There is a command in First John 4:1 to “Try the spirits.” We are warned that “many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Several things are involved in this business of trying the spirits. First of all, we must know the scriptures to be able to successfully try the spirits (Heb 5:12-14 f; Tim 2:15). We must compare what we are being taught to the scriptures even as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11). In the end of all things, let God’s Word be true and the doctrines of men a liar (Rom 3:4 f; Mt 15:7-9).
N.B. Hardeman once said, “It is ill-becoming and for the want of common sense for one to say, the Bible says thus and so but the Greek says . . . .” So when one comes with a theory which seems to dispute the common English, and he relies on the Greek to sustain himself, you can just know that his is a false notion. When one comes with a complicated hodge-podge of “component- parts” and “total situations,” you can be sure that he is fostering a false position.
For instance, I do not know all about premillennialism. But I do know enough about it to know that it is a false theory. I know that my Lord said that all that are in the graves will come out at the same hour (John 5:28-29). Any theory that separates the resurrection of the dead by a thousand years or any other period is a false theory.
I do not know all about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I, know enough to know they constitute a false system. Their theory is that the earth will not be burned up but that only the systems here will be destroyed and the earth preserved for certain people. But Peter said “The earth also and the works therein shall be burned up.” So, they teach a false doctrine.
I do not know everything about Catholicism. But I know enough to know that my Lord said, “Call no man your father on earth.” And they keep on not only calling a man “Father” but calling him “Holy Father.” They just have to be a false group.
I do not know everything about Baptist doctrine. But I know enough to know that it takes more than faith to save someone. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk 16:16). Thus the Baptist teach false doctrine.
It is a good thing to know as much as you can about false religions and false doctrines so that you might contend and defend the faith (Jude 3 f; Philip 1:15-18). However, do not let the fact that you do not know everything keep you from trying the spirits. Do not follow them off into some kind of wild goose chase into things you cannot answer. Hold them to what you do know, knowing that no lie is of the truth (1 Jn 2:21). God’s Word is truth (Jn 17:17). You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (Jn 8:32). Any doctrine contrary to Sound Doctrine is a false doctrine! (1 Tim 1:10 ff; 2 Tim 4:3; Tit 1:9; Tit 2:1).