The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error

I Jn 3:24-4:6

24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

This message was preached May 5, 2002 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at  

 1 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. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.

6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (NKJ)

I got some great financial advice from a TV program the other day. And I expect that within about two months I will be a millionaire.

And the other day I heard about this amazing new drink that keeps you healthy. I know that it sounds too good to be true but you just drink 8 ounces six times a day and you never have to worry about your health again. You can just eat whatever you want and never have to try to watch your weight or take you medicines. Now some of you are wanting to know where do I get some of this stuff.

Well if I was so easily taken in by this type of thing you would begin to wonder about me.

But people are so often taken in by spiritual charlatans. If someone comes with a message from God, Americans never consider that the person might be selling spiritual snake oil.

As we consider the Spirt of truth and the spirit of error this morning, open your minds to the possibility that not every religionist or even every Christian minister is really on track. Some, many are the proverbial sheep in wolves clothing.

John says, "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."

  1. John says we cannot, we must not believe everyone who claims to speak from the Spirit of God.
    1. We must try the spirits.
    2. Try them by their testimony concerning Jesus Christ.
      1. John says if they say such and such about Jesus then they are anti-christ instead of being from Christ.
      2. Rodney Romney, senior pastor of Seattle's First Baptist Church, wrote a book entitled, Inner Space: Finding God-in-Us. Inside the book his message is spelled out: "To understand God is finally to realize one's own godhood;" Jesus was not God but "simply a man who knew the laws of God" and who expected His followers to "realize the Christ within their own consciousness." Denying that Christ's death and resurrection provide our only salvation, Romney writes: "He [Jesus] meant to establish a world religion that would embrace every soul and synthesize every creed."
      3. David Roper comments, "A longstanding supporter of interfaith dialogue, Rod Romney emphasizes that each tradition has much to learn from each other. And while he warns against the dangers of identifying too strongly with one's tradition, Reverend Romney suggests that situating oneself firmly within one tradition is essential during the early stages of one's conscious spiritual journey. As one progresses toward a deeper connection with the divine, identification with a specific spiritual tradition becomes an obstacle. "We are essentially One," says Rev. Romney, and any concept that diverts us from this reality is illusory."
      4. Quote by Rev. Rodney Romney, former pastor of Seattle First Baptist: "...The popular image of Jesus was that he was the Holy Son of God (identity) who came to die for the sins of the world (purpose) and to proclaim himself as the Messiah or Savior (mission). But if you take a more historical approach to his life, as have numerous writers today, that image disappears. The new image that emerges is that Jesus' message was not about himself; he did not come to die for our sins, nor did he try to get people to believe in him. (quoted from the 1998 National Forum of the Center for Progressive Christianity)
      5. All the Cults oppose the deity of Jesus Christ.
      6. If they are not right on Jesus, it makes little difference what else they teach.
    3. Try them by the Word of God.
      1. Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (NKJ)
    4. By the gospel they preach.
      1. Some preach another gospel Paul told the Galatians
      2. They preach something other than salvation by grace.
      3. They mix works into it.
      4. Someone who preaches a gospel that leads people to hell cannot be good.
  2. But someone will say they are so good.
    1. They do so many good things, or so much of what they teach is right.
      1. Rat poison is 99.95 percent good food.
      2. It only takes one fly in a whole bowl of soup to ruin your appetite.
      3. Why is it then that Christians accept the lies and the false teaching.
      4. Why do we put up with ministers and teachers in seminaries who do not believe that Jesus is the son of God?
    2. They have such a dynamic message.
      1. It is not the delivery that means so much as it does the contents of the message.
      2. Go to a swanky resturant and it will not make any difference how they dress or behave if they send you a wilted salad or a rotten steak.
    3. They seem so nice.
      1. 2 Cor 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (NKJ)
        1. Things have not changed.
        2. The church has always had to deal with false teachers.
        3. But in our day, the day of inclusiveness and tolerance we have put the garbage on the dinner table.
      2. The only reason why counterfeit money can be passed upon the unsuspecting public is because it looks like the real thing.
      3. John says try the spirits.
  3. Some will claim in no uncertain terms that God has spoken to them.
    1. They spiritually intimidate their people.
    2. It is as though no one dare question their word for it is as the very word of God.
    3. John says it doesn't matter, if they do not say the right things about Jesus they are not speaking by God's leadership.

I have decided that I do not need to know anything about health.

I have decided that I can eat all the fatty foods I want and never exercise.

I have decided to leave all that to my doctor.

After all he is the health expert, why should I trouble myself with those issues.

There is one condition that is as dangerous as accepting every spirit and every teacher. And that is no being concerned about spiritual matter at all.

Some Christians have no spiritual interests at all.