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1st JOHN 4:1-6

TRY THE SPIRITS!

The best tests available for discerning the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error!

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." 1st John 6:1-4

 

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 1:

The Bible is clear.

In fact, we are commanded to do so.

What, Preacher Bagwell?

"Try the spirits!"

John the Apostle, in his first Epistle wrote these words. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." 1st John 4:1

What an interesting Verse this will prove to be!

Note that John  is writing, under the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. "Beloved," he says. Watch how the word is spelled, "agapetos." Literally, "loved ones." But these special folks, whoever they are, are loved by Whom?

Initially, by the Lord God Himself! "He first loved us!" That's for sure!

Secondarily, by John the Preacher, John the under-shepherd of a flock of Christians, perhaps in the ancient city of Ephesus.

Listen to me today.

Friend in Christ, YOU are special too!

Because Jesus loves you!

Goodness, He lives in you!

He's prepared you a place in Heaven!

"Beloved," indeed!

Next, the noun "spirit" must be considered. It is used twice in our short Verse. "Pneuma" literally means "breeze, wind, the moving air." John will amplify the meaning here in this context in a few seconds, comparing these questionable "spirits" to "false prophets."

Listen to Paul as well. "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine ...." Ephesians 4:14 here illustrates bad doctrine as a puff of "wind" blowing here and yon, to be resisted by the child of God! That wind of doctrine, dangerous as it is, is propelled by some kind of spirit!

On the other hand, Jesus likens the Holy Spirit to a moving gale of wind! "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:8 then bids us ask, "How does one discern the difference between the tossing, useless wind and the true Holy Ghost Himself?"

That's what our Text is about to teach us, considered in its whole setting! "How to try the spirits, 1st John 4:1-6."  John gives us several ways! We shall, Lord willing, talk about them in the Lessons ahead. This is a very helpful Passage of Scripture. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."

Back to Verse one. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

John begins by actually warning us about being too vulnerable. "Believe not every spirit!" Yes, the verb "pisteuo" is an imperative. Don't be gullible! Listen to Solomon in Proverbs 14:15. "The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going." Amen! "Pisteuo" means "to trust, to lean upon, to credit, to be persuaded."

Just because some "preacher" says something, don't believe it! Get the chapter and verse, from the Word of God! Is his statement in harmony with the Bible?

Just because you read it in a book purchased at the "Christian" store, don't automatically believe that either! Consult the Scriptures! They, they alone, are without error!

Just because a Christian friend told you something, heard somewhere, don't always accept that at face value either! "Believe not every spirit!"

The next verb is crucial.

"Try" the spirits!

"Dokimazo," the second imperative in our short verse, means "to examine, to prove, to test, to scrutinize, to determine the validity" of a thing! It originally was used when the Greeks were "testing" a coin, made of silver or gold, to see if it was "real!"

John is soon going to give us two or three "tests" by which we can determine if a "spirit" is true or false!

I can hardly wait!

"Of" God, that phrase, means "out of" God. The preposition is "ek" in Greek. It means "from, out from, away from, by means of, because of, by reason of," those kinds of ideas.

We only want principles and thoughts that have their source in God, not some empty spirit, not some false prophet.

Then, in closing, John further informs us. "Because many false prophets are gone out into the world." 1st John 4:1

A "prophet" is a preacher, a disseminator of information in this context. "Prophetes" primarily means "one who speaks forth" a message. But it also can carry the idea of "speaking about future events" too.

The adjective "false" is spelled "pseudo," It is really attached to the noun here, "pseudoprophetes" in Greek! Its root verb, "pseudomai," means "to lie or to deceive!"

Remember that the devil is a liar! In John 8:44 Jesus said, "He, the devil, is a liar, and the father of it." Wow!

The verb "gone out" is "exerchomai," a perfect tense verb here, meaning exactly what it says! Spreading like spilt water! They went out at some time in the past, and have continued going out since that very moment! The world is being encircled this very second by these false spirits! They're everywhere! And only God the Holy Spirit, largely through God's Word, can combat and defeat them too!

The "world" is the "kosmos" in Greek. It is likely derived from "komizo," meaning "to take care of" something, "to tend" it. The "world" is the devil's playground! He cuddles it and arranges it like he wants! Paul called Satan "the god of this world" in 2nd Corinthians 4:4. Jesus called him "the prince of this world" in John 14:30.

