Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #275 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 John 4 today and our focus is on How Do We Test the Spirits? Does 1 John 4 Teach That We Should Interrogate Spirits?? How Should We Love Other Christians? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Western Cape, South Africa, Kampala, Uganda, Nairobi, Kenya, New South Wales, Australia, parts unknown, France, parts unknown Spain, Alesund, Norway, Bavaria, Germany, New York, New York, Tampa Florida, Washington, D.C. and Augusta, Georgia. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
If you are like me, repetition of important things is helpful for you – because it just reinforces things. In that spirit, allow me to mention a truth we discussed yesterday yet again – primarily because John mentions it again, and expands on it a great deal.
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love….19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister. 1 John 4:7-8 and 20-21
So – this is crystal, crystal clear – one simply CANNOT be a Christian and not love other Christians. There is no way to love an unseen God when you aren’t loving His people that you see all around you. And, just like in the previous chapter, John is going to show us what this love looks like – it’s not merely a feeling:
10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 1 John 4:10-11
How do we love each other – I think the key word in these two verses is SACRIFICE. We must love each other in a sacrificial way – sacrificing our preferences, desires and worldly goods to help and serve and take care of each other, because that is how Jesus loves us!
Second topic, and it is a weird question. Does this passage mean that we should talk to spirits and ask them what they believe?
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3
On the surface, it appears that John is telling us to interrogate spirits – to ask them questions. Is that what’s really going on here? We do know that Jesus occasionally interacted with demons and unclean spirits, such as in the case of Legion, but I don’t think that is what John is telling us to do here. Compare this passage with the 2nd letter of John, vs. 7:
7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.This is the deceiver and the antichrist
Obviously John is talking about the same thing in both places – in the one, he mentions spirits, and the other deceivers.What is going on here – who is doing the deceiving – spirits or humans? And the answer, quite possibly, is BOTH. Consider this passage in 1 Timothy 4:1
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 1 Timothy 4:1
Is Paul saying here that in later days, actual demons and deceiving spirits will be teaching classes and stuff like that? Of course not – he is speaking of those spirits and demons teaching THROUGH people, I believe. Probably a similar dynamic to what Jesus warns about in Matthew 7:
15 ()“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15
The Bible teaches that there are beings beyond humans and angels – spiritual beings – and also that humans themselves have an element of soul/spirit inside of them, and apparently these deceiving spirits and demons can interact with humans in a spiritual way and deceive them and mislead them – and some false teachers are teaching falsely somehow, some way, under the sway of such deceitful spirits. One of the most common false teachings of the first century – one that 1 John was written to counter – was a type of proto-gnosticism that taught that Jesus wasn’t a flesh and blood human, but only a spirit, and John is telling us that we can know that anybody who teaches such things is falsely teaching somehow under the influence of a deceiving spirit. These false teachers, says Paul in 2nd Corinthians, can put on an act and masquerade as genuine and true teachers:
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
The way to know them is by their fruit, according to Jesus, and by testing their teaching in light of Scripture. Let’s read our passage.
Bible Memory passage for the month of October: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
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