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How to Test the Spirits

1 John 4:1-6 June 29, 2003 62-33

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I probably am more devoted to the Apostle Paul as a New Testament writer than any other writer. And that's simply because of the sheer volume of letters that he left us, the author of 13 different New Testament books. I am certainly growing to have a deep and wonderful love for Luke, having some years back taught through the book of Acts, which Luke also wrote, and now going through the gospel of Luke, and being endeared to him because of his obvious passion for the person of Jesus Christ, which is contagious. But having said that, I would have to put John right up there as a favorite of mine as well. Having gone through the gospel of John, and seen the unique way in which he writes concerning Jesus Christ, very different than Matthew, Mark or Luke, having taught, as well, the book of Revelation and gotten into the wonderful apocalyptic visions that John was given. But in particular, I like John because he has a way of justifying what I do. John repeats himself a lot, that gives me a great amount of comfort because I do that also. And when you read the gospel of John, when you go through the gospel of John, you find John cycling back around through things that he has already said, adding nuances, adding richness, almost as if he makes an argument and then next time he circles back, he takes you from where you were the last time to a new dimension, or a new height or depth or length or breadth of understanding. John loved to go back through the important truths in this gospel, laying again, as it were, the foundation of these truths in an enriched fashion in our minds.

Now as we come to the fourth chapter, the opening of the fourth chapter of John's epistle the subject in the opening six verses is to test the spirits. You see that in verse 1, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits." John understands how important it is to realize that you can't believe everything you hear, you can't believe everything that is purported to come from God, you can't believe everything that is supposedly biblical. Cannot believe all teachers of religion, you cannot believe all Christian preachers, or Christian evangelists or teachers. You cannot believe all who came...who claim to speak for God and claim to have a prophetic voice there is set loose in the world. You'll notice at the end of verse 6 the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Religious information is not benign. It either comes from the Spirit of truth, who is the Holy Spirit, so called by our Lord Himself several times in the upper room discourse in the gospel of John. There is the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, and there is the spirit of error who would be Satan and his demons. Nothing is benign. All spiritual truth either comes from a divine source or a demonic source. And we know that God speaks truth and reveals truth and Satan speaks a lie and is a deceiver and so it is critical that we be able to discern the difference. God's truth must be guarded very, very carefully. It is always under attack. It is relentlessly under attack.

It amazes me, frankly, even though the Bible is clear on this, how inept the church has been through its history at protecting biblical truth. Every generation seems to fall into error. This is why the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy at the end of his first letter to him, 1 Timothy chapter 6 verse 20, "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you." And what had been entrusted to him was the treasure of divine revelation. Guard that.

In order to guard that, he says, you have to avoid worldly and empty chatter. You have to avoid arguments that oppose the Scripture, even though they might be called knowledge. They are falsely called knowledge. Some have professed these things and gone astray from the faith. Guard the treasure, guard the truth, what is essential to the faith. That's how he ended his first letter to Timothy. Here's how he began his second letter to Timothy. Chapter 1 of 2 Timothy, verse 13, "Retain," that is hold, "the standard of sound words. Hold on to sound doctrine which you have heard from me." Verse 14 , "Guard," there is that same word again. "Guard or keep through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Literally the good deposit, and that is the deposit of divine truth, guard it, Timothy, retain it, hold on to it because it is ever and always under assault. And you notice also there in 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 15 says, "You're aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes," a couple of defectors, a couple of those who turned away from Paul and thus turned away from the truth. And Paul is saying to Timothy, "Don't be like them, don't abandon the truth, don't abandon me the true Apostle."

It's the guardianship that is so important. We cannot pass on the truth unless we protect it, unless we guard it. There are always false religionists, cultists. There are always those who come along with their deceptive schemes that purport to be biblical, that quote Bible verses, that say they have a message from God, that have a better way to understand the Bible and apply the Bible to make the Bible acceptable, to make the gospel acceptable. There are those who in outright fashion attack the Bible and then there are those who are much more subtle than that. But we are constantly being called to the defense of the Scripture and the defense of the truth.

