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Spiritual Training X2

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December 20 - Morning

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
- First John 4:1-3

Test the Spirits

(which means Test the Speakers)

There are two things that false speakers claim: one, that they know God; and, two, they are somehow inspired to speak God’s will. The false speakers of John's day were not a hypothetical situation or a trivial side issue among the churches, but instead were very influential. The false teachers were successful enough to merit confrontation in all three of John’s letters, and are also harshly addressed by Peter, Jude and Paul.

In establishing the context of John’s warning “do not believe every spirit,” it is worth noting that the proceeding verses tell us to “believe in the name of his Son” and that this faith is confirmed “by the Spirit he gave us”:
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ…We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” – First John 3:23-24

John, like Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, does not tell believers to trust the church’s validation of spirits or to submit to denominational authority or a minister’s accreditation by ordination. John considers the individual believer responsible for judging and evaluating the genuineness of the Spirit and the orthodoxy of men who are presenting their teaching. A Christian’s love and a Christian’s trust are not to be taken for granted or given haphazardly.  The object of love and trust must be tested and approved. John has already defined for the believers these contrasting values:
“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light…Do not love the world or anything in the world.” – First John 2:10 and 15

Now, he tells them:
“We know it by the Spirit he gave us. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” – First John 3:24-4:1

The test the believer is to use is introduced by John when he says: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God”:
“Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” – First John 4:2-3

The key word in John’s test is “acknowledge.” Demons and spirits recognize the deity of Jesus, identify the humanity of Jesus and shudder because of what they know and believe to be true:
“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” - Mark 1:24

“Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ ” – Mark 3:11

“He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’ ” – Mark 5:7-8

“One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ ” - Acts 19:15

“Even the demons believe that - and shudder.” - James 2:19

The difference between the true Spirit and the false spirit, or the true man of God and the imitation pastor is the word “acknowledge,” or homologeo in the Greek which means “to say the same thing as another,” “to confess,” “to agree,” “to assent,” “to concede,” and “not to deny.” Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came he would testify and bring glory to Jesus:
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” - John 15:26

“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth… He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” - John 16:13-15

“Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” - First Corinthians 12:3

Historically, in 85 AD, John is dealing with the influence of pagan philosophies on Christian teaching.  Teachings such as Gnosticism, Docetism and adoptionism that denied the fact that the eternal Son of God had come in human flesh were rising in John’s churches in Asia. All of these false doctrines taught that a mere man was chosen by God to bear his Spirit from his baptism until his crucifixion, or that the eternal Son of God did not actually become flesh but merely “seemed” (from dokeo where we get the early false doctrine of Docetism) to have flesh. But, John uses the word elelythota (“to come”) in the perfect tense right beside homologeo (“acknowledge”) to indicate that this “coming” of Christ in the flesh, or the incarnation, was  a permanent change for the Son of God and that the second member of the Trinity would eternally exist in the body of the man Jesus.

Thus, John’s point was that in 85 AD the false teachers would not teach or promote what they could not accept, believe, acknowledge, or concede. The evil spirits cannot embrace the teaching that the man Jesus is the Christ who has come in the flesh to abide as a man forever. Demons and their mouth pieces (false pastors, etc.) cannot glorify that truth about Jesus Christ, but instead, they must deny it, reject it and replace it.
Shamar (Hb) - Keep (Eng) - shamar is the Hebrew word that means "to keep." It is used over 400 times and translated in these and other ways: "guard," "watchmen," "observe," "careful," and "keep." Adam is to shamar the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). Israel was to shamar the feasts (Ex.12:17). Israel was to shamar the sabbaths (Lev.26:2). Joshua was to shamar the book of the law (Js.1:8). Eleazar shamar the ark of the Covenant (1 Sam.7:1).
Do I believe every pastor and Christian that I hear when they talk about God?
Can I identify a false teaching or an unscriptural idea?
I will judge things taught and said about God according to the written Word of God.

Bible Reading Descriptions Here

Complete Text

General Text


 Positive influence on people you encounter


Strength to rebuke sin
Secretary of Education
Virgin Islands

Steps of a mikveh (ritual bath) at Qumran near the Dead Sea where the Dead Sea scrolls were found and, most likely, written.
This diagram shows the location of Calvary in the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Someone to Quote

"We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior."
-Henri Nouwen

Something to Ponder

Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress (1175-1783) found a copy of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT during the years 250-132 BC) at a book auction. From this copy he translated the Bible into American English and published it in 1808. The first English Bible printed in America was in 1777 when the Continental Congress authorized Robert Aitken to print the King James Version with out the opening page of dedication the the king. This was the first English Bible translation made in America because up until the Revolution the British law required all English Bibles be printed in England. (Although, around 1750 two printers in Boston - Rogers & Fowle, and Kneeland & Green - printed a black market KJ Version with a fake London imprint.) The first Bible printed in a European language in America was Martin Luther's German translation in 1743. The very first Bible translated and printed in America was in 1662 when John Eliot, a colonial pastor, produced a Bible in the language of the Algonquin Indians. English Bibles had to come from England.

Here’s a Fact

The hardened heart of Pharoah in the book of Exodus matches the understanding of the Egyptians at the time of Moses. According to the ancient Egyptian “Book of the Dead” the deceased would go to trial in the Hall of Judgment where the dead would have to deny a list of sins. While the dead man was making his “negative confession” his heart would be weighed in scales against the feather of truth. The heart would confess the truth and tip the scales toward judgment.  To overcome this betrayal by the soft heart that could speak the embalmers would replace the heart in the chest of the dead man with a stone of the sacred dung beetle (scarab) carved in the shape of a heart and inscribed with incantations that commanded the heart not to speak against the dead during the trial (as revealed by x-rays of mummies). Thus, the heart was made “hard” and “unable to speak.” This is the same idea the Scripture present from this same time period when it says God “hardened” the heart of Pharaoh so that it could not speak.


"An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end."
- Proverbs 20:21

Coach’s Corner

If you are busy and focused on a purpose, time is valuable. If you are not busy and drifting, time is easy to waste.

Romans 15:23-16:27
New International Version (NIV)
Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome
23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Personal Greetings
16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord.
Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.
10 Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test.
Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew.
Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.
Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.
15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the churches of Christ send greetings.
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
21 Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.
Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
2 John 1
New International Version (NIV)
The elder,
To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—
because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
12 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.
1 Peter 1-3
New International Version (NIV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,
who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Praise to God for a Living Hope
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Be Holy
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,     and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
The Living Stone and a Chosen People
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,     a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him     will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected     has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble     and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,     and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Suffering for Doing Good
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life     and see good days must keep their tongue from evil     and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;     they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous     and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

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