4-29-2018 World Powers 1 John 4:4-6
Matthew Sickling wrote up what he saw as today’s Beatitudes for churchgoers who let the cares of this world dominate them.
THE DEVIL'S BEATITUDES
1. Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend even an hour once a week with their fellow Christians – they are my best workers.
2. Blessed are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked -- I can use them.
3. Blessed are the touchy who stop going to church –for they are my missionaries.
4. Blessed are the trouble makers – for they shall be called my children.
5. Blessed are the complainers –for their complaints are music to my ears.
6. Blessed are those who keep a list of the preachers mistakes -- for they get nothing out of his sermons.
7. Blessed is the church member who expects to be invited to his own church – for he is a part of the problem instead of the solution.
8. Blessed are those who gossip -- for they shall cause strife and divisions that please me.
9. Blessed are those who are easily offended -- for they will soon get angry and quit.
10. Blessed are those who do not give an offering to carry on God’s work – for in stealing from God you steal for me.
11. Blessed is he who professes to love God but hates his brother and sister -- for he shall be with me forever.
12. Blessed are you who, when you hear this, think the preacher is talking about someone other than you– for I’ve got you right where I want you.
So goes the Beatitudes of the word’s system with satan as the prince. These worldly Beatitudes might be a little too painfully familiar. John talks about this matter concerning what the world teaches in contrast to what the Word teaches, and again, like last week, offers another test to the authenticity of a teacher.
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.
John knew what it was to enjoy a personal relationship with Christ and the benefits associated with that. He experienced something many in his day did not. This relationship set him apart from the world as it should us today. This personal communion with our Creator gave him power that stood out and commanded attention. Consider:
I. Our Power (v.4)
I. Our Power (v.4)
In contrast to those who are against God from the previous and following verses, John reassures his readers that they belong to God.
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.
First is John connecting us by relation to our power and what that results into– victory!
“have overcome them” This seems to be a reference to both the victory in doctrinal matters and then even the victorious Christian life. What a wonderful word of encouragement for them and us!
John is concerned with the Christian’s victory over sin and the devil. He uses this term (overcome/victorious) 6 times in I John (cf. 2:13, 14; 4:4; 5:4, 5), 11 times in the Revelation, and once in the Gospel (cf. 16:33). This is a major thing for John and we can tell because this term for victory was used only once by Dr. Luke in Luke 11:22 and then only twice in Paul’s writings (cf. Rom. 3:4; 12:21).
Many were the struggles of John’s day and many of those struggles continue today, but we do not have to live in defeat. We can overcome with the power of Christ, our Lord! He dwells within us through His Spirit, and He is greater than our adversary. The world says we are weak and dumb, but we have strength and wisdom this world cannot possess or give. Life will continue to bring struggles, but we can overcome in Christ!
“for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” This is an emphasis on indwelling deity.
Who exactly is John saying is in you as a believer?
Jesus? the Holy Spirit?
Here, it could even be a reference to the indwelling Father as in the Gospel John 14:23
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Other NT passages also emphasize
the indwelling Son (cf. Matt. 28:20; Col. 1:27) and
the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9; 1 John 4:13). The Spirit and the Son are closely identified
The following is a comparison of the work and titles of God, the Son and God, the Spirit.
1. The Spirit called “Spirit of Christ” or similar expressions Romans 8:9; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
2. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are called by the same terms
1)Jesus called truth (John 14:6)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
but later in the same chapter The Spirit is called truth (John 14:17)
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
b. Both called “advocate/Helper”
1)Jesus in our epistle as we saw a few weeks back(1 John 2:1)
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
The Greek word here for advocate is παράκλητος
2)Spirit (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Same Greek word for Helper = παράκλητος or Paraclete
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
3.Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit indwell believers
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
b.No surprise to find proof that the Spirit indwells us:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
All this to show that it is both God, the Son & God, the Spirit who supply us the everlasting power to defeat satan and this world.
But now let’s look at the power of the world
II. Their Power (v.5)
II. Their Power (v.5)
These people in verse 5 are the false prophets who belong to this world and cannot belong to God. The false teachers, being a part of the world system, speak from the world’s viewpoint and so find easy acceptance by the world that listens to them. False teachers are popular with the world because, like the false prophets of the Old Testament, they tell people what they want to hear. John has already warned before that Christians who faithfully teach God’s word will not gain a large following in the world.
Why? People don’t want to hear their sins denounced; they don’t want to listen to commands & demands that they must change their behavior. A false teacher will too eaisly relate to unrepentant sinners, and in turn, be well received by non-Christians or anti-christs.
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
In John’s Gospel and letters, the term world describes the world system of beliefs and those who stand in opposition to God rather than the physical Earth.
John uses “world” here in the specific sense of the fallen human race which desperately tries to meet all of its needs apart from God. World, then, refers to fallen humanity’s collective independent spirit in vein effort to become their own gods!
So what is their teaching or their Agenda?
Since the world doesn’t share our desires or possess the hope we enjoy, they have an agenda that is in sharp contrast to the lives we live to attempt to shield themselves from the ALL-Powerful One. They promote worldly desires and philosophies. They seek their own pleasures and are quick to silence those who share opposing beliefs.
