The Bible warns disciples of Christ not to trust without testing. In 1 John 4:1, it says, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God".
Here, the apostle John is encouraging believers not to trust in any prophetic words or mystical or spiritual experiences without a close examination for biblical truth.
To test the spirits, John exhorts believers to look at their character and whether their teachings line up with God’s Word. Paul also gives a warning in 2 Corinthians 11:4 that teaches that false prophets are able to disguise themselves as ministers of light. He says "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ".
This implies that we should be aware of those who claim to come in the name of Christ but whose character does not match up with the character found in God’s Word. The Bible provides a three-fold process for testing the various spirits or teachings that we may encounter.
First, we must study scripture diligently in order to better understand the character of God and His guidelines for loving and obeying Him. Second, we must actively pray for discernment, trusting in the Holy Spirit to provide insight into the truthfulness of the teachings of men.
Finally, we must check our own hearts and minds for any preconceived ideas or revelatory experiences that may be more in line with our own thoughts than those of God. Paul also warns believers of a spiritual deception that he refers to as "cunning craftiness" in 2 Corinthians 11:3.
This suggests that fraudulent teachings can be subtle and hard to detect. To counter this, he urges Christians to look to scripture for the most accurate knowledge of God and to rely on praying for discernment and wisdom rather than relying on their own judgment.
The Bible’s clear stance against false spiritual authority and guidelines is summed up in 1 Timothy 4:1, which says "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons".
This passage highlights the danger of drifting away from following God’s guidance and emphasizes the importance of testing all of our spiritual experiences and teachings against His word. Overall, the Bible offers clear directions on how to test the spirits. It encourages believers to research scripture, pray for discernment, and check their own hearts for any preconceived ideas or false teaching.
In doing so, Christians can ensure that they remain strong in their faith while avoiding any deception that may seek to draw them away from the truth.
Finally, your pastor and church leaders are also a good source of protection from deceiving spirits and teachers of error.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark
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