Technically speaking, the devil is a cosmotologist. The Greek infinitive "kosmein" means "to arrange!" The devil has "fixed" the world to his liking! That's the very background to the noun for "world," again, "kosmos!"

Now, to review:  "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

Beware!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 2:

John the Apostle loves the word "know!" I just counted 71 times he used it in the Gospel that bears his name! Add another 30 times for his First Epistle!

This precious Disciple of our Lord certainly wants us to have assurance!

He even wants us to know how to discern between false spirits and the spirit of truth!

Here's John's advice, really, the Holy Spirit's advice! "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." 1st John 4:2

There is a "spirit" about every sermon you will ever hear.

And there's a "spirit" about every book you'll ever read, too.

And every conversation you will ever conduct.

And every Church Service you attend!

Now, I don't mean some kind of "spooky" thing! No Halloween-like goblins here! I mean there is one of two "powers" driving each event of our lives. The Spirit of truth is one; and the spirit of error, the other!

John, here in 1st John 4:3, is giving us a "test." A way to tell if a given spirit is really from God, or not.  

We are here being taught something, tests often being the best instructors anyway!

"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." 1st John 4:2

The verb "know" translates "ginosko," meaning "to acquire information." It "hints" at study and effort being expended. Here in the present tense, "ginosko" also insinuates on-going action! This learning is a process, not a one-time classroom event!

The "Spirit of God," in Greek "to pneuma tou theou," is none other that God the Holy Ghost! The Third Person of the Trinity!

And He, the Holy Spirit, is indeed around, is present, when certain facts about Jesus are presented! Facts like "Jesus is God!" And, "Jesus came in a human body!"

We can therefore be confident, absolutely sure, as a result of our God-ordained "knowing," our very "training," that God the Spirit is in charge!

When?

When a sermon or a book or a preacher or a church or a denomination or a religion broaches the Subject of Jesus ... what do they say?

"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." 1st John 4:2 

If they just say that Jesus was a good man, that's not the Spirit of God motivating them!

If they say Jesus was God, but had no real body ... mark them off too, immediately! Jesus' Body was, and still is, incorruptible!

If they say the Messiah has not yet come, the Holy Ghost certainly did not send them!

The verb "confesseth" is "homologeo," meaning "to say," with one's mouth and tongue and lips, "the same" thing as God is saying!

"Jesus Christ," both Names, accent both the Saving Life and Death of our Lord ... plus ... His high position as Messiah, God's Anointed!

Both God ... and man!

No true saint of God has any major issue with the Deity of Jesus Christ!

Jesus is God ... come in human flesh!

The "God-Man," old timers used to say!

If anyone you meet agrees that Jesus is God, God come to earth, God wrapped in a blanket and placed in a manger, God fasting 40 days and still being strong enough to "whip" the Devil, then they know the Holy Spirit for sure!

So says John! "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God."

The "time" sense of "homologeo," in English "confesseth," is definitely in the present. A right spirit, a good spirit, will constantly, over-and-over-again, incessantly "confess" Jesus to be the Son of God!

"Flesh" here, spelled "sarx," likely means the physical body.

Jesus had real hands and feet and eyes and fingers and toes, real "flesh," so to speak!

He was God, yet became man! "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." John 1:14 tells it well! The "Word" is Jesus!

The one who denies Jesus' Deity, His God-ness, knows not he Spirit of God! Also the one who denies His Human-ness, His humanity, is equally misguided, not knowing the true Spirit of God!

Enemies of the Virgin Birth then, based on this Verse as I see it, are not saved! Do not "know" the Holy Spirit of God!

And those many theologians whose atonement models do not include a suffering Saviour, perfect Man and perfect God, miraculously one, are not "of God" either!

"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God."

Wow!

"Of" God, literally "out of" God, speaks for itself! The Holy Spirit is "out of" God, having been sent here to point men and women to Jesus, among other great things too.

Spirits that know Jesus to be God ... and say so ... better let them alone!

We all need to do a better job of living in, to use Paul's words, "the communion of the Holy Ghost."

Then, let me say it!

Confess it!

Declare it publicly and throughout cyberspace!

Jesus is God!

Jesus is also man, perfect Man!

And in Him, God the Father was "well-pleased!"

