Testing the Spirits

Testing the Spirits

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. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 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.

A New Thing

A New Thing

God is always working in the world.  He loves to do a “new thing”! 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  (Isa 43:19)

Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.  (Isa 42:9)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (2 Cor 5:17)

. . . to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  (Heb 12:24)

God’s new thing will ALWAYS be better than anything that has gone before.  When His plans for one of His people changes, the reason is to improve the plan!

Our God is a God of love, mercy and truth.  He is patient and full of goodness.  God is eternal, self-sufficient, all-powerful and He never changes!  We must learn the nature of our God, and once we do, our faith in Him will be deepened and secure.

Since God knows everything, we can trust that His new thing will also serve the best interests of everyone concerned.   Get on board with God’s new thing!

Eternal Salvation

Eternal Salvation

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him . . . (Heb 5:9)

Jesus Christ has purchased our eternal salvation, and there is ample testimony to this truth in the Scriptures.

This one who is life from God has been shown to us, and we guarantee that we have seen him; I am speaking of Christ, who is eternal Life. He was with the Father and then was shown to us.  (1 Joh 1:2 TLB)

Jesus has been shown to the whole world as our Redeemer and Savior.  He said about Himself that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  (Joh 14:6)  Faith in Him is the way to reconciliation and peace with God, our Father.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1 Cor 6:20)

The price given for our salvation was Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection.  Jesus paid that price, and for this we give glory to God!  We are literally called to glorify God through our lives and how we spend our lives in His service.

. . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  (Tit 2:14)

The Lord desires for us to be fervent and intense about performing good works.  What exactly are “good works” according to the Scriptures?  Good works are such things as:  feeding the poor; visiting prisoners; helping the homeless; preaching the Gospel; ministering to widows and orphans; etc.  With so many families fractured by living in different states and by relational hurts, these things are very necessary in these days.

. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.   (1 Pet 1:18-19)

Honor the Lord by realizing the importance and value of the gift of salvation that Jesus paid for with His own, precious blood.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world . . .  (Mt 25:34)

Looking for Blessed Hope

Looking for Blessed Hope

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . . (Tit 2:11-13, emphasis added)

I think it’s too easy in this age of high pressure and constant stress overlaid by tense world events for us to lose sight of our HOPE.  We need to meditate more frequently and regularly upon the truth that we are expectantly waiting and watching for our blessed hope which will be evidenced by the glorious appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ! 

Here is what the Bible has to say about it:

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (Mt 24:30-31) 

The righteous rejoice to even anticipate this event, so think of what the reality of it will be like!  In the meantime, we have many responsibilities to attend to—not only those of being responsible spouses, parents, children, or friends—but also the responsibilities that we have to Jesus, our Savior.  We have an active and eager enemy according to the Bible.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet 5:8) 

Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  (1 Thes 5:6)

Do not be taken unawares.  Do not be drowsing or spiritually dull.  Keep yourself spiritually keen, effective and alert.  Read the Scriptures; praise and worship God regularly; fellowship with other believers, and be a witness of what Jesus has done for you.  This lifestyle will energize your faith and move you forward in realizing your purposes in the Kingdom.  God bless you.

It Stood Fast

It Stood Fast

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.  (Ps 33:9, emphasis added)

What does “it stood fast” tell us?  Here’s the same verse in the The Bible in Basic English (BBE) version:

For he gave the word, and it was done; by his order it was fixed for ever.  (Ps 33:9 BBE)

This verse is communicating the understanding and knowledge that, at God’s Word, things are permanently created!  They are established and secured.

That’s the power inherent in God’s Word.  Once we fully understand that God’s Word is creative, superior, powerful, and invincible—we have anchored this knowledge in truth and supplied our faith with rapid growth food.

As we feast upon God’s Word and meditate upon its message, we become assured not only of God’s love but also of His power to establish and to secure the very thing that it is sent to achieve.  His Word stands forever.  Hallelujah!

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.  (Isa 40:8)

Jesus, Our Hope

Jesus, Our Hope

But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand.  The helpless commits [entrusts] himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.  (Ps 10:14) 

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy,
19 to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
  (Ps 33:18-19, emphasis added)

When the wicked cannot be restrained by the righteous in society, we must trust in God for ultimate justice.  He is our one, True hope. 

God sees everything—the evil and the good.  Nothing escapes His view, and He alone knows the motives in the hearts of human beings.  Therefore, His judgment is based upon knowledge and truth, not suppositions.

In perilous times, the police; government officials; and politicians may be corrupt, evil, or controlled by wicked agendas.  So when we place our HOPE in the Lord Jesus, we are placing it in the One who can never be influenced to do evil, and whose plans for mankind are plans for good and not for evil!  Praise God! 

Here are some Bible verses about hope:

For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.  (Ps 71:5)

O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.  (Ps 130:7)

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.  (Jer 17:7)

. . . through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:2)

Hope (and the God of hope) will not disappoint us!  (Rom 5:5)

The Armor of Light, Part 2

The Armor of Light, Part 2

This is a continuation of our last blog article about our Armor.  (See Isa 59:17 & Eph 6:14-18)

How do we employ our armor? 

