Last Updated on September 18, 2020
We commonly know that there is a teaching that we are to “Test the spirit that is on you”, to make sure you’re in the right spirit. This is taken from 1John 4:1, but do we ever hear tell the whole verse or its context?
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1John 4:1)
It is clear from its context that it is instructing nothing of the sort as to what we hear taught about testing our spirit. Are we the false prophets that we are testing for? Are we questioning whether we are of God? This teaching has not only turned you from testing for false prophets but from even testing spirits plural. It has been made to be your singular spirit that is on you that you are to test. In other words – get yourself right and stop looking at me.
The most plausible reason someone would turn this around so that it points away from testing for what you’re supposed to be testing for; is that they are the fulfillment of what you’re supposed to be testing for.
John is clearly instructing us to test the spirits of and on others. To beware of (Mt 7:15-20) and look out for false prophets, and certainly to watch what you believe, because these men are identified by the spirits they exhibit and walk in (Mt 7:20; Rev 2:20). They come teaching us to believe something other than what we should believe. They are teachers – because they teach us things; or as Peter reveals, they are what was known to the church as prophets (2Pt 2:1). So we should be aware of the combination of these two offices (or callings) that they are intertwined in scripture. Peter calls them teachers and John calls them prophets.
The whole reason we are told to test the spirits is to identify false prophets – not if we are in the right spirit because we’re having a bad day.
We are first told to not believe every spirit. So why are we so quick to believe a spirit on a man that is instructing us? Especially when he’s doing it wrongly? Why also do some men push to Only Believe? Be careful little children what you believe. Because what you believe affects everything in your life, your decisions, and your walk. Likewise, they emphasize that we are to be converted and be like little children (Mt 18:3), and that the simple believe every word (Pr 14:15). Though they fail to realize that simple in scripture means stupid or foolish. Or do they? As some love to use those are two words to slander God’s people with.
This pulling scriptural words out of context and without understanding is their stock and trade. It coincides with the word Jesus used in Matthew 24:4 in answering the question on what is the Sign of the End Times – planēsē. It’s the Greek word translated mislead or deceive. It’s also where we get the word planets. Meaning a wandering star (Jude 1:13). A star that moves, that isn’t fixed. Like the Serpent with Eve or Satan with Jesus – It only takes a little tweak to God’s word to pervert it – a little leaven (Gal 5:7-10). They move you from the truth of God’s word – from its true intent. Just like what we’re talking about here with this verse in 1John 4:1.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Mt 18:6). They forget this word about the little ones, except when they turn it around and put it on us that we (little ones) are the ones offending them. This applies to religious shysters (whom some men are schooled under) who target God’s people as their audience so that they can twist the beliefs of God’s little ones.
This is where we find the danger in this spirit that is on them (which John is instructing us to test for). It causes us to modify our beliefs. Unaware to us (Jude 1:4), they perniciously use their heresies to get us to modify our beliefs (2Pt 2:2) – not abandon them – just to wander from them a bit. They teach us that they are special messengers and they have special privileges; and this allowance that we are to give them – because of their high calling – is given because of one thing; belief in their teachings that they are the Great One that they claim to be (Acts 8:9). This anointing is what gives them the spiritual right to speak for God and therefore change God’s word. They don’t call it changing though – that would be to overtly obvious. They call it revelation truth – they are the ones bringing forth God’s truth for the present time.
It’s circular reasoning. We believe that they are God’s anointed so we believe their false teachings, which are the teachings that teach us that they are God’s anointed. Thus we have modified our beliefs to accept the word of God at their mouth rather than from God’s written Word. Therefore, no longer can we obey God to test their spirit – because they tell us not to – and that means God tells us not to. Now we’re trapped. We’re now in the spiral of 2Peter 2 (which we cover below) where we will be subject to the same fate as the false teachers that we are following (Hos 4:8-10). Sometimes this fate is even reaped in this life, like the arrests that were made of people that allow these men to carry on their antics.
Into All the World
The times when the last part of this verse is quoted [false prophets go out into the world] is often for a distraction away from the quoter. They may say that they haven’t gone out into the world, but rather, they go to the church (see above) to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Yet, far more times (when far from this verse) they will brag on how they are heard throughout all the world “To all mankind” like no other man (though this isn’t true). Further, they boast that no other man is on Shortwave Radio throughout all the world like they are, and never has been. Then there’s the way they constantly proclaim over their congregation, “I wish someone would get saved around here” – stating that their whole congregation is unsaved. Sounds like they have gone out into the world, not the church (1Jn 4:1-6). If that’s not fulfilling what John is saying about false prophets what is? This is even without accounting for trying their spirit. The spirit on these men can often be clearly seen (and heard) from their own mouth – some of them, by all the world. This is a sampling of less than half of one of such mouth.
The Returning Dog
One consistent telltale Sign is, the doing of the same thing over and over, year after year, Service after Service – expecting a different result. Some say this is the definition of insanity. It is certainly a mark of stupidity and blindness, and a dog/pig nature/spirit (Isa 56:10; Pr 26:11; 2Pt 2:22).
