Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:1-8
Going through this text has given us two marks of a work of God’s Spirit: a work of the Spirit exalts the true Christ and opposses worldliness. This week brings us to the third mark of a work of God’s Spirit, found in verse 6:
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
What is important to note about this verse is that it equates the Holy Spirit with “the spirit of truth.” It is also to be noted that the idea of “the truth” is synonymous with Scripture, as it is the only Truth we possess when it comes to God and salvation. This, at last, brings us to the third mark of a work of God’s Spirit: a work of God’s Spirit points people to the truth of God in the Scriptures.
This is something that is easily admitted by many people, yet it is also a truth that is easily subverted by many comments and activities we do today. We say things such as “the Lord told me ____,” or “the Spirit led me to ____.” Teachers today are abuzz with “words from the Lord” and “messages from heaven.” What does the Bible say about this, however? Will the Holy Spirit produce things such as this today? Does He continue to speak in ways and in words not recorded in the Bible? Or, as today’s text tells us, does He, the Spirit of Truth, point people to the revealed Word of God?
Let us test ourselves here. When we hear teachers and leaders claiming to speak for God, what is our first instinct? Is it to listen with open arms, or to test it by the Word? There is everything right about not being judgmental or critical; there is everything wrong with being gullible and going contrary to God’s Truth. The Spirit of God will not reveal anything contrary to the Book He has inspired. It is up to us to judge all things by that standard and see what passes and fails.