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Spiritual Discernment

John's Letters  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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It is not enough to know that there are evil spirits in the world, we must have ears to hear what the the Holy Spirit tells us.

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Introduction

Did you know that there is evil in the world
this is not surprising to any of us…
just look around
watch the news
It is not enough to know that there is evil in the world, we must have ears to hear what the Holy Spirit tells us.
the Biblical terminology for this is Spiritual Discernment
Spiritual Discernment
1 John 4:1-6 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
the Bible is pretty clear, the closer we get to the return of Jesus, the more evil we will see
we must be able to tell the difference between the evil and the true spirit
PRAY!

Call to Spiritual Discernment

we must test all the spirits to see if they are from God
v1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
not everything that is spiritual is from God
many false prophets or pseudo prophets are in the world
those that will claim that they are from God, speaking for God
have you done this… where you tell people, “God says this...”
oh, I pray that we take seriously what it is that we are saying
God desires for you to know the difference and gives us this passage so that we have something to go off of, we are not left to ourselves to figure this out
God does not just want us to know him
God wants us to know the difference between good and evil
How do we tell the difference between the spirits
v2-3 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.
these verses basically say the same thing, one in a positive way, the other in the negative
is there a confession of Jesus
we talked a few weeks ago about making sure that it is the same Jesus
there are many that want to change who Jesus is
He is God, who came to this world
lived a perfect life and died for our sins
at the time of this writing, was the beginning of the rise of the gnostic beliefs
the gnostics were a group of people that believed that the creator God was not the ultimate god, but a lesser one
how could the real ultimate God create something like this world that is so broken
Jesus was sent to give us spiritual enlightenment to the ultimate God
he never paid the price for our sin
salvation is spirutal enlightenment
things have not changed much today
how many times have we been told that we should just coexist
which is interesting, if you are telling me to allow you to worship who you want, that is fine
but if you are wanting me to conform to the idea that we have have our religions and we will all get to heaven, or paradise if we just live right then, no I cannot
we are being bombarded with political leaders and religious believers that will tell us that if we truly believed in Jesus we would vote a certain way…
But with all the evil in the world, God, through John, reminds us that we have already overcome the world (this translation uses word conquered)
v4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
it can be overwhelming when we look at this world and all of the evil in it
we can look around and wonder how God will ever win
the problem with that question, or thought is that it does not acknowledge that God has already won
Jesus has defeated death and Satan on the cross 2000 years ago
you, as Gods child, have also overcome the evil one
he has no claim on you, he has no control over your life
this means that as children of God, we do not have to fear the evil that is in this world because we know that we are God’s and there is nothing that can remove us from him
This is not the case for those who do not know God
they are not saved from the evil, but they also listen to the evil spirits as well
v5 They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them.
1 Kings 22; Macaiah, prophesies to Ahab and Jehosaphat
even when Ahab knew that Macaiah was lying to him, he still did not listen to him
people would rather listen to those who tell them something that they want to hear than the truth
We only listen to the good shepherd
v6 We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
the word listen means to let in ears
we should not even allow the evil spirits to our ears
we are only listening to God
John 10:1-5 “Truly I tell you, anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t know the voice of strangers.”
Jesus is the gate
no one comes to the father except through him
any other way, is not the way
Jesus is the shepherd
leads way for the sheep
he lays his life down for his sheep
we listen to the one who is the gate… and provides the way for all who would believe

Living Out Spiritual Discernment

Acknowledging we are in a spiritual battle
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.
if we are in a spiritual battle, we must acknowledge that there are evil spirits
they are already fighting against us
some of us make it harder on them
some of us make it easy on them
do not rely on the spirit of God
try to do things in our own strength
Knowing the voice of God
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
we must be in the word of God if we expect to hear from God
so many of us are trying to ignore the evil spirits or evil voices,
yet those are the only voices that we are putting into our ears
his word is what lights our path leads us through this dark world
Following the voice of God
it is not always comfortable and easy
I told you about Machaiah, the prophet in 1 Kings 22
he spoke the truth of God to these two kings
they asked for him to speak the truth, he didn’t go to them
it got him arrested, thrown in jail and given small portions of bread and water
he was tortured for speaking the truth of God
we are not called to comfort or success, but to obedience
Recognizing the lost listen and follow evil spirits
Jehosaphat and Ahab listened to all the prophets who said they would do great things in this battle
John tells us that they listen to the evil spirits
why would they do this,
2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
they will act lost
no legislation or amount of arguing that we do will make the lost act like they are found
we should know that they will not agree with our decisions
we cannot expect to look to them for validation
this should lead us into the spiritual battle
we should dive into this battle
desiring that the blind would see!
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