Try The Spirits

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1 John 4:1-4 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

I was listening to a “Christian” Radio Station the other day, hearing some of the “Contemporary Christian Music” that is being put out by Millennials and Generation Z. It was a song called Banks by a group called Needtobreathe. They’ve released 8 albums, have been nominated for a Grammy in 2014. The tune was catchy But as I listened to it, I realized –

It had absolutely nothing to do with God, the Bible, or anything Christian.

There are a lot of songs out there that sound Christian, but are not. There are a lot of things out in the world that sound Christian but are not. There are a lot of preachers out in the world that sound Christian, but are not. There are a lot of sermons out in the world that sound Christian but are not. The devil is the master of deception.

Opening Illustration: One of my favorite television shows is The Andy Griffith Show. I know that Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Generation Z (anyone born 1997-2012) will probably have never heard of this show, but it’s a classic. A single father, Sheriff Andy Taylor, raises his young son OP along with his Aunt Bee. The show ran October 1960 – September 1968, and never placed lower that seventh in the Nielsen ratings. In one episode Aunt Beewas feeling her age, and went to the doctor. The doctor told Bee, “We’re no spring chickens anymore” – about the same thing the doctor told my brother Bill when he said “It’s age related”. There’s nothing that can be done to fix it if it’s “age related”. As Bee came home from seeing the doctor, she came across a Medicine Man selling elixir named Colonel Harvey (John Dehner). Buying a few bottles, she does feel better. In fact, she feels so much better that she convinces her friends at the Ladies Aid Church Committee to invest – and drink – the 100 proof tonic. When Andy comes home he finds Aunt Bee and the Church Committee all roaring drunk! When Bee sees Andy, she says, “Oh girls, look who’s here – Sheriff Matt Dillon! Where’s Chester?”

So many Christians fall into Satan’s traps, just as Aunt Bee did. It looks good – but IS it good? The devil is constantly setting up traps. He is constantly spinning lies.

On of Satan’s greatest lies is that you can be a Christian, you can be Heaven bound, and yet live no different from the world around you. That’s just not true.

This is a philosophical confusion of Grace. Several years ago Evangelists began to teach that since salvation is a free gift from God, there are no strings attached to salvation. Salvation is necessarily a free gift from God. There is no way that you can earn nor deserve salvation. Salvation is offered through Grace, not through works. One of the best explanations I can find in a few verses is one that I have oft quoted:

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

In verses 8-9 we are told that salvation is a gift given by God’s Grace, and received by faith. It is “not of yourselves”. As Paul often does, he repeats himself, saying “not of works, lest any one should boast”. You are not saved because you are worthy. You are saved because Christ is worthy. You are saved because Jesus gave Himself for your sins. But verse 10 tells us that there are strings attached. When you are saved, you become “His workmanship”, the property of God. When you are saved as His property, as His children, you are to do good works – which God orders us to do. Salvation changes your state in God, and your relationship to God. Whereas you once walked in darkness (Ephesians 2:1-2), you now walk in light with God. Whereas you once walked with Satan (Ephesians 2:2-3), you now walk with Christ in God.

The Christian Is Beloved Because
The Beloved Became Man

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

As Christians, we are Beloved. Why are we Beloved”? It is because what God did for us. What did God do for us? We read:

1 John 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

How can we determine the false prophets from the true? The true prophets – backed by the Spirit of God – confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. The word confesseth is the Greek homologeō, which means “to say the same thing about”. In the Old Testament, God foretold that Christ would come in the flesh. The very first prophecy of Jesus is found in the Garden of Eden, and was spoken to the devil by God. God told the serpent:

Genesis 3:15 … I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

When the Messiah came, He would come as “the SEED of the woman”. Women do not have SEED, but EGGS, so God foretold a supernatural event. Christ would come in the flesh – but He would come differently than any other. His birth would be miraculous. Later God would tell King David:

