“Beloved, 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.” (I John 4;1)
Here John addresses what has become one of the weaknesses of modern evangelicalism: the lack of spiritual discernment. He commands believers to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” Unfortunately, not many Christians today seem to be heeding his command. In fact, the tendency of many is to do the opposite:
— John said: “DON’T believe every spirit.” But the tendency of many Christians is to believe whatever teaching is given them, without considering that it may not be true.
— He said “TEST the spirits”. Not many believers do. They just accept whatever sounds or feels good, without really comparing it with scripture and classic, orthodox Christian teaching.
— And John added that this is necessary because “MANY false prophets have gone out into the world”. Some Christians might admit that there are indeed a few false prophets out there, but John said it’s not rare. In fact he said it’s not that there are just one or two; but that they are “MANY”! We need to continually be on guard against false teaching, because it is pervasive.
This scripture is a reminder that this world is not a friend to the genuine faith. There are spiritual “minefields” in the form of false teachings and teachers everywhere. Followers of Christ need to tread carefully, and heed God’s words through John here: “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.”