Summary: Message 20 from 1 John dealing with how to discern truth from error.

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Discerning Truth & Error 1John 4:1-6


The logic of John’s letter is really quite simple.

God is light (pure) and God is love (passionate).

Because of His great love, He invited us into His community or family.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus and ministry of the Holy Spirit we are reborn into His family.

As children of God we are encouraged and enabled to live purely and passionately.

Children of the God of light and love walk in the light and love the brethren.



There are five factors to consider in relation to genuine children of God.

A. The “Likeness” factor 2:29-3:3

God invites us to be His children

B. The “righteousness/sin” factor 3:4-10

Children of the God of light practice righteousness

C. The “Love factor” 3:11-20

Children of the God of love love one another

D. The “obedience” factor 3:21-24

Children of God follow their Father’s instructions

E. The “confession” factor 4:1-6

True children of God confess Jesus and listen to His word


Earlier (2:18-21) John warned of false prophets and teachers. He referenced the “anti-Christ” which would be the ultimate deceiver in the end times. Yet he warned them that the “spirit” of the anti-Christ was even then among them.

He returns here to this theme yet again and adds a test to determine the true from the false.

He will warn them yet one more time in his second letter.

John masterfully interweaves his themes.

The God of light and His children walking in the light as opposed to the god of this age and his children practicing sin.

The God of love and His children loving each other as oppose to the god of hate and murder and his children hating and murdering.

The Spirit of truth; the Holy Spirit anointing and indwelling the children of God to know and live by the truth.

The Spirit of error; the spirit of anti-christ blinding and indwelling the children of the world to deny and refuse to live by the truth.

The Old Testament addresses false prophets numerous times.

Jesus warned about false prophets

"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15

Paul warned about false apostles.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14

Peter warned of false prophets and teachers.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1

A false prophet or teacher is one who claims to speak truth on behalf of God.

Their message may be accompanied by supernatural signs and wonders.

The Scripture warns that signs and wonders are not a reliable validation of the message.

In the end times the ultimate false prophet will deceive the masses with impressive miraculous signs and wonders.

There are two kinds of false prophet/teacher/apostles.

Some are self deceived and pretended to speak for God in hopes of personal gain.

Others are “spirit” deceived; being fed enticing lies by demons leading God’s people astray.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1

Many times the lies came through visions, dreams, enlightenment or prompting by an evil spirit opposed to the person and purpose of Christ (anti-christ).

Discerning between the true and false messengers was not always a sure thing.

Satan is a cleaver deceiver.

He taints a whole lot of truth with just enough lie to avoid detection but still bring destruction.

He has been able to effectively infiltrate the church today.

His lies have subtly permeated the airwaves and the printing presses to a frightening degree.

John provides some specific tests to help us discern between the true and the false spirit.

Is the message or teaching from a demonic spirit or the Holy Spirit?

Are these messengers of God or Satan?

The Holy Spirit came to reveal all truth, anoint, bear witness to the truth, inspire.

Evil spirits seek to counterfeit and twist the truth with their lies.

We may be confronted by a deceiving spirit directly or through a person being influenced by a deceiving spirit.

Ultimately then, it is either the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of truth or the spirit of anti-Christ; the spirit of error that seeks to influence people’s thinking.

All those who claim to speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit may not speak for Him.

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