Don’t Be Gullible – I John 4:1-3

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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A family we know has two children as different as night and day. When someone would tell a tall tale, the son would look at them with a surprised, believing expression, and say: “Really?” It was comical and amazing how gullible he could be. In contrast, when an even more convincing story was woven and presented, almost instantly the younger daughter would make a face and say: “Oh yah, right!” It was hard to pull one over on her. She was pretty savvy to detect something that wasn’t true.

The Apostle John wrote to fellow Kingdom saints, saying: “Beloved, believe not every spirit [referring to the true motives and message of human teachers], but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). John was concerned that these Jewish believers were too gullible. They had been warned about false teachers who would deny “…that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh…” (vs. 2). He told them “…even now already is it in the world (vs. 3). Unless they were very careful, they would be “…tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). So John told them to “try the spirits,” of those who taught them. This has always been God’s instruction to His children. We, the Body of Christ, are to “prove all things, [and] hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21) and to be continually “proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). But how are saints to try the spirits, prove all things, and prove what is acceptable? The simple answer is to compare anything taught with the truth of God’s Word. Our “gold standard” by which we are to measure all things is “…what saith the Scriptures?” (Galatians 4:30). The saints at Berea were exemplary as they “received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, [to see] whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Just like inspecting meat with possible contamination, “if there is any doubt, throw it out.”

As we see in the above references from Paul, the danger of false teachers is real for us today too. Be careful not to be gullible to swallow any doctrine until checking to see if it is consistent with the writings of the Apostle Paul.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."