And this duty falls heavily upon me as it does any servant of God. It requires two things to guard the truth. One, you have to know the truth. That's why Paul said to Timothy, "Hold on to sound doctrine." You can't guard what you don't understand. If a minister or a pastor does not know sound doctrine, he can't guard it. So, first of all, it requires the fulfillment of this duty requires the knowledge of sound doctrine, and secondly, it requires the recognition of error. Sound doctrine and sound discernment, essential in the church. This is our primary responsibility and it runs parallel to our teaching. How can we teach sound doctrine if we don't know it, how can we teach our people to avoid error if we don't recognize it. Sound doctrine and sound discernment go side by side and are the primary responsibility of every preacher, every elder, every shepherd and pastor in the church. And John discharges that responsibility. John knows sound doctrine and he articulates it and John also possesses sound discernment and he provides helpful warnings to aid others to do the same.

In this epistle here in chapter 4, John commands believers to test the spirits. This is necessary if you're going to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. You have to know whatever information is coming to you by its source. And again I say, error is not benign, it is malignant. It is not human, it is demonic. We saw last time in either religious truth, spiritual truth comes from the Holy Spirit and it is life-giving, life-sustaining, life-producing, God-glorifying, or it comes from demons. It is either the doctrine of God or the doctrine of demons. It is either that word which is sent and energized by the Holy Spirit, or it is that which comes from seducing spirits. And teachers are either the true teachers of God, or hypocritical liars, espousing the doctrine of demons fostered by seducing spirits. We must know the difference because of the malignancy of error because of the power of truth. The truth gives life, error kills.

And so, here John is writing to his flock, as you would understand it, to the people that have been put in his charge and all beyond them whom he can influence, including us today, and among the instructions that he gives here in this epistle, much of it, of course, is about who is a true believer, and he gives all kinds of criteria for us to evaluate that, both doctrinal tests and moral tests. And part of that instruction includes these commands to make sure that we discern the truth from error. Now we've look at this passage last week by way of introduction, we're going to get into the test, but let me just review a little bit.

First, John gives us a command to test, a command to test. "Beloved, do not believer every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God." There is a spirit behind every teaching. Be skeptical to discern whether it is the truth or error that is being taught, whether it comes from the Spirit of God, or a demonic spirit. That's the command to test. We looked at that last time in some detail.

Secondly is the reason to test. And the reason is the end of verse 1, "Because many false prophets have gone out into the world." It is a huge problem and the undiscerning are victimized. The vast majority of religious teachers are false teachers. The vast majority of spiritual teachers are false teachers. The vast majority of religious prophets and gurus and teachers, and I would even add teachers within the framework of Christianity in its broadest terms, including the false Roman system and all the cults, the vast majority in the dead denominations which have gone liberal, the vast majority of those who claim to know Christ and to represent Christianity are hypocritical liars teaching doctrines of demons motivated by seducing spirits. This is a massive problem. The world is literally drowning in a sea of demonic lies, is it not? People who tell me repeatedly they go to a town, they try to find a church where the Word of God is being taught faithfully and it is very often an almost impossible task. We live in a time then when we must be discerning. We are commanded to be so and the reason is because this false teaching is so common.

Now that brings us to tonight the emphasis on the way to test, or the means to test. The command, we've seen. The reason, we've seen. And now here is the means, or the way to test and that goes from verse 2 down through the remainder of this paragraph, verse 6. And I've just summed it up. The simple way to sum it up is to give you three perspectives on this. But let's look at verse 2 just to get the introduction. "By this you know the Spirit of God." Now here comes the means by which we can test. We need to know how to know that something comes from the Spirit of God. And he tells us, "By this.." and then goes on to identify what "this" refers to. Here are the positive tests that will reveal that something is coming from the Spirit of God and not a demon spirit.

Number one test, the confession of the divine Lord. Let's call it the confession of the divine Lord. Verse 2 again, "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God." There's one thing demons will inevitably deny in all their demonic systems, and that is they will deny the deity of Jesus Christ. They will deny God in human flesh. In a word, they deny the incarnation. When someone comes and affirms that Jesus Christ is God in flesh, that is divine truth. That's the first test.

Now looking at it a little more closely, "Every spirit that confesses," that is continually confesses, agrees with that reality to homologeois to say the same thing, everyone who is saying the same thing as the Word of God is saying about Jesus Christ, that is that He is God in the flesh, is confessing therefore a truth that is taught by the Holy Spirit.

So the first test that you want to have for any teacher is their Christology...their Christology, their doctrine of Christ which presupposes the doctrine of the Trinity. If you have somebody who denies the Trinity, you have a problem because Jesus Christ cannot be God come in the flesh, the second person of the Trinity in the fullness of what the New Testament teaches about Him if in fact there is not a Trinity. So it backs you into Trinitarian doctrine as well.

But John doesn't get in all of the nuances here. He's just saying basic to testing the validity of any teacher as coming truly from God is that teacher's doctrine of Christ. In fact, go back with me to chapter 1 for a moment and John says in verse 1, "That he beheld, and actually touched, the Word of life." That is a term expressing the very deity of Christ, for Christ emanates from God as His living Word. He was in verse 2 with the Father. One with the Father, sharing the same essence with the Father and dwelling in an affable light with the Father before He came to earth. He was manifested to us. The end of verse 3 tells us that our fellowship consequently is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

John's language then starts out with the fact that Jesus Christ emanates from God as the very living Word of God. There is the written Word of God on the one hand, Scripture. There is the living Word of God, namely the One John says that was from the beginning that we heard, we saw and we touched. That One, that Word of life was the eternal One, the eternal life, verse 2, who was with the Father prior to His incarnation and was then manifested to us in the flesh that we could see and hear and touch. Now that we know Him, and that you know Him, we have fellowship with Him and our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son Jesus Christ. He is therefore the very Word of God incarnate, He is the eternal life who became flesh, He is one with the Father, manifested to us. He is namely the Son in the Trinity who is Jesus Christ. So John starts out with a very definitive Christological statement in his epistle.

Then if you would look at chapter 2 verse 1, further concerning Jesus Christ, "If anyone sins...the middle of the verse...we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." And here we learn that Jesus Christ is sinless, that He is our sinless advocate, our sinless High Priest. Verse 2, "He Himself is the propitiation for our sins." That means He is the satisfaction. He provided the satisfactory sacrifice to satisfy the righteous judgment of God. He was the fitting substitute. That engulfs His humanity, He had to become flesh in order that He as man could die for men. He is the advocate, the High Priest seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. And He has earned that privilege because of His righteousness, His holy perfection which rendered Him as a fitting sacrifice for sins which satisfied the requirement of God. That's all bound up in His incarnation. Jesus has come in the flesh in order that He might come as man to be the substitute to die as man for men.

In the third chapter of John, well...go to the 23rdverse for a moment of John 2, before we go on, or 22ndverse, "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. This is the Antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son doesn't have the Father. The one who confesses the Son has the Father also." And here again John emphasizes the deity of Jesus Christ that He shares the same nature as the Father, you can't honor the Father without the Son because they are in essence one sharing the same divine and perfect nature.

In the third chapter of this gospel and the twenty-third verse we read about the commandments of God, God is identified at the end of verse 21. "Whatever we receive," verse 22, "we receive from Him...whatever we ask we receive from Him, and this is His commandment," verse 23, "that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ." And here again John is saying God has commanded us to embrace His Son, that is, the one who shares the same essence with Him, embracing Him, Jesus Christ, as our Lord, that is His supreme command.

Over in chapter 5 I think maybe just a couple of verses here. Verse 6, "This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ came, He came into the world as the one whom God sent. Now drop down to verse 20 and we read more about that. "And we know that the Son of God has come." Verse 6, Jesus Christ comes and He is identified in verse 20 as the Son of God. "And He has given us understanding in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true in His Son Jesus Christ." Listen to this, "This is the true God and eternal life."

Over and over and over John makes this point. If you look to 2 John, just stretching this a little bit, 2 John, his second epistle, verse 3, "Grace, mercy and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father." Down in verse 7, "Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, this is the deceiver and the antichrist." Verse 9, "Anyone who goes too far and doesn't abide in the teaching of Christ," anybody with an aberrant doctrine of Christ, "does not have God. The one who has the right teaching of Christ has both the Father and the Son."

Well, I think you get the message how very, very important one's Christology is. If one errors on the identity of Jesus Christ, that is not from the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. That's the first proposition about Jesus, that He is God, He is the eternal life that came from dwelling in the very presence of God the Father and God the Spirit down to earth. You're confessing that Jesus is a person, not just a proposition. You're confessing that Jesus as a person is God in human flesh, not a created being, as the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses and others say. You are saying He is come from God. That is implying the necessity for Him to come into this world in human form to carry out His redemptive work as a substitute for men. We believe then that the human Jesus and the divine Christ are one and the same. When someone has that Christology, they are speaking a message that comes from the Holy Spirit.

It doesn't mean that everything they say is accurate. But if they get that right, they meet condition number one. But there's another element to it. It is not just confessing Jesus Christ has come in the flesh that saves, we have to borrow from other elements of the Scripture. Demons recognize that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes God in human flesh. The other element comes out of Romans 10:9, "Thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as...what...Lord...Lord...Lord." Demons recognize His deity. There are others who would recognize or affirm His deity. But it is absolutely critical that one confess Him as Lord.

Jesus is the litmus test of reality for people. You have the right view of Jesus, you have the right beginning. Luke 10:16 from our last Sunday's message says, "The one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me." You reject Jesus, the true Jesus, the one and only, and you are rejecting God, no matter what you think. Anybody who rejects Christ rejects God. You honor the Son and the Father or neither. And the idea today is that other religions worship the same God. They don't. You reject Jesus as God in human flesh, you reject Jesus as the God/Man, fully God, fully man, who came as a substitute for sin and you don't know God no matter what you think. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me." Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:42, "If God were your Father, you would love Me." And so John says in chapter 2 verse 23, as we read, "No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." We all like to make everybody in their religion feel good, but if they reject the deity of Jesus Christ, they do not know God at all.

Just one little footnote here. It says in verse 2 that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, not into the flesh...not into the flesh, as if the Christ's spirit...this was an old what was called the Syrinthian(?) heresy that Christ just came down and temporarily went in to some man, stayed there for a while and then left. It doesn't say that He came into the flesh, it says that He came in the flesh. He didn't descend into an already existing man, He came and was born. He came and actually indwelt that little tiny baby in the mystery of the incarnation in the very womb of Mary and was framed and formed there into the God/Man. Jesus Christ also is full of meaning. Jesus, Greek form of Joshua, means Jehovah saves. Christ means the Anointed One, the King, the Messiah. So you have to confess that this is the God/Man who came as God's chosen King and Messiah and took on flesh to be a substitute for sinners. And on the other side of that, verse 3, "Every spirit that does not confess Jesus in this way is not from God."

You know, people want to say today, "Well, these other religions, they don't know Jesus, so they're trying their best to worship God, they're worshiping God as they know Him the best they can. You know, the Muslims have Allah, that's just their name for God and they're doing their best with God and people in other religions that have never seen a Bible or heard the gospel, they're looking up and seeing that there must be a Creator and they fabricate in their minds some idea of God, and that's the best they can do. And they're worshiping God." But it says wherever Jesus is not confessed, you can't know God. Every spirit that comes up with any religion, any spiritual teaching that leaves out Jesus, is not from God. Leaves out Jesus as the Jesus who is the only true one, any redefinition of Jesus or the absence of Jesus is not from God. In fact, in verse 3 it says, "This is the spirit of antichrist of which you heard it is coming and now it is already in the world." So wherever Christ in His true person is denied, you have demonic data. Any system that denies the deity of Christ, anything from Christian Science to Islam, any of it that denies the true nature of Jesus Christ is from demons, the spirit of error.

And, in fact, it is not just wrong, it is against Christ. There in the middle of verse 3, "This is the spirit of the antichrist of which you have heard that it is coming and now it is already in the world." We think of antichrist, we think of some future person, the beast of Revelation. But antichrist, he's just the final antichrist, the antichrist spirit exists in the world because demons that are espousing anything that is not a representation that is accurate concerning Christ are espousing an anti-Christ idea. So there are many antichrist teachings. All teaching that presents untruth about Christ, lies, is the spirit of antichrist which is already in the world and yet in its final form is coming.

