Press "Enter" to skip to content

1 John 4:1-6 Do not believe a spirit that does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh!

Share this story

Recognizing a dirty diaper does not take any special training, certifications or years of experience. The smell of a dirty diaper is easy to identify, but sometimes they remain unchanged. Sometimes, the individual in the dirty diaper does not want their diaper changed, but an unchanged diaper causes problems beyond the foul odor. The truth is, when the diaper is full, it is time to change it. God wants us to do the “smell test” with spirits so that we reject false prophets. If we listen to false spiritual messages about Jesus, then we will have big problems.

In this age of identity theft, verification messages have become the norm. As a response to AI and other threats, there has been an increase in verifying our identity. The tests for verifying our identity are ever changing, but the goal remains the same, confirm the transaction, phone call, text, application, etc. is from you. When someone else falsely impersonates you, big problems follow.

The most sinister impersonation we face though is that of God. In our New Testament reading from 1 John 4, John gave a clear warning as we read, 1 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. Many spiritual or religious “spirits” or messengers with messages about God have been shared over the millennia.

The problem as John states is that many are false, so all must be tested. John then offers one way to test the spirits, 2 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, 3 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. Whether the message is on social media, on TV, in a book or from the text, email or voice of another person, these messages must be tested to see if it is from God or the spirit of the antichrist.

John offered the test for a message’s reliability as “Jesus has come in the flesh.” This truth covers both Jesus as true God and true man, and that he saved us. John expanded on what his test covered in the follow verses beginning with 1 John 4:9, This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. So, one who teaches the truth must teach that Jesus saved us by giving us life. Then, with 1 John 4:10, This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. The teacher must teach that we are saved by God’s love for us and his action to send Jesus to sacrifice his innocent life for our sins.

Also, with 1 John 4:14, And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. The teaching must agree that Jesus is the Savior of all the world. And, with 1 John 4:15, If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. Jesus must be recognized as the Son of God, not just a great man, philanthropist, moral teacher or prophet equal to any other religious leader. And, with 1 John 5:1, Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Jesus as the Messiah, the fulfillment of all the prophecies, must be acknowledged as true.

Finally, with 1 John 5:20, We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. The spirit must teach that Jesus again is true God and gives eternal life. If any of these are denied, then the spirit is a false prophet and has the spirit of the antichrist.

Accepting a false prophet or antichrist message means you no longer have Jesus. Whether it was a false prophet of the Old Testament or a New Testament antichrist, both remove God from his rightful place as Lord and Savior. Then, in place of God, something else is pointed to that cannot give life, love, comfort, hope, peace, joy or save from death, the devil and hell.

When John first wrote this letter, the Jewish people denied Jesus as God and Messiah. Instead, they looked to their own righteousness and keeping of the law, which left them without salvation as we read in Romans 9, 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” The Jews at this time would not have denied Jesus’ bodily existence, but his coming as God and Messiah. But you cannot separate Jesus coming as the Messiah, the Son of God and Son of Man in the flesh, with his work to save the world from sin through his sacrifice and resurrection.

Who Jesus is and what he did cannot be separated. Today the spirit of the antichrist continues when this truth is denied. Denial that Christ has done it all for us, and teaching that we participate in saving ourselves through our good works, keeping of the law, righteousness and/or striving to be a good person is false. We are not saved by what we have done, are doing or will do.

Jesus has come in the flesh to save us. Jesus did it for us. In the face of the many false prophets and the spirit of the antichrist, John reminds us, 4 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. Jesus is greater than the false prophets and antichrists whose messages are from the devil and demons. Each year, we set aside today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, as Good Shepherd Sunday, so that we can listen to Jesus pass the test as the overcomer and greater one who destroyed the power of death and the devil at the cross in the words of our Gospel reading from John 10, 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

These words confirm Jesus came in the flesh to sacrifice his life to save us as a shepherd who cares for his sheep would lay down his life to save them. Jesus confidently laid down his life to save us because he knew it would stop any whisper from the devil, the world or our own sinful hearts that we are guilty in the eyes of God. The punishment has been taken, so we are free from accusation and judgment. Jesus also could not be held by death because he is the authority over life. Jesus took up his life by his own authority and by the same authority he will bring you back to life and give you an eternal home in heaven. This truth gives life, so we cling to it and hold it up against every message we hear.

You will also recognize falsehood by who listens to it. John went on to distinguish between those who listen to Scripture and those who listen to worldly teachings writing, 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 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. Whether I hear it, or someone tells me about something they heard, it is good to determine the bias behind a message.

For example, when a person who is openly against God offers a spiritual message, it must be tested because it comes from the viewpoint of the world. At the same time, even a message from someone who claims to be from God must be tested as we hear in our Old Testament reading from Acts 20, 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

These words were spoken by Paul to the leaders of the Ephesian church, which is likely the first recipient of John’s letter. Paul wanted them to understand the continuous need to test messages otherwise they would be drawn away from Jesus. We must be on our guard as well, and we do so with the encouragement Paul gave them, 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. We remain on guard by following God looking to word of his grace being built up in Jesus who has come in the flesh to give us an inheritance among all the sheep of the Good Shepherd.

Recognizing a dirty diaper does not take any special training. When the dirty diaper is found, it must be changed. God wants us to do the “smell test” with spirits and our training comes from the Bible. Listening to a spirit of the antichrist replaces Christ with something that cannot save us, do not believe them. You are from God and have overcome falsehood because Jesus has saved you and he lives in you, and he is greater than the one who is in the world, the devil. Recognize the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, and test every message against Scripture so that you do not believe a spirit that does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Amen.

Gunnar Ledermann, Pastor Divine Peace Church

Gunnar Ledermann

I’m passionate about Rockwall’s vibrant community and actively engage with local non-profits and community organizations, including the Rockwall Chamber of Commerce, the City of Rockwall, and the Downtown Rockwall Association. My background includes a bachelor’s degree in Classical Languages and a master’s degree in divinity. Currently serving as a pastor at Divine Peace Church in Rockwall, I also enjoy spending time with my wife, Marinda, and our three children.

Share this story

One Comment

  1. Vicki Vicki April 22, 2024

    I loved reading this. Sometimes on you tube I come across pastors who mainly preach about Trump being God’s chosen person to lead America. It doesn’t make sense to me that God is telling them in prophetic words this kind of things when they should be telling of the good news of Jesus. I wonder if they are false teachers

Comments are closed.