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How Can I Discern Between Truth and Error? (8 of 12)
1 John 4:1-6
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (v. 1).
At the end of chapter 3, the apostle John wrote, ''And by this we know that [God] abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us'' (v. 24). Perhaps when John wrote these words about the Holy Spirit, he thought of false teachers who were claiming that the source of their teaching was the Holy Spirit. So in 4:1-6, he stresses the importance of detecting teaching that comes from ''the Spirit of truth'' and teaching that comes from ''the spirit of error.''
[Read 1 John 4:1-6.]
WOLVES IN DISGUISE
Probably all of us know the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red Riding Hood is deceived by a wolf who disguises itself as the girl's grandmother.
In the New Testament, Christians are warned to watch out for wolves in disguise. Jesus said, ''Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves'' (Matt. 7:15). The apostle Paul told the Ephesian elders, ''I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away disciples after them'' (Acts 20:29-30). And here in v. 1, John warns his readers, ''Many false prophets have gone out into the world.''
Christians must not be spiritually GULLIBLE.
John writes, ''Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God'' (v. 1). Little Red Riding hood was deceived by the wolf because she was gullible. False teachers will not announce to us that their teaching is false, so we shouldn't believe every teaching we hear. (Many false teachers sincerely believe their teaching is true.) How can we discern between truth and error?
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