Just like Paul wrote, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost," so may we add; "Neither can anyone detract from Jesus' Deity and Humanity, either one, and be speaking by the Power of God's Holy Spirit!"

Jesus did come in the flesh!

Lived sinlessly in the flesh!

Died a substitutionary death in the flesh!

Was buried in the flesh!

Rose again in the flesh!

Appeared to hundreds in the flesh!

Sits at the Right Hand of the Throne of God, interceding for you and me, still in glorified sinless human flesh too!

Every time you're near some "new" religious movement, quickly find out what they believe about Jesus!

And it's not always what they say about Him, but what they "don't say" too!

Is it that important?

Apparently so!

Some people will die and go to Hell because they missed the Holy Spirit here. "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God."

Amen!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 3:

The Verse is long, especially for John.

But its meaning is clear!

"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1st John 4:3

Anytime one encounters a teaching, no matter from whom, a teaching that does not believe Jesus to be the Son of God, and, furthermore, that denies the humanity of our Lord ... be careful!

Such a doctrine, empowered by some lurking "spirit," is not of God! God has not ordained that message!

Read the opening clause again. "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God."

Period!

It's not that something wrong has been said!

It's what was NOT said that's important!

We need to learn to listen to sermons not only for what they say, but also for what they don't say!

A full-length sermon, preached by a true Man of God, nearly always will verify both Jesus' Deity ... and His humanity!

Jesus is God, God the Son!

He too is man, perfect sinless man!

He is the "God-man," some express it!

"And the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

If some religious group, any one of them really, will not "confess" that Jesus is the Christ, and that He is the Inhabitant of a human body like ours, they are just not from God!

That verb "confess," if you remember, is "homologeo," meaning "to agree, to assent, to profess," literally, "to say the same thing!"

If a preacher or a teacher or a writer or a singer, whomever, will not agree that Jesus is all He claimed to be ... God and man ... that professor is wicked!

People who deny that Jesus had a real body of flesh and bone ... fit into this category!

People who deny that Jesus is very God of very God, divine, just as He claimed, are wrong too! Dangerously wrong!

Who is Jesus?

Our Lord Himself one day asked that question, of His Disciples. "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Matthew 16:13

Then immediately comes the answer. "Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets."

But Jesus wants more! "But whom say ye that I am?"

One of the Twelve answered unequivocally, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The Man standing right there in front of those disciples, Jesus Christ in human flesh, is both the Messiah of God and look-alike enough to be a son of His Father!

But John has not finished with this crowd, 1st John 4:3 proves! "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist." Not only are these not saved, lost in trespasses and sins, but they are promoters of the local "antichrist" spirit. No, make that the world-wide antichrist spirit!

What is an "anti" - Christ?

The prefix can, and often does, mean "against!"

Devils, evil spirits, against Christ Jesus!

But "anti" also can mean, not only "against," but also "in the place of" another! "Instead of" that One!

And do notice that this "spirit of antichrist" is not something for which we must wait a hundred years!

Not twenty years, likely!

It's already here!

I did not say that the anti-christ has already come, literally. Not yet, Praise the dear Lord!

Back to John, again: "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1st John 4:3, thank the Lord!

See that?

The "spirit" of antichrist is already here!

Never left, I suspect!

So, obviously, we need more folks to genuinely praise the Lord! Especially emphasizing the glorious fact that Jesus is God!

Jesus is Virgin Born!

Baby Jesus ... lying in a manger, a feed-trough, yet being the very Child of God!

A teenage Boy ... sitting in the Jewish Temple asking questions (and answering some too), yet being the very heart of Omniscience itself!

A young rabbi, Preacher Supreme, having no where to lay His Head, yet being the Creator of all heaven and earth!

Christ, dying on an old rugged Cross, yet being thirsty and planning for His mother's well-being!

Don't believe in His humanity?

Can't agree that He is God, divine?

Well then, boldly I say so, you have the character and spine and conviction of an absolutely ungodly specimen of humanity!

Yet one for whom Christ died!

Get the people around you to consistently tell you the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ!

After all, He's the Shepherd! We're the flock of His pasture! And His Voice we hear! And know! And follow!

Every day!

A defense attorney might cringe when he hears the words "I confess!"

But those same words "thrill" our great God, especially when they acknowledge His Divinity and His Humanity!

