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. … You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1. John 4, 1.4
When I was still new to my faith, I did not know my Bible very well. So I would at times read a verse and interpret it in my own way. That, to me, was the logical thing to do. At one point I explained my interpretation to a lady in our Bible study group. She listened attentively. But at the end, she said very decisively: no, that is not how God is. She was in no way argumentative or judgmental. She had a personal relationship with God and had Jesus in her heart. Hence the decisive way in which she was able to say “No, that is not how God is”. In this way I could accept it. I was plainly wrong on this point.
There are still many people who take something out of the Bible and turn it into their own teaching using their sharp brain and logic. Such was already the case in the time of Paul and John. The seducers grew up in Christian congregations and are well versed in Scripture. But with their logic they invent new teachings or reject the teachings of Paul. Long ago it was mainly about Jesus as a person. Was He really God, or just an anointed person? That is why John wrote this letter, warning us: Test the spirits! Against Jesus the false spirits are powerless.
John reminds us of the assurances given to us by Jesus, so that we do not fall into the traps of swindlers, impostors or sectarians. He puts special emphasis on our fellowship with God. He is in us and we are in Him. If we stray away from this relationship with God, and become preoccupied with interpreting our faith through logic or routine, then all alarm signals should start flashing red. We are in danger!
Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. One of His gifts is the ability to distinguish between spirits. He does not always explain why something is wrong, but we know that something is not quite right. We should use this gift more often! It saves us from many mistakes and wrong turns.
We should never bind ourselves to people. Many land in cults because their friends go there. Some find a preacher so good that they take his word as being God’s Word, and when the preacher goes astray, they go along.
There is no need for us to worry too much. We believe in Jesus’ Word and stick with Him, our Lord. He says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand!” (John 10,27f)
On one of Paul’s missionary journeys, the people tried his words against Scripture. When they realized that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, they were converted to faith. We need to know our Bible, and know that we believe! Jesus in our heart and the Bible in our head – that is a strong foundation!
Thank You, Jesus, I am safe with You. Even if I sometimes hear strange thoughts and others try to pull me away from You, You hold onto me. Because I love You and like being with You! Yes, I want to follow You alone. Safeguard me!