Testing the Spirits
Since the beginning of the church we have been called to test the spirits, as described in 1 Jn 4:1. There have always been vain philosophies and false witnesses. The church has had periods where error was called heresy and the price was death! Although there may have been extreme examples of punishment for error it seems as though we have come full circle and a stand for biblical truth is considered divisive.
As the debates rage between the charismatic movement, the seeker friendly church, and now the emergent church we are faced with the challenge of discerning between the true church and the frauds.
Those who strive to defend the historical biblical Christian faith will be labeled as mean spirited and unloving or irrationally over reactive. Many local church members are caught in the cross fire as families and neighbors are divided between the battle of church philosophy.
Are these disagreements petty disputes of church philosophy or major doctrinal differences between what is true and what is heresy? In any case I keep hearing the statement that Rodney King made famous, “Can’t we all just get along?”
The idea is great, which is Christian unity but the debate is much deeper than that. The price for being wrong is not only death but an eternity in hell!
The bible is clear we are to “Contend Earnestly” for the faith. We are commanded by scripture to fight for truth. Defending the gospel should be our pleasure. Unfortunately the battle for truth is nothing new and we have been given fair warning of what is going to come our way.
Recently the assault on our faith has come in the form of pop culture and art. Through a book and a major motion picture the movie The DaVinci Code will create another blast on Christianity.
Some verses to meditate upon:
Spirits of Antichrist
I Jn 4:2-3 By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus is Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God and this is the spirit of antichrist.
3 Jn 9-10 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids those who desire to do so, and puts them out of the church.
Jer 29:8-9 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name, I have not sent them, declares the Lord.
Jer 14:14 The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name, I have neither sent the nor commanded them nor spoken to them, they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.
2 Pt 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bring swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
I Jn 2:18-19 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.
Rev 2:9 (Church of Smyrna) the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:13-15 (Church of Pergamum) some of you there hold to teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality. Some in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans
Rev 3:20 (Church of Thyatira) But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bondservants astray, so they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
A Call to Test the spirits
Rev 2:2 you cannot endure evil men, and you put to test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.
1 Thess 5:21 But examine everything carefully.
Titus 2:1;7 speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine, in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified...
1 Tim 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith.
2 Tim 2:15-19 Be diligent as approved workmen, handling accurately the word of truth avoiding worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands.
2 Thess 2:2-3 … let no one in any way deceive you...
1 Pet 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence
Gal 1:8-9 Even though we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that, which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.…if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.
Appointed for Battle
Phil 1:15-18 Some, preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
1 Cor 12:10 to some a distinguishing of spirits.
Prv 4:5-6 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you
Ezra 7:10 Ezra set his heart to heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statues and ordinances in Israel.
2 Tim 2:2 the things which you have heard from me, in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
1 Jn 4:4-6 …greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
1 Cor 1:18-21 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
1 Cor 2:5 your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
The unfortunate truth is that scripture clearly shows us that the assault of Christianity will come from within and from the foolish philosophies of the world. We must learn to be more discerning if the Church is going to remain strong. We must be willing to engage in difficult conversations with family and friends for the defense of the gospel.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Testing the Spirits