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1 John;- Test the spirits

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posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 05:01 PM
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When John writes his first epistle, he is not, like Paul, addressing himself to a specific church under particular circumstances.
He writes, on behalf of himself and his fellow teachers, to anyone in the Christian body who will take his advice. Though his first readers were probably in Ephesus and that region of Asia Minor.
His purpose is to teach these Christians, or remind them, that they are dwelling in God, through Christ, and to show them how this knowledge should be affecting their conduct.

In the first two chapters, John was establishing the importance of this relationship, warning his readers about the factors which might disrupt our fellowship with God.
This then raised the question; how can we know that we are abiding in God?
So the third chapter talks about doing righteousness and loving the brethren, and adds this final observation;
“By this we may know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us” (ch3 v24)

This leads him, at the beginning of the fourth chapter, into a discussion of the two different kinds of spirit claiming our attention. For only the true Spirit will give us the right answer.

He tells them not to believe every spirit, but to test them to identify those that truly come from God (v1). This is necessary because of the many “false prophets” who have gone out into the world, presumably overlapping with the “many antichrists” described in ch2.

Paul speaks of the gift of “discernment of spirits”, which would have the same purpose (1 Corinthians ch12 v10). He also offers the criterion that only the true Spirit accepts Jesus as Lord;
“I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus be accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians ch12 v3).

John makes the distinction in a similar way.
Once again he brings out his regular formula; You may know “by this…”.
That is, the true spirit will be “confessing” Jesus in the sense of “confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”.
This confession will be denied by the spirit which is “not of God”.

In principle, there are two different ways of making this denial.
One may deny “has come”, or one may deny “in the flesh”.
In the first case, the spirit acknowledges that Jesus was really in the world, but denies that he “came from” anywhere else.
This is the most natural and obvious way of demurring to the teaching about Christ. It appears, by implication, in John’s gospel, when Jesus tells his opponents “You do not know whence I come” (John ch8 v14) and on other occasions.

In the second case, the spirit acknowledges the heavenly origin of Christ, but denies in some sense the reality of his fleshly presence in the world. This denial, now known as “Docetism” is found in some forms of later Gnostic belief. However, it may be premature to find it in this letter.
We should not neglect the obvious possibility that they were only talking down the status of the “merely” human Jesus.

The confession that Jesus Christ was not only “in the flesh” but “come in the flesh” amounts to the Christian teaching about the Incarnation, that Christ is both God and man. That is what John is affirming in the first chapter of his gospel.
So either version of the denial of this confession, whichever form was predominant, is a denial of the doctrine of the Incarnation.
In other words, it is the doctrine of the Incarnation that is being offered as the test to distinguish between those spirits which do and do not come from God.

Most translations say about this denial “This is the spirit of antichrist”.
But a more exact translation of the Greek text would say “This is the of antichrist”. The word “spirit” is not there. (At least the Authorised Version is honest enough to signal the insertion by its usual practice of italicising the extra word).
So the statement is not quite so specific as it is being made to appear. It might almost be translated as “This is antichrist’s thing”.
At any rate, there are no grounds for identifying one specific “spirit of antichrist” as the opponent of the Holy Spirit. There is a plurality of spirits which are not of God.
It is, rather, the general work of antichrist that is “in the world already”.

Now John picks up on this word “world”.
Antichrist may be in the world, but God is greater. Therefore those “little children” who are “of God” have already overcome the spirits which follow it.
These spirits, and the teachers they inspire, belong to the world.
Therefore their teaching belongs to the world, and the reception of their teaching is among those who belong to the world.
In contrast “we” (that is, “we teachers of Christ”) belong to God, and are heard by those who know God.
This leads into one more “by this”. “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (v6)
John seems to be saying that one can tell the difference between these teachers and their spirits merely by looking at the kind of people who listen to them.
There we will find the warning signs to protect us from the forms of teaching which undermine our knowledge of Christ.




posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 05:02 PM
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The wording of the opening post is my own, but the commentary of B.F. Westcott has been an essential guide to the meaning of the text.



posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 05:47 PM
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Isn't there something in the New Testament that warns us off of forms of divination?
edit on 11-8-2017 by KansasGirl because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 05:55 PM
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a reply to: KansasGirl
This is not about divination.
This is about telling the difference between good spirits and bad spirits.
It is one of the aspects of "discernment", which is an important issue throughout the New Testament.
And this passage comes from the New Testament too.
1 Corinthians ch12 v3 is another text which explains how to tell the difference.


edit on 11-8-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 06:35 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Good post ...I spent 2 weeks stuck on this before I read on ...The Word Became Flesh
Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
Joh 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God. 
Joh 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 
Joh 1:4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 
Joh 1:5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 

I knew nothing about the who ,what ,when ,where ,why and how of Jesus but after finishing Johns gospel it made perfect sense .



posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 06:36 PM
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a reply to: the2ofusr1
Exactly so. That's why I did a thread on that same passage in the gospel.



posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 06:46 PM
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I've always liked reading both the Gospel of John and 1 John. There's something about both of them.



posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 06:55 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Yea ...John seems to have a universal appeal to it . A Swedish guy I met on a ferry crossing to PEI recommended I start reading the Bible there .



posted on Aug, 11 2017 @ 11:48 PM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: KansasGirl
This is not about divination.
This is about telling the difference between good spirits and bad spirits.
It is one of the aspects of "discernment", which is an important issue throughout the New Testament.
And this passage comes from the New Testament too.
1 Corinthians ch12 v3 is another text which explains how to tell the difference.


