“…This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:6b)
We are instructed to test the spirits of those who present themselves as spiritual authorities. If their ministry is based on strange new teachings or they claim to have an exclusive interpretation of God’s Word – beware! This caution has always been needed. Why? Because throughout history, wolves have often disguised themselves in sheep’s clothing. Such teachers will be judged for seeking to deceive both sincere unsaved seekers and immature followers of Christ.
Our enemy’s relentless deception can even include wearing a religious disguise. This often includes doing good works, clean living, self-sacrifice, and an adherence to lists of man-made rules. All of these factors are acceptable to Satan as long as the religious adherents deny Christ’s divinity! Typically, they deceive others by teaching false doctrines about salvation which minimize the need for God’s grace.
The origin of most non-Christian cults and sects can be traced to the influence of persuasive false teachers. Often these teachers’ deceptive Biblical misinterpretations will either be exceedingly broad, or exceedingly narrow, unbalanced, and highly exclusive! The core of their truthfulness or deception can most easily be seen in their teachings about the person of Christ. On this subject, the Apostle John explains, “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.” (1 John 4:2)
- The Word was God!
- The Word was Jesus Christ.
- The Word became flesh.
- The Word dwelt among us.
Credible Christian teachers all know these facts to be true – therefore the incarnation is literally everything!
Our Lord’s divinity was openly demonstrated but could only be fully understood in terms of the incarnation. In His great love, He left heaven to become a man and give His life as a sacrifice for our sin! (See 2 Cor. 5:21) His incarnation was unquestionably the single most important event in human history!
The miracle of the virgin birth centers in God’s eternal Word – who was with us very briefly as fully man, while at the same time being fully God but in a human body (see Matthew 1:23). This is the meaning of Colossians 2:9, “…in Christ all fullness of Deity lives in bodily form.”
If the spirit within a teacher does not clearly attest to the fact that Jesus Christ is God who became flesh, then nothing else that he or she teaches bears the mark of proven authenticity. The Bible explains that false teachers are not from God and actually speak from “the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:3b) Such false teachers have misled many sincere people who were honestly seeking the truth. For that reason, they must be carefully avoided, exposed, and corrected by God’s faithful servants. The correction for their dark spiritual condition can only come through the cleansing produced by understanding and believing God’s Word (see John 15:3). !
By Billie Hanks Jr.