From: John the Apostle1 John : Session FourteenOutline Sovereign Grace Fellowship c\o Little ChildrenP. O. Box 3078235 High StreetBoscawen, N. H.03303-3078
John’s Purpose In Writing This LetterOur motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1:4 MSG) My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God's Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. (5:13 MSG) Taking 1 John Verse by Verse
1 John 4:1-6 ESV4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Theme - False Teachers: 1 John 4:1–6 How can we test for counterfeits and false prophets? First, doctrinally. Jesus, God’s Son, has come in the flesh. This confession will never be made by false teachers. And second, by lifestyle. The world, with its “cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has” (2:16), is put away by the mature believer. When a teacher speaks from the viewpoint of the world, we know he is not from God.
The true believer will recognize John’s writings as God’s truth. The Holy Spirit will confirm it. When teaching is out of harmony with the written Word, the Spirit Himself will bring disquiet within the believer. The Holy Spirit is the attesting Spirit, giving witness to those who are truly God’s children. When a believer is abiding in Christ, the Spirit guides and warns of false spirits that would lead us astray. This witness of the Spirit is mentioned in Romans 8:14–16: 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
From 2 Peter we learn that false teachers/prophets have come and will come again and that we should not be surprised by them when we finally meet up with them in our churches and Christian circles. 2 Pe 2:1–3. 1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. ESV
What does John mean when he writes: “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” The word “confesses” has to be unpacked by the reader. It means much more than one who simply assents that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
To help us see how we are to meet the challenge of testing false prophets/teachers/spirits let’s break down our passage into a series of questions and answers. Q. What are we commanded to do? A. do not believe every spirit, - test the spirits Q. Why the need to test? A. many false prophets have gone out into the world Q. So what do we have to test for? A. to see whether they are from God Q. What is the test that will tell if they are of God? A. every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God Q. And how can we tell if they are not from God? A. every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God
Q. How bad are these lying prophets/teachers? A. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already Q. How great a danger do the pose to us? A. you are from God and have overcome them Q. Is it that simple? Is that it? A. he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world Q. Let’s get back to your test. What do we look for in a false prophet/teacher? A. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. Q. That’s it? A. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
We owe John our thanks! False prophets feed the goats and the goats of this world believe and follow them. On the other hand if we know God we will love the sheep food. God feeds his little lambs the pure Word of God. It’s that simple! What are you chewing on of late? The most comforting words in this passage, in my opinion, are found in verse 4. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. ESV