The doctrinal test starts with the Holy Spirit confessing within us that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.
Scripture: 1 John 4:1-6
- Testing the spirits involves Holy Spirit-inspired confession, allegiance, victory, and response.
- John was close to Christ; he rested on Jesus’ shoulder as Judas went out into darkness under a spirit of betrayal (Jn. 13:25-30).
- Doctrine is not just about the tongue, it is a matter of the whole life; and right doctrine is the foundation of the gospel.
- The first test of right doctrine is the Spirit-inspired confession that Jesus came in the flesh.
- We know God abides in us by the Spirit that indwells us. His dwelling in us can be distinguished from any false spirit which may tempt us astray.
- The starting point of the doctrinal test is the Spirit confessing within us that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.
- Peter spontaneously confesses by the Spirit that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. 16:15-17; cf. Rom. 10:9-10).
- Wrong confession about Jesus is idolatry; the Son of God has given us an understanding, that we may know the true God.
- The truth is founded upon the incarnation of Jesus (1 Tim. 3:16).
- People come to know God’s only Son, and are exhorted to partake of Jesus’ flesh, by faith.
- It was the humanity of Jesus that brought Him into the realm of the Holy Spirit.
- John was opposing the Docetists, Gnostics, and other early sects which denied the humiliation, incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
- The incarnation of Christ under the law has essential and far-reaching implications for Christ’s work of salvation under God’s moral government.
- Jesus is the name exalted above every other name, the only name in which there is salvation.
- Only through the Son are light, life and truth given (1 Jn. 1:7; 2:1-2, 4:9-10; 5:12). These are lost if we fail to align ourselves to Jesus.
- Jesus said that false prophets are expected (Matt. 7:21-23) but victory is promised to those filled by the Spirit. (1 Jn. 4:4). By receiving the accomplished work of Jesus in the flesh we share in His victory.
- Today we face false teaching about the person of Jesus from Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims and others.
- By holding to the truth, we overcome false prophets and the work of Satan (Jn. 16:11).
- Those who depart from the church’s creedal statements easily become false teachers.
- The commands of Jesus are not burdensome (1Jn. 5:3-5), but liberating.
- Our Spirit-inspired response is to listen to true doctrine and to obey it.
- If we love Jesus the world will hate us (Jn. 15:18-25).
- We need to test every teaching to see whether it confirms the essential teaching that distinguishes the Christian community in all eras (Jn. 8:32).
- What is the importance of doctrine to the Christian life?
- How can we discern whether a particular teaching is from God?
- Why was the incarnation of Christ necessary?
- How can we benefit from the church’s creeds?