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Read Introduction to 1 John


“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”


because many false prophets have gone out into the world

The world was full of false prophets.  There were not just a few but “many” false prophets even in John’s day. 

The word “because” explains why we must test religious people to see if they are truly from God.  The reason is that “many false prophets have gone out into the world,” representing themselves as from God Himself. 

The words “gone out” are in a tense that indicates that they are already influencing John’s readers [perfect tense].  They are not about to go out; they were already out spreading their bogus teaching.  They were eloquent and persuasive people, so they got quite a hearing. 

1 Jn 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

They went out from us because they were not “of us.”  They went out because they “crept in” in the first place.  They were spiritual sneaks.  No one noticed them coming in.  They did not walk in the front door but slipped in the back door.  All along, they were traitors undermining the message of Jesus Christ.  They are in the church as part of the woodwork.  That is why it is hard to detect their error. 

Jude 4, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”


False prophets always appear outwardly religious.


False prophets look like sheep, but actually, they are wolves.  They talk nice and have wonderful personalities, but their teaching is deadly.  They look like true representatives of the Word, but they represent the Devil. 

Wolves always come in sheep’s clothing.  They outwardly appear religious.  Often they are loving and kind, but inside they are ravenous wolves that love to eat Christians for lunch. 

Matt 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Today the woods are filled with false teachers.  Bible believing Christians buy into false teachings in great numbers.  We must remember this, “if it is new, it is probably not true.”  Those who claim that their religion has special insights into God and their interpretation is the only right one, buyer beware!  Just because it appears spiritual does not make it true.   

How can a Christian detect a false teacher?  The believer does not look at his personality, intellect, ability to persuade, or organization; he must look at the content of his teaching.  Many evangelicals today buy into blatant false teaching because they do not have the discernment to differentiate between the Word and humanly manufactured teaching. 

Christians believe in an infallible Bible, not in an infallible church or infallible leaders.  The idea of infallible leaders is religious superstition.  God gives each believer the discernment necessary to decipher truth from error.  He also gives each Christian a built-in Bible Teacher – the Holy Spirit who authored and superintended the inerrant writing of Scripture.  That is why we bring everything we hear to the Word of God to check it out.