I had not known much about Elijah until I worked at First Pres and was asking a co-worker what her favorite story in the Bible was. She told me Elijah. I am embarrassed to say I had to look it up (despite reading both Kings during another church’s read the Bible in three months marathon!). However, rather than look it up in the Bible I went to handy dandy Youtube. The video I watched is below. After watching the video I totally understood why; it’s such a powerful story of God’s majesty! PS: The narrator’s accent is just a great bonus.
Now, onto the meatier part of our devotional.
How often have you been told you’re following a false prophet? Or, how many times have you told someone they were following a false prophet? Recently, a man I knew that had grown up in faith told me an author I was reading was a false prophet–and no, it wasn’t Beth Moore who came under attack after posting A Letter to My Brothers. The book I was reading wasn’t written by a woman at all. He is a praised Baptist Preacher and author.
The content of this book didn’t align with the person’s personal feelings and he was very quick to call the author a false prophet and continued to tear down my belief system and even gender.
Yes, it sucked. Yes, I struggled big time on what to do.
I kept thinking about how the Bible says to “test spirits because there are false prophets” but that’s where my memory verse stopped. Luckily, as we have it, my devotional content includes this verse!
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.
1 John 4:1-3
Last Sunday, Pastor Craig mentioned Christians are so quick to cut each other up–as this man was so quick to cut up my faith and reading materials. However, the man I was reading, this Baptist Preacher, does acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and is from God.
That’s the key.
We throw out the words “false prophet,” and “antichrist” so painfully quick and don’t actually look to see how John the Evangelist told us to do to test spirits to see how we can find a true false prophet and a spirit of the antichrist (see that? Spirit of the antichrist… Not even the antichrist himself).
I want all of us to remember this when we don’t like the teachings of a man or woman: if the man or woman says Jesus is God in the flesh then they are not a false prophet and they are not the antichrist.
I called this fighting in the family because we are so much more inclined to fight about this with people in the faith. We’re probably still going to fight because our flesh will fight ideologies and translations and historical context that makes us uncomfortable.
My challenge to you: if someone wants to share a fellow Christians teaching I beg you to be open minded about it. Test the teachings in this way: do they say Christ is Lord? Christ is God in the Flesh? Do they claim to know Jesus as their own Lord? If the answer is “yes” to all of those and you still don’t like what they’re saying there are two more things to consider:
- Do you dislike it because it makes you uncomfortable in a convicted kind of way. For example: you think people need to wear their Sunday’s best, but the preacher talks about how Jesus sat with the lowliest of lows and took them as they were and now you’re convicted by how judgmental you were about the new family who had their teen dressed in denim shorts and a tank top. That kind of conviction hurts and opens the door to really mold your heart to be more like Jesus.
- Maybe there are human errors. For example: Taking Scripture out of context. Let’s say we are listening to a sermon (from a preacher who has met our criteria about knowing Jesus and professing with their mouth Jesus is God in the Flesh) and his whole sermon is based on Leviticus. He’s saying God doesn’t like women. He’s going through all the laws that showcase that men have it easier when faced with adultery and only women are tested. He’s missing the context of Leviticus. First, those rules were written for a community that had been enslaved by pagan people for hundreds of years. Second, if you look at those laws carefully, they are in place to protect women in a time and society when women were mistreated so frequently and were more like property than people. Third, God says over and over again He wants to give mercy to the people–not punishment. This sermon is filled with historical misunderstanding and thus void.
- Major point though: This is not the teaching of a false prophet! This is the teaching of a misinformed man.
I give you these examples because telling your family that they are following false prophets out of anger hurts. It hurts us so much to the point that we can’t help but react with our flesh that we may offer forgiveness and never reconciliation…
And maybe you’ve been where I am. If you have, that pit in your stomach has been so heavy and you wanted to know how to test the spirit–here it is! Here is how you can find comfort in that you are listening to God.
And at the very end of the day: Are you seeking the approval of God? Or man?