Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 57
Believe Not Every Spirit
I John 4:1-10
We’ve come all the way up through the Scriptures, pretty much chapter and verse, and now we’re in I John chapter 4. Now I’ve been emphasizing, ever since we came into the little letters of James and Peter and John, that if you watch the language (don’t go by what I, or any other preacher or any Bible teacher says, just watch the language of what your Bible says that there’s nothing in these little Jewish epistles that is pertinent to the Body of Christ or the Age of Grace), this is all written to Jews.
Now granted there are a lot of things in here that are still appropriate for us and we can make application, we can feed on it – but we always also have to be aware that these things are not totally church oriented, or Grace oriented. And I’ll show you here (if not in this first lesson, we’re going to see it in the second one for sure) how there is absolutely nothing of Paul’s Gospel that you can use here for Salvation. It’s an alarming fact and yet most people are not aware of it. Now with that, let’s just begin with verse 1, and notice John begins with the word “beloved,” because he calls his flock “little children.”
I John 4:1a
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, (what a warning, even for today) but try (test) the spirits whether they are of God:….” Is it truly the Holy Spirit that is directing what someone is saying? Or is it some other spirit? Now you’ve got to realize the world has been pummeled with false teaching ever since Paul was beginning his ministry. Even before he passed off the scene, he wrote to Timothy “All they in Asia have turned against me.” Why? Because they were rejecting the truth of the Apostle’s doctrines that God had given him for the Body of Christ.
And so it’s been with us now for 1,900 + years and it’s compounding, especially in this day of mass communication. My, when people write and tell me what they’ve picked up on the Internet or what they’ve picked up off of television, it is utterly frightening. And the only way you can determine if it’s truth is to line it up with the Book – and how Paul deals with it – if it doesn’t line up, then shut them off! I would tell them to do the same thing to me. If they can see that I am teaching something that is not scriptural, turn me off – I’m not worth your time.
All right, so he says to test the spirits because so many false prophets, or as we saw earlier in II Peter, false teachers, have gone out into the world. Now let’s come back to Matthew 24, and in the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, it is so plain to see how these false teachers that are out there are coming faster and faster all the time. Now we’re not there yet, as all of Matthew 24 is Tribulation ground, but we’re getting close. We’re going to start right at verse 1 and, of course, Jesus is addressing the Twelve – but what I what you to see is the warning. And it’s just as appropriate for us today as it was when Jesus spoke it.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:.…” Now the Temple is still operating. The Jews are still connected to Temple worship, even those who have been followers now of Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom. They’re still part and parcel of the Temple operation.
“…and his disciples (the Twelve) came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” And of course He was making a reference to 70 AD, another 40 years in the future when the Romans would do just exactly that. Now verse 3. They leave the Temple complex and they’ve crossed the valley of Kedron up to the Mount of Olives.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, (the Twelve again. No press of the crowd, just the Twelve) saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (age)
They were wondering about the fulfillment of all these things that He’d been talking about and the bringing in of His earthly Kingdom. There’s not a hint yet that the 7-year Tribulation, and His Second Coming are going to be totally interrupted. So they say, “…when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of thy coming?”
Now they had an idea that there would be a coming of sorts to set up the Kingdom. Not that they were aware that He was going to die and leave and then come back, but they still knew that there was something that had to transpire that would bring about His setting up this earthly Kingdom – because everything has been pointed in that direction since Genesis chapter 12. All right, so “…when shall these things be, what shall be the sign of thy coming and the end of the age?” This “age of the curse” is the best way I can put it. Now verse 4.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man (underline that next word. That no man does what?) deceive you.” Deception. See that’s the devil’s bag. Oh how he loves to deceive. And you know the master plan for deception? Give people about 80% of truth and then slip in 20% of abject error and it’ll win every time. And this is what we’re seeing. It is so hard to discern how much is truth and how much is in error; and again our only recourse is to know the Book. You’ve got to know how to rightly divide the Word, to know what is for the Body of Christ.
You know I gave the illustration years ago and I hope it’s still appropriate – that when folks are hired by the Treasury Department to work specifically on counterfeit money, for the first six month’s of their employment they do nothing but study legitimate American bills. That’s all they do. So that they just see it over and over. What’s the purpose? Well, if you see something that’s true and it’s just so imprinted on your mind, the minute you see the least bit of a change in that, the bells ring – it’s a counterfeit!
Well this is what we have to do with the Book. We’ve got to be so ingrained in the Truth that when you hear a bunch of this garbage you can immediately say, “Hey, that’s not true.”In fact, I had a fellow call Monday morning (and I’m not going to point my finger at the professional clergy just for the sake of pointing the finger, but it gets alarming when someone calls with what their preacher has been ranting and raving about for thirty minutes from the pulpit, and it is all contrary to the Book) and this guy caught it. And on the way out of his church, he said he told his preacher, “Pastor, you are totally wrong. You are not according to the Scripture.”
Well, you have to do this because too many people have just got the idea, that as long as the words come, they can spit them out with no reference to the Word of God. Well, that’s satanic-powered false teaching – I don’t care who’s doing it. All right, now let’s show you how Paul warns us in II Corinthians. And again I may come back to this before the afternoon is over because it is so appropriate for the day in which we live. II Corinthians chapter 11, and what a warning! And it all fits. Jesus said, “Don’t be deceived.” Because there are going to be many false teachers. John says, “Test the spirit” so that you know you’re not listening to a false or a counterfeit spirit. Now here’s how Paul puts it. Drop down to verse 13.
II Corinthians 11:13
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, (same word Jesus used in Matthew 24, don’t be deceived) transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” These are the deceivers, and the world is full of them today. They’re easy to spot, especially if you line them up with Paul’s epistles.
II Corinthians 11:14,15
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Now analyze that a minute. What’s he telling us? What are these false teachers going to do? Oh they’re going to talk about Jesus. They’re going to talk about the cross. They may even talk about the resurrection. But they are false deceivers using just enough of the Truth to get your attention and then they’re going to slip you the poison. That’s the typical format. And Paul is warning us. Now how are you going to know? Do they line up with the Scripture from front to back (not just 80% of the time)? Do they line up with Scripture constantly? Are they on track? Or are they throwing in stuff that is extra-biblical? Or as one fellow put it, “There are a lot of things that are biblical, they’re scriptural, but they’re not dispensational. And that is the key.”
What does that mean? Well, you’ve got a lot of things that were written to the Nation of Israel under the Law. They’re Scripture. They’re biblical. But they’re not for us in this Grace Age, so it’s not dispensational. Now the one that I always like to use is in Leviticus. This is just a good example of how something is biblical, it’s Scriptural – because it’s in our Bible – but it’s not dispensational. And anything written to Israel is not for this dispensation of Grace (and the reason God separated the teaching of Paul from the rest of Scripture)!Chapter 5, and let’s just drop down to verse 2. Now I trust you all know that Leviticus is a part of the what? The Law. Leviticus is part of the first five books of Moses.
“Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase (that is a dead animal) of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.” Because he has touched something that is unclean. All right, come on down to verse 5.
“And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, (including touching something dead) that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:” And as he confesses that he has sinned, this is what he has to do. Now this is biblical. This is what the Bible says.
“And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.”
Now goodness sakes, that’s biblical. It’s Scripture. But are you going to do that today? Well of course not! That’s not for us. It’s not in our dispensation. This was for Israel under the Law, the same as Jesus and the Twelve disciples’ ministry under the Law. All right, now this is what we have to understand – that so much of what we’re hearing preached today may be biblical, but it’s not for us. And that makes all the difference in the world. God doesn’t expect you to keep something that He has not said to us. And that’s why I’m always emphasizing Paul’s apostleship – that he is the one that has given us all of the information we need for salvation, for the Christian walk, and for the hope of our end on earth – it’s all in Paul’s epistles.
All the rest of Scripture is profitable if you use it in the right way, but you can’t just open a verse of Scripture and say, “Well, that’s what the Bible says, and that’s what I’m doing.” You’ll get in trouble real fast because it doesn’t work that way. But when we come back to what the Apostle Paul teaches and we lean on that, rest on it, then we’re on solid ground!
All right, back to II Corinthians so that you see how the Apostle Paul is writing to his Gentile believers. II Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 14 is the key. The “god of this world” as Paul calls him in chapter 4 in this little book. The “god of this world” is an expert on confusing the issues. He’s an expert at using the Word of God to send people off in the wrong direction. I think I used the example in maybe the last taping, in one of our last programs, that if you know anything about target shooting, you know there’s a bulls-eye and then the outer rings. Well it really doesn’t count unless you can hit the bulls-eye.
Well, it’s the same way with God. God is particular. God is an exclusivist. And we’re going to be seeing that before the afternoon is over. And God will not allow you to shoot for the outer ring of the target – just a little ways from Paul’s Gospel of salvation. Oh it might sound good, but you’re going to miss the mark. God expects us to hit the bulls-eye. That’s why we have the Word of God. That’s why we have the Truth. And we have to make sure that we’re right on or we’re going to miss it.
All right, so come back here again. Satan is a master at getting people to miss the bulls-eye. That’s why I say, he can bring in 80% of Truth and can sound so good. But it’s that other 20% of error that is going to lead people to their eternal doom. And nothing pleases Satan more. All right, so read it again.
II Corinthians 11:14-15a
“And no marvel; (don’t be amazed) for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (that’s why he can get their attention. Sounds so good, but it’s deception) 15. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers (those people under his control and they’re legion. He’s got far more in his employ than the Holy Spirit does – that’s always been the case) also be transformed as the ministers of (what?) righteousness;.…” That word just throws a curve at us. That they can actually be promoting good things. I can remember years ago I was teaching a college and high school class up in Iowa and we had about 50 of those kids sitting on the floor out in front of me and I was bringing home this very thing – that Satan and his emissaries can promote a lot of good things.
