We have learned much from the aged apostle. Our world is fraught with false prophets, seeking to undermine the Word of God and His Messiah.
Our last post provided the how of testing. In that post we learned that, for at least one type of test, the views of the prophet/teacher must align with the biblical truths concerning Jesus Christ. If they do not, then, as John tells us, they are “not from God” (1 John 4:3, ESV).
Now we come to a shift, or at least an adjusted focus. Cameras are incredible machines. They can focus on one blade of grass amidst an entire field. John has been focusing on one single blade: testing the spirits. Now he shifts his focus from the individual blade of grass to the field.
He writes, “and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming and now is in the world already” (4:3). The origin of the false teach (i.e., spirit) is the antichrist. We learn two things about the antichrist from this one verse.
First, we learn that the spirit of the antichrist was coming. We read about this in 2:22 where John writes, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.” The antichrist, then, is against the Triune God. And who has been against God since the beginning? The devil himself.
We will focus on this first point of the antichrist for this point, and pick up the second aspect in the following post. However, we learn about Satan and his opposition to God all the way back in the Garden of Eden. He is referred to as “the serpent” in Genesis 3:1.
In this account, the serpent enters the Garden and begins a discussion with Eve. He asks, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” (3:1) His very first statement to a human being is a question of God’s Word. And the serpent has been questioning God’s Word ever since. He denies the Father, to borrow John’s terminology.
As the account progresses, the serpent plainly denies God’s Word. He tells Eve, “You will not surely die.” In other words, “God has lied to you, Eve. You will not die.” The Scriptures record the remainder of his speech, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5, ESV). “Eve, God has ripped you off! He has kept back the fruit because He doesn’t want you to be like Him. How ridiculous could He be?” Once again, the antichrist is denying the Father.
Though tempted by the serpent, Eve could have resisted. Adam, as the guardian of the Garden, should have stepped in, but he failed at protecting his wife and the Word and glory of God. We test the spirits, John tells us, because antichrist is coming. He will remark about his presence already, but this antichrist is the embodiment of full opposition to God. Paul speaks more about him in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. He is coming, both Paul and John tell us. But we see that his origins date back to the beginning and have manifested itself throughout human history. That will be the focus of our next post. For now, when you do not feel like testing the spirits, when you read that blog, or notice that post on Facebook but aren’t sure whether it is biblical or not, remember that the antichrist is coming. That spirit (i.e., teacher) is not from God, but is from the antichrist.
Test the spirits.