I confess: "Jesus is the Christ, Son of God, Virgin-Born, yet also enveloped in human flesh and even "touched with the feeling of our infirmities!"

Amen!

One more time, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."

Yes indeed!

Be careful what you say, and, what you don't say!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 4:

John has been discussing "false prophets."

He sees them, to the last one, as being motivated by "false spirits." These are evil spirits, demons really, inciting these false prophets.

Just like no man can call Jesus "Lord," except by the Spirit of God ... so can no man deny Jesus, except by the spirit of the devil! "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 1st Corinthians 12:3

Then: "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is that spirit of antichrist." 1st John 4:3, Wow!

Later in John's Sermon here, 1st John 4:1-6, he will prudently reduce these "spirits" into two categories, the "Spirit of Truth" and the "spirit of error."

Truth and error!

Light and darkness!

Life and death!

God and Satan!

The War rages on, no end in sight!

Spiritual warfare!

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12

So, what will be the "outcome" of this confrontation?

False Prophets versus True Godly Prophets!

1st John 4:4 tells us. "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."

The moment a person is saved, really saved, he or she becomes "of God!"

Born of God!

"As many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John  1:12-13

The expression "little children" is a term of endearment. "Teknion" is a diminutive of "teknon." These are offspring born to parents, with perhaps this caveat, a hearty expectation that they will soon bear the image of their father!

Now listen to Verse 4 as it much more than "hints" about the raging battle! "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." That verb "overcome" is a soldier's word. Spelled "nikao," it means "to subdue, to conquer, to prevail, to get the victory!"

We Christians have just been promised victory!

But the present victory is not of our own strength!

It is rather because ... "Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world." 1st John 4:4 again!

This great "He" is none other than the precious Holy Ghost of God!

He, the Third Person of the Godhead, is "in" us!

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" 1st Corinthians 6:19

And He, the very Spirit of God, is "greater" that anything in the world!

"Greater" is "meizon," indicating something "stronger, larger, more mighty!" Talk about "smart weapons!"

Don't misunderstand, generally speaking, the world's poor measly "weapons" just do not measure up to the power of God's indwelling Holy Spirit."

Never has! Never will!

And folks, we have not stayed faithful due to our own ability!

Or our own knowledge of some kind!

Or skill!

Neither are we "loving" people because of some suggestive psychological procedure!

We are what we are ... by the Grace of God!

We can't lose!

In fact, we've already won!

False spirits, false prophets, don't have a chance when the battle is really engaged!

Because of Calvary!

Because of the shed Blood of Jesus!

Because of God's immeasurable Love ... we are already conquerors!

In fact, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37

Thank you, Lord!

For the power!

For the victory!

For the assurance!

Praise the Lord!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 5:

Today's Verse, though short, certainly packs a lot of meaning!

Speaking of false prophets, and the spirits behind them for that matter, John writes: "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them."  1st John 4:5

Just like the saints of God, back in the previous verse, are said to be "of God," these Christ-doubters are "of the world."

The preposition "of," in Greek "ek," means "from" in the sense of "source!" This crowd is emanating from the world! The world is their mother! The world is pleased with them!

Why do I call them "Christ-doubters?" Because John does! "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1st John 4:3

The "world," or "kosmos," means the whole system of organized wickedness headed by the devil himself!

But now, critically so, John makes a statement that's easily worth its weight in gold! "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world." Wow!

It's a law of nature, an axiom, without exception, a person speaks his heart! Ultimately, always, it can't be helped! Jesus said so too! "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34 really is set in a context of false teaching too. Look! "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

These false teachers, rather false prophets, mentioned back in 1st John 4:1, speak their mind. No, better yet, they speak their heart! And their hearts are in the "world!" The same world about which John warns us. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1st John 2:15

The verb "speak" is spelled "laleo" and means "to emit a sound, to utter a voice." Also "to talk, to tell" or even "to preach!" It is a lower class verb that its neighbor and synonym "lego," of "logos" fame. "Lego" implies speech with great forethought, much planning, obviously, with "logic!" Whereas "laleo" can be just aimlessly chattering! Jabber!

All told, the world has little to say, nearly nothing of eternal significance! But if "world-ism" is the only language one knows, that's what he will speak!

