1 John 4 lesson 6
We closed last week with the understanding that it is the Holy Spirit that enables us to Love. He is the One who pours out God’s love into our hearts – without Him working in our lives, it is impossible to love the way God desires us to. You can’t give something you don’t have, and without the Holy Spirit, we don’t have Agape love.
As believers in Jesus Christ, as children of God we are called to have spiritual discernment.
1 Thes 5:19-21
“do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God.”
Just because someone says they are a Christian doesn’t mean that they are nor does it mean that everything they teach is biblical and truth.
What does it mean to discern? It is a judicial or legal term. It means to examine carefully in order to find truth in something, or fault in something.
So what does scripture have to say about discernment?
Proverbs 2:3, 5 “Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,… Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.”
We need to ask for it, desire it, cry out for it
Proverbs 15:21 “Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly.”
It is necessary for right living before God;
1 Cor 2:14-15 14But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Discernment is God given and we receive it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So just as the ability to love is poured into us by the Holy Spirit, so is the ability to discern.
Look at Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,”
Love and discernment are definitely connected!
The Bible Knowledge Commentary tells us that It was Paul’s prayer that the Philippians’ love for other believers would abound, run over as a cup or a river overflows. But that love should be more than sentimental; it should be knowledgeable and discerning. Having genuine spiritual knowledge (epignōsis) of God and depth of insight into His ways enables Christians to love God and others more.
Back when John wrote this, there were those who professed Christ but didn’t believe that He had an actual body, that’s why John stresses that “Jesus came in the flesh”. These were the Gnostics and Docetists.
Today we have kind of the reverse thing going on. People and other religions don’t have an issue saying that Jesus was a man – but rather they doubt that He was God.
Mormons profess to be Christians yet they believe that Jesus was a created being, the spirit brother of Lucifer.
Jehovah Witnesses profess to be Christians yet they believe that Jesus was in fact the Arc Angel Michael.
Iglesia ni Cristo “which means Church of Christ” (different from what we know as The Church of Christ) similar to both mormanism and J.W.’s teaches that Jesus is a created being.
WE KNOW THAT Jesus was… is God in the flesh – 100% God, 100% man
These religions teach that Jesus was 100% man and 0 % God
So in applying verses 2-3, we know that the spirit behind these religions is demonic.
But we shouldn’t just be able to discern if a religious group is of driven by God’s spirit, we need to use this divine discernment to test those things which men profess or teach. Those men who profess Christ’s humanity as well as His deity. Be like the Bereans spoken of in
Acts 17:11; “These 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.”
Are the words being preached from the pulpit lining up with the whole of Scripture?
Does the interpretation provide continuity?
Is the desire of the one speaking to bring glory to God or self?
Jesus said in John 7:17, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.”
Spiritual discernment comes from seeking to do the will of God that He would be glorified.
It comes from digging into the Word of God.
Heb 5:12-14 12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Without spiritual discernment it is easy to get caught up in partial truths and twisted doctrine. Satan is hard at work trying to deceive and destroy those who love God. He is skilled in deception, masterful in the art of manipulation, able to masquerade himself as an angel light. He is a counterfeiter bent on deceiving us with cheap imitations of the truth. He will twist scripture to suit his purpose, spout partial truths to create doubt. And he will use men and women behind pulpits throughout the world to spread this deception. He is just as relentless and tireless in his schemes today as he was during the time of the first century church.
The deception we see in this world, in our churches is very real.
The spirit behind this deception is very real.
It is demonic!
Verse 12 is speaking of ranks – military ranks
We are naive to think that issues we have are with people. The issues we have are with the demonic spirits who have influence over those people.
And yet, their influence has limitations
Romans 8:38 They cannot separate us from the love of God
1 Corinthians 15:24 They all have an end
Colossians 2:15 they have been disarmed by Christ. Because of Jesus death and resurrection we have victory!
There continues to be two sides, two kinds of people; those who are of God and those who are of the world. For the children of God, regardless of how hard Satan tries to deceive, tear down and destroy, the final victory remains ours. Why? Because, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
But because there continue to be 2 sides, we are essentially stepping out onto the battle field every day.
The false teachers of this age speak to the things of this world and those of the world embrace their teaching. 2 Timothy 4:3-4; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
The In the same way the child of God embraces the teaching of his master. Jesus sais in John 10:1-5; “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 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.”
There is a spiritual battle raging around us. We see the effects in our churches, in the media, in entertainment, our government. We are bombarded by the warfare of the enemy. Yes, as believers we hear the voice of our master – we know the spirit of Truth intimately and yet how often do we hand little skirmishes over to the enemy and instead of being a victor, we become his weapon used against one another in the body of Christ…
We need to stop beating up the sheep.
“beloved let us love one another” this Greek phrase means, "those who are loved, let us love."
We are not commanded to love one another in order to earn God’s love, or somehow become worthy of God's love.
We love one another because we are loved by God, and have received that love, and live in light of it.
This love is who we are! As children of God we are the vessels of His amazing agape love.
When I was with my dad the month before he died several years ago the Holy Spirit gave me a song and the last chorus says, “Lord I choose to be an alabaster jar filled with sweet perfume broken at your feet a living sacrifice poured out for You. May the aroma of my life forever be before your throne until the day, you take my hand, and lead me home.”
My dad was an unbeliever when I wrote that. My heart was so broken over his lack of salvation. I didn’t want to hold anything back.
Being loving is a choice.
This should be our heart for all those who have been created in the image of God who are perishing in their sin.
More than that –
This should be our heart for the body of Christ His sheep – the sheep of HIS pasture
Ps 100:3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and £not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
We can be so quick to pick apart and tear down our own.
It greaves me to hear Christians throwing other Christians to the wolves. We somehow forget that they are sinners just like us.
Is 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Jesus died for that other person’s sins just like He died for ours. We are very good at noticing the shortcomings of others, but how often do we see the brokenness and deep wounds that follow. Many of us have left wounded sheep in our wake of self-righteousness, others are those wounded sheep left on the wayside… this is how the world treats it’s own, not how we as Christians should treat our own…
As Christians, we are all under the headship of the same Shepherd – the Good Shepherd. The lost are watching.
People are going to be drawn to the shepherd as they see His love perfected in us.
People are going to see God only when they see His love lived out in the lives of His people. That love should begin at home, within the church.
1 Cor 13talks about all the amazing things we can do in the name of God, but without love, Paul says, it is worthless.
As so we are reminded, we are encouraged to Abide!
God abiding in us
Us abiding in Him
The Spirit given to us
Abiding in love
God knows how difficult it is for us to love like this. He knows our struggles,
That’s why he reminds us over and over to abide.
We need to stay close to the Shepherd – when we wonder off we become easy pickins for the enemy. This is why sheep flock together – it is protection from their predators.
When we are abiding in Christ
When we are clinging to the Good shepherd, listing to His voice, obeying His commands we have boldness in the day of judgement.
Because we are His. Nothing sticks,
Covered by His blood
Cloaked in His righteousness
When He shall come with trumpet sound O may I then in Him be found Dressed in His righteousness alone Faultless to stand before the throne
Wrapped in His perfect love.
There is no fear in that.
That is the love God lavishes on us.
That is the love that we should lavish on one another.
That is the love the lost should see when they look at the church today.