I’ve been studying the book of 1 John for a while now. It’s taking me some time because I vary my early mornings. I might study or just read a couple chapters devotionally. Often I’ll read a book other than the Bible. I may write or just listen to music.
Recently, I opened up my Bible software and began reading 1 John 4:1-6, which addresses “testing the spirits.”
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. —1 John 4:1 ESV
This was quite timely, considering I’ve been reading three books. The first is a controversial book by a Michigan pastor some claim to be a false prophet. The second is an intellectual treatise by a well-respected, modern theologian—a difficult read, to say the least, but I am exceedingly interested in the topic. And the third is a humorous memoir about a kid growing up as a fundamentalist Baptist. (I’ll have a review about that one, since I’m reading it for a publisher.) They’re all similar in some ways.
Sadly, many Christians in America hardly ever read the Bible and really don’t know much of what they profess to believe. Because of this, they’re easily tossed by the winds of whatever teaching becomes popular. I like to think that I’m planted rather firmly, but perhaps more like a palm tree—I may bend and adjust my thinking and even become marked by it, but my roots go down deep.
True, False, or None of the Above
I usually did well on tests in school. I wasn’t intimidated by a test; I didn’t get anxious. If there were any that got my heart racing, though, it were the true/false questions. I loved essay questions, where I could write my way into the correct answer. I liked multiple choice, because it was usually easy to cross out the incorrect answers. But true/false were so difficult, because typically there was little indication that a statement was false. It often sounded so true. I had to analyze, to pick apart the statement before concluding whether it was true or false.
1 Corinthians 2:14 says that unbelievers (or rather, “the natural person”) cannot understand spiritual matters. But believers have the Holy Spirit, who guides us into spiritual truth. I’ve spent significant time reading the three books I mentioned, but I’ve done so prayerfully with my spiritual senses highly aroused, like a mama deer with her babies in a seemingly innocuous meadow.
These are high stakes, not simply because I have some readers here who in some ways might see me as a teacher. (I shudder at the thought.) But I’m also the papa deer guiding my children, and I want them to know the truth about God and Jesus and who we’ve been called to be.
I don’t want them to be like Little Red Riding Hood, who needs someone to rescue her from the wolf. I want them to help rescue others.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. —Matthew 7:15 ESV