Do Not Believe Every Spirit!
It is so easy to be fooled. A person can say one thing, but mean another. A smile across the lips can indicate pleasure and love, but sometimes it can cover devious thoughts and desires. Children can be a pretty good read of the spirit in other people. I saw this the other day in Guatemala with a group of children who were introduced to our mission group. The children are students at the Jabel Tinamit Spanish School in the city of Panajachel. I let three or four of the children take pictures with my camera. The camera, a Nikon D7200 when outfitted with a lens is relatively heavy, so I asked them to put the strap around their neck when taking photos. The kids loved it, and it relieved me from the responsibility to run around the school taking pictures. That small little act of sharing my camera instantly opened a door of trust between the children and me.
One of the pictures taken by the children was with several little boys squeezing next to Denise. In their own little way, the boys were testing and approving the spirit of Denise.
John, the author of the epistles with his name in the Bible, starts chapter four of the first letter with his name, by warning his readers not to believe every spirit, but to test them.
1 John 4 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. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. 4 Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 
I am still in Guatemala as part of a mission observation trip that is sponsored by my church, the Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit, Michigan and led by Craig and Connie Orr. We are a group of 12 persons from the Detroit, Michigan area. In our own way, we are testing and trusting the Spirt that has brought us to this place. Pray for us.
1 John 4 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
Questions for Reflection:
- How do you test the spirit in others?
- When have you misunderstood the spirit in others?
- What was it in your test of the spirit in another person fooled you?
- How do you test to see if a person’s spirit is from God?
Prayer: Lord, grant me a spirit of discernment! Guide my thoughts as I seek to understand the true motivation in others. Teach me to be able to tell the difference between those who are genuine and those who are untruthful. Lord, help me to see beyond what my eyes can see, to hear deeper than the ears can hear, and to understand greater than the words from the mouth. Teach me today to test every spirit, to see if it is of God or something else. Though Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
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More about the ministry of Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org