Test the Spirits
1 Jn. 4:1-6
The Bible is our final authority, the absolute standard of truth and all beliefs are to be tested by the
Bible. Many people have been led astray because the teachings of the false teachers. Their teachings
may look and sound religious and godly but it’s not Biblical. Unless a believer is taught by a solid
biblical truth, he will always be vulnerable to error. False teachers are very dangerous that is why the
Apostle John is giving us warning so we cannot be misled by them.
I. The Difference between the True Spirit and false spirits
A. Spirit with a capital “S” refers to the Holy Spirit
B. The word spirit with a small “s” refers to the spirit of man, the immaterial part of
man, the inner man which is distinct from the body and which passes into eternity at
death. Sometimes it refers to intelligence and skill (Ex. 28:3; Deut. 34:9).
C. Sometimes it refers to the emotions (Ex. 6:9; 1Sam. 1:15).
D. Sometimes “spirit” refers to demons (Lev. 20:27; Jg. 9:23; Job 4:15; M.t 12:43; Mk.
1:23; 3:30; 5:2; 7:25; 9:20-26; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:18; 19:12-13; 1 Tim. 4:1).
E. Sometimes it refers to angels (Heb. 1:7,14).
F. The spirit of believers is controlled by the Holy Spirit.
G. The spirit of unbelievers is controlled by Satan.
H. Satan also controls millions of evil spirits or demons. These were once angels, like
Satan himself but they followed him into sin and rebellion against God. They still
obey Satan, but the Lord Jesus Christ is greater and more powerful than all of them.
I. False spirits or false prophets are controlled by Satan who are deceiving people with
lies. There were many in the OT as it is written in Deut. 13:1-5, and also in the NT
times (Mat. 7:15, Acts 13:6)
J. There will be many false prophets in the last days of this church age (Mk. 13:22, 1 Jn.
2:18). They are still around us so this warning is very much applicable to us today.
K. The duty of believers is to test the false teachers. We are not to be easily deceived
by the nice sounding words of preachers or pastors. Satan like likes to mix truth with
lies and he manufactures half-truth to deceive people
II. The Warning
A. Believe not every spirit
1. We must not believe every teacher, every man or woman who says that they
have been called by God to preach.
2. We cannot believe the teachings of Islam, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses,
Seventh Day Adventist, etc., because they claim that their teachings are from
God or from an angel.
B. Try the Spirit whether they are of God
1. The word “try” means to test, to discern, to examine, to prove.
2. “Put them to the acid test of truth as the metallurgist does his metals.” In the
days of the apostles there were special “gifts” of the Holy Spirit, among them
“discerning of spirits” (I Corinthians 12:10). We can discern true from false
3. We are to test the doctrines or teachings of popular preachers or pastors or big
churches whether they are telling the truth or not. Popularity and numbers are
not an indication that a person or group is from God.
4. Our standard of truth and the final authority will always be the Bible.
5. The Berean Christians in Acts 17:11 searched the scriptures daily to find the
6. The church in Ephesus “tried” those who say they apostles and found them liars
7. Christian, do you test the teachings or preachings you hear from the radio, TV or
even the sermon of your pastor? Get back to your Bible and see.
C. Many False prophets are gone out into the world.
1. We live in a time where false prophets and false doctrines are rampant causing
much confusion and chaos even among God’s people.
2. These false prophets and teachers quote verses from the Bible to prove their
points but they did not really study and they fail to rightly divide the Word of
3. Paul wrote in 1 Tim. 4:1 that they hold to and promote doctrines of devils. Peter
calls their false doctrines damnable heresies (2 Pet. 2:1).
4. America alone has more than 350 sects and cults, and most of them claim to
base their doctrines on the Word of God.
5. There have been over 1,100 religious’ leaders in different parts of the world in
the last fifty years who have claimed to be Christ and the Savior of the world.
Most of these false Christ’s have risen in Africa, in India or in the Orient and
have spread into the West.
