There has always been a problem in the true church of God. How do you know who is a part of the church and who isn’t? Something that can draw a line between someone who believes everything God says but doesn’t keep Saturday? Or keeps all of the ten commandments but doesn’t keep the holy days? Or who keeps all of that, but eats unclean meats? Or who keeps the calendar on a different day than you do? Where is the line? What is that doctrine that sets the true Christian apart from everyone else?
I do not believe a clear answer to that question has been preached in recent centuries. Oh, I’ve heard many answers to the question – but none that all scripture would back up. But there is such an answer. There is a way to build a “holy spirit detector” that can unerringly tell you if someone has the holy spirit or not. Here is how…
WHAT IS A TRUE CHRISTIAN
Most of the Christian world believes that “anyone who names the name of Jesus” is a true Christian. And granted, there is a scripture or two that can be used to back that up.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
So is that the “line in the sand”? Anyone who says “Jesus is Lord” is a true Christian?
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
No! That definition is flatly refuted by this scripture, among many others. So it requires more than just saying “Jesus is Lord”, for there are many “Jesus'” and “Gospels” and “holy spirits” out there!
2 Corinthians 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
So just because they believe in the “Gospel” and love “Jesus” and have “the spirit”… it doesn’t mean that they follow the TRUE Gospel, love the TRUE Jesus, and have the HOLY spirit! So then how can we tell which is which? How can we tell if someone loves the TRUE Jesus or the false one? Is having faith in the lord that “line in the sand”?
James 2:19-20 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: THE DEVILS ALSO BELIEVE, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Again no! For the devils also believe in the lord, and clearly are not true Christians! Again that definition is flatly refuted by the Bible, which says that it is “works” and “doing the will of the father” which are necessary! So then, obeying the law of God is that line, surely! Surely that is what separates the true Christian from everybody else!
Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And yet again we find our answer rejected by scripture! For the Pharisees kept the holy days, didn’t eat unclean meats, and at least paid lip service to most of the law, and certainly kept the law better than nearly any church now in existence – and yet their righteousness wasn’t enough! More was still required to be considered a true Christian!
Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
And here at last we find a point which I do not think will be refuted; that it is the holy spirit which separates a true Christian from everyone else!
Romans 8:9 … Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Of course, all of the other points along the way – unclean meats, holy days, the law of God, these must all be done too – but as Matthew 5:20 stated, we must do MORE than all of that, for the spirit is only given to those who “DO the will of the father” (Matthew 7:21), which quite literally means doing what He told us to do!
HOW CAN YOU TELL?
But this answer to our question only raises another, and one much more difficult to answer. HOW can you tell if someone has the spirit of God! People don’t have a halo or glow a certain color if they have it (except for Moses in Exodus 34, but that’s another article), so how can you tell WHO has the spirit of Christ and is in God’s church and who doesn’t?
The apostle John wrote the last books of the Bible, chronologically speaking, in the 90’s A.D. By this time the church that had been raised up in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost had almost entirely fallen away from the truth into deception and error, to the point that the ministry in what was once the Church of God was actually putting people out of the church for keeping the truth John and the other Apostles had taught them. (3 John 1:10)
And so it was very important for John to be able to give the membership a test – a quick, easy way they could determine if someone was part of the truth or if they weren’t. It had to be simple so that everyone could apply it, and it had to be universally correct so that it never would give a “false positive”. To this end John wrote the church and said…
1 John 4:1-2 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: …
Here John specifically states that he is about to give us that method to determine exactly WHO had the spirit of God, and who had the spirit of “another Jesus”! A spiritual lie detector!
Verses 2-3 …Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
I have always felt “let down” by that scripture. It promised me a lie detector, and then told me that if someone says that Jesus Christ “came in the flesh”, then they are a true Christian with the holy spirit. But that contradicts every scripture I’ve quoted here! For ANYONE in the world today, who breaks every commandment, has no faith, and who only says that “Jesus is Lord”, will tell you that Jesus Christ CAME in the flesh! In fact, EVEN THE DEMONS will tell you that!
Luke 4:34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
These enemies of God, spirits of Antichrist if ever there were any, freely confessed that HE WAS JESUS when He was in the flesh!
IN THE FLESH?
But wait a moment. We know that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Many Atheists will even admit that there was an actual person named Jesus who lived on Earth 2000 years ago. But what if that isn’t exactly what John meant?
What if John meant something that, because of language barriers and cultural problems, doesn’t leap out at us from the translation we read? “In the flesh” is translated from the Greek word “sarx”. According to the translators it means the body of a man or beast, the flesh of a man or beast, or a the spirit of a man or beast. It is used in various ways throughout the New Testament.
