A dangerous doctrine is being bandied about in religious circles that states if someone says “Jesus is Christ” or claims to believe in Jesus, we can assume they are Christian. 1 John 4: 1-3 is used for this assumption, which states
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: 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.
That dangerous thinking is also tied to Romans 10:9, 10–
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
If we were to just take these verses by themselves and make the assumptions I stated in the first sentence of this post, then it would draw us to believe that devils can be saved. For instance, take this passage from Luke 4
41 And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
This same scenario occurs in Mark 3:11 also. Obviously if we know the Bible well enough, we know devils cannot be saved so just confessing that Jesus is Christ and accepting that he came in the flesh (like the unclean spirits did) is not what solely determines if a person has the Holy Spirit. People are so quick to overlook the caveat in the context of John’s and Paul’s letters. In 1 John the caveat is given in verse 6 where he says that those who confess Jesus prove their confession is genuine when they listen to and obey Christ’s apostles, since the apostles wrote the New Testament by the inspiration power of the Holy Ghost.
In Romans 10, Paul goes on to explain this same thing. If true confession and belief in Christ takes place in one’s heart, then the result is that one becomes unashamed of the gospel (Romans 10:11) by doing the opposite of the Israelites under Moses, who were disobedient. Or as James, Christ’s half brother said, “Faith without works is dead.”
John also went into more detail in his second epistle as he explained how doctrine ties into what he said in 1 John 4–
7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. …
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 2 John
This is an additional test of who has the Holy Spirit and who doesn’t. Just confessing Christ or using the right “Christian” lingo is worthless if it isn’t backed by obedience to Christ’s commands and doctrines. Just confessing Christ does not necessarily mean that the person has the Holy Spirit. If we latch on to this concept, we will avoid being deceived by people who claim to be Christian that really aren’t.