2 Samuel 7:12-13 (ESV) When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Though David as King would reign a relatively few years, God promised David a Son to come from his line. This Son would come, and He would have a never ending throne because Gd Himselfwill establish the throne of his kingdom forever. How can a mere man have a throne that lasts forever? He cannot. We as mortals come and go. But God promised a Messiah Who would last forever. How can this be? The Prophet said:

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV) … the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

The name Immanuel” (also “Emmanuel”) means “God with us”. God would become Man. God would come in the flesh, lowering Himself to be with us, lowering Himself to save us. The Word that was with God, and was God” (John 1:1-2) would become flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14). The Only Son of God would allow Himself to be born among humanity. He Who is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Price of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) would come down from glory to be with us. Jesus Christ came into this world flesh, not by the normal means that most are born. He was born of a virgin. The Angel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 … The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God

Jesus Christ came in the flesh! He is the One and only Messiah.

Today is known as “Palm Sunday”, a day often recognized as the “Triumphal Entry of Christ”.

This is one of the few events in the life of Jesus that are found in all four Gospels (Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19). On that day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey’s colt – one that had never been ridden before. The Bible says that His disciples laid their cloaks on the back of the donkey for Jesus to sit on. Crowds went before Jesus laying palm branches before Him, shouting:

Mark 11:9-10 (ESV) … Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!

Jesus’ purpose in riding into Jerusalem was to make public His claim that He is Messiah and King. In ancient times when a King rode into a city, if He rode in on a white horse this signified he came as conqueror. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, showing that He was not there to conquer, but to bring peace. Jesus was fulfilling the Messianic prophecy of:

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Israel believed that Jesus was coming to conquer Rome and free Israel from her oppressor. Jesus will one day free Israel – but Israel’s true oppressor was not Rome, but the sin that so easily beset her (Hebrews 12:1). The people praise God for Jesus because they see Him defeating Caesar. As the crowd celebrates Christ, The Pharisees tell Him:

Luke 19:39-40 (ESV) … “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 {Jesus} answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

The people did not see Jesus as SAVIOR, but as a LORD, One Who would give them temporal blessing. Jesus would fix their trials, then move on. This is how so many see Jesus today.

Jesus did not enter Jerusalem to conquer Caesar, but to save His people from their sins. He entered Jerusalem to pay our penalty, to take our place of punishment.

In the Scripture, the Fig Tree symbolized Israel. The day after Palm Sunday Jesus cursed a fig tree (Mark 11:12-14), because the Israel that loved Him the day before would begin to call for His crucifixion. When Jesus comes into Jerusalem, what does He find on this holy Passover Week? He finds people buying and selling in the Temple. Jesus chased the blasphemers out of the Temple, saying:

Mark 11:17 … Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.

The Pharisees, who should have known better, plot Jesus’ death. The Fig Tree withers. Why? Because …

sin has enslaved Israel, and secularism is ruling as a god.

Rome is not the problem. The lostness of God’s Israel is the problem. Our lostness is the problem.

1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Why did Jesus have to come in the flesh? Because of sin. Because of Adam’s failure. The Bible tells us that Adam, disobeying God, brought the entirety of his progeny into sinful separation from God. People think of sin as BIG SINS and little sins, but to God sin is sin. When Adam failed in the Garden he brought the curse of his sin on all creation. One man – Adam – failed in the Garden.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as BY ONE MAN sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

God could have allowed civilization to end at this point. He could have said “That’s it! I told Adam, Adam failed, he’s made his bed, let him lie in it!” But God did not do this. The God Who is holy could not compromise where sin is concerned. The same God, Who is love, moved to act on our behalf.

Romans 5:15 … if through the OFFENSE OF ONE {Adam} many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is BY ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST, hath abounded unto many.

The Man Adam was made out of the dust of the ground. He was perfect, but followed Satan into sin and death. The Eternal God the Son Jesus Christ is come in the flesh to make restitution for what Adam did. When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, what Jesus did on the Cross – in the flesh – is applied to our lives.