“Listen to me, listen as I plead: Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever harrowing the soil and never planting it? Does he not finally plant his many kinds of grain, each in its own section of his land?” [Apparently not, the building and planting have never begun (Jer 1:10) – and yet The End is proclaimed] “He knows just what to do, for God has made him see and understand.” [Unless he’s following another god] “He doesn’t thresh all grains the same. A sledge is never used on dill, but it is beaten with a stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cummin, but it is beaten softly with a flail. Bread grain is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.” (Isaiah 29:23-29 TLB)
Yet we find certain men still doing the same thing – tearing down and destroying – over and over (2Pt 2:22). It’s the only thing they seem to know. There’s never a time for sowing, planting, healing, building, mending, or peace (Ecc 3:2-8) there’s only the work of destruction. These doings are of their father, it’s the spirit and the works of their father. And the works of their father they do well (Jn 8:44). Which brings us back to John. From where comes this spirit on them? Who is the waster that destroys? Who is the destroyer of God’s people? (Jn 10:10; Jn 8:44; 1Jn 3:8) Who is the accuser of God’s people? (Zech 3:1)
So how do we test or try the spirits? By what means are we to determine if they are of God? We don’t want to miss identify a false prophet – and therefore follow him. [Or worse, not test him at all and therefore follow him]. That could cost us our soul (2Pt 2:1-4, 12). This is especially true when we realize that Peter told us that they are close, that these men feast with you (2Pt 2:13).
There are several things that scripture shows us that can be clearly used to identify (to test) these spirits (men) to see whether they are of God (1Jn 4:1).
Let’s start with Peter. One thing Peter does is warn us that the old role of the prophet is now taken by the teacher. Warning us that it is what we are taught that brings about corruption and heresy – that causes us to wander from the fixed truth (Jude 1:13). These false men teach things through the reiteration of their special revelations (Rev 2:24; Titus 1:11), their present truths. I love the way Peter just gives us a list of attributes – the fruits of these men (2Pt 2:1-22):
- They are among the people of God – crept in unaware (only their stories tell their past) to us because they claim to be men of God (Jude 1:4)
- They bring in damnable heresies
- They do it so you don’t realize that they are doing it – it is unaware to us
- They denying that the Lord bought them from sin to walk in holiness, so they continue in sin and teach (one of their heresies) that sin is not a problem with God
- They foresee destruction, yet it is upon themselves
- Their ways are pernicious (having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way)
- Their followers follow these pernicious ways
- They make the way of truth evil spoken of because of their deeds – yet they blame in on their followers
- They are covetous
- They merchandise God’s people – their finances come from God’s people, they do not work with their own hands (Acts 20:34; 1Thes 2:9; 1Cor 4:12)
- Their words are feigned (simulated or pretended; insincere. indulge in pretense)
- They have judgment and damnation hanging over them
- People that live among them are vexed with the filthy conversation
- God delivers these Lot’s that get sick of their unlawful deeds
- They walk after the flesh
- They walk in the lust of uncleanness (Jude 1:4, 7-8)
- They despise authority over them (Jude 1:8-10)
- They are presumptuous (failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate)
- They are self-willed (their will is only for what they want)
- They are not afraid to speak evil of what God has dignified (His people) (Jude 1:8-10)
- They behave and speak as natural brute beasts
- They will be taken and destroyed
- They speak evil of the things that they understand not (God’s people)
- They shall utterly perish in their own corruption (While they blame it on you)
- They get their pleasures in the day time
- They do their riotous deeds in the day time
- They are spots (Though they may claim to be spot removers to divert identification)
- They are blemishes
- They sport themselves with their own deceivings – much boasting of their past glories
- They walk in their own deceivings while they feast with you
- They feast with you
- They have eyes full of adultery
- They cannot cease from sin
- They beguile unstable souls (The simple)
- They have exercised their heart with covetous practices
- They are cursed children (They have cursed children)
- They have forsaken the right way
- They are gone astray
- They follow the way of Balaam (a prophet)
- They loved the wages of unrighteousness (shysters schooling)
- They have been rebuked for their iniquity (many times, and casts out those that do so (3Jn 1:10) i.e. The River)
- They have been told by men’s voices to cease their madness (to no avail, as noted above)
- They are in the office of the prophet
- They are wells without water (they have no refreshment)
- They are clouds that are carried with a tempest (blown every direction, going off on rabbit-trails, never able to stay on track, causing confusion (1Cor 14:33))
- They have the mist of darkness reserved for them
- They speak great swelling words of vanity (about themselves (Jam 3:5))
- They allure through the lusts of the flesh (vile tongue (Jam 3:6, 8-10))
- They have much wantonness (merciless, inhumane, lewd, bawdy, lustful, sensual, mischievous, undisciplined, unruly)
- They target and bait those that were clean escaped from them who live in error (2Pt 2:20)
- They promise liberty
- They are the servants of corruption
- They Overcome and bring into bondage their followers (Rev 13:7)
- They once escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
- They had a knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
- They are again entangled with the pollutions of the world (Pr 26:11)
- They are Overcome
- Their latter end is worse than the beginning – they wax worse and worse
- They have known the way of righteousness
- They turned from the holy commandment after they have known it
- They had the holy commandment delivered unto them (Rom 1:32)
- They are Dogs
- They are Pigs
- They are the scripture fulfilled; The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (Pr 26:11)
Now that’s just one chapter on these men. If that list doesn’t bring someone to remembrance I don’t know why you’re on this website. For some, there is not one of the above listings from 2 Peter 2 that does not pertain to certain men or their ministry. Aside from if they had a knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ or ever escaped the pollutions of the world. This may be doubtful when you witness extreme wickedness in them, since it takes a departure from the truth to become so vile.
In Part 2 we will cover how John is talking specifically here about false prophets and we look back to what Moses said and more importantly what Jesus said when He simplified Moses’ commands on identifying the fruits of prophets.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Mt 7:15-20 NASB)