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.1 John 4:1-3
Do all roads lead to God? Do all religions lead to salvation?
John answers this question clearly and emphatically in 1 John 4. Not every spirit out in the world is from God. Some spirits are from the evil one and are meant to deceive. Some spirits are influencing false teachers and false prophets as a way to lead people astray from the Spirit of God.
So the answer is, “No. All religions don’t lead to salvation. All roads don’t lead to God.” There are not many pathways to God. There is one way to the Father and His name is Jesus (John 14:6).
So how do we know which spirit is which?
John gives us a clear test of discernment. If the spirit acknowledges that Jesus is who He said He is, that Jesus came as God in the flesh, then that spirit is from God. If the spirit does not acknowledge Jesus then it is not from God. When religions of the world reject Jesus for who He really is, they are being influenced and deceived by the spirit of the antichrist (a.k.a. the demonic kingdom of darkness).
That doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth found in the religions of the world that reject Jesus. General revelation is the theological term for how God has revealed Himself through the natural world, through the everyday things of life. Many religions pick up on these sorts of truths. But what makes deception powerful is when it is truth mixed with error. And that is what we see in the religions of the world.
The apostle Paul did not look kindly on the religions of the Roman world in his own day. As he looked at the pagan worship of false gods and false idols, he could see the demonic forces behind it. He said:
Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.1 Corinthians 10:19-21
Paul was clear. The Roman worship of Jupiter was not just their form of worshiping God the Father. The Roman worship of Mars was not a replacement for Jesus or the worship of Juno the substitute Holy Spirit. No, their sacrifices to their false gods and false idols were offerings made to demonic powers. While the stone, wooden or golden statues that they called idols were nothing but decoration, Paul understood that there was a demonic power that stood behind each one.
Paul did not go to Athens and say, “I see that some of you grew up worshipping pagan gods. That’s okay. All faiths lead to God.” Here is what he did say. First, he called out their ignorance.
People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.Acts 17:22-23
Then he implored them to turn away from their religion, which was false, and to Jesus, who is the Truth.
we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.Acts 17:29-31
In Paul’s mind, proof has been given to “everyone” that Jesus is the way to the Father by His resurrection from the dead. The only proper response is to repent. Repentance is a “command” to “all people everywhere.” The fact that many of Paul’s listeners then scoffed at him did not change his mind about Jesus’s resurrection being the ultimate “proof” of the truth of the gospel.