February 21, 2014
I John 3:24-4:4
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
It’s a double nose for John! But so he doesn’t look so strange, lets say it this way – two more knows in I John 3:24 through 4:4!
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in… [God] and He in him, and
by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of
God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you
know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come
in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ
has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of Antichrist, which
you have heard was coming; and is now already in the world. You are of God,
little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater
than he who is in the world.
How can we be sure God lives in us? John’s first know has to do with an outward manifestation and an inward assurance. The outward manifestation is our obedience to the Lord’s commands – especially the Great Commandment, which John summarizes in I John 3:23: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another…” (see Mark 12:29 through 31 for Jesus’ version of the Great Commandment).
The inward assurance comes from the Holy Spirit residing and abiding within us. This third Person of the Trinity is…
• …the presence of Christ in us (see John 14:14 through 16).
• …the seal of our salvation (see II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30).
• …the down payment of God’s promise that He will complete what He has started (see Ephesians 1:14).
• …the proof of God’s ownership of us, bought & paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross (see Romans 8:9 and 16).
• …the source of spiritual life in us (see Romans 8:10 and 11).
• …the giver of Spiritual gifts in and through us (see I Corinthians 12:4 through 11).
• …the builder of God’s dwelling place in us (see Ephesians 2:20 through 22).
• …the teacher of truth within us (see I John 2:27).
…and a lot more!
But the Holy Spirit is not the only spirit competing for control of our lives – especially after we become Christians! “…the spirit of the antichrist…” – Satan – is alive and well, and very active to wrest control of believers’ lives from the Lord Jesus Christ and into his own power. And he is subtle about it. He can – according to II Corinthians 11:14 – even appear as “…an angel of light.” He can masquerade as promoting something good and even godly to those who are not perceptive. And so can his demon hordes! This is why John tells us in I John 4:1 to “…test the spirits to see whether they are from God….” The second know concerns how we recognize the results of testing the spirits: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of Antichrist….”
It is not just that a human being named Jesus once walked upon this earth. There are those who admit this but do not believe that He is God come in the flesh! This is why John adds Christ to Jesus in verse 3. Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means the anointed One or the God-sent One. So the test by which you can know a godly spirit from an ungodly one is if that spirit – or that spirit-controlled person – will believe and confess that God came in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man – the incarnation! Apparently, satanic forces will not or cannot confess such a thing! Paul writes something related to this in I Corinthians 12:3 where he says, “…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”
In that same I Corinthian passage, Paul lists the gifts given by God’s Spirit. In verse 9 is the gift related to – and heightening the perception of – testing the spirits: “…for to one is given… discerning of spirits….” This is the leading of the Holy Spirit from within saying, “This person is motivated by this spirit, or that spirit, and so be wary!” Or just the opposite – “The motivating Spirit is Me, or one of God’s good angels, so it’s fine!” So between the two – testing the spirits and the gift of discerning of spirits – Christians should be able to know and be absolutely sure of the motivating spirit behind whomever they meet or whatever situation that is confronting them!
Two knows – in every situation be aware by the power of the Holy Spirit the motivating spiritual force behind words and/or actions. And also obey God’s commandments! Your individual Christian life and the Church as a whole will be much better off for it!