Discerning Truth From Error
1 John 4:1-6
April 26, 2020
Sermon Audio & Video
- How do we have assurance of our faith? How can you be certain of your faith in Jesus Christ today? How does that assurance come to us? By the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit!
“By this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” — 1 John 3:24
- We know that we are God’s, because we have the Holy Spirit in us! What is evidence of the Holy Spirit? What fruit does John say that He produces in our lives? John tells us the Holy Spirit enables us to believe in Jesus and love others.
“that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another” — 1 John 3:23
- With the goal of strengthening their assurance, John continues now in chapter four to walk the church through another test of authentic faith.
Main Theme: Enabled by the Holy Spirit, confessing the Lord Jesus Christ gives us assurance of our faith.
Don’t believe everything you hear; test the spirits (verse 1)
- We must identify the truth and hold onto it as well as reject all error and false teaching.
- So we pay careful and close attention to the Word of God so that we can discern error!
What does it mean to “test the spirits?”
- To “test the spirits” means to evaluate teaching. It means to consider doctrine carefully. It means look at the content of teaching discerningly – because it can mean the difference between spiritual life and death.
The Test: Truth or Deception (verses 2-3)
- “By this you’ll know the Spirit of God” Here’s the test!
“Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
- If someone confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh – they are from God. If they don’t, they’re not from God.
- This is not about mental assent alone.To confess means that the words flow from the heart, from the seat of personal conviction. They are words spoken with reverence, with conviction in our hearts
- Here’s the test of orthodoxy – listen to what they teach about Christ.
“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” – 1 John 2:22
- That’s exactly what these false teachers were doing. They were denying the humanity of Christ!
- The Word of God affirms that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Both truths are critical!
“The church is always to be under the Word; she must be; we must keep her there. You must not assume that because the church started correctly, she will continue so. She did not do so in the New Testament times; she has not done so since. Without being constantly reformed by the Word the church becomes something very different. We must always keep the church under the Word.” — Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Three Indicatives (verse 4)
- Indicatives are simply words that indicate what God has already done. The apostle John wants his original readers, and God wants us to be strengthened by these declarations.
- You are from God!
- John is reminding the church of its identity in Jesus Christ. They have been born of God (1 John 3:9)!
- You have overcome them!
- We need not fear false teachers
- Yes we pay attention to any teaching we hear – always making sure we’re under the clear instruction of the counsel of the Word
- There is a call to vigilance
- But we need not fear false teaching
- You have God’s Spirit!
- “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
- He (the Holy Spirit) who is in you is greater than he (the devil and his cohorts) who is in the world
- The Holy Spirit is more powerful than the forces of darkness
- Therefore we need not to fear
- This is the basis and groundwork of our assurance!
- You have been given the Holy Spirit of God
From God or From the World? (Verses 5-6)
- Finally, John gives to them another kind of litmus test
- Another way to determine true teaching from false
- He contrasts the unbelieving world with those who believe in the Lord (verse 5).
- He then contrasts the spirit of the world, the spirit of antichrist with true believers (verse 6).
- John lets them know
- If you know God himself, you’ll believe the apostolic record
- You’ll believe what we tell you, for we’re simply telling you what Jesus himself said
- You will have fellowship with us, as our fellowship is with God Himself
- And that will make you a debtor to grace alone!
We are debtors, great debtors, to the sovereign grace of God, which alone makes us differ from the perishing world around us. — John Newton
- We Listen Discerningly:
- We Fill Our Minds With Glorious Truth
The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God. — Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Questions For Discussion/Application:
- Re-read the text, 1 John 4:1-6. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- The false teachers taught that Jesus as not truly human. Why is it crucially important to affirm but the full humanity and deity of Christ? Please consider reading Bryan Chappell’s commentary on Question 21 of the New City Catechism here.
- Why is discerning truth from error so vitally important in the Christian life? What is the danger of a failure to be anchored deeply in sound doctrine and the truths of God’s Word (see Eph. 4:14)?
- “The church is always to be under the Word; she must be; we must keep her there. You must not assume that because the church started correctly, she will continue so. She did not do so in the New Testament times; she has not done so since. Without being constantly reformed by the Word the church becomes something very different. We must always keep the church under the Word.” — Martyn Lloyd-Jones
- What is Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones point here?
- Individually and as families how practically can we become more deeply anchored in the Word of God?