  1. The belt (sash) in a Roman soldier’s uniform was intended to enable him to tightly wind his garment about him prior to battle so that it wouldn’t be a hindrance to him. The Belt of Truth enables us to carry our weapons; gird up our loins [1 Pet 1:13-14] or “pull in all of the loose ends of our lives;” and to demonstrate that we are seriously committed to the battle.  We have a heart for the battle; we’ve counted the cost.  We love the Truth and we go to war on behalf of it.  We also go to battle (truly) for our own spiritual protection!
  2. A soldier needs a breastplate to protect the vital organs, and would not go into battle without one. Our breastplate of righteousness is constructed of the truth that we are living in obedience to God; we are walking in holiness before Him.  We have put on the Lord Jesus Christ because He is our Lord and Savior.  (see Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27)  Jesus lived a sinless life, and as our Savior, He shares His righteousness (holiness) with us—not only His righteousness but His very IDENTITY as well!  We are covered in Christ!  Hallelujah! 
  3. Roman helmets, like helmets today, protected the head from the attacks of the enemy. Salvation basically means to be saved or delivered from something.  In the New Testament, it is generally used to refer to deliverance from the eternal death penalty of sin and deliverance into God’s Kingdom.
    Every one of us has thought and acted in ways that are displeasing to God. Our sins break God’s laws which He designed for our good. Sin requires the death penalty; God’s justice requires that penalty. But God’s loving mercy provided the only acceptable substitute. Jesus Christ, our Creator, was willing to die in our place! 
    This truth gives us beautiful hope and comforts us by focusing on Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.  We need to also consider the Kingdom of God and the life that is the goal of our salvation.  This hope works like a helmet to protect our minds from the discouragement, depression, and despair in this world—it is the Helmet of Salvation.
  4. Shoes (of the preparation of the gospel of peace) permit us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.
    The gospel of the Kingdom of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of peace—these are some of descriptions attached to the word gospel throughout the New Testament. Do all of these different qualifiers mean that there are multiple gospels set forth in the Bible? 
    The Greek word translated gospel—euaggelion—simply means “good news.” This raises a question: The good news of what? The first description used in the Gospels also summarizes all the others: The gospel of the Kingdom. The good news of the Kingdom of God includes the good news about Jesus Christ the King; His grace (unmerited pardon); and His plan of salvation for all mankind. This plan gives us peace now, and will bring peace to the whole world! This is the message that we, as God’s people, should be eager to share with others. Our loving Father is preparing each and every one of us for a future beyond imagination and description.
    God’s Church is sent to announce the good news of God’s Kingdom, which will spread His way of peace around the whole world. (Rom 10:14-15)  Having our shoes on, we are ready to move, to spread these glad tidings to others.
    In the Apostle Paul’s day, he walked countless miles in delivering the good news. Today, transportation and communication have changed, but we must also be constantly ready to do our part to spread the good news.  Just as shoes
    allow us to walk on otherwise painful terrain without fear, so the preparation of the gospel of peace allows us to navigate the otherwise painful trials and tribulations of life without fear, knowing that what awaits us is far greater than anything we could possibly suffer in this world (Rom 8:18).
  5. The Roman shield was a central part of the soldier’s defense. It was rectangular in shape and rounded on the ends. It was typically made from two sheets of wood that were glued together, then covered with canvas and leather. The canvas and leather could be doused with water to protect against flaming arrows.
    The shield weighed about 22 pounds and was roughly 37 to 42 inches high and 27 to 33 inches across. A metal piece ran across the center of the shield, so it could also be used as a weapon to punch or push forward.
    Paul, in his analogy of the Christian armament, says that “above all” the shield of faith should be raised!
    To see why faith is so important, we must first understand what faith is. The author of Hebrews describes it as the realization of something we can’t see: 
    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. (Heb 11:1-2).  The word faith in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word pistis, defined by Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary as “firm belief.” Faith is an unshakable belief in the promises of God. 
    So the Shield of Faith is vital in our battle against the enemy of our souls.  We are justified by faith; faith empowers us to prevail over the adversary; our faith pleases God; and finally, our faith permits us to shield others.
    The Shield of Faith is only effective when it is raised.  We must be watchfully prepared and ready for battle. 

The sword used by Roman soldiers was known as a gladius; and in the hands of a skilled man, it was a fearsome weapon. In fact, it became known as “the sword that conquered the world.” It was sharpened on both sides, making it lethal against an unarmored foe. The point was also sharpened, enabling it to penetrate armor.

An infantryman in the Roman legions would also go into battle with a dagger, a few spears and possibly a few darts. But the gladius (sword) was the only offensive weapon listed by Paul, and it was the main weapon in the soldier’s arsenal.

Paul defines the sword of the Spirit as the “word of God” (Eph 6:17). This isn’t the only place where God’s Word (the Bible) is described as a sword. The author of Hebrews also makes reference to it:
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account . . .  (Heb 4:12-13).

The Word of God is even sharper than the gladius! It is capable of slicing to the deepest levels of one’s heart, attitudes, and motives.  It is a tool of discernment in the hands of a skilled user, as well.