“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 Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 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. 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. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 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,” 1 John 4:1-6, KJV.
It is noteworthy that the instruction here is to believe not every spirit, but to test the spirits to examine whether they are of God. With many preachers lacing the world today, it is disheartening to know that the motives of some are not pure. What’s even more disturbing is that many of them consider themselves your closest ally. You may have friends or as some say “associates” who claim to know the word of God, and they very well may, but deliberately twist it in hopes of manipulation.
As a born-again believer, one will know the Spirit of God because as stated in verse 2, “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” Anything in opposition to this is the spirit of the antichrist. Why do you think Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” even as Peter spoke? It was not Peter himself, but it was that spirit coming against God, a spirit that was speaking something contrary to the word of God. Let us look at that scripture in its full context: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men,” Matthew 16:21-23, KJV.
As I read this I thought who does Peter think he is to rebuke God? Peter was a human being, just as we are humans. But we must remember that just as we need correction from the error of our ways, Peter needed it as well. When the spirits are tried, it is God who corrects. The only difference from Peter’s situation then and ours now is that Peter spoke with God—the Son; we speak with God—the Holy Spirit. Back then, Jesus walked the Earth and the Holy Spirit was yet still in heaven. The Holy Spirit came after Jesus left the Earth. So, we still have direct contact with God who in turns checks us in the very things that we as human beings do. So knowing this, it is quite clear our ability to discern other spirits because we have the One spirit who ministers to us of their very nature.
So, whenever someone speaks contrary to what the Bible states, it is the spirit at work in them. And it will either be rebuked by the Holy Spirit or it will be endorsed by the enemy. It depends on who’s the master. “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 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.”