For today’s segment of our Bible study, please read 1 John 4:1-6
There are lots of fakes and counterfeits in the world.
I read something today that I’d never heard before. My cousin posted on social media just this morning that the Secret Service can recognize counterfeit money because they’re so familiar with real bills that a fake stands out immediately. (Turns out, they do actually train with fake money, too, but always in light of the real deal.)
Here’s a seemingly unconnected thought… growing up, my family often drank Tang with breakfast. (Does anybody else remember that stuff?) Even though as kids we really liked it, I also remember loving the taste of real orange juice. But Tang was cheaper, so we often got that instead.
What’s my point? A fake might look similar (or even like Tang, taste somewhat similar) but it’s not the real thing. Fake money has no value- it buys nothing. Fake OJ might taste yummy to a 5 year old, but it’s still just a cheap copy.
A fake is a fake.
And being familiar with what’s real will help you identify a cheap copy.
And that brings me to 1 John 4:1-6.
Remember that I said there are lots of fakes in the world? Well, John said the same thing in verse one.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
I love this from the Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary:
“There is but one Spirit of truth, and one spirit of Antichrist.” …which “speak by men’s spirits as their organ.”
Yep. There’s only one Spirit of truth. And the more familiar we are with God the more we’ll recognize that truth. The more we read and know His word, the better we’ll be able to test other spirits (or teachings, religions, world viewpoints, cultural acceptances and practices) to see where they measure up or fall short.
And in verse two, John gives us a really easy test to be able to tell a lie from the truth. (1 John 4:2) If the spirit teaches that Jesus came in the flesh… if it has what we’d call a gospel message… then it’s truth.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)
And if the spirit is false? What does that mean? Verse three tells us: If the teaching goes against God, the Bible, and the life, works, and words of Jesus… then it is a lie and is of the spirit of the Antichrist!
Since God so loved us, He gives us the “why” so we can live out the “what.” He had John pen a formula for overcoming false, lying spirits. It goes like this: Having Jesus = Overcoming. The reason why this formula works? Because: Truth > Lies
Pretty easy, huh? It reminds me of the song, Victory in Jesus. …A victory that any of us can have by simply believing in the truth (Jesus as our resurrected savior).
And Jesus in our hearts will help us identify all the fakes in the world that can never measure up to His truth… His sacrificial love for us, His mercy, His forgiveness, His grace, His faithfulness. No lie of another religion, no worldview of “loving”-acceptance-of-everything-under-the-sun, no false spirit teaching us otherwise could even hold a candle to the light of the truth of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us!
Because He’s not a fake. He, my friend, is the real deal.
- Read 1 John 4:1-6. What “false prophets” exist in the world today? What false spirits are present now and who do they tend to mislead? When did John say the spirit of the Antichrist came? When was 1 John most likely written?
- Read 1 John 4:1-6. Read John 10:5 and 8. How has the Shepherd’s voice kept you from going astray? What practical things can you do to help yourself hear God’s voice better?
- Read 1 John 4:1-6. Focus on verse 6. John says “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us.” The word John uses for” listen” is akou’o. The figurative definition is: to hear God’s voice, which prompts him to birth faith within. A variation of this word is used in Rom 10:17. How could this form of listening help us test for false spirits?