Believe Not Every Spirit
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether
they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that
As we have discussed before, this "confessing" involves much
more than just saying something with our lips. Not only do we acknowledge that
Dear ones, we are living in dangerous times, spiritually, in which the enemy of our souls is trying to deceive the very elect, if possible! We need to be sure to have on the whole armour of God, and have the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) held firmly in our hands. (See Ephesians 6.) Awake thou that sleepest! Consider the possibility that YOU may be in danger of being deceived! For the counterfeit is always very close to the genuine!
Does this mean we are to go around in fear and terror? Oh, no! When we
are aware of the enemy's tactics, we can be prepared! Not in our own strength
or wisdom, but looking unto our Captain and Leader, the
It is time to consider again, seriously and prayerfully, the matter of the tactics of the enemy. We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Believe not every spirit! A boxer in the ring must be alert, watching
and anticipating the moves of his opponent. Satan will use, when he can, some
preacher, teacher or prophet in whom we have confidence, and get him
sidetracked if possible, from pure truth, and from holding THE HEAD, Jesus Christ,
in central place.
WHO ARE THE DECEIVERS? HOW CAN WE RECOGNIZE DECEPTION
AND REJECT IT?
There are several basic things to remember. One is that there are many kinds and degrees of deception. Also, many kinds of deceivers. Some are deliberately and cunningly and purposely setting about to deceive. But others are very sincere! They themselves are deceived, and are passing along their false teachings to all who will listen! But they THINK their teachings are TRUTH, received by revelation from the Lord! They may be off just a little bit from the truth, --but if their eyes are not opened soon, they will be led further and further into error. One falsehood paves the way for more and more serious distortions and deviations from truth.
We need to stay close to the Lord, checking with Him about all that we hear and read, and also concerning the personal "revelations" which we receive. The Holy Spirit is faithful to guide us, and to bring us back from sidetracks, if we allow Him to do so.
Another principle to remember is that
Jesus Himself, and the apostles, have given us many warnings to protect
us against deception. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in
sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by
their FRUITS!" (Matt. 7:15) Even some of their teachings will be all
Let us consider some specific things to notice. Not every false teacher
or teaching will have all these qualities, --but if you notice one or more,
consider them as warning flags! Stop and get away by yourself, and seek the
Lord, and search the Scriptures. Ask the Holy Spirit to give discernment and
enlightenment. You can't lose anything by doing this, and you may save yourself
from a serious detour from truth. If all is well, the Holy Spirit will but
confirm the teacher or the teaching.
1. BRAINWASHING TECHNIQUE
Rapid, rushed, confident presentation. Dogmatic statements. "This Scripture proves conclusively . . . " Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't! Perhaps it could just as easily be taken another way! Don't take for granted that "this Scripture proves . . . " just because the person says it does! Look into it for yourself, alone with the Lord, away from "high-pressure" teaching! As you well know, a multitude of false teachings are supposedly "proved" by the Bible.
Be cautious of those who try to force your agreement with them. Who try to put words into your mouth! "Come on! Everybody say . . . " (A certain word or phrase they are teaching about.) Beware of those who would rush you into agreement. "Come on, now, you know what I said is right!"
Personally, when I hear something new and different, I want to think
about it, and prayerfully consider it first. I'm not ready to say "
2. APPEAL TO SPIRITUAL PRIDE
"Oh, how privileged you are to be one of the few with whom this fresh revelation is being shared! What marvelous new truth this is! No one else has seen this yet! ! ! The Lord gave me this revelation, and I'm sharing it with you!"
Get down off cloud nine, and seek the Lord quietly and alone, and see
what He confirms, or what He exposes!
3. EXCLUSIVENESS (Closely related to spiritual pride)
"This is the only place you can get this information! The revelation was given to me, and you are so blessed to be getting in on the ground floor! We are the only ones who know this wonderful new truth! Keep coming to me, and I'll teach you all about it!"
Be wary of "exclusive truth"! ! Usually the Lord will give His revelation to several people or groups at the same time, in widely scattered places in the world. The Lord's Spirit gives confirmation in this way.
Beware of statements such as, "This is the most important ministry in the world!" Or, the one who is always so sure that the words he is getting are "straight from the throne," with no margin for possible error! Brothers, we are still moving in the "in-part" realm. I know we can be quite confident about many things we receive as being absolutely from the Lord, but I can't help wondering a bit when someone always speaks as though he (or she) couldn't be mistaken! That although others are often wrong, he KNOWS that he isn't, --and is not reticent in telling you that he's right! If he is really right, he won't have to talk so much about being right, --just to convince you!
Check it out with the Lord before you decide whether they are right or
wrong. Don't take anyone's word for it, --just because they are older
Christians, have more Bible background, have had "wonderful"
spiritual experiences, or are such "lovely" people! Our final
authority is the
4. ANGELIC VISITATIONS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL EXPERIENCES
Praise God for His angels, who do minister to His people! We have Biblical examples of the ministry of angels of God, bringing messages, strengthening God's servants, protecting, etc. And we know there are angels still ministering in these days. We believe and appreciate this truth. But, dear ones, even these angelic appearances, with their revelations and messages, must be tested! We are not to accept blindly what some teacher says simply because he says angels told him about it. Maybe they did. And maybe they were truly Holy angels of God! And if so, they will stand the test, and their message will stand the test!
