-John gives us the test to discern spirits. We have to understand that there are two kingdoms in complete contradiction and competition with one another on this earth and in the spiritual realm. One kingdom is of evil and wants to destroy everything good and wholesome. The other Kingdom is of righteousness and goodness and perfection in love with a hope and a future. The way John says we can test every spirit is to see whether or not they believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh from God. Every spirit that does not confess Jesus as Lord (coming from God) is the spirit of the antichrist, which is already in the world and will be coming with more force in the future. The good news is that we as believers in the One-true Son of God have overcome this spirit of the antichrist, because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Listening to the apostolic teaching from His Word is also how we can understand the difference between good and bad. This is how you can KNOW the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error (1 John 4:1-6). John was combating the Gnostics by this time in biblical writing. Gnostics were knowledge seekers who were led by the spirit of error in denouncing that Jesus Christ had any real physical presence on this earth. They spiritualized everything according to Platonic thought patterns and had an adverse effect on the Christian community as we see in this text. *Application* Know the Bible well and continually ask the question, “Does this person believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh from God?” In our culture, just as it was in the first century, we are confronted with the temptation to have doubts about the veracity of Christ Jesus and His atoning work. This is the work of the enemy, and we need to realize his tactics. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. If you will acknowledge Him and His truth in all your ways, He will guide and direct you in the narrow path of life and fullness in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Trust the Word of God. It is finished, it is done. Christ has really paid the price for sin and gives us new life in Him! Don’t ever allow yourself to be deceived.
-John now goes into the effects of trusting truly in Christ for our salvation and Godly living. Love is the basis for this restored life by God’s grace, which comes from Him alone and in the first place. A new birth is required to KNOW God and love is the primary resulting fruit that comes from this spiritual relationship. His Spirit is what indwells us giving us the assurance of His presence and releasing us from all fear of disconnection with Him. In this we have get confidence and security knowing that if God be for us no one can be against us (Romans 8:31-39). We love because He first loved us, and we prove this relationship by loving one another with a pure heart and steadfast devotion refraining from all hate (1 John 7-21). *Application* Love is the essence of everything we hold dear in our faith. The great command of all Scripture revolves around loving God first and foremost with everything we’ve got, and then loving one another, which is like unto it. All the law and the prophetic words from the Lord come from this concept of love (Matthew 22:36-40). God is love. The saddest thing one could ever say of Christian believers is that they do not love. Live in such a way that people know without a shadow of a doubt that you love God and people with all your heart!
Verse to Memorize: 1 John 4: 2, 4, 7-9, 13, 18