“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” – 1 John 4:1-3 (ESV)
The mention of the Holy Spirit in the previous chapter (1 John 3:24) motivates John to advise his readers that other spirits exist, such as demonic spirits, who produce false prophets and false teachers to spread their false doctrine. We are warned repeatedly through Scripture of the danger of apostasy, especially in later times. (1 Timothy 4:1-2). We are in later times as it is the period from the first coming of Christ until His return for his Church and judgment of the world. Do be on guard against falling prey to false teaching that tickles our ears and stirs our desire for the things of the world. Our promise is this, we can know and do know the Holy Spirit of God if we by faith given to us have believed in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf. We just might be in a time where the opposition is increasing and it is wise for us to cling to this instruction. We can test the spirits by discerning whether they confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those who do not so confess, but pretend to be preachers and teachers, are apostate.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” – Psalm 51:10-11 (ESV)
David, King of Israel, made a serious error in judgment and broke God’s Law. His lust for Bathsheba led him into adultery and the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. David, about whom God testified to be “a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do,” (1 Samuel 13:6; Acts 13:22) failed to do so always. It does not have to be any acts of such serious consequence in order to reflect on our own lives and the times when we have failed in obedience to God’s commandments. David writes this Psalm after he is confronted by Nathan, God’s prophet who was sent for that purpose. David confesses his sin and begs forgiveness from God. This promise, we have from God, is found throughout the Scriptures – God is merciful and loving. God will forgive all who come to Him in repentance, confessing their sins. Just as 1 John 1:9 confirms for us, God is faithful and just. He promises to forgive and cleanse us from sin and its residue. David’s request was for a clean heart and a right spirit within himself. God promises that when we acknowledge our failings.
Read 2 Samuel 11-12 – For context
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” … “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:1 & 4 (ESV)
The first letter written by the apostle John that we have in our Bible is a powerful letter of truth. A great amount of encouragement is given to those who have by faith, believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. When we accept Christ’s offer of forgiveness and in faith believe that He is our Lord and Savior, we overcome the false teaching and false teachers. They are everywhere and we must be on our guard not to be tripped up by them. In another verse we share today from John’s letter is this: “I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:14 (ESV) We know that all who believe and have the word of God abiding in them have by God’s will the strength to overcome evil. Since John addresses “little children” and “fathers” and “young men” we know that none are excluded from this promise. All faith believers overcome evil and false teaching. All are made strong in God love.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 (NIV)
The popular Southern Gospel song, “Family of God” includes the lyrics “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.” Our verse selected today reminds us of this important work of the Holy Spirit. When we believe and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are brought into the family of God. God puts within us His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the knowledge of our joining the family of God very real to us. Others might tell us this fact and we can read and sing about being children of God but in order for it to become really meaningful for you and I we need to hear confirmation from the Holy Spirit. How wonderful that the Spirit of God Almighty testifies with us that we are His children. Children of God by Spiritual re-birth and by God the Father’s adoption of us into his family. There need be no question about it and no doubt at all. Let’s just listen to Him and let Him convince us each day that we have been adopted and full members of God’s family of love.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11 (ESV)
If we were to look back two verses we find that the Apostle Paul was confirming that all who have God’s Spirit dwelling in them are no longer bound like a slave to their old life of desires and actions of the flesh (the natural man). We know that when Jesus Christ rose from the dead it was a marvelous miracle. It was something that only God could do. It was the very action that gives us new and eternal life. Our verse today reminds us that God’s power is available to us even while we’re living here on earth in our earthly bodies. Yes, God has made this power available to us through the Holy Spirit. The things that we could never do in our own strength we can do by His Holy Spirit power. So when we find it difficult to do God’s will in specific instances we can trust God through His indwelling Holy Spirit to enable us to do it. God does this for us using the same marvelous power that raised Christ from the dead. Since we have the Spirit dwelling in us we are assured us of this promise.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Ezekiel 36:27 (NASB)
The context of this promise was God speaking to His people Israel through His prophet Ezekiel. After having centuries of continual turning from God for pagan non-gods, now He was promising that one day He will do for them what they needed to follow His Way always. Those of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ have experienced a great change in our lives. God’s plan and promise is that when we believe in Jesus, God’s Holy Spirit is sent to live in us. When Jesus was on earth He made this promise and He mentioned several functions which He would fill. One of these promised functions is in today’s verse. The Holy Spirit is living in the hearts of believers to move us to obey the Lord. As we trust in Him, we learn to sense the impulse in us often to do what is pleasing to God. It may be through reading the Bible or hearing the Word preached that our hearts are stirred with the desire to do what God says He wants us to do in His Word. The stirring is the work of the Holy Spirit moving us to follow God’s will.
“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 5:5 (NASB)
Context is important. The passage in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 explains what Paul wrote but was made part the previous chapter, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. One fact that we can know and rejoice in is that God has plans for those who have believed and accepted the free gift. We are reminded of this truth in our verse today. God has prepared us for living with Him in heaven. We realize that his plans for us are really beyond our ability to comprehend. Because God knows that, He has given us His Holy Spirit. Paul writes that God has prepared us “for this very thing,” but what is that thing? It is to be covered with a resurrected body and the future glory that God already has prepared for us. To put it differently, God has for us, an existence of which the unspoiled life of Adam and Eve in paradise is a reflection. God has given us the Holy Spirit as a pledge concerning matters that will be revealed in the future. Now we are receiving a taste of the Spirit but in the hereafter we will receive the full allotment that God has in store for us.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13 (ESV)
We learn through these passages and others that a primary objective of the Holy Spirit of God was to reveal truth. For three years Jesus had taught and demonstrated by example who He was and the program of God as it would be worked out. Recorded in chapter 14, that same evening, Jesus had said, The Helper, the Holy Spirit, … he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” It was not going to be possible for the apostles and disciples to remember all that they had be taught and would proclaim by to the nations. Especially those who would be authors of the books and letters in the New Testament. That was the role of the Holy Spirit. One God indivisible, The Spirit was with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit would be the one to convey to the apostles and others who would be used to record what the Father says and the Son did. It was what made the inspired scriptures truly the Word of God. All that they remembered and all that was revealed to them would come through the Spirit of truth.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
It is common that these verses are misread and mistaught on a pretty regular basis. The error comes in the word ‘fruit’ which is read as ‘fruits.’ These nine qualities of character are a bundled package. Together they are the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of an obedient follower of Jesus. As listed there, this fruit is the evident mark one may expect from a life in which the Spirit of God is living and reigning and Jesus is Lord. Jesus also implied that one’s character of life can be determined. In Matthew 7, the test for false prophets is, among other things, the kind of life they live. Consequently, even though Jesus did prohibit disapproving criticism of others by his followers (Matthew 7:1), He encouraged fruit inspection. The secret to exhibiting spiritual fruit in abundance is described in John 12:24. Using as an illustration a grain of wheat sown in the ground, Jesus encourages death to self and to the desires of the old nature and resurrection to the new life of “much fruit.” Our promise is this fruit produced in our lives if we live according to the Spirit of God.