But remember that
Remember this, however, that as we said earlier, not everyone who is teaching false doctrine is knowingly or purposely trying to deceive! Some are very sincere, but they are mistaken. They are deceived, and deceiving! Some are wonderful people! But we do not want to accept error, no matter how wonderful the person is who is teaching it, or how good a friend, teacher, or pastor they may have been. We want TRUTH at any cost! We can pray for those who are in error, that they may see the truth, and be delivered from deception. If no one follows the one in error, he has a much better chance of being delivered from it.
We are not denying the truth of angelic visitations! We are just saying,
do not accept a teaching merely BECAUSE it is said to have come from angelic
visitation! If it really came from God, through His Holy
If there is a swerving away from focusing on the
Even some things that are true could be "another gospel" if
6. OVERBEARING, DOGMATIC, OR DICTATORIAL ATTITUDES
Quite often, a teacher of false doctrine begins in a seemingly gentle, loving spirit. But it is not unusual for him (or her) to become gradually more harsh, overbearing, impatient with any who do not accept readily his teachings, his "anointing," and his "proofs."
Any kind of control over you is suspicious: attempts to control and
influence what you think (brainwashing and mind-control again), what you
believe, what you say, what you do. There is often psychological pressure to
persuade you to give of your finances to the teacher, prophet, apostle, --or to
the "cause." Scripture may be quoted, subtly twisted or misapplied,
to confirm the teacher or teachings to be of God. There may be scathing
denunciations and accusations and condemnations, especially if one is getting
more in bondage to the one who is deceiving.
7. THREATS AND FEAR
Beware of threats and predictions of doom, or of curses coming to you, if you do not respond "properly" to the message and messenger! You may be reminded of men of God in the Bible who shook off the dust of their feet against those who did not receive them, or "know the day of their visitation" and opportunity!
Beware of anything that is used to cause you to fear! We are to fear
God, not the devil, and not some self-declared leader and teacher or prophet,
man or woman or group! Be like the noble Bereans who did not take for granted
and swallow without question the teachings of even God's anointed apostles! But
they searched the Scriptures daily for confirmation! (Acts 17:10-12)
Don't be afraid to trust the
9. A FEELING OF UNEASINESS OR CONFUSION
If you feel an uneasiness or hesitation in your spirit for any reason, --GO SLOW! Heed the warning! Don't rationalize that caution away by saying to yourself, "Oh, this teacher must be all right! He is so wise and knowledgeable! He knows the Scriptures so much better than I do! He has taught so many good things in the past! I've always had confidence in him. Others think he is all right. Shame on me for doubting for even a moment! He has had a revelation of this teaching. (Vision, angels, prophecy, or other supernatural revelation.) He has studied it out. He has all these Scriptures to prove he is right."
Haven't we all had experience in rationalizing away the little nudgings
and the still small voice of the Holy Spirit? ? ? Well, let's learn from our
experience! Let's heed that uneasiness of spirit, and be on guard against
swallowing ANYTHING, until we have had time to get away by ourselves, away from
brainwashing, hypnotic influences, and get quiet before the Lord. Let Him speak
and sort things out for us! The Lord is not in a hurry, and He will not rush
us! We need to give Him TIME to get our spirits quiet and listening to HIS
VOICE! If the new teaching is from Him, He will confirm it! If it is not from
Him, we are so glad to have the warning, and not to get entangled in it!
We have called attention to just a few characteristics of false teachers and teachings. Remember that not ALL will be evident in ALL cases! But if one or more are there, ---examine and test the person and the teaching before the Lord, prayerfully, and searching the Scriptures FOR YOURSELF!
We know that the Lord has vast areas of truth to unfold before us. We want to be open and receptive to all that is OF HIM. His word is a treasure house, or a deep mine of jewels, and we rejoice to find continually, deeper depths of precious truth. But we want to be sure that it is PURE truth that we are receiving, and BALANCED truth! (For truth out of balance becomes error.) The Lord is faithful to confirm or to expose, so we need not fear, IF WE KEEP OUR EYES ON HIM!
The various names, and/or titles, given to God, reveal numerous aspects
of His glorious, many-faceted character and functions, --whether it be the
Hebrew word "Yahweh," "Elohim," "
Yet, "Hear, O
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
Do you hear that? ALL the GODHEAD! God, in all His names, aspects and
functions! ALL is IN
It is at the name of
"For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have
espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to
What teaching or truth or name will bring us into immortality? (I've heard some talk about that in recent months!)
Even the demons recognized
Through "what name" does our immortality come? The answer is
clearly given in the Scriptures! Read 1 Corinthians 15. Through
Let us not get sidetracked by any teaching (no matter how much truth it has IN it) that focuses on something other than