1 John 4:1 (AMP) “Do not put your faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.”
The connection between the two parts of this verse clicked with me differently today. Generally, I’ve thought of this verse as a warning to beware of false prophets. However, today I’m seeing it as a warning to beware of becoming a false prophet.
The verse preceding (I John 3:24) tells believers that those who keep Christ’s commandments are His, and He lives in them by the Holy Spirit. Then the above verse tells believers to test the spirits. In other words, not every thought or idea that occurs to us comes from God, the Holy Spirit. We can become “false prophets” when we get an idea and run with it if we don’t make sure it is God’s idea. Every good idea is not necessarily God-inspired direction for every believer.
What do I mean? Let’s say you get an idea to coordinate a fundraising event for a very good cause in your community. That’s a good idea, right? Christians are supposed to help people, right? You become excited about the fundraiser, and others encourage you to follow through. You’ve just become responsible for a major community event, which will take hours of your time. But it will be worth it; you’re going to help raise a lot of money for a good cause.
However, you know that God has called you in this particular season of your life to something else—caring for your aging parents. Working on the fundraiser—a good idea—is going to take you away from something that God has called you to do—a better, God-inspired idea. But now you’re committed to the fundraiser. People are depending on you. Your reputation, both personal and Christian, is at stake. You must keep your word.
You are over-committed now because a good idea has taken you away from your calling. You tell yourself that you are working for a good cause and setting a good example by helping those in need of funds, but in the meantime, there is no one to watch out and care for your parents. You don’t have time to do it—so you hire someone to do it. (I’m not saying that hiring someone to help out with aging parents is bad, but in this scenario, that isn’t what God had in mind.)
So, how does following a good idea relate to being a false prophet? God’s intent for you was to be Biblical example of how obedient, loving children care for their loved ones by serving them. Instead, you are sending a different message—perhaps that everyone must be a good community leader. Whether that is a good message or not is not the point. The point is that it wasn’t your message to send. Perhaps someone else was supposed to do the fundraiser. Or perhaps God had a different way in mind to provide whatever funds are needed for whatever worthy cause needs funds.
The evil one distracted you from your call by presenting a good idea. It just wasn’t yours to carry out. That is why we must test the spirits. Are we being led by the Spirit of God or by something else—the spirit of selfishness, the spirit of vanity and desire for recognition, or any other deceitful spirit?
Most of us, as committed Christians, are not going to be fooled by an evil spirit tempting us to do something bad or against the laws of man or God; but if we are not careful, the evil one might fool us into spending our time on something good, which takes us away from something perfect and God-planned. So let’s test the spirits by praying and seeking confirmation in God’s Word to ideas and opportunities that present themselves to us. Let’s make sure we are not inadvertently led to be false prophets. Let’s make sure that we are sending the message God designed for us to send so it will be heard and received by others.
Romans 12:2 (NIV) says it this way. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Until next time,