In our study of 1 John chapter four, we will look at how we can test the spirits to see who is sent by God and who is sent from the devil. A child usually has characteristics of their father and so you can tell who they belong to. In chapter 3, we looked at a biblical paternity test so that we could tell who our father is (God or the devil). In this chapter, we will look at how we can recognize who someone else's father is.
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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.
Satan is the father of lies and these days he has sent out many liars who are trying to deceive people. John tells us to test the spirits so that we can tell whether they are from God or Satan.
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.
It is a simple test to know who sent someone as we see. Anyone that does not accept that Jesus is the Son of God is not sent by God. There are many that want to say things like "Jesus was a great prophet" or "Jesus was a great man" but deny that He is and was God in the flesh. These people are deceived and not sent by God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
There are two different meanings to antichrist. The first describes a particular person that is to come and we see this in Revelation 13. The second meaning is what we see in this verse and it describe those who are against (anti) the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh. John says that this antichrist spirit is already in the world and can be most clearly seen demonstrated in Islam.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
We, as Christians, have overcome the evil spirits through God living in us. The one who is in us (Holy Spirit) is greater than Satan and gives us the power to see and understand the things of God.
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
In the world today, we are taught that everyone's opinion is equal and should be valued. Here, we see that even those that reject God are free to speak but we are told to not listen to what they have to say because it comes from the spirit of antichrist and is of the world. We are in this world but it is not our home and we are not of this world.
We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
We proclaim the very Word of God and those that He has called listen and understand through the power of the Holy Spirit. Those that do not listen are not called by God and follow a spirit of falsehood. We know that all lies (falsehood) come from Satan who is the father of lies.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
John gives us a second test so that we can tell whether a person is a Christian or not (who their daddy is). This test is to see if they love. He explains to us that God is love and so, if you are His child, you will love people. This is talking about a sacrificial love as we saw in chapter three. This love is putting the wants and needs of others ahead of our own and we are told that, if we do not have this love, we do not know God.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
John reminds us of the example of this sacrificial love in God sending His Son for us. If you have children, you can probably understand more of what this means as you can imagine giving up your child to save someone that hates you. That is what God did for us and that is what John means by atoning sacrifice.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Because of the love that God demonstrated for us in sending His Son to the cross, we should love others as He does. He gave us the Holy Spirit, which is God living in us. Because God now lives in us and He is love, we have the ability to show love to others. Love is complete when it is given and so, when we show that love to others, God's love that lives in us is made complete.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
Got the Spirit? If you do, then you are a child of God and you can be confident in that fact. Paul told us, in Ephesians 1:14, the same thing and even went on to say that the Spirit is a down payment of what we are going to have for eternity.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the savior of the world.
John was there throughout the time that Jesus walked this earth and also saw Him after His resurrection. The "we" refers to us as well for, when we accept Jesus Christ, God gives us the wisdom and the Spirit to know and testify about His grace through Jesus Christ.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
John tells us again of the paternity test and how we can tell whether someone is a child of God or not. It is quite simple in that they must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and not just a good man or a just a prophet. This statement has offended many people throughout history and even more today but we cannot compromise on this fact.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
We know that God is the very definition of love and so there is no way to separate the two. Therefore, if you are His you will have love in your heart for God. You will also love other people because you know that Jesus loves them and died for them as well as for yourself.
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him.
Love is made complete when it is given and becomes active. For example, if you see a starving person and say I love you but do nothing to help the hunger, you will not be believed. But, if you say I love you and also give the hungry some food, love will be demonstrated and made complete. If you have that kind of selfless love which only comes from the presence of God in your life, you can be confident even unto death just as Peter was in his second letter.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Through Christ, we know that our sins were punished and we know that our relationship with God was restored. Therefore, we do not fear punishment. Since we do not have to fear punishment from El Shaddai (God Almighty), then we do not need to fear anything or anyone else as He is above all else.
We love because he first loved us.
It is only through our relationship with God and His Spirit living in us that gives us the ability to love anyone but ourselves. In fact, as John said in chapter one, we do not even know what love is until we believe in Jesus Christ.
If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
We love God because of what he did for us which we accept by faith (not seeing). In Genesis 1:27, we see that God made man in His image. Therefore, how can we hate the image of God and yet say that we love God? The next time you feel anything less than love for others, remember that they are created in the image of God and that is why we must love them.