Our theme for the past several weeks on Sunday evenings has been ‘True Fellowship’. We have been studying the first epistle of John to see a number of things concerning fellowship. In chapter one we looked at some of the conditions for fellowship, in chapter two we discussed proper conduct in fellowship, and in chapter three we considered the characteristics of fellowship.
Tonight we begin looking at chapter four and find that John offers some warning concerning fellowship. The first on has to do with ‘lying spirits’.
I. Concerning Lying Spirits. v1-6
A. Warnings of false prophets. v1
1. Believe not every spirit...
2. ...but try the spirits whether they are of God:
a. We are to put these spirits to the test.
b. We cannot accept every spirit to be that of God.
3. Because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
a. Many in the days of John, so there will be many more in these days.
b. Paul warned us about them in his epistle to Timothy.
2 Tim. 3:1; 13 "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come... But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
c. Jesus himself warned of false prophets that would come.
Mt. 7:15, " Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
B. Marks of the false teacher. v2-3
1. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.
2. Every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.
a. This is a denial of the virgin birth.
b. This is a denial of Christ’s Deity as Son of God.
3. This kind of spirit is the spirit of anti- Christ.
a. It was prophesied to come.
b. It was present in the world then and now!
4. If you want a quick way of knowing what a person or some group teaches, find out what they believe about Jesus Christ!
SOME FALSE PROPHETS’ TEACHINGS:
1. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Christ was a created being
2. Modernists believe Jesus was a great prophet and a great teacher, but not God.
3. Jews believe that Jesus was a religious teacher but not the Messiah. .
4. Mormons believe that Adam-God and Mary brought Jesus into the world by natural conception.
5. Moslems believe Jesus was the seventh prophet.
6. Unity teaches that every man has the potential of becoming Christ.
7. Catholics believe Jesus was sinless because Mary was sinless.
8. Church of Christ and Christian Churches believe Jesus became the son of God at his baptism.
9. Seventh Day Adventists believe Christ was born sinful.
10. Christian Scientists believe that Jesus was not a personal being but just a concept of Mary’s communion with the supreme spirit.
C. Believers are Overcomers. v4-6
1. The indwelling Holy Spirit is greater than all the false spirits that are in the world.
John 14:16-17, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
2. We are different from the false spirits.
3. The world hears them because they are of the world.
4. We are of God: "he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us."
a. Born-again believers are not easily confused by teachers of false doctrine.
b. The world hears a false preacher because he preaches to please the world.
c. True believers listen to God’s minister because the Holy Spirit in the heart of the minister witnesses to the heart of the believer.
d. Unbelievers cannot endure sound doctrine for more than a short time, then they declare war on the preacher.
e. When the Word of God is preached true, it will divide people.
Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Does it really matter what a church teaches? Many would say no, but I believe the Word of God teaches that it is extremely important. We are cautioned to ‘try the spirits’ or put them to the test to see if it is of God! If any teaching or preaching does not line up with the Word of God believers who are in fellowship with the Lord should be able to recognize it! The Word of God is our ‘plumb line’. The foundation of our faith ought to be God’s Word! Is it?