Read – 1 John 4:1-6
If you were reading this for the first time it might seem confusing. Without question, there are false prophets in our world. But this talk of testing “… them to see if they spirit they have comes from God …” the mention of “the Antichrist,” can seem perplexing. When contemporary Christians want to discern if a prophet is genuine, we simply compare his or her words to what Scripture says.
John’s readers couldn’t do that.
The New Testament – the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles and the apostolic letters that we read had not yet been collected into the Bible. That process wouldn’t be complete until the fifth century. That left the early church open to false teaching. One particularly sinister heresy was Gnosticism. Among its philosophies was the belief that all matter was evil and everything spiritual was good. Gnostics taught that Jesus was a spirit being, but that he did not actually have a human body. No virgin birth. No actual death and resurrection.
John gave the early church a simple test to know if the Gnostics, or any prophet, was from God: whether or not that prophet acknowledged the incarnation of God’s Son into the man, Jesus.
That’s why the declaration we make when we choose to follow Jesus – I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God – is so monumental. It means the Holy Spirit dwells within you and it ties you to the millions of Christ followers who have gone before you.