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Six Realities

1 John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Six realities and how we can know them

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Six Realities

There are two fields of philosophical studies that relate to knowledge. Ontology is the study of reality, all that is really in existence and then there is epistemology which is the study of how we know what reality is, how we obtain knowledge. There are various branches of each of these philosophies but the terms themselves are not important. What is important for us is that there is reality and we can know that reality, what is here is observable and we can attain knowledge concerning it. The pew you are sitting on is reality, it is here and you know it is here because you are sitting on it. You can touch it, if you rap on it with your knuckles you can hear it and if you really wanted to, and I don’t suggest it, you can lick it to taste it and you can sniff the cushions. That is a pretty simplistic view of ontology and epistemology and you won’t hear those terms again today (and perhaps never) but the point is there are things that are real and we can obtain knowledge concerning them. And to expand this on out this is true not only in the physical sense but also in the spiritual sense; and we will see that in our text this morning. Today we will be looking at . We will be looking at six realities and how we can know them. Let’s pray and ask the LORD to bless the reading and preaching of His word.
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.4 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.[1]
The reason for my opening illustration about knowledge is because of what we see in the very last sentence in verse 6: By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. John is telling us that there is the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error and everything we just read is how we can know them. So let’s start at verse 24 to see our first reality. This verse will come into play again in a minute but right now let’s look at what John tells us we can know and how we can know it. We abide in God and God abides in us demonstrated by the fact that we keep His commands. And John says we know this by the Spirit (read that Holy Spirit) that He has given us. We all know from our study of Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Galatians and John, all of Scripture for that matter, that we cannot keep the commands of God unless we have the Holy Spirit in us. We know that He abides in us because He has given us the Holy Spirit empowering us to keep His command as verse 23 says: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.[2] We abide in God and He in us and we know it because of the Holy Spirit that He has given us.
We will come back to that in a minute but let’s move on to verse 1 of chapter 4 for our second reality: 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Here John gives us an exhortation, “you have this information so do this”: Do not believe every spirit; test the spirits. Reality # 2 is that not everyone claiming to speak in the name of God actually does so. For this reason we must ‘test the spirits to see whether they are from God’. ‘To test the spirits’ means to evaluate the utterances of such people ‘to see whether they are from God’[3] John says the reason we can know this is necessary is because many false prophets are out there, they aim at deceiving you. We have already, in past weeks, talked about the antichrists that are trying to lead the people away from truth and John is doubling down on this here. Jesus said in 15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Not every religious speaker; not ever spirit speaks from God, not every quote of Scripture is for the purpose God intended it; Satan quoted Scripture quite often and see where that got us.
John has stated the reality that not every religious person speaks from God and we are to test the spirit to see if it from God and now in verses 2-3 he is going to give us the how to, the test of knowing which is which and that brings us to our third reality. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. Reality # 3: We can know that what we hear is from the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the antichrist. And we can know because of their or our confession concerning Christ and their or our lifestyle. Do you want to know if a religion is a cult? Just look at what they say about Jesus. The JW; Jesus is Michael the Archangel, a created being. The Mormons; Jesus is a spirit being born in heaven then conceived by Elohim (a created being who became a god) having physical relations with Mary. Islam; Jesus is the prophet Isa born of a virgin but not the Son of God. I know those are pretty simple ones to detect but we are told to test every spirit to see if it is from God, if it is then we will hear the truth that Jesus came in the flesh as we read in And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Or 7but (He) made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Paul tells us in that the confession that Jesus came in the flesh is a part of the mystery of godliness. But here is where we have to be very careful because people can use the right words and still be the spirit of the antichrist that has come into the world. As person’s confession that Jesus is God in the flesh has to be backed up with a lifestyle of obedience to God. This is where we go back to verse 24; Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God and God in him. Like Jesus said we will know them (the false prophets) by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Let me just say this very clearly. You can have the proper doctrine and still be lost and going to hell. How you live your life demonstrates that your belief is correct not what you say. That is why John is adamant that we test every spirit to see if it from God or not and the way we test the spirit is to see what they say about Jesus and how they live their lives. Then we can know it is the Spirit of God.
