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Tkay

Testing the Spirits

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What does this mean exactly and how do you do it?

Thanks!

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1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.


This book was written to warn the Christians that some of the 'teachers' of that time were teaching false doctrines, things that didn't lined up with what Christ had taught. Examples of the false doctrine include:
- that Christ was a man, not divine - they couldn't believe that God would die.
- The body is bad but the spirit is good, therefore it doesn't matter what we do in our bodies as long as we love God. This is false because if we love God, we must live good lives.

As it relates to this specific scripture, we must test the spirits to make sure that they come from God. It is a warning to not accept as truth everything that someone that purports to be of God is teaching or otherwise sharing, we should test the source of these statements to make sure that they are rooted in a spirit of God versus another spirit.

How do we do this? By using the Bible as our reference to make sure that what is taught/prophesied/etc. lines up with the Word of God. The next couple of verses in 1 John, verses 2-3 - 2 explain how we test the spirits -
"By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."

Hope this helps!

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One thing that I would like to add because I'm not sure that it came through in my earlier post. Testing the spirits is something that we should do all the time with everyone we encounter. Not just pastors/teachers/prophets/etc. but also other Christians - don't take everything that's presented at face value. It is wise to make sure that who a person says they are is fact who they are and that it all lines up with the Word of God. Granted, none of us are perfect and we all fall short of the glory of God, but it's our heart condition that separates those Christians who believe the Word and are trying their best to live righteous lives from those Christians who are are not really trying to change their lives and go through the motions so to speak.

Even on this site, it is important to test the spirits. Unfortunately, the online format has many advantages but also some disadvantages, one of which is that the interaction here is limited to what we read on our computer or mobile screens. We must test the spirits by making sure that interpretations line up with the Word of God - we should never receive an intepretation just because it was given. Likewise, we must also test the spirits behind the scenes to make sure that individuals whom we interact with and/or befriend here or on any other site are behaving in ways that are righteous/consistent with biblical principles. What we know about each other is only what is revealed by each member, but in truth we don't really know what they're sharing is true vs false/exaggerated/incomplete/being presented with a biased perspective/etc. (those moments when we say "Oh! If I'd known __________, then I wouldn't have thought/said ______!")

We absolutely have to test the spirits and be led by the Holy Spirit in this regard.

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Test the spirit by the spirit of God that lives on the inside of you. If something is of God and the spirit of God lives on the inside of you, the spirits will agree. It's like God agreeing with himself.

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