then God’s love for that other person will be a motivator for that person’s actions or words. His gift was the ultimate love offering that he could have given to us. He came as a human baby, lived the life of a man in the flesh, experienced the same temptations that we all share (the difference is he resisted every one and we don’t), and then went to the cross with full knowledge that he was going to suffer so that we could live. That is the spirit that we are testing. The spirit of truth is also the spirit of knowledge wisdom spoken of in Proverbs. When we seek the truth of who Christ is, when we search the scriptures to understand who we are in Christ, our spirit demonstrates that Christ is come in the flesh and that he has offered himself to us through his generosity.
Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church 1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga