1 John 4:1, “1 Beloved, 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.”
In verse 1 the Apostle John is writing to a group of people who have heard about Jesus, but never seen Jesus, and the Apostle John writes, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit.”
The phrase “do not believe every spirit” is reminding us that we live in a spiritual world. Yes, we live in a physical world that we can see, smell, hear, taste, and touch, but we are also living in a spiritual world, and in verse 1 John writes “We live in a spiritual world, and we need to test the spiritual world to see if it is true or false.”
When you see the phrase “false prophets” it doesn’t mean crazy people with googely eyes that you can smell coming a mile away. No, the Apostle John is talking about invisible forces at work intentionally creating confusion and leading people astray.
The word, “spirit” in verse 1 means “spirit of the age” or “ways of thinking.” It means there are messages coming at us all the time through movies, music, education, friends, school, and even through this blog.
Therefore, the Apostle John writes, “Beloved, we must test every spirit.” We must be on the alert. We must consider the messages and test if they are true or false. There are two primary views in our culture about Jesus today. The first is that there are people who believe Jesus is God in the flesh who has come to provide the means for men, women, and children to be reconciled to God by grace through faith in Jesus.
The second is that Jesus is not God in the flesh, but simply one of many ways to consider in life, therefore, we must test both of these claims to see if they are true or false. Lets take the second one first.