John cautions his readers not to be deceived by everyone that comes along. Test what you hear. Does it proclaim Jesus as God’s Son? If not RUN the other way!
In John’s experience and in ours there are many who claim to be “sharing a word from God” but are really enemies in disguise. John, through the Holy Spirit, gives us an expert text to determine where the prophecy or word is coming from.
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (verses 2-3). That is a pretty simple yet accurate test. But how do I employ this “test?”
When I was younger my mother was given a “prophecy” about me from someone that she had previously trusted as God’s messenger. But because what this person share was TOTALLY opposite of what my personality was at the time, she dismissed it and stopped believing anything this person had to say. YEARS later, though, the “prophecy” became truth. My personality went through a radical change. I KNOW it was God who did the work to change it because NO self-help book could ever accomplish what He did in my life.
My mother employed her own “litmus” test and this person came up short. I wonder what more this person could have shared with my mom and our family if she would have employed the one John gave us. I admit that I too quit believing what this person had to share because what he taught didn’t line up with what I believed to be from God either.
So I’m curious about John’s test. Is this test to be employed at the time a “word” or “prophecy” is given and to that example specifically or to the giver’s life? The person who gave my mom the “prophecy” actually spoke the truth over my life, but a MUCH later truth, but his teachings on a day to day basis, I have grown to realize, were slanted. He proclaimed Jesus as from God but he also proclaimed as truth things I believe were overblown or “off.”
Funny thing is, though, we believed EVERYTHING he said as truth, until that day. We bought into the doctrine he was teaching at the time. And what he taught wasn’t all wrong either. It was an over emphasis and exaggeration of one aspect of the bible that he had heard and passed along. So did his “prophecy” serve two purposes that day? Did it speak truth while also breaking the hold his teachings had planted in our life? I never thought of it this way before. Maybe God did a special work for my family that day that I never really appreciated until now.
I believe that the best test provided by John IS accurate. How we employ it though needs to be tested also. Do we discredit the “word” simply because we don’t agree with it? That’s what happened with the words given by Jeremiah and Isaiah to the people of Israel. Their refusal to believe didn’t make the prophecies any less true, nor their source wrong. These men lived lives dedicated WHOLLY to God. Also, the words given by people who weren’t God’s servants that DID come from God didn’t make their words any less true. But their lives wouldn’t have borne out a continual relationship with God. They were only tools for a time.
Could this mean that we are to “test the spirit” of the moment/message? Or are we to “test the spirit” of the messenger? Or maybe both? Some messages have to wait a LONG TIME to be recognized as truth, as was my example. I think the best test then might be to ask the Spirit who lives within up to test it for us. He recognizes the Father and knows His messengers intimately. WHEN we listen to Him, we can be certain He will not lead us astray.
Father God, thank You for the message of my youth as well as the protection that message enacted. I have no idea the full measure of protection You enacted that day. I also wonder too if I missed something of You by wholly rejecting what was being taught. I PRAY I haven’t! I want ALL of You and ALL You have for me. But I don’t want man’s twisting of that truth. Nor do I EVER want to twist Your truth myself. That is why I am remaining vague on the points of contention I wrestled with all those years ago. I DON’T want to confuse or stop Your work in anyone else’s life. Maybe You have them where I was for a season and for a reason.
Help me Holy Spirit to judge rightly ALL the messages that enter into my life. Help me keep those from God while recognizing and discarding any that aren’t. Protect my heart and mind from Satan’s tricks. Thank You for giving me Your understanding every day. Help me LISTEN to it too!