Grace, we're faced with quite a passage this morning. It's hard to overstate its importance when it comes to living the Christian life. Here John makes extra explicit something he's already touched on: the source of Christian obedience. The real question here, then, is, "How do I live the life that I'm called by God to live?" Or, how can I possibly be and do all the things that God is calling me to be and do? Or, where does the will and strength to obey God really come from? This what we're going to look at this morning in 1 John 4:7-8. Let's pray that God would grant us this great mercy—the mercy of seeing clearly from the word of God itself the true source of Christian obedience.
John clearly loves the people in his churches. And his love is especially important because of the difficult circumstances they are in. Thus, in addition to expressing his love through terms of endearment ("little children"), in this letter John also does so by reminding the believers about truths they'd already been taught in order help them rightly interpret and respond to the things that were going on around them. In our passage for this morning John is especially interested helping the true Christians in his churches understand the contrasting origin, work, effect, and outcome of those who follow the Holy Spirit and those who follow the Spirit of the antichrist. Let's pray that God would make this contrast clear to us in order that we'd live rightly in the knowledge of who and whose and what and to what we are.
In 1 John 4:1 John instructs the believers to test the spirits (the people claiming to speak on behalf of God) because there are many false spirits in the world. John also said that the ultimate test of the spirits was whether or not they confess "that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh." One obvious question, then, is, "What does it mean to confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?" Almost everyone believes that there was a man named Jesus who lived and taught in the area around Nazareth around 2000 years ago. Clearly that can't be the test that John is talking about. What does it mean then? What does it really mean to confess this? We'll look carefully at this question . Please pray that the Holy Spirit would be pleased to open our eyes to see the truth from God's Word and that we'd be summarily compelled to action.
While chapter 3 ended with John's first explicit reference to the Holy Spirit and his sanctifying and beneficent work, chapter 4 begins with a warning concerning the fact that the Holy Spirit isn't the only spirit at work in John's churches. Specifically, chapter 4 begins with five very important truths: 1) Not all spirits are from God, 2) We must test any spirits we encounter to see whether or not they are from God, 3) We should not believe any spirits that are not from God, 4) We should believe every spirit that is from God, and 5) Jesus is the litmus test of spirits. Please pray with me that we'd grow as a church in our ability to test the spirits and reject every one except the Spirit of God.
1 John 3:24 includes the first explicit reference to the Holy Spirit in 1 John. As I mentioned last week, this week we're going to burrow in to John's introduction of the Holy Spirit. In fact, we're going to go even beyond what John himself teaches regarding the Holy Spirit. Indeed, we're going to do a brief survey of what the entire bible teaches on the mysterious third Person of the Trinity. Specifically, we're going to look at the history, the role, and the presence of the Holy Spirit before returning to John's message on the Holy Spirit in v.24. Please pray with me that God would be pleased to awaken us to the presence and power of the Spirit and that such an awakening would lead us to walk in greater confidence and boldness and wisdom and strength.