2019-06-09 – 1 John 4.1–6 – Spirit of Truth or Deception?
Bible Text: 1 John 4.1–6 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: 1 John | 2019-06-09 – 1 John 4.1–6 – Spirit of Truth or Deception?
(Yard Sale, High-Noon Youth next Saturday, Camp)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
As we are going through the Bible book of First John, last week we talked a little about Love in Action. By the way, I saw a lot of that Love in Action yesterday at the yard sale from you all. What a joy that was. We concluded last week with the last verse of chapter 3 where it says, “The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains [or abides] in us is from the Spirit he has given us.” According to this verse we gain assurance of God’s presence in our lives by the Spirit God has given us. The Holy Spirit testifies through our Love in Action that we are truly God’s children.
But regarding spirits, how do we differentiate between the spirit of truth and the spirits of deception? And what really is a spirit anyway? Today we will dig a little bit more into God’s word to see what He has to say about spirits.
Please turn in your Bibles to 1 John 4:1-6, pg 1084 in the Pew Bibles, The Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with Prayer.
Talking about “spirits”, I got an illustration for ya: A preacher from the deep south was finishing a sermon about refraining from intoxicating spirits. “If I had all the beer in the world,” he said with expression, “I would take it and pour it into the river.” “And if I had all the wine in the world,” he continued, with even greater emphasis, “I would take it and pour it into the river.” And finally, he cried, “And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I would take it and pour it into the river.” Having completed the sermon, he sat down satisfied. At that point, the song leader rose and, with a sheepish grin, cautiously announced, “For our closing Hymn, let us sing #279, ‘Shall We Gather At The River’.”
Verse 1 of Chapter 4 says:
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.
So we have our own spirits; and as Christians we also have the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit sealed in our hearts, as a gift from God; and as these first verses state here, there is also the spirit of the antichrist. So let’s talk about that a little bit. What is a spirit anyways? Well the best way to peal that onion is to see what God’s word reveals about this thing called a spirit.
Isaiah 26:9 My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Then finally we have our verse today 1 John 4:1 1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.
So again, there are three kinds of sprits mentioned here, our spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the sprit of the antichrist. But don’t get this mixed up with our soul. The soul and the spirit is different. The soul is your individual character, your personality, your being. Where as spirits are the immaterial influencers, the feelings, the attitudes that comes from other beings. Spirits can influence your person and your attitude. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Bible says God’s Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and it changes our attitudes, our lives and we thusly become a new creation, we become born-again.
These first set of verses here instructs us, that we are to test the sprits to see if they are from God or from the antichrist. Do they line up with God’s Holy Spirit, God’s word and what Jesus has told us in the good news Gospel, or not? The Holy Spirit talks to us all the time, He is the Christian’s Counselor, and we need to be listening to Him.
Proverbs 3 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. We have to learn to trust the Holy Spirit inside us, but we should also be endeavoring to know God’s word, the Bible, so we can tell if the spirit is truth or not. That is why we in this church put such a strong emphasis on teaching the Bible. So that you can stand-up against satan and his evil schemes. Amen?
So when you run into that person who “sounds religious”, telling you things that sound biblical but strange in some way, then may I suggest that you pause, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit inside you. He will tell you if something just isn’t right. Heed the Holy Spirit’s guidance in this. Remember Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). In other words, merely saying things that sound religious and maybe even biblical, doesn’t mean that they are not twisting things around for the benefit of themselves and/or satan. If you feel uncomfortable in the direction a conversation is going, then back off. You don’t have stand there and listen to them, that’s why God gave you two feet, use them. But then if you are so inclined, give me a call and I will happily advise you accordingly. We are in this battle together brothers and sisters, and I hope you know that I care about you deeply.
