1 John 4. Forum Discussion

Test the spirits to see if they are from God

We have previously talked about two questions that are important to ask ourselves when studying the Bible:

  1. How does the scripture apply to us?
  2. What actions can we take based on what we have just read to be more like Christ?

Let us think about these two questions as we dig into 1 John 4. John opens this chapter by writing the following:

“Beloved, 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.  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;  and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” – 1 John 4:1-3.

For today’s lesson, it will be helpful to first talk about the Holy Spirit. Jesus says in John 14:26:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

This can be a difficult scripture to get our arms around. Think of it this way; the Bible tells us what to do, and the Holy Spirit allows us to FEEL it. When you combine the written word, with the feelings that God sent in the Holy Spirit, you will know the difference between right and wrong as defined by our Creator, not the world. Since both the Bible and the Holy Spirit come from God, they are always in agreement. For example, the Bible would never tell you to go north and the Holy Spirit to go south.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” – 1 Corinthians 14:33.

In 1 John 4:1, John writes:

“But test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

He is telling us to search the scriptures to make sure that what we feel agrees with the scriptures – or at least does not contradict them. The Holy Spirit and the scriptures go hand in hand. It is important to check our feelings to make sure they do not contradict scripture. We can not simply do what feels right blindly without consulting God’s Word. As it says in Proverbs 14:12:

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

It is of great comfort to know that God has given us both the Bible (His inspired word) and the Holy Spirit to help us navigate our way through life. As we seek to know our Creator better and to serve Him, it is important to know what His word says, and to allow the Spirit to work in us as our “Helper”.

How does one acquire the Holy Spirit? Peter says in Acts 2:38,

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

What does the word “Repent” mean?

  • Repent = “To turn away”
  • Repent = “To change one’s mind and purpose and life, to which remission is promised”

When we turn away from our previously sinful lives and decide to follow Christ, we have repented. When we repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins, we receive the Holy Spirit.

Now let us look at the two questions from the beginning of today’s lesson:

  1. How does the scripture apply to us?  It allows us to ask ourselves if we have repented and been baptized into Christ? If we have, we can be confident that we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. If we have not repented and been baptized, we need to ask ourselves why not?
  2. What actions can we take based on what we have just read to be more like Christ?  We can be bold in our decisions when we ask God for wisdom, if we trust in the scriptures and the Holy Spirit to guide us.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” – James 1:5-8.



Thank you for a fine lesson today and for breaking down the relationship between God, the Bible, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

God has provided all that we need. We just need to obey and make good decisions.

One good decision begets others. It all starts with one good decision.


That's a straight forward look at what God wants us to do with our lives. I think sometimes we try to make it harder than it is. Thanks for the great summary!