Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
The threat of false teaching is as old as the garden of Eden, when the serpent lied to Eve, tempting her to sin against God by violating His word. The apostle John strenuously cautions us not to believe every one professing to bring the spirit of Christ. Jesus Himself warned of false prophets – describing them as ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). Put every teaching to the test by comparing it to what the apostles of Christ taught. John explains: “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 Jno. 4:6). Test everything you are taught by the apostles’ teaching, the New Testament. If it does not agree with the Scriptures, do not believe it. It is the devil’s lie.
1 Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:1-3)
God’s goodness toward the pure in heart is a tonic of prevention against envying the wicked. Seeing the prosperity of wicked people can tempt Christians to believe the benefit of sin is greater than the blessings of faithfulness to God. But, the prosperity of the wicked is only temporary, and afterwards comes destruction (Psa. 73:17-20). Keep your spiritual footing by learning to be content. Do that by trusting the Lord and following God’s word: “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psa. 73:24).
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)
Have you ever sat on the edge of your seat to get a better view of some event? God is on the edge of His seat, leaning forward to observe all the actions of men and women. Never sleeping, He beholds everything that is good (read Psalm 121:3-4). This greatly comforts all who put their faith in Him and do His will. On the other hand, there is no evil that escapes His sight. This should cause fear and godly sorrow leading to repentance in all who sin against the Almighty. What will God see in you today – the evil or the good?
Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)
The Lord warns us not to put an occasion of stumbling before another person. In other words, do not be the cause of someone else’s sin. Jesus uses exaggerated language to emphasize His point: Better to be drown in the depth of the sea than to be a snare of sin to someone else. Sin is serious. Be sure you do not lead others into sin by your words or deeds. “Take heed to yourselves” (Luke 17:3).
17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:17-19)
These two Christians had “strayed concerning the truth” by teaching error about the resurrection. With their false teaching they were overthrowing the faith of others. Yet, their error did not destroy God’s plan. The faithful are reassured that God knows those who are faithful: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7). Those who identify themselves with Christ practice holiness (“depart from evil”). Here then is God’s seal of approval and authenticity of those who are His: God knows who they are – they are the ones who shun sin and practice purity. If you name the name of Christ, then depart sin and walk in the truth. Otherwise, you do not have the Lord’s seal of approval (read Matthew 7:21-23).
31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” 34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:31-34)
The devil wants to destroy you, just like he wanted to destroy Peter. Jesus knew Simon Peter would deny Him. Peter thought he was ready to go with Jesus to prison and death with Jesus, but the Lord knew before dawn Peter would deny Him three times (Lk. 22:33-34). Surely we can learn from Peter that we often think we are stronger than we really are. We also learn that Jesus does not give up on us. There was still much for Peter to do in service to the Lord. Jesus knows when you falter and turn away from Him. Yet, still He yearns for your return. If you have denied the Lord, you can return to Him today. Jesus is ready, willing and able to forgive you. Once you return to the Lord you can help strengthen your brethren.
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 20-21)
Christians are expected to grow and get stronger in the Lord. Jude teaches us how. (1) Keep yourself pure. Only a holy faith is a strong faith. (2) Pray in harmony with the Holy Spirit. Your prayers should reflect the will of the Spirit He has revealed in the Scriptures. (3) Do not leave the love of God. You might ask, “doesn’t God always love me?” Yes, but you are responsible for abiding in His love. You do this by obeying Christ’s word (read John 14:23). (4) Live in hope, patiently awaiting the mercy of Christ that you and every faithful child of God will have throughout eternity.