Or next verses start at verse 4. John wrote: 4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them [evil spirits], because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
John, in these first verses here is referring to satan when he says “the one who is in the world”. Satan is also known as the father of deceptions and his whole purpose is really to try to trip you up. He feeds you what ever temptation and lies he can so that you will no longer heed God’s word. So you will no longer go to church and listen to wise council. Satan wants you to go against or ignore God’s will and God’s commandments.
So lets talk about who satan or the devil is in regards to his position in this world that we live in today. Jesus referred to the devil as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), and Paul calls him “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). John makes a further distinction when he says:
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). These references leave us with the question: In what sense does Satan “rule” the world?
Well “the world” he speaks of here in this context is not the physical earthen world, but instead it is the worldly or non-Christian influences. “The world” includes satan, his fallen-angels or demons, and the evil non-Christian people including the antichrists and their effect upon us. Satan is the commanding general or (little g) god of all of these evil and disastrous forces.
So with that understanding, let us read again these same verses, starting at verse 4: 4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
So again let me restate that the Bible frequently uses the phrases “the world” or “this world” to refer to the present evil worldly system in opposition to God.
And the test we have, according to our last verse 6, of weather they are Christian or not is if they listen to the apostles teachings or not. If they don’t listen or follow or heed the Apostles in the New Testament, then they are truly not Christian spirits and we should not listen to them.
I know people today that say they only follow the words of Jesus, the red letters in the bible. They don’t ascribe to the teachings of Paul or Peter or the apostles. Well according to our verses today, then they have been duped or fooled by the world or satan, and thusly they are not true Christians. We should endeavor in love to help them see the light.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
That is also why we recite each week that our Bible is “the inspired, infallible, living word of God”, and I hope you believe that yourself in your heart. We live by faith in Jesus Christ alone. And this Bible of ours is truly God-breathed and worthy of your attention. When you know God’s word, when you hide it in your heart, then you will truly be blessed.
Again, let me recap this whole teaching message here today: If people you meet, sound religious, act religious, but the Holy Spirit inside you is shouting that something in their character is just wrong, then you test them; ask them these questions: 1) Do they believe that God has come in the flesh as Jesus Christ? And 2) Do they believe all the New Testament and the apostles teachings?
If they answer yes, and the Holy Spirit inside you affirms it as honest and true, then they are brothers and sisters in the faith. However if they answer no, or the Holy Spirit still gives you caution, then pray for them; and if given the opportunity tell them about Jesus and His Good News Gospel.
Tell them that Jesus died for our sins, He was buried and then rose from the grave, then He ascended into heaven. He said if you repent (turn from your sin) and believe in your heart that He is Lord then they can be saved for all eternity.
If they ask how they can get to heaven, tell them all they have to do is pray something like what is called the sinners prayer. I thought it would be good for us to practice this together. If you wish, please read this with me now:
“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. Today I trust in Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen!” Romans 3:10, 3:23, 5:8, 5:12, 6:23, 10:9-11
I have copies of that prayer up here if you care to have one of your own. It also includes the verses for what is referred to as the Roman’s Road to Salvation.
I want to leave you with this. As we started today with that funny quip about the song “shall we gather at the river”. You might be interested to know it was written by a Dr. Robert Lowry in 1864 as he was a pastor seated in his parlor in Brooklyn, N.Y. It was a time when an epidemic was sweeping through the city, and many of his church family was in mourning. The question began to arise in his heart, with unusual emphasis, ‘Shall we meet again? ‘Seating myself at the organ,’ says he, ‘simply to give vent to the pent up emotions of the heart, the words and music of the hymn began to flow out, as if by inspiration:— ‘Shall we gather at the river, Where bright angel feet have trod?’”
So as we close today, I have asked sister Jamie if she could play just the first verse and the refrain for us to sing together. Please stand. (and come forward?)
Shall we gather at the river, Where bright angel feet have trod; With its crystal tide forever, Flowing by the throne of God?
Yes, we’ll gather at the river. The beautiful, the beautiful river; Gather with the saints at the river, That flows by the throne of God.
Jesus Loves You my dear church family. Let us Pray..