6. Six Marks of a False Prophet: Any one of the Bible’s six marks of false prophets is
a. Through signs and wonders they lead astray after false gods (Deut. 13:1-4)
b. Their prophecies don’t come to pass (Deut. 18:20-22)
c. They contradict God’s Word (Isa. 8:20)
d. They bear bad fruit (Mt. 7:18-20);
e. All men speak well of them (Lk. 6:26)
f. They deny that Jesus, the one and only Christ, has come once and for all in
the flesh (I Jn. 4:3). (Dave Hunt)
III. The Test
A. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1. What is being taught here is the incarnation of Christ. Incarnation means Christ
who is God become man to die for our sins.
2. To deny the humanity of Christ is just as wrong and heretical as denying His
deity. The Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man.
3. There are so many scriptural proofs to prove that Christ is God. I listed just a few
here but for me it’s more than enough to prove that Jesus Christ is God.
a. Jesus is called God (Jn. 1:1, Isa. 9:6, Heb. 1:8)
b. Jesus identified Himself as God (Jn. 8:58, 10:30, 14:9)
c. The Jews understood that Jesus claimed to be God (Jn. 5:18)
4. Here are some proofs of His humanity:
a. Jesus was given human names (Mt 1:21; Lk. 19:10; Acts 7:56).
b. Jesus had human ancestry (Lk. 2:7; Ac 13:23; Mt 1:16).
c. Jesus possessed a physical nature (Jn. 1:14; Heb. 2:14; 1 Jn. 4:3).
d. Jesus was subject to the laws of human development (Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 6:3;
Lk. 2:40,46,52; Heb. 2:18; 5:8).
e. Jesus was subject to normal human characteristics. He hungered (Mt. 4:2;
21:18). He thirsted (Jn. 4:7). He became weary (Jn. 4:6). He slept (Mt. 8:24).
He had compassion and love (Mt. 9:36; 23:37; Mk. 10:21). He was angry and
grieved (Mk. 3:4; Jn. 2:16). He trusted (Heb. 5:7). He wept (Jn. 11:35; Lk.
19:41; Heb. 5:7). He prayed (Mt. 14:23). He was sorrowful (Mt. 26:36-42).
f. Jesus had a body (Jn. 1:14; Heb. 2:14), soul (Mt. 26:38; Lk. 23:43), and spirit
g. Jesus died (1 Cor. 15:3).
h. Jesus is called a man both before and after His resurrection (Acts. 17:31;
1Tim. 2:5) (100 Bible Lessons).
IV. The truth behind
A. The false teachers who denied the true nature are to be identified as antichrists.
They are controlled by the Antichrist (the enemy of Christ), who is in turn controlled
B. We have been warned of his coming in Chapter 2:18-19. He is already in the world
C. We can already see signs of his working toward worldwide control of religion,
politics, money, entertainment, sports, education, and social media thru the
V. Victory over the enemy
A. True believers are in God’s family and have defeated these enemies of the truth.
They have refused to listen to the lies of the devil.
B. How did they have victory? They are indwelt by One which is greater than the evil
one. The whole Triune God lives in the believer. God the Father (Jn. 14:23), God the
Son (Jn. 14:20), and God the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:15-17).
C. Real Believers in Christ follow the true Overcomer, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
D. Satan’s followers belong to the world system, they are of the devil’s family. They
listen to his lies and spread them all around. Today the false religions are growing so
fast. Someone has said that Lies can run half way around the world before Truth
gets its running shoes on.
E. Members of God’s family listen to the world of God. This is because they know God
in a close personal way – He is their Father
False prophets are everywhere spreading lies, division, confusion, etc., to all God’s
people. By our texts, we can tell the Spirit of Truth, God’s Holy Spirit, the source of all
Truth from the spirit of error or lies, Satan, the source of all lies. The choice is always
yours which one to believe. Read your Bible and ask for wisdom, guidance, and
understanding. Choose Christ, choose life.