1 John 4:1 ESV
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.
How do we test the spirit a prophet or any other person conveys from the spirit realm? We must look at what that spirit is trying to make us believe. We must try to understand the message that is conveyed to us. This is the first thing when testing any spirit behind anything.
Many times we can make the mistake of looking at physical appearance or the strangeness of a person or whether we are comfortable with HOW the message is given, instead of what is actually contained within that message.
John then in verse two and three explains just this concept by focusing on the message that these false prophets bring.
1 John 4:2-3 ESV
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
If we are uncomfortable with how a message come, we must not judge before we have gotton to the message that the revelation or person brings on behalf of the spirit. We can miss a powerful message when we judge by HOW a message comes and not by WHAT a message tries to make us believe.
An example that can help proof the point the prophetic word that was given by the high priest when they were putting Jesus on trial.
John 11:49-52 ESV
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Whenever there is a manifestation or revelation or utterance it must be scrutinized for the message that it contains and wants to influence people with. Helpful here is always the knowledge of the Scriptures as it allows us to easily spot the lying or deceitful spirit, its message and influence.
The most treacherous here is the spirit that was set up against Jesus and His earthly ministry. This spirit today is one that puts the ideas and laws of men above the commandment of God. It’s the spirit that replaces the very words of God in Scripture with its own ideas and religious observances.
It places the work of God’s grace second to the performance of the person and would like to pull him or her into believing that their performance is God’s deciding factor instead of allowing them to rely and live with the holy power that is supplied by God to all who believe.
As watchers over the covenant, prophets must continually remind the people of God’s covenant of grace and call them to live in faith.
The spirit of the anti-christ is very subtle and less visible than we might think. But a spirit is always clearly revealed by what it wants people to believe. And by getting to the meaning of a message we can more accurately measure whether a message comes from the Holy Spirit or not.