1 John 4: 1-6.
Dear friends, 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. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
Two tests are mentioned here :
1. Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus has come in the flesh is not from God which is the spirit of the antichrist.
2. The false prophets are from the world and speak from the viewpoint of the world and the world listens to them.
The first test is the test of the Christology or doctrine of Jesus Christ held by these prophets or teachers.
The second test is to test whatever these prophets or teachers say belongs to the prince of the world or the Son of God.
The second test is so crucial because the enemy’s agents will come masquerading as angels of light. They may have the rhetoric of praising Jesus or speaking correctly about the grace of our Lord, but their hearts may be far away from our Lord.
The prince of the world has and will continue to tempt mankind with the same three temptation – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He had done so with Eve (Gen 3:6) tempting her that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom. He had done so with Jesus our Lord too (Luke 4:1-13).
Any true prophet or teacher will not twist the teachings of our Lord Jesus and His Word (through the Prophets and the Apostles) to mean the opposite if they truly love Him. If any prophet or teacher promote the same three temptation, you can be sure that they are of the world and not of God.
Let’s look at some of these famous rhetorical key phrases by the false prophets or teachers and compare them with our Lord’s.
False prophet : Abundant life is an abundance of every good thing in life.
Jesus our Lord : Life does not consist in the abundance of things. (Luke 12:15).
False prophet : God wants to prosper Christians and we are called to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health and to enjoy a life of victory.
Jesus our Lord : The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. (Matt 13:22-23)… Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that Day will not come on you suddenly like a trap. (Luke 21:34-35).
False prophet : Only good things happen to those who believe God loves them.
Peter the Apostle : Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. (1 Pet 4:12-13).
Whoever is of the world does not listen to the Word of God; and this is how we recognize the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:6.