That's why so many so-called "churches" where "worldlings" are in charge sing like the world, act like the world, dress like the world, must be entertained like the world, plan like the world ... and of course, talk like the world!

The world does not know terms like "saved, sanctified, born-again, separated, Spirit-filled, baptized, revival!" Or, if they do use such words, they have re-defined them! Made them contemporary in meaning!

The "jargon" of the world still flows from the mouths of men whose hearts are filled with questionable spirits! Really, evil spirits!

Anti-Christian spirits!

You can likely hear a Preacher talk five minutes, especially from the pulpit, and discern his orientation. Of the world ... or, of God?

Like they said to Peter that terrible night he denied knowing God, "Thy speech bewrayeth thee." Matthew 26:73

These ungodly spirits, and their preachers, talk in accordance to the world in which they live!

Now, more of our Verse today. "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." 1st John 4:5

See that?

"And the world heareth them."

These men preach ... and the world flocks to see them! To hear them! To be with them! To be entertained by them! To have their backs scratched by them, and their ears tickled! Paul precisely warned Timothy: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 1st Timothy 4:3-4

The verb "heareth" is "akouo," meaning "to hearken, to give audience, to consider." It contains a "hint" of understanding and obedience too!

Worldly preachers and worldly congregants are "in tune" with each other! And with their real leader, the "Prince of this world," the "god of this world," Satan himself! I just used the two titles Jesus and Paul applied to the devil. See John 14:30 and 2nd Corinthians 4:4.

This one Verse today explains a lot of what one sees happening on the church scene today! "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them."

Lord, then help us to: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." 2nd Corinthians 7:17

Also, help us to obey the Apostle's admonition: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

Amen!

We just don't talk their language!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 6:

John has a God-given ability to express great Principles in just a few words. He does so again today.

Here is one of those "tests" by which we can discern truth from error. "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." 1st John 4:6

Let's begin our study with that first clause, "We are of God." John is certainly the Apostle of assurance! He wants us to spiritually know some things. For example, 1st John 3:13, which shouts: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." That ye may know!

It is with such assurance that John says, "We are of God." He's saved! We are too if we have been born-again, washed in the Blood of Jesus! Born of God! Our spiritual heritage is not in question.

Rather, the "focus" here is the Christian's ability to distinguish good from evil, truth from falsehood.

So, "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us." The people with whom we associate, being also people "of God," will be attuned to our words, words of truth!

If a preacher speaks the jargon of the world, those who are "of the world" will massively attend his meetings!

If a preacher instead speaks the Word of God, those who are "of the world" will not hear him, either attacking or ignoring his message.

Those who support the godly preacher, the Biblicist, will be those who also "know" God! That verb "know" translates "ginosko" as a present participle, "to keep on acquiring accurate information." This knowledge is derived from walking with God and communing with Him daily!

These folks "hear" the Bible-oriented preacher! This present tense, active voice, indicative mood verb "akouei" means "to hear" in the sense of giving heed or understanding what's being said!

Saved, Bible-loving people like saved, Bible-loving preachers!

Worldly, misguided professors of Christ like worldly preachers!

Big difference!

We've just been told that God's children "hear" with comprehension the voices of God's true heralds, preachers!

Jesus worded it this way: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27

Back to our Verse now. "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us." Next John simply negates his first, primary statement. "He that is not of God heareth us not!"

John has just taught us that the people, consequently the spirits guiding those people, who are intimate with the world, are not of God!

Remember what he taught us in 1st John 2:15. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

What affinity, what attraction, would a "worldling" have to an old-fashioned, Spirit-filled, verse-by-verse Sermon?

They don't even hear it!

Maybe they can't even hear it, spiritually!

What a "test" this is!

Look at the Preacher! Is he proclaiming God's Word, straight and powerfully?

If so, then look at the congregation! They should be, not worldly, but keenly interested in the things of God, especially His precious Word!

Here it is again: "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. "

Just go to that Church!

Look around!

Listen to the sermon about ten minutes!

By then, you will know!

You will have discerned wither the spirit of truth or the spirit of error rules in that place! Is Jesus being preached? Jesus the very Son of God and the perfect Son of Man? Are the people present overcoming the world and the flesh and the devil? Or are they "like" the world? Are they truly listening to the preaching, soaking in the Bible like a dry sponge near water? Or do they hunger for mere fleshly entertainment?

