Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
1 John chapter 4 returns us to a theme that was the subject of one of our bulletin articles last month. This is the repeated warning in scripture concerning those that pervert the gospel of Christ. In Galatians, Paul was extremely condemning of those that taught a false gospel telling the Galatian believers that such false teachers are under the curse of God: “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). Peter spoke similarly in 2 Peter chapter 2 saying these teachers “bring upon themselves swift destruction” (v. 1).
I believe these verses are very appropriate in connection with our current study of Matthew chapter 13. In the first parable of the chapter, Jesus speaks of a sower that sows seed in his field. The seed is “the word of the kingdom” (v. 19) which is the same as the “word of God” (Luke 8:11). The sower (farmer) is compared to the gospel witness who sows the word of God in the hearts of lost sinners. Jesus is primarily referring to Himself, but by extension every Christian is responsible to sow the word by being a faithful witness. The parable shows how the Kingdom of God will grow during the current age before Christ returns to earth.
As important as witnessing to others is for the growth of the Kingdom, it is equally important that we sow the right seeds. The next parable speaks of Satan who is busily sowing the wrong seed that develops into tares which are deceptively similar to wheat yet are highly dangerous if ingested. We can compare this to these often repeated warnings of scripture that false teachers are at work preaching dangerous false doctrines. Those deceived by these doctrines will lose their souls in hell. Sadly, the hardest people to reach are those that have believed the wrong gospel and are satisfied they are safe.
The apostle John cautions us to examine every teacher and his doctrine carefully. His particular interest concerned those that denied the incarnation of Christ (4:2-3). The scope of doctrine is broadened, however, in verse 15 in which John says those that confess Christ as the Son of God are true believers. Obviously, this does not mean simple acquiescence to this statement since there are many that affirm this belief and yet teach damnable heresies concerning it. This is why every facet of a teacher’s doctrine must be scrutinized. Each area must be compared to scripture to see if the teacher has altered the precious seed in any way. One type of tare is a person that says he believes in Jesus Christ as Saviour, but has a very different view of the doctrine of His deity. “Jesus is the Son of God” is a declaration of the co-equality of the Father and Son. Anyone that denies this is sowing harmful seeds that will not produce saving faith.
Be on the alert for these kinds of people. Be sure to ask them, “Who is the Jesus you believe?” Examine closely—poisonous seeds are everywhere.
Pastor V. Mark Smith