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1 John 4:1 & meaning...


don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1


1 John 3 [21.] Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God; and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded. He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

1 John 4 [1.] Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.


  • Discerning Spirits:

John begins by addressing his audience as "beloved," indicating his affection and concern for them. He urges them not to naively accept every spiritual message they encounter but to exercise discernment. The term "spirits" refers to spiritual teachings, influences, or manifestations.

  • Testing for Authenticity:

The apostle emphasizes the importance of testing these spirits to determine whether they originate from God. This involves evaluating their alignment with the teachings of Scripture and the character of God. Discernment is essential because not all spiritual influences are from God; some may be deceptive or false.

  • Presence of False Prophets:

John warns his readers about the prevalence of false prophets who disseminate deceptive teachings. These false prophets, motivated by self-interest or deception, seek to lead believers astray from the truth. Their existence underscores the necessity for discernment and vigilance among believers.


Guarding Against Deception: 1 John 4:1 serves as a warning against spiritual deception and false teachings. We are called to be discerning and vigilant, especially in a world where deceptive influences abound. By testing the spirits and aligning themselves with the truth of God's Word, we guard ourselves against being led astray.

Strengthening Faith: The call to test the spirits encourages us to deepen our understanding of Scripture and grow in spiritual discernment. By engaging in critical thinking and studying God's Word, we strengthen our faith and develop the ability to discern between truth and falsehood.

Promoting Unity and Fellowship: Discernment is essential for maintaining unity and fellowship within the body of Christ. By discerning and rejecting false teachings, we uphold the purity of doctrine and prevent division within the community of faith. Discernment also fosters accountability and mutual edification among us.

Cross References:

1 Thessalonians 5:21: Paul exhorts believers to test everything and hold fast to what is good, emphasizing the importance of discernment in spiritual matters: "Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good."

Matthew 7:15: Jesus warns against false prophets who come disguised as sheep but inwardly are ravenous wolves, highlighting the deceptive nature of false teachings: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves."

In Conclusion: 1 John 4:1 underscores the importance of discernment in matters of faith. We are called to test the spirits, evaluating spiritual teachings and influences to ensure their alignment with the truth of God's Word. By exercising discernment, we guard themselves against deception, strengthen their faith, and promote unity within the body of Christ.

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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