Concerning this world system, Dave McFadden rightly points out the problem of preaching to this world:
Political correctness says I can't preach on Lot: he's homophobic. I can't preach on Moses: he's a legalist. I can't preach on Samson: he was unwelcoming toward those illegally entering his country. I can't preach on Hosea: his views on his wife's promiscuity were too narrow. I can't preach on Paul: he's a misogynist (prejudiced toward women). The fact is, anything I preach on from God's Word will be contrary to the views of this world.
But this is to be expected! We are in the world, but not of the world. We don’t enjoy or invite conflict and opposition, but we cannot expect the world to embrace our faith or promote Christian principles. False teachers must justify their sins and therefore despise sound teachings. They seek the things of the world, the things that please the flesh and this is prophecy! 2 Tim.4:3 –
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
I don’t think this passes is just referring to those who crave Joel Osteen’s style of preaching. I fear that even we here at Grace may have had some people in our past that have left because their own passions were not fulfilled here.
“the world listens to them” Another evidence of Christian teachers versus false teachers is who listens to them.
The source of their power is the world; from it they derive their inspiration; and of course the world listens to them only strengthening the deadly cycle. Once again from John, we have similar teachings from Christ’s last words: (John 15:19).
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Again, this is a test, not the only test of a true Believer
While the world gladly accepts and listens to false teachers, there is another audience that listens to a different Source—those who know God or were open to knowing God.
III. Our Source (v.6)
III. Our Source (v.6)
The world, or those who do not belong to God, rejected this message because the source of their power is not strong enough to accept truth.
One easy example of this comes straight out of atheists’ mouths:
Atheists claim we use God as a “crutch” in life because we are not strong enough to face a reality of no God, but the exact opposite is true! Atheists are not strong enough to face the accountability to God and the responsibility to their Creator, so they use an easy escape—namely, a Creator cannot exist so that, “I may be my own god” And, yes we do use a “crutch” — the ultimate Crutch! We recognize that we are so weak that we need a Savior!
So John says:
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 are from God.” This is a purposeful change in the pronoun from the “you” in verse 5.
The “We” is now likely John & the other apostles rather than John & the readers. John is strengthening contrast between him and the apostles as opposed to the false teachers back in verse 3.
Even as John reminded his readers that they were sourced in God, he now makes the same claim of himself and the apostles. Within the flow of thought of this passage, John is now referring to three groups: the readers, the false teachers, and he adds the apostles.
This provides another way to determine who has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of error. As we saw a moment ago, according to the Gospel of John, the Spirit of truth is the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from God and teaches the truth about Christ. All who are indwelt by the Spirit of truth and anointed by the Spirit can know the truth; God did not reserve that truth for only a special few but to everybody that accepts Him. The spirit of error comes from satan, the “father of lies” (John 8:44), and leads people to destruction. As we concluded from last week, Believers can distinguish between these “spirits” by the character and message of the one speaking and teaching.
So the question is how do I measure up? How is Pastor Josh’s character? Is my preaching, my message, correct with God’s word? How is my preaching impacting those here today?
Once, a pastor was overly conscious about the sermon he had preached the previous Sunday (maybe because of too much Greek!). In an effort to encourage his congregation the following Sunday, he announced as he began his sermon, "To make up for last week's 20 point sermon, today's sermon will be...pointless."
The moral of that illustration is: If a preacher's worried his preaching may be too "pointed," it will end up being "pointless!" The faithful preacher will preach powerfully and pointedly, because he'll seek to preach the Word of God. He won't seek to appease the world, he will seek to please the Lord! Preachers are mandated to preach the truth with no regard to the reception of the truth from the audience—I pray that those I speak truth to will receive it, but even if I know beforehand that they will reject it, I cannot and must not change the truth.
But John puts some weight also on you as the listener to my message:
“Whoever knows God listens to us” The true believers continue to listen and respond to Apostolic truth! Believers can recognize true preachers/teachers by both the content of their message and who hears and responds to them. So if my preaching is indeed from YHWH (and I’d like to say that it is!), then you must respond accordingly.
We close with a comforting thought. We can know the true from the false, the Spirit of God from the spirit of the antichrist.
Life is difficult and we are surrounded with attacks on Christianity and truth, but we are not without any guidance. The Spirit will lead us as long as we seek the Lord. It is possible to possess spiritual discernment in these difficult times. We do not have to accept the world’s view regarding our faith. We can rise above and experience victory in Christ our Lord.
These are not individual truths or personal convictions that exist in beliefs but facts. These are realities of the universe that exist even if no human living were to believe in their existence. So, in our day today we need to be ever more discerning.
Discernment only comes with practice. Discernment requires thinking and knowing. Only those who know their Bible and can think critically will be able to recognize false teachers and their teachings. This cannot occur without personal study of the Scriptures and apart from the Spirit.
God’s sovereignty and might is expressed here in terms of His power over satan. Satan is already defeated and only able to influence the population of the world, where God stands victorious and indwells His children, enabling them to experience that same victory over the devil.
Here is our Assurance: In light of the fact that the world doesn’t care for our faith or support truth, the Lord still stands with us and empowers us. He equips us to serve Him and to accomplish His will. Likely there will be or has been times you may feel, or have felt alone—the only one who cares about God, but the fact is we are not alone. He is always there and He also has provided others of like faith to share the hardships of the journey with us.
Aren’t you glad YHWH provides fellow believers to walk alongside this road of life with you? Aren’t you thankful for those you can lean on and draw strength from?