1 John 4:1-3
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. 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, 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.
Every few years, some so-called prophet predicts that the world will end or Jesus will return on a certain date. So far, every single one of these “prophets” has been wrong. The date in question comes and goes without any existential change in the world, and the prophet is left to apologize, make excuses or just slink off the public stage. It’s easy to spot a false prophet after their prediction fails to pan out, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between someone who deceitfully claims to speak on God’s behalf and someone who genuinely has a word of truth to share. Thankfully, there are some clear guidelines for discerning between true and false spiritual messages.
John gives us one way to tell: Does the prophet and his or her message hold to the Biblical truth about who Jesus is? This test also applies to cults and other fringe groups that claim association with Christianity. Do they believe that Jesus is God’s Son? Do they confess that Jesus is the one and only Savior? Have they added any requirement for salvation beyond faith in Jesus and the free grace of God? These core beliefs define our faith and align with the clear teaching of scripture. Any message or prophecy that denies the basic truths of Christianity should be rejected. In the same way, we should test all prophetic messages against scripture. God will never contradict his own word. Some people suggest that God’s word needs “updating” or that we can speculate about how God’s thinking may have changed in reaction to the modern world, but scripture is clear that God’s word is eternally true (Psalm 119:89, 160) and that God never changes (Psalm 102:27, James 1:17).
God does still speak to his people, and some believers have spiritual gifts like prophecy, teaching and wisdom that allow them to share God’s truth with the church. Their messages can bring encouragement and clarify Biblical truth. If their gift is really from the Spirit, what they share will always honor Jesus and align clearly with God’s word. What a blessing it is that God sends his truth and the good news of Jesus into our lives in ways we can understand.
Father, thank You for the truth of Your word that helps me know and love You. Teach me to discern truth from falsehood, and give me courage to proclaim Your truth. Help me to honor Jesus with my words and actions, just as I pray in His wonderful name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian