False Spirits

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As we have learned so far in our lesson...when the Holy Spirit began to be poured out on all flesh, He was given as a pledge to those who obeyed the gospel.  The Spirit was given to Christians because they were now the adopted sons and daughters of God...as a guarantee of their inheritance.  We also saw how the Holy Spirit gave spiritual gifts  that would not fade away; the gifts of love, faith, hope, etc.  In addition, the Holy Spirit gave other gifts that would fade or pass away:  the gifts of prophesy, tongues and knowledge.

We also learned in the previous section that people who received various spiritual gifts would not be assured that they would go to heaven...and we looked at the dangers of looking for signs.  Jesus warned those who would perform miracles in His name and at the same time refuse to do the will of God...that they would NOT inherit the kingdom:

Jesus said:  "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' Matthew 7:21-23 (NAS)

The signs and miracles that have been worked by the power of God should lead us to follow Christ and His teachings...not to follow men and/or teachings that are contrary to what is contained in scripture.

False Spirits and Demons

The Holy Spirit Himself warns that some will fall away from the faith in these later times, paying attention to deceitful spirits and demons:

"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness..." 1 Timothy 4:1-7 (NAS)

The New Testament gives us a great deal of information about the characteristics of deceitful spirits, demons and false teachers.  Each Christian should read the New Testament on their own, over and over so that they will be able to discern the truth from error:

"Beloved, 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." I John 4:1 (NAS)

"We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." I John 4:6 (NAS)

So how do we know truth from error?

God's Word is Truth:

Jesus said to God: "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth." John 17:17 (NAS)

"...because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel..." Colossians 1:5 (NAS)

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 (NAS)

"In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures." James 1:18 (NAS)

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11 (NAS)

"And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth." I John 5:7 (NAS)

"...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17 (NAS)

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