Christians should not accept any claim to divine origin or authority for any teaching without its first being tested. The Scriptures provide a reliable standard by which to test all spirits, for every divinely inspired message must be in harmony with what the Lord has already revealed “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20, 21).
The apostle John declares, “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. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).
This does not mean that we accept anyone that simply confesses verbally that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In fact, to state that one believes that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is to do no more than the demons did during the ministry of Christ. In Mark 1:21-28, we read the story about Jesus casting an unclean spirit out of a man who lived in Capernaum. When the unclean spirit met Jesus, he cried out, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (1:24). It is clear that the unclean spirit confessed Jesus as coming in the flesh; yet that was merely a verbal confession without the fruits of obedience.
Therefore, true confession carries a two fold meaning: (1) to acknowledge the truth of the doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God; (2) to reveal in the life the effect of believing this doctrine. The fullest interpretation calls for more than verbal agreement with a teaching: it demands the Christ-filled life. Therefore, the obvious fruits of a Christ filled life means to confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-3); forsake sins (1 John 1:8-10); keep God’s commandments (1 John 2:3-4; 5:2); practice righteousness (1 John 2:29); and love others (1 John 3:10; 4:17).
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In His service,
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