Under The Influence
June 25, 2006
1 John 4:1-6
One of the primary roles of a parent I am learning is to be
a censor for children.
a screening device for my family
As a parent I am continually setting boundaries:
on the TV - can’t watch this show - you can watch this one.
on friends - she is a bad influence - he is a good influence.
on activities - No, you can’t play with knives honey - blocks are better.
On clothes, video games, radio stations, food choices.
Parents have the role of filter, censor, and screener in order to limit the dangerous, harmful activities.
Why? Because children aren’t able to discern any danger.
children don’t understand the consequences of playing with a knife verses
Parents are continually assessing situations - at home, in the yard, while at church, at school, at the store, in order that their child be safe and influenced properly.
As you pastor, I have this role as well. Though I am not old enough to be a parent to many of you. And though many of you are quite satisfied thank you very much with the parent or parents you already have, a pastor has the responsibility to watch over the sheep, to warn you of harm, to help the people of the church learn to identify the devil’s dark and deceptive schemes that can lead a sheep astray.
One of the great pastors in the faith was a man named Paul. He wrote in Ephesians 4 that God made some people to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for service so that the body of Christ may be built up becoming mature. "Then" he writes, "we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men."
Paul recognized that God gave the people of God, certain persons who have as their responsibility the duty to help other’s recognize, confront and flee from the false truths, the empty words of false teachers. Paul identified that because there are cunning and crafty men and all words kinds of teachers out there tossing and turning people in all directions that humans need people to create boundaries, to educate, to watch over them. Because people are like sheep - they stray off.
People are easily enticed.
People are easily influenced and if they aren’t careful they can leave the way of faith without really realizing it. (Regent story?)
Let none of us here today believe even for a moment that the serpent who got Adam and Eve off course is dead - no the serpent is alive and as active as ever and desires to call into question everything we believe.
I’ve told you before but let me say it again. For each degree a pilot is off course every 62 miles he flies he is 1 mile off from his intended destination. A small degree off from the truth can end up getting one in big trouble over time.
No one wants to be under the influence of that kind of pilot. No - we want to end up where we are intending to go.
Throughout the book of 1 John - John takes on the role of pastor and parent.
John in our text, perhaps more than those to whom he is writing recognizes
the consequences a bad situation can have/an evil person can be.
So throughout this book - 19x he writes a trip tick.
He gives guidelines.
He clarifies God’s way amidst all the other ways.
"This is the message," he writes.
"This is God’s command,"
"This is how we know what love is."
And in today’s text "this how you can recognize the Spirit of God." v. 2
"This is how we recognize the spirit of truth and
the spirit of falsehood." v. 6
John wants to put these people - who had been led astray back on to true north, back on the right path away from the influences that were slowly leading them astray, getting them off course. Because the longer they found themselves under the teachings of these false teachers, the more their destination would be other than what God intended for them.
So John writes as a Spiritual Father desiring that his children (v. 4), these friends (v. 1) be able to recognize their dangerous situation.
His words give Jesus followers, then and now, a response to the many false teachers in the world.
You noticed he began by saying, "Don’t believe every Spirit" or "don’t believe everyone you hear." Not everything that anyone says is true.
There are people you and I know who react to everything they hear or read. They live their life being pushed back and forth, being manipulated by voices. They have no foundation, no plumb line to measure things against.
They call you or email you with news that life on earth is ending, or that the stock market is crashing, or that Jesus has returned or . . .
John’s response to this - is to say - don’t believe every spirit/or every voice. It’s not all true so "test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
By test John means: examine
It is what a person does when choosing a spouse - test
It is what a parent does when choosing a school for their child.
What a boss does when she wants to hire an employee.
Don’t just believe what the resume says.
what the principal says.
what the handsome hunk speaks
Why are we to do this?
"Because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
If John wrote that this was the case 2000 years ago - is it safe to say that it is still true today or maybe even worse?
Of course -
there are false voices.
There are false teachers.
There are false people.
societys that aren’t honoring God and seek to lead us away from anything to
do with God.
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." Matthew 7:15
Having told us of the reality that there are false prophets.
Have told us that we don’t have to believe every thing we hear.
John then tells now how we can test
distinguish a Fake from a faithful follow of God.
v. 2. "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.
John says it is simple.
If the person is able to say
to acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in flesh from God - then that
person is a faithful teacher.
A person, the teacher must believe that Jesus came from God, left heaven for earth and lived here. Not as a spiritual being, a holy presence but as having a human body, having flesh.
If the person can’t acknowledge this fact.
If the person doesn’t believe this - they are not a Faithful teacher. They are a fake, a fraud.
That person is not from God.
They are from the world. (v. 5)
They speak from the viewpoint of the world. (v. 5)
A truthful, faithful teacher realizes that they are nothing and Jesus is everything. They realize that without Jesus’ living presence on earth, His servant’s heart, His loyal obedience, sacrificial death and resurrection, they wouldn’t have anything to say.
Christ is the message.
Saints - there are some who view Jesus as only a teacher, only a prophet, only a moral being, a historical figure. They want to add things to Jesus, believing Jesus wasn’t who he claimed to be and can’t do what he said he would do.
There are many who teach, share words and have followers who preach nothing of Jesus being God made - present in the earth and these are the ones that have the spirit of the antichrist within them.
How can you recognize if a person exerting influence has faith of Jesus or is a fraud? Ask - literally ask. Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh from God?
If the answer is yes - listen and learn.
If the answer is no or kind of - flee.
Don’t let yourself be corrupted.
John in verse 6 gives another test to help us learn and discern who is a Jesus follower from those who are not.
"We are from God (a point he makes 6x in these 6 verses) and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us."
As a child of God your life speaks. People are observing, keeping and eye on, inspecting your life. When such people give you opportunity to share, to talk, about your beliefs, we learn whose they are. John says those who listen know God. Those who do not listen do not know God.
How one responds to the message, the truth of God’s way indicates whose a person is. It reveals whether the person has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of falsehood. If they listen, they are a child of God - but if they don’t they are following false teachers. But let us not ever turn our backs completely on such people.
You and I know people who are seemingly untouchable. They are living in the world, by the world standards and listening to the world’s advice. They are closed to the ways of God. Jesus himself had people stop following him, preferring the world’s way and path. Though we can’t write these people off and say they are without hope, we must prey for their hearts and minds to be open.
And in the meantime make every effort to share our story with those who are drifting back and forth.
So how do we respond to this text?
What difference can it have?
We need to
Be careful what we allow ourselves to be influenced by?
Is the music?
The shows on TV
Your magazines - causing you to be led toward our God or away from him.
We must protect our minds and hearts by not exposing them to voices that are false.
We need to have confidence - live confidently. Why? Or How? John tells us to be - You - dear children are from God and have overcome the false teachers, the false prophets, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (v. 4)