“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.” 1 John 4.1-3
When I was in college as a religion major and began taking worldview and world religion classes, I discovered very quickly that the difference between Christianity and cults or other religions was their view of Jesus and his divinity. Even “Christian cults” like Mormonism and Jehovah Witness identify with Jesus but not as the only Son of God who has “come in the flesh” as is stated in 1 John 4.2.
Islam says a lot about Jesus, Judaism rejects him altogether, and atheists and agnostics deny his existence. Only demons in the Bible and the devil himself recognize the truth of who Jesus is and tremble at his name – (see https://www.openbible.info/topics/name_of_jesus_demons_tremble) besides Bible believing Christians who revere his name and give him the glory he deserves.
John reminds us that our battle is not against flesh and blood when he says “test the spirits.” This is evident in how very polarizing the name of Jesus is to the word. There is no middle ground in following Jesus. You are either for him or against him. You either bless his name or use it as a curse. Those who are for him must therefore worship and adore him or resign their faith to mediocrity.
The writer tells us not to believe every spirit, which suggests there are many spirits beyond the Spirit of the Lord and the Spirit of Jesus. Even though there are many false prophets (v.1), we have a means to test if a spirit is from God — “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ as come in the flesh is from God,” v.2. On the contrary, “every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” Simple enough, right? And lastly John writes, “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
I dare say I understand the spiritual realm. I know there are many spirits in this realm, angels, demons, the Lord and the devil. Anyone spirit that believes Jesus came in the flesh is from God and those who oppose this idea, are not from him. Spirits consume human beings at our invitation. They influence our thoughts, behaviors and philosophies. Evil spirits, including the spirit of the antichrist, have infiltrated the world to a point where the common enemy is Jesus. These evil spirits are crafty and have even come into our Christians churches just as they did in the synagogues during the day of Jesus.
My point is this — the spiritual realm is real. Angels and demons, God and the devil are fighting for control of your thoughts, beliefs, hearts and souls. Don’t believe the lies the world propagates about Jesus but believe the truth. Just as John encouraged the early church so receive this same encouragement. Test every spirit as John reminds the church. Know that Jesus was born to a virgin, born in the flesh, lived a sinless life, died and rose again, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
Repent and believe the Gospel!
“O Lord God, I often how often we are influenced by evil spirits when we give in to sin and turn from your Word. I wonder at your patience of allowing this to happen. But this is not our desire. We desire to please you, love you, walk with you, praise you. We desire to know you and worship you in the Spirit and in the Truth. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love. Send your anointing upon me that I might be all that you have called me to be. Keep evil and sin at bay that I might raise your name and sing an anthem of praise. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen