1 John 4:1-6 (NIV): “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”
I liked Selwyn’s conclusion: ” … there is such a thing as misguided tolerance of false prophets and teachers. One basis of testing is quite simple; it is the issue of the full deity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Jesus is God). If a person will not confess that Jesus is God’s eternal Son, the Word made flesh, then whoever he is, whatever theological degrees he has gained or whatever position in ecclesiastical society he may hold, he is not a Christian (at that point in time).”
I’ve expressed similar views myself, and I always seem to receive a comment, along these lines: ‘Who am you, to make judgements on who is, or is not, a Christian; after all, we are told not to judge’. Well, the Bible tells us in very clear terms that we must make this type of judgement – the text from John’s first letter, contains a number of implied judgements.
Judgments, which are none of our business – referred to by Jesus, a number of times in the Gospels – are those types of judgements that include condemnation (that the person deserves punishment) and are born out of a heart full of legalism and moral superiority. This condemnation (punishment) aspect of judgment belongs solely to God – He is the only One who knows the condition of our heart; He is the only, perfect judge regarding our reward or punishment.
However, we are called to make judgments about what’s right and wrong in thought, word and deed. Our responsibility to make judgements about false teaching and prophecy, is made clear in the chapters of John’s letter. The importance of making such judgments is even more evident by the indwelling of God’s Spirit – as one of His main roles, is to help us make the right decisions.
Okay, now, I’ll return to Selwyn’s judgment – anyone who says Jesus is not fully God, is not a Christian at the time of making such a statement. This judgment says nothing about that person’s eternal destination (heaven or hell) – that decision is 100%, in the hands of God.
Last point; Selwyn mentioned that ‘Satan is busy undermining Christian truth and doctrine all over the world.‘ Satan is not the personification of evil. He is an active, intelligent ‘being’ whose power is far greater than any human being who does not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Satan knows your frailties and your weaknesses better than you do – anyone who denies Satan’s existence, is already fully owned by him.
Consequently, one of the great joys of Christmas is this – that when God became flesh and died on the cross, He paid the ransom required to set us free from Satan’s bondage. In John 14:30, we hear Jesus say, ‘I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me … ‘. Likewise, we can say – ‘Satan has no hold on me – I’m following Jesus’!
What are your views on today’s study?