In Part 1, I introduced you to Jonathan Edwards method of Testing the Spirits, drawing from 1 John 4:1-8. Having already covered the first test, let’s look at the second test we should use to test the spirits and see whether or not a claim, doctrine, or work is truly from the Holy Spirit.
Test #2: Is Worldliness Opposed?
The second test is found in the next two verses of our text:
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
Speaking plainly again, John points out that those who are not of God have been overcome by the true church, because of Christ and his Spirit dwelling in us. God has declared in his Word that we have overcome the adversity of Satan, and therefore have overcome all his devices and schemes. A passage in Scripture that will help us understand this a little more is Revelation 12:11 which says, And they (the Martyred Saints of God) have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Two things that allowed the church to overcome the power of Satan; Christ’s atoning, victorious work on the Cross that has put all rulers and authorities to open shame (Colossians 2:15), and the word of our testimony, which at its core is the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. We, today, overcome falsehoods by this same truth. Who is in us? Paul says it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Christ, the hope of glory, the son of the living God who was slain from before the foundation of the world; Christ, who counted equality with God not a thing to be grasped but humbled himself through obedience to the point of death on a cross; Christ, who appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos and declared his Word to him saying “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one who is and is to come; Christ, who God exalted and has bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, the name at which every knee will bow and tongue will confess Jesus is Lord. Christ, who healed the sick without being near them and cast out demons with a simple word and called the dead to life. Yes, it is this Jesus that lives inside of us and in his name all false teachers and doctrines are rebuked and exposed.
False teachers are popular because they speak the same things as the world. That’s why the world listens to them. It’s exactly as Paul tells Timothy, that in the last days people will not endure sound doctrine and will gather to themselves teachers that suit their passions because of their itching ears. The Gospel opposes the world. The Spirit speaks against the world. False prophets will preach and teach in compliance with the world. It’s why John says earlier in this letter in 2:15-16, 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Some of you may have heard of a so-called revival back in 2008 in Lakeland, Florida. These meetings were led by a charismatic, radical looking preacher by the name of Todd Bentley. To speak of test #1, he stated that the Lord sent an angel to him to let him know that people had heard enough about Jesus, and that he should instead focus on angels. But as for this test, he conducted these meetings while he was separated from his wife and admitted to having an illicit relationship with a female staff member who assisted with the meetings. Once the divorce from his wife was final, Bentley married the woman he had the affair with. Folks, we’ve got people like Benny Hinn and Paula White saying that they have divorced their spouses because their “season of marriage is over.” What is this terrible claim? Not to mention Dollar, Copeland, Hinn, and others had their ministry finances investigated by the US government due to their lavish lifestyles. That is what the world looks like, not the church. The Prosperity Gospel tells us that Jesus saves you to make you healthy, wealthy, and prosperous. Let me tell you, Colossians 1:15 says that Christ is preeminent. You know what that means? He is IT. There’s no more gain after Christ. He is the ULTIMATE gain, and he cannot be gained through the world. If all Jesus did was save your soul, you who were dead in your treaspasses and sins and had no ability to save yourself from the justice and wrath that were so rightly deserved, you who were enslaved to the world and bound by all manner of guilt, shame, addiction, and sin, if all Christ did was save you and nothing else then IT WILL HAVE BEEN ENOUGH.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12 that he was afflicted with a thorn in the flesh. He tells us that he asked God three times to take it away. What did God say? He said no. Paul tells it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Do you see this? Paul was CONTENT. Paul was used of God to heal and yet received no healing or relief from this thorn. Why? Because Jesus was enough. Charles Spurgeon is hailed as the prince of preachers, a great man of God who won many to the Kingdom and preached the gospel until he died. This man struggled with depression his whole life. God did not heal him before he died. The Prosperity Gospel would say that Paul and Spurgeon didn’t have enough faith and had sin in their life, thus blocking their healing. But these men understood that Christ was enough. They understood that old hymn that says “Take this world, but give me Jesus.” Jesus is enough.
You want revival? Reject the world. Cry out for Jesus. Know his Word. Understand that no material possession, physical healing, miracle, sign, or wonder will ever be greater than Christ and him crucified.