and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.1 John 4:3(NASB)
As John was advancing in years, one of his main concerns for the Church was the increasing numbers of false teachers and demonic doctrines that were not only infiltrating the local churches, but also being accepted, embraced and believed by many gullible Christians.
John insisted that they stop believing every spirit. They needed to test the spirits to determine if they are from the true Spirit of God or an evil entity, because many false prophets had come in the world. Just because a preacher is articulate and personable does not mean their teachings is correct.
The enemy of our soul comes in many guises and disguises. He can come as a roaring lion but is also adept at presenting himself as an angel of light. He is eager to undermine God's word and an expert at presenting numerous, enticing, alternatives to the gospel of grace.
John not only wanted to remind his readers the value of living holy lives as children of God, but also the need to gain discernment and the wisdom to test the various teachings that were circulating, in order to determine if they are truly from God, because many false prophets had come out into the world and were deceiving many believers.
Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against and.. the one who does not gather with Me scatters". Jesus could have said "he who is not with me is antichrist," for John states very clearly, "every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist".
The spirit of antichrist is the spirit that is both against Christ and seeks to replace Him. The spirit of antichrist is one that twists Scripture and teaches a different gospel. Every teaching that does not line up with God's word must be considered antichrist... against Christ and in place of Him.
God has provided us with the perfect standard to test who is for the Lord Jesus and who is against Him... to test who is for Christ and who is antichrist. That perfect standard is the Word of God. The Bible is the one and only criterion that points us to the truth. Only the Word of God can determine if a doctrine is true of false.
The Scriptures are the ultimate benchmark for truth. Only God's word gives us the information to identify who is standing with Christ and who is opposed to Him. Scripture is the standard which dictates who is following the true gospel and who has changed it, opposes it, twists it, added to it or subtracted from it. The word of God should be studied literally, historically, grammatically and in its correct context.
It is only through a knowledge of the truth of Scripture that we can know the Spirit of God, for every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God while "every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.. every spirit that does not confess Jesus is the spirit of the antichrist" And John's readers had already been taught by him that the spirit of antichrist was coming, "and was already in the world."
During the times of John and Paul, the spirit of antichrist was already at work... for false teachers and doctrines of demons were infiltrating the churches, causing great distress to believers... and he exhorted believers to 'test the spirit' in order to distinguish between the true Spirit of God and false, demonic 'spirits'. John considered it important enough to label every teaching that diminished the deity, the person or the work of Christ as the spirit of antichrist, which must be exposed and rejected.
Today there is an explosion of cults and unbiblical denominations, where the Person and Work of Christ is diminished and Scripture is revised, twisted, distorted and watered down.. and where the biblical truth is replaced with stories that stroke the emotions, music that stirs fleshly passion and services that pander to man's prideful lusts.
We need to understand that God's ultimate standard for truth is contained in Scripture and points to Christ - the Word made flesh. The Word of God is living and active and is given as the objective standard for doctrinal accuracy, and every teaching that conflicts with the Truth of Scripture needs to be rejected.., "every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God" must be rejected, exposed and identified as "the spirit of the antichrist".
John was quick to identify false teachers and warn against satanic doctrines and we should do the same. And the ONLY way to know whether a teaching is true, is to study the Word of God - to show ourselves approved unto God. May we be workmen that have nothing to be ashamed of, as we rightly divide the word of truth.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Word of God and the truth it contains. Thank You that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour. Thank You that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, Who came from God as our sin-substitute and kinsman-Redeemer. Thank You for the many warnings we are given about false teachings, that diminish the Person and Work of Christ Jesus. Help me to be diligent in my study of Scripture and give me discernment to identify and denounce every spirit of antichrist that seeks to influence my faith in Christ. Give me a teachable spirit I pray and guide me into all truth. Guard the hearts and minds of vulnerable believers who have opened their minds to any spirit of antichrist and help them to recognise the folly of their way and return to the Word of truth, in Jesus' name we pray, AMEN.