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Clearly, “flesh” (sarx) in the sense of a lump of meat has no lusts. It has no desires or anything – it is just an object. So if the “flesh” lusts – then the flesh in this sense must refer to the “spirit that dwells in us” which “lusts to envy” (James 4:5)
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Here again we see a comparison between the spirit of God which is in the true Christian and the “flesh”, which has lusts and “wars” against the spirit of God.
Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
These two chapters of Romans are devoted to describing the war between Paul’s human nature that we all have and the spirit of God which only the true Christian has. And this brings us closer to the answer to our question.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal <sarx> mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Here it is correctly translated as “the carnal mind”. And this mind is full of lust – and it is not based on the law of God! It is “deceitful above all things” and “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
These are two mutually exclusive natures that are at war in the mind of a true Christian! The carnal, fleshy lustful nature that he was born with and the spirit of God given to him in order to teach him how to overcome it! And it is from this nature that all temptations come!
James 1:13-14 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of HIS OWN LUST, and enticed.
Temptations come when that nature is TEMPTED to follow evil, and sin! When that nature sees someone’s nice car and, however briefly, harbors thoughts of stealing it, or covets it! And that nature, if permitted free reign as it is in most of the world, LEADS to sin!
Verse 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
THE CARNAL NATURE
And now it is time to reveal to you the SHOCKING TRUTH! The TRUTH that most of the world would consider utter blasphemy! The FACT that Jesus Christ had in Him a carnal, sinful nature!
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus Christ was tempted IN ALL POINTS like we are! In EVERY point, not merely one or two points! And we JUST NOW ESTABLISHED that TEMPTATION comes from our own LUSTS! And that those LUSTS come from our carnal natures! And it is THAT FACT that is our spiritual detector!
Hebrews 2:16 (Murdoch) For he did not assume a nature from angels, but he assumed a nature from the seed of Abraham.
Christ took the NATURE of the children of Abraham on HIM! And made himself IN ALL THINGS like us! And our greatest battle in this life is the battle between our carnal nature and the spirit of God in us!
Hebrews 2:17-18 Wherefore IN ALL THINGS it behoved him to be made LIKE unto HIS BRETHREN, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself HATH SUFFERED BEING TEMPTED, he is able to succour them that ARE TEMPTED.
And Christ voluntarily took upon Him the sinful nature that it is our lot to battle in ourselves so that HE could know what it felt like to be tempted by a carnal nature, so that He could better help us when WE are tempted!
The word tempted itself MEANS that you WANT to do something that you know you shouldn’t do! You are TEMPTED to eat that extra brownie! You are TEMPTED to lie to your boss! You are TEMPTED to shoplift at wal-mart! These are all things that your carnal nature WANTS to do!
As a God, Jesus had never felt that temptation. He had only the divine nature which is never subject to lust or envy, for as James said “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13), and THAT is the reason Antichrist exists!
WHAT IS ANTICHRIST
Antichrist is simply a doctrine that says that a carnal nature such as man has cannot be righteous. This was invented by the devil many eons ago to justify his own sins. The devil (then Lucifer) was created, as we are, with a carnal nature. This nature initially started out fine, as ours did (Ezekiel 28:15, Ecclesiastes 7:29). But then he rebelled against God and sinned. And rather than repent, and stop sinning, he devised an argument. This argument said that it was impossible for a carnal nature like God had given him to obey God’s petty rules, and that only God was good enough to obey God.
In the book of Job, God had given Satan power over Job and had stepped back off the scene, so to speak, to see what Job would do. And so Job’s three friends went to talk to him about why this was happening. To set the tone for all future arguments in the book, Eliphaz the Temanite related a dream he had just had.
Job 4:14-16 “Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:” It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying,
This dream sounds different than every other vision in the Bible. But it sounds remarkably like a ghost story you might hear around a campfire. The speaker hid in darkness, while God’s angels invariably stand openly. It gave him goosebumps. These are not the acts of a righteous angel, but a fallen angel. And God had placed Job in Satan’s power – so Satan was inspiring these three men to argue with Job through this vision. Understanding this gives us enormous insight into the mind of the Devil.
Job 4:17-19 (JPS), “Shall mortal man be just before God? Shall a man be pure before his Maker? Behold, He putteth no trust in His servants, and HIS ANGELS HE CHARGETH WITH FOLLY; HOW MUCH LESS in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?”
This angel is complaining that God charged HIM with folly! Which can only be a fallen angel, and probably Satan himself! And this angel says contemptuously “can a man be good enough to make God happy? Can he POSSIBLY please God?” And answers “no” by saying “God doesn’t even trust his ANGELS, and He accused ME of sinning, and you think YOU can do better???
