Faithlife Sermons

SF208 - How to Know Who to Believe (1 John 4 1-6)

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1 John 4:1‑6


Have you ever been lied to?

Have you ever felt like you had been deceived?

It is a terrible feeling!


Finding himself desperately in need of money, a man went to the city zoo, hoping to get a job feeding the animals.  Although no such opportunity was available, the manager, seeing the size and the strength of the applicant, suddenly got an idea.  "You know," he said, "there are few creatures who attract attention like a gorilla.  Unfortunately, ours died yesterday.  If we got you a special fur suit, would you be willing to imitate him for a few days?"  The hungry man agreed to try.  He was quite successful as he beat his chest, bellowed, and shook the bars of his cage ‑ much to the amusement of visitors who said they had never seen a gorilla with such intelligence.  One day, while swinging on his trapeze, he accidentally lost his grip and landed in the lion's den.  The huge beast gave a ferocious roar.  Backing away, the impostor realized he couldn't cry for assistance without revealing that he was a fake.  He retreated, hoping to crawl back over the fence into his own cage.  The lion, however, followed him.  Finally in desperation he yelled, "HELP!"  Immediately the lion said in an undertone, "Shut up, stupid!  You'll get us both fired!"

To be lied to about eternal matters, spiritual things are the greatest of all sins.

Millions are being lied to every day.

Whether it is the Moslem in the Middle East.

The Hindu in India.

The Moonie in America.

However, not all false prophets are as easily identified as these.

Many are well disguised within the Christian church.

Recent events have proven that things are not always what they may seem to be.


1A.      The Content of the Teaching (4:1‑3)

1B.      The command to test (4:1)

Do not take anything for granted

"Do not believe every spirit"

“Believe” is in the present tense which indicates that John’s readers were accepting uncritically all teaching.

Check out everyone.

“Test," comes from the stem doke, watching which carries the idea of proving something.

Be on the alert for false prophets.

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

2B.      The criteria for the test (4:2-3)

Proper doctrine

"Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God"

Proper Confession

By this confession is meant not merely a recognition of His identity, but a profession of faith in Him “openly and boldly” as the incarnate Lord.

Ø      This is a binding public statement.

Matthew 10:32-33 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

2A.      The Character of the Audience

1B.      The Christian (4:4,6)

Enjoys sure Victory

“Overcome,” nikao, is an assured victory.  It is made certaing by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 3:21) and is already present (1 Joh. 5:4-5).

Ø      The scope of the victory

"overcome them"

them = antichrists

Ø      The source of the Victory

The Spirit of truth (4:6)

Is attentive to the words of God. (4:6)

John 8:47 “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

2B.      The non‑Christian (4:5)

Is influenced by the world's philosophy.

1 Corinthians 3:1, 3 “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ….  for you are still fleshly.  For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?”

Rejects the things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”


The measure of truth is God’s Word.

Ø      How do you measure up?

Ø      How do those who teach you measure up?

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