Summary: Bible Study




We need the power of God to win souls, to bring people into fellowship with God and the Church. In Zec 4:6 the bible says it is: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."

Here in the forth chapter of John we are warned that the believer should try every spirit. The false teachers of John’s day could lay claim to both persuasiveness and popularity. They were inspired men with wide popular support, yet they were not of God.

A/ Test the spirits: - verse 1

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world"

The criteria of power must obviously be defined with care. Inspiration can come from many quarters. Men were speaking apparently under an inspiration as real as that of any Christian prophet, and yet proclaiming doctrines or teachings that were radically unchristian.

Ecstatic, inspired utterance was an accepted sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, both in the gift of "tongues" and in the ministry of the "prophets". But in Rev 16:13-14 it says "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. " and in 2 Cor 11:14-15 it says "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works".

B/ How to Distinguish False from True: - verse 2 and 3

"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world"

In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 a "prophet...or a dreamer of dreams" giving "a sign or a wonder" but counseling idolatry, is to be rejected forthwith. Paul’s prescription for distinguishing false from true is plain:

"I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ’Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ’Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit". The fundamental doctrine of Christianity is the Lordship of Christ, and by this doctrine the true inspiration is to be judged.

John’s test is the same: the fundamental doctrine involved a true incarnation, and by this the inspiration of the false prophets is exposed. "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God"

As the test of spirits lies in the witness to the incarnation, so the test of men lies in the recognition of this truth. The issue is between Christ and Antichrist, between truth and falsehood, between God and His enemy.

C/ Who can do this? - verse 4-6

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world"

He is in us and "guides us into all truth" Truth may be unpopular, but it will stand. All that is Antichrist will go down in final defeat. The God who is greater than our own hearts, in wisdom and in mercy, is greater also than the forces of error and falsehood in the world.

II/ THE THEOLOGY OF LOVE - verses 7-11

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

A/ Love is of God - Love comes from God:

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God"

The best that the unchristian world can do is a union on mutual interests. But love for the unlovely, and for the unloving, sacrificial and lasting is something supernatural, even superhuman, beyond the comprehension of the unsaved world. This kind of love is strictly and exclusively "of God".

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