Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
– 1 John 4:1
False prophets very rarely say, “Hey everyone, I have a message from the devil!” No, they say they have a revelation from the Spirit.
John is warning us that while a spiritual experience is important, it alone is not enough to guarantee that it is from God. Spirits must be tested. If a random guy told a girl, “God said you’re supposed to marry me,” the girl would not immediately believe him. She would be discerning.
Who we marry is important, but who we worship is more important. When people say things about God, we should be discerning. We should test the spirits.
This includes testing ourselves. Our hearts, our emotions, our logic can so easily go astray. Haven’t we done enough foolish things to know that we can’t be trusted implicitly? We are biased and selfish and the first “spirit” that must be tested is within us.
 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…
 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah
– Matthew 1:1, 6
King David was the greatest King in Israel’s history. He was a warrior who destroyed their enemies and brought peace and prosperity to the nation. Matthew shows David honor in calling Jesus the son of David. Yet at the same time, Matthew draws attention to David’s failures.
In verse 6, Matthew points out that Solomon is the son of David and the wife of Uriah. This is an odd introduction, something along the lines of “this is Tom who beats his wife” or “this is Rachel who cheats on her taxes.” Matthew could have named Solomon’s mother as Bathsheba but he makes certain that we understand that David unlawfully took another man’s wife. Even the greatest king of Israel was a sinner and a failure.
In verses 7-11, Matthew lists the kings of Israel after David, from Solomon to Jechoniah and the kings get worse and worse. There are a couple good kings like Hezekiah and Josiah but many more terrible kings. Ahaz burned his son as an offering to false gods. Manasseh filled the temple with altars to Baal and other demons. Things have gotten so bad by the time of Jechoniah that God sends the nation into exile. As a whole, the kings are one sorry disappointment after another.
We too spend most of our lives serving disappointing kings. Perhaps our “king” is pleasure, money, or prestige. These kings promise us the world but turn out to be ugly disappointments. These kings cannot save us or give us life.
In contrast to the ugliness of earthly kings, Matthew presents to us King Jesus. He is the eternal Son of God who washes the dirty feet of wicked people. He is the voice who spoke the world into being yet He knows our names. Jesus is the God who comes to save us, whose justice, holiness, mercy and steadfast love is more radiant than a million suns. He is the king we have been waiting for.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16
God loves the world. Let us consider the world God has chosen to love. When we think of the world, we might imagine children holding hands and singing kumbaya. It’s kind of like “It’s a Small World” (or if you don’t like “It’s a Small World,” it’s similar to “It’s a Small World” but less annoying).
But according to the book of John, the world is not a place of peace, harmony, and good-will.
- John 1:10 – “the world did not know him”
- John 3:19 – “people loved darkness rather than the light because their works were evil”
- John 7:7 – Jesus says, “[the world] hates me”
- John 17:25 – “the world does not know [God]”
God does not love a cute and cuddly world. He chooses to love a world that does not know Him, that loves darkness, and in fact hates Him. While this is not flattering, it is very encouraging. Jesus does not love us at our best. Inexplicably, He sees us at our worst and He loves us still.
Am I Introverted, or Just Rude?
Years ago, I was habitually late. “I can’t help it!” I declared to an expert in time management (I’d turned my effort to reform into a magazine article, as writers do, which gave me the excuse to seek professional help).
“Have you ever missed a plane?” she asked. I had not. “Then you can help it. You just care more about yourself than about the needs of others.”
I may be naturally reserved, and more comfortable alone than I will ever be in a crowd, but I am not at the mercy of my nature. There are many excuses for failing to conduct ourselves with courtesy, for avoiding gatherings and conversations we don’t think we will enjoy, or for just putting on our pajamas and staying home. Too many of them boil down to just that one thing: We care more about ourselves than about the needs of others.
That’s not about introversion. It’s just an ordinary version of selfishness.
Link: Complete Article
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
– 1 John 1:8-9
It’s a rare person who is foolish enough to say that they are perfect. Nearly everyone will admit that we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Yet at the same time, we all believe that deep down we’re good people.
One thing that makes this believable is that we know how to compare ourselves favorably. My Sunday School boys tell me how good they are at basketball and how they can beat my son. Well my son is three, so I tell them that’s not saying much. Somehow when it comes to our character and faith, we always compare our best to other people’s worst. We proudly say that we’re better than a murderer or a drug dealer and if all else fails we can always compare favorably with Hitler.
Another reason we are tempted to believe in our own goodness is that we are experts at self-deception. Have you ever met an angry person? The last person to know that he’s angry is always the angry person himself. We know how to play this game. We don’t hate anyone but there are people we’d just rather not speak to ever again. We’re not greedy or envious, we just want to be financially secure.
But God is not deceived by any of this. He is light itself and in Him is no darkness at all. His light exposes darkness! So John is pleading with us, don’t be deceived! The lie is tempting. It feels good to think we’re better than others. It’s painful to face what’s really in our hearts. It’s tempting to believe the lie and avoid the pain, but this does not lead to real joy or real life.
It’s only when we acknowledge and confess our sins that we are free! When we downplay our sin before God and others, relationship is impossible because we have to lie. If we claim to have no sin or if we always excuse our sin, we have to try to deceive each other and God. But if we confess our sin – not that we are sinners generally, but that we love specific things more than Jesus, that we are willing to hurt others to get what we want, that today and not just in our former life that we like our sin – then He’ll forgive us! Jesus can wipe away our sin and make us clean, but He comes only for the sick.
To live in lies is tempting but this only leads to slavery. The truth – no matter how ugly – is what sets us free.
Why Johnny Can’t Preach
T. David Gordon
Many people love to live in their imagined and self-made world of good guys and bad guys, to be reminded that there are good people and bad people and that they are among the good.
What’s wrong with our culture and every culture, and all human culture since Genesis 3, is that all of us (not some of us) in Adam have revolted against the reign of God, and that each of us (not some of us) prefers his own will to the will of God. Worse, we are utterly incapable, in and of ourselves, of changing. The government cannot change us or rescue us from our revolt; education cannot enlighten our darkened minds; not even the church can deliver us from our darkened understanding that considers our own way better than God’s way; and surely coercive human governments cannot cure souls. Only the God-man, the last Adam, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice and present intercession at the right hand of God, can rescue any of us from our revolt.
Does Prayer Change Things?
R. C. Sproul
We can distinguish between two kinds of repentance: attrition and contrition. Attrition is counterfeit repentance, which never qualifies us for forgiveness. It is like the repentance of a child who is caught in the act of disobeying his mother and cries out, “Mommy, Mommy, I’m sorry, please don’t spank me.” Attrition is repentance motivated strictly by a fear of punishment. The sinner confesses his sin to God, not out of genuine remorse but out of a desire to secure a ticket out of hell. True repentance reflects contrition, a godly remorse for offending God. Here the sinner mourns his sin, not for the loss of reward or for the threat of judgment, but because he has done injury to the honor of God.