‘..do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God …’1 Jn4:1
With regards to Spirit we need to understand man has body and his spirit; as matter has its abstract side. This may be as an idea. Here spirit is to be understood in way man makes sense of his world. Worldly men always try to keep up with the spirit of the times. Their speech, dress and tastes are all calculated to prove they are in the swim of things. It is in this context St. Paul speaks ‘For what man knoweth the things of the man except the spirit of man which is in him?(1 Co.2: 11) . Spirit that moves a ‘natural’ man has the focus on the world This spirit certainly has power and the only limitation is that it is only good for certain things and is soley limited to this world. Thus if man is corporeal and hits the dust his spirit also similarly taken a hit. For a Christian such spirit is a drag. If he like the Psalmist wants to lift up his eyes unto God he requires another kind of spirit. (Psa121:1) This spirit of God helps us to know the things that are freely given to us of God.
As a child of God we need to understand our spiritual maturity is not given by anyone who may claim to be from God and is willing to take us by the hand. Only ask if God has freely given everything required for life and godliness what he could teach us further?
In 2 Pe.1:3 St. Peter writes that God has called us to glory and virtue. This is freely given to us through his Word. Christian life is a testing ground where we grow step by step and the verses 4-8 make it clear. Our maturity is from life and not by courtesy of any prophet however clever he may be.
Coming back to the epistle of St. John we read further of two kinds of spirit: the spirit is of truth and of falsehood.
Firstly we ought to know if we are qualified to test another who comes to us with some ‘revelation’ from God. He may have all the correct phrases to indicate his depth and also some gift to pass for a prophet. Whatever his credentials may be we need to safeguard ourselves from falling into error of judgment. God has given us his Spirit. With which do we know that we live in him and he in us? When we have confidence to accept this as truth we avoid errors. Whoever says contrary to this and however clever it be he is a false prophet. We must have discernment-some prophets are false as there is spirit of falsehood.
A prophet who accepts that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. Only he needs to prove that God is with him. Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. ‘Anyone who hates his brother …has no eternal life in him’.1 Jn 3:10
Spiritual gifts are fine but if they be built on a foundation of flesh it is like the house built on sand. Our Christian lives are to be built on the bedrock of love and it is on such a quality God the Father and God the Son shall dwell; and if we are swayed by fine speeches of others to found our Christian lives in them we shall soon find that we are deceived by them.
Have we not seen many false prophets lately? These have no love for any but for their own image. They make it all the more evident in the expensive clothes and trappings of rich. Their excuse is that they glorify God in the way he has made them a sign in the eyes of the world. All they need is a mega-church and limelight to pickout their antics on the stage. While they are quick to give glory to God for the material possessions what they gloss over is the verse:’If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can love of God be in him?(i Jn.3:17)
In the midst of so much poverty, unemployment and deprivation a few ‘prophets’ displaying their ostentatious’ riches’ is insult to God. These prophets have denied their responsibility. These brethren who are like children in that they need care and support are driven away with excuse,’God is love’ If these prophets cannot prove the Love of God in time of need show ‘love’ is a hollow word. In causing these little ones to stumble are not these false prophets denying the very God they seem to preach?
Love is a cliché in the manner it has been bruited about by preachers and politicians alike. Politicians have their social conscience so have prophets their standing as God’s messengers. Mal2:7 From the way the prechers have been shown in the press for their over-indulgence, we know that they are false. God is not mocked and in the day of His wrath( Mal 3:2 Joel 2:11) what benefits the false preachers of their gold, silver and costly apparels? Jas 5:2 Their punishment often comes while they wax eloquent in their ungodly ways.
‘Love never fails. But where there are prophesies, they will cease.(1 Co.13:8)
Those who hold gifts and not love as their greatest aim are in danger of falling into many traps that the spirit of Anti-Christ spreads for God’s people.