Let’s look at verse 4 for our fourth reality: 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. John says: Here is something else you can know: You are of God and have overcome the antichrists that are in the world. Listen to that, you have overcome everything that comes against God, the things of God and the people of God. If you do not believe that there are antichrists out there just turn your TV on any Sunday morning (no don’t do that because you need to be here) and you will hear the voice of the antichrists proclaimed right into your living rooms. You may be thinking I’m talking about all the false teacher that are preaching on the TV and that is definitely part of it but what about the fishing shows, the hunting shows, the travel shows, and crafting shows and on and on. But the reality is that you have overcome those things that glitter and try gather your attention and your affection from God. How do you know that reality? I’m so glad you asked! Because greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world. Remember back in verse 24; whoever keeps His commandments abides in God and God in Him. You have overcome the world not based on you and what you have done but on Him and what He has done. Paul said it this way in (and of course you knew this was coming) 37Yet in all these things (talking about trials) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. The reality that we are from God and have overcome the world can be known because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
So far we have looked at 4 realities and how we can know them. #1 – We abide in God and He abides in us. We know this because He has given us His Holy Spirit making us able and desirous of believing in the name of Jesus Christ and loving the children of God. #2 – Not every spirit is from God and we must test the spirits. We know this because many false prophets are in the world. #3 – We know there is the Spirit of God and the spirit of the antichrist and we can know the difference. We know because of their or our confession of Christ and lifestyle. #4 – We know that we are from God and have overcome the anitchrists (enemies of God). We know because greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.
So let’s look at the last two realities found in verses 5 and 6: 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.[4] Reality # five: They (children of the devil, anitchrists) are of the world and the world and speak of the world and they (children of the devil, anitchrists) will listen to them and will not listen to us who speak from the Spirit of God. Let’s face it folks you can say anything you want about Jesus Christ and the world will eat it up as long as you do not proclaim the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation. You can say that Jesus taught love and forgivness and the world will listen to you, you can proclaim that He was a great moral teacher and even a practical teacher and the world will stop and listen. But when you tell them that Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE, when you tell them that there is no other name under heaven by which man must be saved you have literally crossed the line and they will not listen, they will not hear you. You can tell them that Jesus just wants you healthy and wealthy the world will listen to you because they are of the world. But if you call them as Scripture does to die to self, to come and suffer with Christ, they will not hear you because they are of the world.
But on the other side of that we see reality # six: We are from God and the reason we know that is because we desire to listen to the truth; the Spirit of truth. Last Wednesday evening we talked about how Hezekiah sent runners with a letter to the Northern Kingdom inviting all those who had not been taken into captivity to come to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, to worship God with them. Some of the people mocked and ridiculed them, they did not hear them. Yet some humbled themselves and repented coming to God, they heard them. God’s people want, long to hear God’s Word. There is a hunger that cannot be satisfied in any other way.
So we have seen six realities and how we can know them: #1 – We abide in God and He abides in us. We know this because He has given us His Holy Spirit making us able and desirous of believing in the name of Jesus Christ and loving the children of God. #2 – Not every spirit is from God and we must test the spirits. We know this because many false prophets are in the world. #3 – We know there is the Spirit of God and the spirit of the antichrist and we can know the difference. We know because of their or our confession of Christ and lifestyle. #4 – We know that we are from God and have overcome the anitchrists (enemies of God). We know because greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. #5 – The false teachers, antichrists, are of the world and we know it because they only hear what the world has to say, they will not hear the truth. #6 – We are from God and we know this because we long to hear from the Spirit of Truth; we long to hear from God through His Word and nothing will satisfy us like the truth of God. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Let’s pray.
[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[3] Kruse, C. G. (2000). The letters of John (p. 144). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.
[4] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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