1 John Chapter 4
Testing the Spirits
4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh is from God, 4:3 but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world.
4:4 You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 4:5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world’s perspective and the world listens to them. 4:6 We are from God; the person who knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.
Test every spirit. This means the Holy Spirit isn’t the only spirit out there. (Reference Ephesians 6:12…For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens)
So, there are other spirits at work in the world other than the Holy Spirit, and we are to test them to identify if they are false teachers or not.
Two ways in which these false teachers have it all wrong:
Verses 2–4 Erroneous doctrine concerning Christ’s Person. They may deny the virgin birth, or that Jesus was without sin, or that he is the Son of God, or they might deny his (or our) bodily resurrection, or they may deny that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, or that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.
Verses 5–6 Erroneous attitude towards World. They try to use the world’s logic rather than the truths of the Bible. People today try to use reason, or science or many other ways to define God, rather than the bible in which he inspired and brought to us that we may know him.
True doctrine is faith in the Jesus of the Bible.
The test isn’t concerning the teacher’s works, it’s their message. Maybe they do “good things”. That’s not the test, they must affirm that Jesus is the Christ, but false teachers won’t quite affirm what the Bible says about Jesus.
God is Love
4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who love has been fathered by God and knows God. 4:8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.4:9 By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. 4:10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
4:11 Dear friends, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another. 4:12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us. 4:13 By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit. 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
4:15 If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God. 4:16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him. 4:17 By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world.4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. 4:19 We love because he loved us first.
4:20 If anyone says “I love God” and yet hates his fellow Christian, he is a liar, because the one who does not love his fellow Christian whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 4:21 And the commandment we have from him is this: that the one who loves God should love his fellow Christian too.
God not only loves, but God IS love. It’s his nature. This is pretty deep theology. Don’t think we can ever fully understand what all is meant in the statement “God is love”. The correct definition of love has to come from the example love’s Creator, God, shows and gives in the bible. The kind of love revealed to us by the sacrifice of his Son for sinners. Note that it’s not love returned to us because of our love. No, it’s love that first comes from him to us, he first loved us. This love was shown to us in the past through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (vs 9–11), it’s shown to us in the present through our brothers and sisters in Christ (vs 12–16), and it’s shown to us in the future giving us boldness in the day of judgement (vs 17–18).
Since God loves us, we ought to love one another. Makes sense, and I know we do that. And that’s evidence of God’s indwelling us.
No one has seen God, but are they seeing him through us?
Does our love for each other catch the attention of those outside our circle which is the church?
In what other ways might others see God when observing our lives?
So we are not only recipients of God’s love, we are conduits of his love towards others.
In what ways are we being conduits of God’s love to others?
Abiding in God and God abiding in us. That sounds like the perfect place to be doesn’t it? May we be as filled with God as a sponge is filled with water, throughly and throughout. What steps can we begin to take this week to make that more true that it may be today?
Isn’t it great that God trusts us with a part of his work, his work to save people from an eternity apart from him.
How can we be good help in that effort?
His love removes fear, because we know how things will turn out for us whom are born again. We know what awaits us. We know where to put our treasure.
And John again points out in verse 21 the commandment for us to love one another. If we love God, we must love one another.
And the Apostle Peter addresses love too…
1 Corinthians 13:
13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 13:6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
May God help us to have that pure love by which he loves us, which is taught to us in the pages of the bible!