See the average person’s got the idea that all Satan promotes is wickedness and sin and drunks and all. No. Satan will promote the most beautiful things on earth if it will get people’s attention to come his way instead of God’s way. And the great corporations of the world will funnel millions upon millions into so-called ‘good things.’ Beautiful buildings. Libraries. Parks. Zoos. You name it. But does that do anything spiritually for people? No. But it just simply gets their attention, the glamour of this world, and there is nothing Satan likes better. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a beautiful park for goodness sakes. There’s nothing wrong with a nice library. But when all that is used to keep people’s attention from the Truth of the things of God, then the devil’s the winner. Now you may not believe that, but that’s the real world. That’s where it really is. All right, and so they use good things. Things that you cannot point from Scripture and call them wicked. But the end result – Satan’s the winner. He’s causing us to miss the bulls-eye.
Okay, back to I John chapter 4. Verse 1 again.
I John 4:1a
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, (oh just because something sounds good. Just because somebody is gifted with words, don’t you buy it. Line them up with the Book) but try (or test)the spirits whether they are of God:….”
Test the spirits whether they are of God. John is writing to these little synagogues of Jews, I think primarily back there in Western Turkey. That’s where I picture them whenever I think of it. And so to these little congregations of Jews he says:
I John 4:1b-3
“…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 anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
Now you remember that I mentioned in one of the programs that I think John is the only writer of Scripture that uses that term. I’m not aware of anyone else, but he speaks of the anti-christs – plural – and then back here in chapter 2, I think in I John, he speaks of the singular – anti-christ. But you remember the word I was using several weeks back? What is the true anti-christ? He’s a counterfeit!
And that’s why they can do such damage. The world out there gets taken in thinking that they’re the real thing, and they’re not. They’re counterfeit. They’re anti-christ. See? All right, reading verse 3 again. “And this is that spirit of anti-christ whereof you have heard that it should come (and not only that) and already is in the world.” Now that reminds me, of course, of II Thessalonians chapter 2 where Paul is (as I’ve always made mention), for just a few verses, lining up with the Old Testament prophecies concerning this man of sin, the anti-christ. II Thessalonians chapter 2 and come down to verse 7.
II Thessalonians 2:7a
“For the mystery (that is the secret, the things that aren’t well understood) of iniquity doth (what’s the next word?) already work:.…” It was already out there doing its work, even in Paul’s day. And it has never stopped. And consequently the billions and billions of people have been mislead and they’ve missed heaven’s glory because of a deception.
All right, come back once again to I John and I had to read both of these verses because they’re tied together. In verse 2 he’s speaking of the positive side, those who have recognized that Jesus is the Christ – they are of course being influenced by the true Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit will make it manifest that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. And then as you have seen already, when we read verse 3, you will see the negative side. “Every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is that spirit of anti-christ…”
All right, now you have to realize that – especially after Pentecost, after Christ has gone back to Glory, whether it’s the Jewish congregation there in Jerusalem or whether it’s a few years later (Paul is starting his congregations amongst the Gentiles) – false teachers are coming in from every direction. And their whole job is to confuse the issues. Not with blatant opposition necessarily, but underhandedly deceiving the people. And that’s the way Satan likes to work. And so you have instances of that throughout Paul’s letters – and even Peter had to confront some of the false teachers of his day. And so the whole criteria now according to this portion of Scripture is we have to determine – what spirit are we listening to? Are we listening to the Holy Spirit? Or are we listening to one of Satan’s spirits? And how are you going to know the difference?
Well, it’s getting harder and harder. I know it is. With this wealth of information that is just flooding the planet, over the Internet and radio and television and the bookstores. My, I think these bookstores are getting about as bad as anything. And it’s just simply overwhelming people with a lot of false information. But it sounds good. Even some of the stuff people send me; they want me to look at it. And up front it sounds pretty good. But as soon as you get into about chapter 2 or chapter 3 here comes all the garbage. Well, that’s the Devil’s way of doing it.
So the only admonition I can give you is to get skilled in the Scriptures so that when you see something that is far a-field from what Paul is teaching, leave it alone, because it’s not for the Church Age.
Every day people are calling, and I have to tell them to run from that false teaching! Don’t go back to that place. They’ll just hook you and draw you in deeper and deeper, and the day will come when you’re not going to be able to get out of it. I mean the cults are masters at brainwashing. We’ve known that over the years. And once they get brainwashed, it’s almost (not totally) impossible to bring them out of it. So what’s the best remedy? Don’t get hooked in the first place.
Just simply search the Scriptures, and when you hear something, see if it lines up with Paul’s teachings. For example the salvation message is a good test. Are you hearing from the pulpit that, for salvation, you must believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again, plus nothing else, as we see in his writings? If not, run from it. Ask the Holy Spirit for special wisdom and knowledge and He’ll give it.