I. "BELOVED, BELIEVE NOT EVERY SPIRIT."
A. John is telling them to not be gullible.
1. Just because someone wears a prophet's attire does not mean that he is a true prophet.
2. Just because they say, "Thus saith the Lord," Does not mean that God has spoken.
B. "Try the spirits to see if they be of God."
1. False prophets tell a lot of truth.
a. If every thing they said was false, they would be no danger, no one would listen to them.
b. Much of what a false prophet says is often true, they come out with facts.
c. The Jehovah Witnesses have a lot of truth.
d. You have to watch out for the bottom line.
e. Often they would lead you to trust in something other than the word of God. They would lead you to trust in their books.
f. They would have you to depend on your works for your salvation.
h. Or you're joining their ranks.
i. They all profess to have exclusive rights on the truth.
2. The litmus test is what they say of Jesus Christ.
a. Every false cult has a wrong view on Jesus Christ and would make Him something less than God.
b. The Mormons would make him the brother of Lucifer.
c. The Jehovah Witnesses would make Him Michael the arch angel.
d. They would make Him a created being rather than the creator which the scriptures plainly declare Him to be.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, o dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
C. "Many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1. Ever since Eve was deceived by Satan, Satan has had his prophets in the world seeking to deceive people about the word of God and the nature of Jesus Christ.
2. In the law Moses warned of the false prophets.
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
3. The true prophets warned of the false prophets.
Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophecy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, [and] not out of the mouth of the LORD.
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
How long shall [this] be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, [they are] prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What [is] the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
4. Jesus warned of the false prophets.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
5. Paul warned the Ephesian elders.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
6. It was to be a sign of the last days.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
7. Peter also warned of the false prophets.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
a. Peter tells us that we can identify them by the emphasis they put on people to give them their money.
b. With feigned words they will make merchandise of you.
D. Many a person's life has been destroyed by a false prophet.
1. The young prophet that came from Judah at the time that King Jeroboam had built the altar in Bethel.
And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This [is] the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that [are] upon it shall be poured out.
2. Ahab the king was led to battle against Syria where he lost his life.
And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.
And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them.
And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth- gilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver [it] into the king's hand.
3. The nation of Israel went into captivity to Babylon because they listened to the false prophets.
4. I think of how many people are being eternally lost because they are listening to false prophets.
a. So many Mormons.
b. So many Catholics.
c. So many Jehovah Witnesses.
d. The number of Muslims, who listen to their false prophet Mohammad.