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1 John 4:1-6 - Believe or Not To Believe

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Truth & Error

Introduction: Christians are not to accept everything they hear as the truth, even though what they hear may come from supposedly Christian sources (Test what I say)! 

1.    We are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12)

2.    This is why we are to apply the proper spiritual test to the things we hear.

q        It is important that I teach my children how to eat properly, to teach them not to put anything in their mouth prior to examining it.

q        The same thing applies spiritually; we must discover whether what we hear is truth or error.

3.    John cautions the believer not to trust every spirit.

q        The word spirit here probably refers primarily to teachers.

q        Just because a man speaks about the Bible, God, and Jesus does not mean that he is a true child of God.

q        There are people who profess to accept Christianity, but teach another gospel altogether.

Discerning From Truth & Error.

Do Not Believe Every Spirit (v.1)

A)       We Are To Test The Spirits (v.1)

1)        John Says That We Are Not To Believe Every Spirit But To Test Them (1Jn 4:1)

q         Test.  The word test means “to put something to a test in order to approve it” like “having a test a school to see whether you have been studying or not.”  It has the notion of proving a thing whether it is worthy or not.

1.         The word was used in reference to putting metals to the test to see in they were genuine.

2.         You and I are commanded in the Word of God to apply spiritual test to the things we hear.

These [the Christians of Berea] were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11 NKJV)

Test all things; hold fast what is good.   Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NKJV)

B)       Understand that Many False Prophets Have Gone Out Into the World (v.1b)

False Prophets come in sheep’s clothing.  Just because someone says, “Jesus” or “God” doesn’t mean you should believe everything they say.  Even Satan quoted Scripture!

They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them (1 John 4:5) . . .   For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4) . . .  But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1) . . .  For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.   "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.  "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31) . . .  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15) . . .  Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Matthew 24:11) . . .  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)

Discerning From the Spirit of God & the Spirit of Antichrist (v.3-4)

A)       The Spirit of God & the Spirit of Antichrist (v.3-4)

               The word confess means to say the same thing, or to agree with.  A faithful preacher & teacher of the Word of God will say the same thing the Bible says.                    

Four Test’s To Apply To Anything You Read Or Hear That Claim’s To Be Of God

1)        Theological Test – It should never contradict Scripture (Gal. 1:6-8)

What does it believe about Jesus Christ?  Peter’s Confession (Matthew 16:15-16) “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” With that brief question, Jesus confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face.

The heresy John confronts here was a forerunner of second-century Gnosticism, which taught that matter is essentially evil and spirit is essentially good. This dualistic error caused the false teachers to deny the incarnation of Christ.

q         They taught the true God could never indwell a material body of flesh and blood, and therefore the human body that Jesus supposedly possessed was not real. 

q         They taught that Jesus was the physical son of Joseph and that at his baptism Jesus, who was just a man, was come upon by an aeonian, or eternal being, Christ.  Christ abode in the human Jesus.  

q         When Jesus went to the cross, the divine Christ abandoned him, and Jesus died as a mere man.  That heresy denies the deity of Jesus and the work he came to do in the sacrifice of Calvary.

The devil doesn’t care at all if you know Jesus or love Jesus or pray to Jesus – as long as it is a false Jesus, a make-believe Jesus, a Jesus who is not there, and who cannot save!

Who do you say Jesus is?  Your response to Jesus Christ will determine not only your values and lifestyle but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him.

v      Jesus is God (John 10:30)

v      Jesus is Holy (Isaiah 6:1-3; Colossians 2:9)

v      Jesus is the Savior (Acts 4:12; Titus 2:13)

v      Jesus is the only acceptable object of saving faith (John 14:6)

v      Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10)

v      Jesus is the Judge (Acts 17:30-31; Rev.20:11-15)

2)        Emphasis Test – What is the emphasis of the message?  Does it exalt Jesus?  Does it point to Jesus?  Is it in the Spirit of Jesus?

q         They are constantly appealing for money & material gain (2 Pet.2:1-3).  The miracle billfold: you will get one if you send in a contribution.

q         A false prophet teaches what the world wants to hear (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

3)        Moral Test – What does the life of that person testify to?  What is the result of the teaching in the lives of those who are listening?  Does it make them more like Jesus?

q         Some leading “Christian’ speakers have died alcoholics.  Some say, “My private life is my own business.  My public life is dedicated to the Lord.”

4)        Accuracy Test – If they say something is going to happen and it doesn’t (Deut.18:20-22).

3.       The Dangers of Being Seduced Into False Worship (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)

1.    The Danger of a False Prophet, or an interpreter of Dreams, seducing You Into False Worship

               a.    The Proof That He Is A Prophet:  he does miraculous works

               b.    The Seduction is: He declares that following other God’s is acceptable, that becoming involved in false worship is acceptable.

               c.     The Warning: must not listen to the words of the prophet.

d.      The Purpose of the Seduction: The Lord allows the temptation to test (prove, strengthen) your love for Him.

e.       The Command Is:

1)     Must follow the Lord God and Fear Him

2)     Must obey His commands

3)     Must serve and cling to Him    

               f.     The Judgment of the False Teacher: Death

                      1)    He encouraged rebellion against the Lord

                      2)    God delivered and redeemed you

                      3)    The false prophet tried to turn you away from the way of the Lord

                      4)    We are to remove the evil from us

The Protection of the Child of God (v.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.

Jesus Forever Shattered Satan’s Power!

A)       We Have Been Rescued From The Dominion Of Darkness (Col. 1:13)

We Are Overcomers.  How Do We Become Overcomers (1 John 5:4-5)?

Those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ have been rescued from the domain of darkness.  Our Lord used the phrase domain of darkness (exousias tou skotous) to refer to the supernatural forces of Satan marshalled against Him at His arrest (Luke 22:53). A few hours later, Jesus forever shattered Satan’s power by His death on the cross.

You need not fear the power of darkness, for “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world“ (1 John 4:4). Through His death, Jesus crushed Satan and delivered us from his dark kingdom.

1.         We have the indwelling Spirit of God (1 John 3:24).

2.         We have the Father & son (John 14:23)

3.         We have many spiritual enemies, but not one of them is greater than Jesus (John 10:28-30)

False Teachers Are of the World & Followed By The World (v.5)

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons… (1 Timothy 4:1)

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; (Hebrews 3:12)

A)       The Whole World Lies In The Power Of The Evil One (1 John 5:19).

1.    We are to no “love the world, nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

2.    Freindship with the world is hostility toward God (James 4:4)

3.    The Lord has given us His Word to read & understand, & know the truth (John 17:14)

3.       Those Who Are Of God (v.6)

A)       We Can Tell A True Teacher By the People That Follow Him.

Our Task Is To Look At The Followers Of Any Teacher. What kind of life do they live—a worldly or righteous life?

A Geiger counter tells you whether or not there is uranium there in the rocks and in the soil. So I just run the Geiger counter over this class, and the Bible is what I use—it’s my Geiger counter. God’s children will always respond to it.

When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 NKJV)

He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." (John 8:47 NKJV)

And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.   "Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." (John 10:4-5 NKJV)

Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (John 18:37 NKJV)


The Foolish Man Does Not Receive The Things Of The Spirit Of God (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

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