Thank God for this Paragraph of Scripture! Here it is again, and worth the few seconds it will take to read it once more!

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." 1st John 4:1-6

This Body of Scripture can prevent a multitude of sorrows!

If heeded!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, CONCLUSION:

Really, it's a summary statement.

The conclusion of this powerful paragraph, 1st John 4:1-6.

"Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." What a sentence this is, God-written indeed!

In other words, John just said, "I've now taught you how to discern the right Spirit from the wrong spirit!"

"Hereby," the first word in our sentence, in English anyway, is simply a little Greek preposition. It is spelled "ek" and means "out of." John is saying something like this. "Out of the foregoing verses, containing certain "tests" to use on various spirits, we have now gleaned the proper measures by which to determine the spirit of truth and the spirit of error!"

A Lesson in "trying" the spirits!

Which are "of God?"

Which are not?

"Out of" six precious Verses ... comes one grand ability!

God given!

An aptitude to judge what's from God and what's from the world!

What's devilish and what's noble!

How to distinguish the two!

"Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."

The verb "know" translates "ginosko," a surprise in some ways. I would have thought it might have been another verb, one that hinted more at the "inherent" ability to tell one spirit from another. The Spirit-endowed capacity to do so. As in 1st John 2:27 fashion, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you."

But, not so! "Ginosko" is the acquisition of knowledge, nearly as much as the body of information itself. 

We have just learned how to serparate the spirit of truth from the spirit of error! We were taught such by the Word of God!

The indicative present active properties of the verb reveal an on-going classroom experience too! We probably never quit learning in this area!

Still, as in every department of Christian endeavor, these lessons must be taught and administered by the Spirit of God! He's the Real Teacher of everything spiritual, godly and spiritual!

But John's "indicators" or "tests" to apply to first one spirit and then another, as days come and go in  our Christian journey, they guide us in the process of judging these spirits!

Perhaps even more so, the "preachers" who are motivated by these spirits! I say that because verse 1 certainly links the two! "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." Spirits propel prophets!

The word "spirit," used twice in our sentence, is "pneuma" again. The "breath" of God, in its best sense! A "wind" from hell, from the devil, from the world he controls, in its worst sense!

Yes, "Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."

"Truth," the noun, is "aletheia" in Greek. It vaguely means "something that cannot be hidden!" Something, once learned, a person will not forget! That's certainly true of knowing Jesus!

And, conversely, "error" is "plane," pronounced "plan'-a" in Greek. It means "that which is lost and wanders through the darkness!" Something that's been "led astray!" A "roving" object! "Plane" actually gives us our English word "planet," a body of matter plunging through the dark recesses of outer space!

Error!

Who would want to associate with such a spirit?

So, having studied these six verses, 1st John 4:1-6, we should now be "equipped" to at least apply the preliminary "tests" to the various circumstances of life!

Because we know, from the Bible, Hebrews 11:2 precisely, "The things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Much lies behind the scenes!

So, in review, how does one "discern" the spirit of truth from the spirit of error?

1. Does the spirit in question readily confess that Jesus is God?

2. Does that spirit equally confess the Virgin Birth of our Lord, that Jesus is come in a literal human body?

3. Does that non-believing spirit seek your allegiance, Christian friend, yet you have powerfully overcome it, by the Holy Ghost of God?

4. Does that spirit associate with the things of the world? "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." 1st John 2:16

5. Does that spirit "draw" from worldly people?

6. Do they "flock" to hear it?

7. Does that spirit, that preacher really, "talk" like the world? Or, like the disciples, does his speech "betray" the fact that's he's been with Jesus?

If these foregoing conditions are not met, positively or negatively, in a Biblically consistent manner, you have encountered a spirit of error!

However, if you know the Spirit that insists Jesus is both God, very God, and man, very man, perfect Man! And that helps you overcome sin and deceit! And that repels the world! And that insists on being around the people of God! Then you know the Holy Spirit indeed!

John, thank you!

What a Paragraph you've given us!

We best study it carefully ... for the rest of our lives!

"Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST TEXTS IN THE WHOLE BIBLE! "HOW TO DISCERN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH FROM THE SPIRIT OF ERROR!" WE ALL MUST STUDY 1ST JOHN 4:1-6 REPEATEDLY, ESPECIALLY IN THESE LAST DAYS.

 

 

 

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