“I’m made out of light and you are made of out dirt! And even I failed to overcome my carnal nature, and there is NO WAY you can do it!” THIS IS SATAN’S DEFENSE!
This is what he feels justifies his sin! That God is such a demanding perfectionist that only God can live up to God’s rules! Satan’s core defense is that NO flesh, NO man who has a carnal nature can be perfect in God’s sight! That no being, except God, can live up to God’s standards – that it is impossible for any being but God, Himself, to keep God’s Law, because only God has God’s nature.
He believes that God’s only “virtue” lies in the fact that He simply obeys the dictates if his Own nature! And after all, that’s all that Satan is doing – obeying the dictates of his own nature! And for that matter, all you are doing! What makes God think He can impose His nature on everyone else – what makes Him think that His nature is intrinsically better than Satan’s or yours or mine??
He concludes from this that it is patently unfair for God to demand perfection according to the standards of His own nature, from other beings who have a different nature! It violates the very concept, according to Satan, of individuality and the independent mind. This is the purpose of Antichrist!
And Christ came to PROVE HIS DEFENSE INVALID by divesting Himself of His Godhood and taking on the SAME carnal nature that we have, and the SAME CARNAL NATURE HE GAVE THE DEVIL, and proving that it CAN BE OVERCOME!
Romans 8:3 For what the law could not , in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of SINFUL FLESH, and for sin, CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH:
He came JUST LIKE our sinful flesh! He took OUR natures, and our sinful flesh, and by obeying His father’s law perfectly IN SPITE of that nature which lusted to envy even as ours does, CONDEMNED SIN IN THAT NATURE! And He PROVED that it can be beaten!
CHRIST’S NATURE JUDGED THE WORLD
John 16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Christ’s actions as a man with the exact same attitudes, passions, and handicaps that we have by overcoming and NEVER giving into that nature and allowing that temptation to lead to a sin (James 1:15), JUDGED every one who ever failed to do so! He DESTROYED Satan’s thesis that a carnal nature cannot be overcome, and PROVED that man CAN please God BY DOING IT!
1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
But Satan doesn’t believe him. Satan is still clinging to his defense by trying to decredit the sacrifice of Christ. Not to say that it didn’t happen! Every Christian on earth believes that! Not to say that there wasn’t a Jesus! But to prove that JESUS wasn’t a fit sacrifice! To prove that Christ was somehow “different” than we are – “special” somehow. That he “had a leg up” on us, and didn’t have the carnal nature that we have to fight. And the entire world believes that today!
They believe it because they LOVE that doctrine too, for it allows them to overlook their own shortcomings! For if Christ is set up on a high pedestal, so much so that he can never be emulated or used as an example, but only to ooh and ahh at and worship, then THEY TOO HAVE AN EXCUSE FOR THEIR SINS!
But if Christ had a carnal nature, just as you do…. If Christ’s nature tempted Him to do evil, just as yours does…. If He was beset upon all sides by the cares of this world and the passions of being a man, just as you are – in other words, if He REALLY WAS tempted in ALL POINTS LIKE WE ARE, then YOU BEAR FULL SHAME FOR NOT BEING OBEDIENT AS HE WAS!
THAT is the test of Antichrist! That is what John meant!
1 John 4:2-3 …Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: …
Satan CANNOT admit, even in jest or as a lie, that JESUS CHRIST HAD A CARNAL NATURE! For to do so, even once, UTTERLY REMOVES HIS STRONGEST DEFENSE against the judgment of God!
And when you speak to someone who has not the spirit of God, and is not “of God”, and tell them that Jesus Christ came WITH A CARNAL NATURE, they will call YOU Antichrist! They will accuse YOU of blasphemy! I know from personal experience!
And THAT doctrine is that line in the sand! THAT doctrine defines those who have the spirit of God, for the spirits of God freely confess that Christ had a sinful nature – they revel in it, for it glorifies the life of Christ tenfold over what Satan believes!
Consider the difference; Satan says that Christ was divine, became sort of human, slipped through life with his divine flawless nature never having the slightest wrong thought or being tempted to sin, and He didn’t sin. BIG DEAL!
I say, with the Bible as my proof, that Christ set aside His Godhood, became fully human, and lived with the same spirit we have in Him all His life. And daily, hourly He battled this spirit just as we must, and never gave in to it for a moment. And He overcame that spirit and beat it into subjection, just as we must, and never once slackened His vigilance and allowed those temptations to bring forth sin.
THAT is impressive. And THAT is something that no one without the spirit of God can admit. And THAT is that test. THAT is the holy spirit detector I promised to build you. Now go and use it.