Thank you. I'm just trying to understand. How would one be in contact with a spirit? Maybe I don't understand what is meant by "spirit."



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 02:50 AM
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a reply to: KansasGirl
The whole passage is really about the difference between good teaching and bad teaching.
The assumption is that all religious teaching is being guided by one spirit or the other, probably unconsciously.
For example, my own threads are valueless unless they are prompted by the Holy Spirit, but I would not be able to identify any tangible sense that this is happening.
Paul says that he speaks "spiritual things to spiritual people"-that is, being guided by the Holy Spirit, he teaches Christians whose understanding is also (by definition) being guided by the Holy Spirit, so the Spirit in their understanding recognises the Spirit in his teaching and the truth is communicated. (1 Corinthians ch2 v13)
On the other hand, it may be assumed that the teachers who teach false things are being guided by a different kind of spirit.

So you are listening to one spirit or the other whenever you hear teaching about God, and the way to test them is to discern the difference in what they say.
If they teach the truth about Christ, then they are guided by the Holy Spirit.
If they teach falsehood about Christ, then they are obviously being guided by false spirits.
As I was describing in the OP, John does not forget to specify the "truth about Christ" which his readers should be using as the acid test.
Paul puts forward exactly the same kind of test,when he says "No one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus be accursed!", and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians ch12 v3)


edit on 12-8-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 06:42 AM
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a reply to: KansasGirl




I'm just trying to understand. How would one be in contact with a spirit? Maybe I don't understand what is meant by "spirit."
A good measure aside from what this thread is about is to think of someone who never has a bad thing to say about anyone and are always ready to help out.You could say they are being guided by a sprite of kindness and love .

Part of the issue is how we take in a message and apply it to our lives .We read things that can be understood in many ways but what does it really say and mean is important and we can miss the message . The Sprite of truth is just that .What may have been true then may not apply today .Some truths have a eternal context to them while others can vary with time and culture . What once may have been offensive may not be today . What once was thought to be true is not today . These are culture contexts's . ie flat earth ball earth .

The foundation to the Christian orientation is Jesus manifesting in the flesh . Dying and then being raised from the dead .All scripture can be guided by this foundational truth and without it you can get in the weeds pretty quick .



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 07:37 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Thank you! I see now.




posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 07:38 AM
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a reply to: the2ofusr1

Thank you! I think I understand the passage better now.



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 01:15 PM
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originally posted by: KansasGirl
Isn't there something in the New Testament that warns us off of forms of divination?


Good info here though on that subject.
Bible verses about divination
biblereasons.com...



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 01:41 PM
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a reply to: SeaWorthy
Quite right.
The reason, of course, is that divination involves consulting spiritual powers other than God, so it's a breach of the First Commandment.



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 03:01 PM
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It all boils down to your motive in your spiritual pursuit. Every human is wired for some external spirit influence. It can even come in the form of team spirit with sports. What ever it is, it makes us feel a part of something that is bigger than ourselves.

Those that are drawn to the spirit of the bible have to read it all to actually see the personality of the one who caused its inspiration. That spirit pushes for humility and rejects pride. When social status, family and personal pursuits conflict with humility then you're being influenced by the wrong spirit.

After reading the entire bible:
Jesus had to come in the flesh because he replaces our great~ grand father Adam. We're adopted by Jesus if we so choose. If you don't want to be adopted by Jesus then you still want Adam to be your father. Only eternal death comes through Adam.

The problem with interpreting scripture is that people pick and choose verses that fit their agenda. Be humble when reading biblical scripture and challenge what you are reading. Every word is in the bible for a reason. If you can't understand a passage ask for help from the good spirit. It will draw you in the right direction if you have a humble heart.



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 03:34 PM
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originally posted by: lostinspace
Those that are drawn to the spirit of the bible have to read it all to actually see the personality of the one who caused its inspiration. That spirit pushes for humility and rejects pride.

Yes, that's another aspect. The Spirit guides us to our true relationship with God. John is focussing in this passage on the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error, but he would also agree that the Spirit demands love.
From the next chapter; "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (ch4 v16).


edit on 12-8-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 07:05 PM
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Another guiding principal with The Sprite is His quiet work inside us ...always pointing us to Jesus and never Himself .We know He is there only because He is promised to be there .It becomes a belief more so then a phenomenon we experience .I always found it strange that our Christian brothers and sisters would be acting the way they do on some of these TV shows ...I could never make sense of it ...like they go into a trance and start flip flopping around on the floor ...wuwt



posted on Aug, 13 2017 @ 02:18 PM
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As we get closer to the end of the series, I just want to advise my intention of following my usual practice and providing another "Index thread" to cover the epistle as a whole.




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