Now we dealt with that. Go back to chapter 2 for a minute. I don't need to go over that again, this is what I was saying about John being somewhat repetitious. In 1 John 2:18 you remember this, and we went through it in detail so I won't do it again, spending several weeks on it. "Children, it is the last hour, just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen." Anybody that attacks the truth about Christ is antichrist. "From this we know that it is the last hour." In other words, we know Christ has come because of all the attacks on Him.

Down in verse 22, "Who is the liar, but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son." If anyone denies the deity of Jesus Christ, that is a demonic...that is a demonic concept, idea, teaching, and is reflective of the spirit of antichrist. It is not just wrong, it is against Christ, in opposition to Christ.

So the first test that we learn from John in regard to how we can test the spirits is the Christology test. Those who are true confess the divine Lord, the full truth about Christ. Let me give you a second one. They confess the divine Lord. Secondly, possession of the divine life. Secondly, possession of the divine life.

The first thing you look for is their doctrine of incarnation. The second thing you look for is regeneration. In the incarnation God becomes a partaker of human nature. Let me say that again. In the incarnation, God becomes a partaker of human nature. In regeneration, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Look at verse 4. "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them because greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world."

This is primarily a statement of their security against false teachers. Primarily it is a statement that they are secure when the false teachers come in. It's an echo of back in chapter 2 again, back to chapter 2 verse 20, "You have an anointing from the Holy One and you all know. I haven't written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie is of the truth." Verse 24, "Let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father." Verse 27, "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, you have no need for anyone to teach you but as His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." Repeatedly he says there, "Because you are God's, because you have eternal life, because you possess the Holy Spirit, you do not fall victim to deception and lies." You have an anointing from God. Back in verse 19, "There are those who go out from us but they go out because they never were really of us. If they had been truly of us, they would have remained with us." Why? Because they wouldn't have been led astray by lies and false doctrine.

So here's the second test. The second test, he says you, or we...better, including all of us...you are from God, little children, and have overcome them because greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world." You are a partaker of divine life. You are a possessor of the Holy Spirit. You are the offspring of God. You are the possessor of an incorruptible seed of eternal life and consequently you have not fallen victim to error. You have not believed lies because greater is He that is in than he that is in the world, because you have the indwelling anointing that we saw in chapter 2, you possess the Holy Spirit, the Lord lives in you and protects you. Regeneration provides then a devotion to the truth, an understanding of the truth. "The natural man understands not the things of God, they're foolishness to him, he can't discern them, he can't know them." You understand because you have the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2. God has planted His truth in you, planted His Spirit in you as a resident teacher. You are impervious, in one sense, from fatal error. You can be led astray on some issues, but not concerning the truth of the gospel. You possess God's life. You possess God's Spirit. And that's another simple test. Does this teacher possess divine life? Are they from God? Are they free from error, heresy? As you listen to what people have to say, you can be discerning because you know the truth. You have spiritual instincts that are right and accurate. You can trust them. When you hear somebody teaching something, and you say to yourself, "That is not right," that's the Spirit of God, the truth of God kicking in and acting in a discerning fashion on your behalf. As you walk in the Spirit and walk in obedience to the truth, the Spirit of God exercises that protective influence. You are saved because you know the truth and believe the truth. It is the evidence of your regeneration. And there will be in your life the fruit of that regeneration.

So, look at their lives. Trust your doctrinal instincts about the gospel. There may be some peripheral issues that you're not sure about, but false teachers don't usually camp on that. Real false teachers who want to undermine the gospel, attack Christ, they attack the realities of regeneration.

And how do they do that? Well their system is always a work system. They're not so concerned about you being from God as a source, but somehow you finding God through your works and ceremonies and religion. It's that divine accomplishment verses human achievement thing that we talked about several times earlier in this gospel. So you test people by their view of Christ and you test people by how they live. Do they manifest, do they demonstrate the characteristics of regeneration? He says, "You're from God, you're His little children, you have overcome them. All of the things that attract them, all of the things that invite them, all of the things that motivate them, you've overcome all that. You've overcome the world," he says. And that's what moves them, controls them, attracts them, dominates them.

So compare yourself with them. Compare your life with their life. In fact, in verse 5 he says, "They're from the world. They speak as from the world and the world listens to them." And that takes us to the third sort of overlapping test. The first one is...look and hear their doctrine of Christ. What do they say about the incarnation? Look and see their life, is there demonstration of regeneration? The confession of the divine Lord, the possession of the divine life, and, thirdly, the profession of the divine law, we'll call it, just to keep the letters the same. The profession of the divine law.

What is their source? They're from the world, verse 5 says. They speak as from the world. The world listens to them. They're very popular. That's a dead giveaway. On the other hand, verse 6, "We're from God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not from God does not listen to us." Here's the bottom line. When you meet these teachers, and they come with their teaching, you test their Christology. What's their doctrine of the incarnation? You test their regeneration. Are they manifesting evidences of being children of God, or are they just parroting stuff from the world? And then, thirdly, when you bring the law of God to bear upon them, do they respond to it? Do they express devotion to the divine law? And that's verse 6. "He who knows God listens to us."

When I sat for hours and hours with the leaders of the Mormon church from Salt Lake City, and they tried to tell me that they spoke the Word of God and they had an aberrant view of Christ and they were wrong in their doctrine of salvation, they had not been regenerated, they were simply speaking seductive doctrines of demons, I brought to bear upon them the Law of God. I pointed to Scripture after Scripture after Scripture and they would not listen. That's the test. When they come banging on your door, you confront them about their Christology.

The doctrine of incarnation, you confront them about regeneration. Have they become the children of God and are they indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is the Holy Spirit manifesting the evidence of His being there, which is love for the true Christ and love for the true Word? And, when you bring the truth of the Word of God to bear upon them, do they respond to it? Because if they possess the Holy Spirit, they will. And those are simple tests, but they're guaranteed to function. The world listens to them because they speak from the world...we're talking about source again. Their theology has its source in demons. Their religion has its source in demons. Their ideas come out of the world and the world is in the lap of the evil one. And when you speak to them the truth of God, they don't listen. They have no affinity for it. They have no capacity for it. They have no apparatus by which they can discern it, understand it, take it in. The world will listen to them. False teachers will have popularity. I'm saying it again, that those who believe the truth are a small part of the population of the world. The vast majority of the world is swept away in false teaching because the world believes false teachers because they're of the same ilk. They recognize their own language. Sinners have an affinity for error. Sinners have affinities for demons, seducing spirits, hypocritical lies cause they have no apparatus for the truth.

But on the other hand, verse 6 says, "We're from God and we know that, and he who knows God listens to us. And he who is not from God, doesn't listen to us." That's the final. The evidence of their view of Christ, the evidence of manifest fruit of regeneration and the evidence of submission to biblical truth, that's what you're looking for in discerning a true teacher. The ones who are true, like the noble Bereans, will search the Scriptures to see what's really true. And when we use these tests, obviously the more we know about Christ the more we have seen the fruit of righteousness and the more of the Word of God we know, the better able we are to exercise these tests.

Before you accept any teaching, be sure of their view of Christ, their view of salvation, and their view of Scripture, summing it up. I mean, that's it. Do they acknowledge a biblical Christology? Do they manifest a regenerate life? And do they submit to the Word of God? Then verse 6 closes, "By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error."

Here's a benediction we lose with, Jude 2, "May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Fight to guard the truth for certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

They're everywhere...everywhere. And he says, "I'm writing because I feel a necessity to appeal to you to fight earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints." It is a battle. It is a battle that has to be fought with all our might to guard the truth for the next generation, as well as this one.

Father, we thank You tonight for this look at Your precious Word. So much more could be said and should be said and we've edited things down, but much of this we've recalled from our time in the second chapter of this wonderful epistle. We pray that You will make us diligent contenders for the once-for-all delivered to the saints faith. May we be faithful and loyal to the truth, to fight for it. We grieve in our hearts at how unwilling so many are to contend for the faith. How easily they will abandon it for the sake of popularity or being well spoken of. They would jettison the truth to make some earthly gain. So tragic and we pray, God, that You will raise up many who will earnestly contend with grace and love, but nonetheless contend, to bring to bear on all that is taught the measurement of the standard of biblical truth and expose error and proclaim truth. We pray that the church will not defect and depart and lose its nerve and its conviction and its commitment in abandoning, as it's so frequently done, and seems to do in every generation but that many will rise strong in this day for the truth. And this to Your honor and glory we pray. Amen.