Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. (1 Joh 4:1-3a)
Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thes 5:20-21)
Only the Bible (the Word of God) is inspired and incapable of being wrong (inerrant). Therefore, the way to test any spirit is to see if what is being shared or taught is in agreement with the clear teachings of God’s Word.
In Acts 17:10-11 the Berean Jews were praised because, after they heard the teachings of Paul and Silas, they “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The Bereans were called “noble” for their desire to search the Scriptures for truth. Notice that they searched DAILY for the truth; this shows the level of their hunger for spiritual reality, as well as their desire to use the Bible as their measuring rod.
The idea in these passages (about testing the spirits) is to establish several truths:
- That whoever is speaking confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior;
- That the person (or spirit) acknowledges that Jesus came to earth in the flesh;
- That everything that is shared or taught is based upon and agrees with the inerrant Word of God—the Bible.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)
The reason for testing the spirits, for testing all religious teaching, is to see if it is truly from God or if it is a lie from Satan, the enemy of our souls. The Word of God is to be “a lamp” and “a light” to our path (Ps 119:105). We must allow its light to shine on every teaching and doctrine to be sure that we remain on the path of righteousness..
The Bible alone is the standard by which all truth should be judged. Be discerning and diligent about measuring what you hear (or read) against the Word of God.