What spirit is controlling you? Whether you realize it or not you are being controlled by one or more spirits. According to I John 4:1 spirits are a big deal: “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.”

There is a very objective standard that identifies the Spirit of God: 1 John 4:2-3 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, [3] 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.”

Lifelong Christians sometimes take the Holy Spirit’s work for granted. We believe Jesus came into the world, took on our human flesh, suffered and died for our sins on the cross and rose again so that we can have eternal life.

We have internalized this message so completely that we do not realize how radical it is. Every sin is paid for, total salvation is ours. No fear of death or the devil. This kind of faith can only be worked by the Holy Spirit. It does not make sense that the holy, sinless God would love us sinners so fiercely but God’s Holy Spirit convinces us that he does.

The Holy Spirit teaches us that what we confess is the most important. Teachings and doctrine matter. Yes, all the external things related to faith and religion are important but the most important thing is the doctrine. What do we confess? Jesus came in the flesh from God to save us: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (I John 4:15)

In one of my favorite prayers we pray: “God grant that we may love what you have commanded and desire what you promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are to be found.” The Holy Spirit teaches us that Jesus coming in the flesh from God to save us is where true joys are to be found.

The Holy Spirit urges us to stay connected to Jesus by regularly hearing the radical message of salvation over and over again. As Jesus says in the John 15: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The Holy Spirit also urges us to love each other.

1 John 4:7–9 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. [8] Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

And I John 4:19-21: “We love because he first loved us. [20] If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. [21] And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Now it is important to show love for each other and care for their earthly needs but the Holy Spirit teaches us that the most loving thing we can do for someone is tell them the truth, tell them about Jesus our Savior.

Finally the Holy Spirit is the gentle Spirit. He does not force us to believe rather he calls and gathers us by the Gospel to live in the love of God. Even though the Holy Spirit is the almighty third person of the Holy Trinity, he does not force us to follow his ways.

The evil spirits of this world are the opposite of all that the Holy Spirit is. They are busy and active in the world through the false prophets who lead us astray.

They oppose our doctrine about Jesus. Oh they may allow us to talk about Jesus but not about how he came in our flesh from God to save us.

Evil spirits do not teach the importance of staying connected to Jesus. Going back to the analogy of the vine and branches, evil spirits teach that we branches can do just fine without being connected to Jesus.

Evil spirits do not teach love. They could care less about true teaching true doctrine. They will use any lie to manipulate us. They cause us to turn our backs on the needs of our neighbors and friends.

And evil spirits are very demanding. They are not gentle at all. They try to back us into a corner where we think we have no choice but to do what they want us to do.

There is a very simple, objective standard for testing of spirits: “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, [3] and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (I John 4:2-3)

The Holy Spirit gently urges us to keep hearing the message of forgiveness and salvation through faith in Christ and to continue showing love to each other.

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