Romans 5:17 For if BY ONE MAN’S OFFENSE DEATH REIGNED by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness SHALL REIGN IN LIFE BY ONE, JESUS CHRIST.

Adam, formed of the dust of the ground was made perfect, but caused all to fall. We could not live up to God’s Law – we could not save ourselves. Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.

Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. {3} For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: {4} That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Jesus Christ came in the flesh to bring us peace with God. The Apostle said:

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Because the Father said of Jesus, This is My Beloved”, we who believe on Him are “Beloved”.

Just As Jesus Is Unique, The Christian Is Unique

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

God the Holy Spirit became the Agent that caused Eternal God to enter humanity through a virgin. God did this so that He could pay for our sins. Once you receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, God enters the temple of your body. You enter into a daily relationship with God. Your life and all that you have belongs to God! You are the “Beloved” of God.

Illustrate: A missionary and his wife was working in Dutch New Guinea, far in the bush. They had a small shop and a small mission there, and were trying to reach the people for Jesus. One day the missionary decided that he would import and plant some pineapple plants, and hire a local farmer to plant them. This is what he did, and after about three years the pineapples started to bear fruit. When the missionary went out to pick ripe pineapples he discovered they were all stolen! When he asked the farmer about it, the farmer said “if I plant it, I eat it”. This angered the missionary, and out of anger he shut down the store and the local clinic to punish the thieves. The missionary tore up the pineapple plants, imported more, and had a local farmer plant them. Again, three years pass, and three years later the locals steal the pineapples. The missionary asks the farmer why he is stealing what doesn’t belong to him and the farmer says, “My hands plant them. My mouth eats them.”. That was the Law of the Jungle, and the people understood no other Law. The missionary tried everything to protect that which belonged to him, but nothing worked. Every year the locals stole what was his and used it for themselves, angering the missionary.

Then the missionary gave the field to God. When the pineapples were stolen, he didn’t get upset. The farmer asked him why, and he told him “the pineapples belong to God”. That story got around, and no one stole pineapples anymore. The missionary began to give the pineapples away – and souls began to come to Christ.

If we are saved, we and all that we possess belongs to God. We are immortal creatures because of the Blood of the immortal and flawless Christ. The Scripture says:

Colossians 3:1-4 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. {2} Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. {3} For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. {4} When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory

We who are saved re not like the lost souls looking for Jesus to give them a temporary blessing. Our blessing is that we are the Beloved of God. Recognize the Primacy of Jesus. He is Lord, Lord of you, Lord of your circumstances. If you are submitted to the Spirit, then you will give all glory to Jesus. If submitted to the flesh or the world, then these will receive the glory. Surrender yourselves to the Lord, to God Who abides within you, and recognize your limitations. Make yourselves sensitive to His desires, listen for His calling in your heart.

Christ did not save you so that you can be waited on. Christ saved you so that you can make a difference in this evil world. Christ saved you to serve God, to glorify Him, and to bring souls into the Kingdom. We are not to be part of the problem, but part of the solution.

1 John 4:5-6 They {the false prophets} are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

If you are saved, you are saved because Christ became flesh. If you are saved, Christ is in your flesh through His Spirit. The false prophets will not remain. The Apostle said:

2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. {2} And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. {3} And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? I will end with these words from Adrian Rogers:

You may know all sorts of facts, but if you don’t know the Lord, it’s all wasted. You can understand biology, but if you don’t know the Giver of life, you’re still uneducated. You can comprehend geology, but if you don’t know the Rock of Ages, you don’t really know anything of importance. You can know all about botany, but if you haven’t met the Lily of the Valley, your knowledge is useless. You can know all the facts of history, but if you reject the central figure of history, your time has been wasted.”

Do you know Him? He rode into Jerusalem to die for your sins and mine. He rose from the grave to rule a people immortal. Do you know Him? My prayer is that you will give your lives to Him this Holy Week, this very day. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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