We’ve been talking about the power of fervent, vigilant prayer without ceasing. It’s an important foundation because prayer isn’t only us talking with the Lord, but listening for His voice. We must have a relationship with Him in order to be able to recognize His voice. He promises to hear our prayers and respond as He knows best. “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Ps 145:18)
Yesterday we saw that trials produce in us perseverance, which matures us in Christ so that we are lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4), including wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) As we come to today’s passage, we find out why His wisdom is so important for our daily walk.
Our enemy, Satan, is the great deceiver and himself is a spirit in the heavenly realm, where our battles are truly fought. “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 Jn 4:1-3)
It’s true that a mark of Christian maturity is unbelief as well as belief. It is as important that we don’t believe certain things as it is that we do believe others. John indicates that this is a widespread problem “because many false prophets have gone out into the world”. We live in a world of deceit, and we are greatly pressured to conform to what the world says is love and to accept relative truth. The Bible teaches that behind the false prophet or false teacher is an evil spirit that contorts God’s absolute truth.
Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Matt 7:15) There is a true Spirit–the Holy Spirit of truth and love– who speaks to and through people. We must be aware that evil spirits also speak through people. When we hear people talking about religious things or values, we mustn’t gullibly swallow everything they say, especially if they appear to be attractively setting forth something about love and sweetness and concern for others. We are to especially test that line, for it is the usual approach of error.
One of the greatest dangers today is our collective unbelief in evil spirits. Part of the blindness of our generation, resulting in chaos and anarchy, is a direct result of people in their pride rejecting that there are evil spirits and demons. The blindness of that attitude precludes any defense against it. As Christians, we must look at the world as Christ sees it: there are ravenous wolves seeking to lead people on the wide road to an eternity in the lake of fire.
Years ago, even as a Christian, I was deceived by new age heretics that sounded spiritual and were appealing. But I came to realize that this spirituality appealed to my pride, and led me to seek power within myself. The mark of an unholy spirit is to get us to focus on ourselves and our own inner power (pride). The Holy Spirit will always point us to the narrow road Jesus Christ has paved for us to have a relationship with the Lord. “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.“ We must trust only in God’s absolute truth. We must daily put on His belt of truth and all the armor to protect us from the deceit of evil that seeks to devour us.
Lord, help me to acknowledge that I do live in a hostile world. Give me Your wisdom so that I am not to be gullible to incorrect spiritual teaching, based on the evil lies of the devil and his demons. Help me to test each spirit on the basis of this One who came and proved Himself to be the truth by His unchanging Word. Lord, I ask for any of Your sheep who have gone astray and have fallen prey to any evil-based false teaching that You remove the scales of deceit from their eyes, and soften their hearts to Your truth so that Your purpose will replace the deceitful practices the enemy has placed in their lives. Lord, let Your light and love shine through me so that the deceived of this world will desire to come into Your light. Thank You for Your truth against which I can measure every other word against. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.