Warning – Do They Pass the Test?

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. I John 4:1-3

People have a lot of words for Christians today, not all of them complimentary. When I hear various messages coming from the pulpit and over the internet, a word that comes to mind is “confused.” Many believe we’re in the “End Times,” and that certainly appears to be a possibility. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But if you profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you’d better be ready to back up that opinion with some Scripture – in context, please.

People claiming to be experts state their positions with such authority it’s easy to believe they know what they’re talking about. But truth isn’t a tone of voice.

Others make their declarations as though God Himself were talking through them; they begin with, “Thus says the Lord …” and continue with a first-person prediction of what God is going to do in the coming days. For all I can tell, the speaker is utterly convinced that what (s)he is saying is a direct message from God.

But should we be convinced?

Fellow Blogger Bruce Cooper recently posted an important reminder of the importance of “testing the spirits,” as the apostle John admonished in his letter to the churches.

As Bruce explains, the test consists of simply asking this question:

“‘ Will you confess that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh and is from God?’
And given a choice, if the spirit is not representing God, the spirit will not confess this reality. There will be silence or some form of non-acknowledgement.”

When I first heard of this “test,” I wasn’t sure how to use it, but I had an opportunity to do so years ago during my songwriting phase, as I was about to leave on an extended trip.

First on the itinerary was the wedding of a friend, where I was to sing an original song I had written for the bride and groom. I was staying with friends and some of their family members, whom I didn’t know. Next, I was to fly to Nashville to spend about a week pitching my songs to people in the music business, singing at a “songwriters’ night” in a bar (!), and touching base with some relatives.

The night before I was to leave, I was almost asleep when a voice in my head said very clearly,


Suddenly my plans seemed to turn to chaos, as I wondered what sort of calamity awaited me if I ignored it and went anyway. – Car accident? Plane crash? or …!?

But remembering this test, I whispered into the darkness, “Will you confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God?”

Part of me wondered if the response would be, Yes, of course. Then what?! How would I know the voice wasn’t my imagination?

As it turned out, the question was moot. My imagination didn’t kick in, and the response was dead silence.

I smiled and thought, Ha! I thought not and went to sleep.

I could see the Lord working in every step of that trip. At the first stop I had an extended “God conversation” with my friends and their relatives who were hosting me. I found my “second wind” after the long drive and launched into telling stories of what the Lord had been doing, while my friends, who had amused smiles on their faces, chimed in occasionally, and their relatives nodded and smiled. When the relatives left the room, my friends burst out laughing and hugged me. I learned that my assumptions about the family had been incorrect. The relatives weren’t saved, and in my ignorance, I had witnessed to them in a way my friends never could have done. The “witnessees” had been too polite to interrupt me and tell me we weren’t on the same page.

The wedding next day was a blessing to be a part of, and the song was well received. (The bride and groom had refused to hear it ahead of time. They trusted me and wanted to be surprised.)

When the wedding festivities were over and I was on my way to Nashville, I sensed the Lord’s presence in conversations (and prayers) with fellow passengers on the plane, and later my taxi driver and the people I met in the music industry. I even got to witness through one of my songs to the people in a bar. I don’t know everything the Lord was doing, but I had the distinct feeling I was scattering seeds.

Maybe the voice in my head telling me not to go was coming from my imagination, but if not – if it was a messenger of the enemy – I could see many things he might have been trying to prevent from happening. If I had believed those words, I would have either missed a great trip or spent the whole time in fear, instead of experiencing the thrill of resting in Jesus and being carried along according to His plan.

Prayer: Father, You know this world is full of lies and liars, and the best intentioned of Your children need guidance. Thank You so much for inspiring John to write a way to test the spirits that would serve believers down through the centuries. Help us to avail ourselves of Your truth and avoid deadly assumptions, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

29 thoughts on “Warning – Do They Pass the Test?

  1. This is a great thing to write about Ann. We need to test everything with mixed messages. It’s easier to be a rat in a maze than be mounted on EAGLES WINGS
    I hope your song does well. I know it is doing what God intended in giving to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This episode in my life happened quite a while back, Gary, but that song has been used a few times since, in a Christmas cantata, as a benediction, and at my daughter’s wedding, sung by my son. (They surprised me!) I had taken Psalm 23 and put it in the second person to sing as a benediction. (“May the Lord be your Shepherd, and may you never want. May you lie down in pastures of green. May He lead you beside peaceful waters of life and refresh you with pleasures unseen …”)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reminded me of a cartoon I saw once in a Christian magazine. An older ‘gentleman’ was standing with the congregation (apparently a Charismatic or Pentecostal one) and announcing, “Thus saith the LORD; I is sick and tired of “geetars” and drums.” πŸ˜‚
    ❀️& πŸ™, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “But truth isn’t a tone of voice.” Precisely. Too many people fall for that, and too many are surprised that I don’t buy into that.

    Great story. As I read your article, I figured that if I asked someone who was a false prophet that question, they might lie and say ‘yes.’ What’s to stop them? But it was quite interesting to hear that you didn’t get an answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I HAVE seen a prominent TV preacher asked in an interview, point blank, whether he believed Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven, and the man squirmed for several awkward moments and ended up saying he didn’t know, or wasn’t sure, or hadn’t decided …

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ann, I’m thankful that you didn’t listen to that voice that told you not to go! As for the “end times:” The New Testament uses the phrase “last days,” which I was always taught–and still believe–means from the time of Jesus’s ascension until His second coming, but I don’t think it uses the phrase “end times,” which people usually use when they’re talking about getting very close to His return. I just looked at 2 Timothy 3:1 in 27 different versions; all of them use the phrase “last days.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’ve heard that, too, Keith. We ARE in the last days, but whether it’s the “end times,” who knows? I do know that in the past when people thought it was the end times, it couldn’t have been, because certain things hadn’t happened yet. Israel wasn’t a nation, for example. The biggest prerequisite, as I understand, is that the gospel needs to be heard by everyone, and that wasn’t really possible until the internet. Now the technology makes it more doable, but there are still people who haven’t received it in their language. Ministries like the “JESUS” Film are feverishly working on getting the gospel into the last few hundred (!) languages, and I pray a blessing on them every day – a Pentecostal-type anointing, so they can translate quickly and effortlessly, knowing God is even more eager than they are to reach EVERYONE.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann, I forgot to add in my earlier comment that when Peter quotes the prophet Joel in Acts 2, he makes it clear that the day of Pentecost was already part of the “last days.” And yes, the Gospel needs to be heard by all people groups before the Lord returns, as Matthew 24:14 indicates. My sister and her husband (now retired) devoted most of their working lives to translating the Bible into a language spoken by only about 3000 people in Indonesia. First they had to create a written language; then teach people to read it by writing simple children’s books, for example; and then translate the Bible itself with the help of some of those 3000! There are other preliterate people groups who don’t have the Bible, but in many cases they can at least hear it in their first language or another language that they understand. And yes, the Jesus film is great, too.

    By the way, regarding what you wrote about people who “make their declarations as though God Himself were talking through them,” I wrote something a while back about how we should respond; click here if you’re interested: https://keithpetersenblog.com/2020/08/19/how-should-we-respond-to-god-told-me/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annie, this is so good and timely. I just began a personal study on the difference between discernment and judgment. Your post and experience relate to that very thing.

    Jesus said, “be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” It seems contradictory but there has to be much more to extract. I want solid truths like the wise discernment tool you shared to test the spirits. I want to abate the enemy in every possible way. Thanks for this victory story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank YOU, Manette!
      When my children were little, we had a children’s devotional written by a man who was a pastor AND a zookeeper. (!) It had a lot of interesting facts about animals, including two things about snakes that apply to this verse: Snakes have transparent eyelids, so even when their eyes are closed, they can see what’s going on around them. They also have a special coating on their skin that repels dust, so although they slither in the dust, the dust doesn’t stick to them. This is good to keep in mind, as we are striving to be “in the world, but not of the world.” πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

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