“TRUE OR FALSE” 1 John 4:1-6
INTRO – TESTS IN SCHOOL: How many of you like True/False questions on tests when you were in school? Had a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Some folks like T/F questions, some don’t. I always hated it when our teachers would make us make the false questions true. Couldn’t just take a chance & guess at answer.
I had a prof at MC, Dr. “Smoking” Joe Cooper – philosophy class. Every time we walked into his classroom, he handed us a “blue book” – small notebook that many profs used for their discussion questions on exams. We had to be ready for a “pop” major exam that was based on our reading assignment for that day every time we walked into class.
So, today, all the kids are getting back in school, & we are going to be back in school here today. Here’s a True/False quiz for everyone today. So, class, get out your paper & pen & number 1-6 down your page.
TRUE OR FALSE
- There are only a few false prophets in the world. (FALSE)
- Knowing that Jesus has come in the flesh is not all that important. (FALSE)
- The spirit of the antichrist is already at work in the world. (TRUE)
- The Spirit of God in the Christ-follower is greater than the power of Satan in the world. (TRUE)
- People who are in the world (lost people) are very likely to listen to the world’s voices (false teachings). (TRUE)
- As Christ-followers, we are not from God, but are from the world. (FALSE)
- v. 1 – John addresses readers as “Beloved,” or “Dear friends.” Cared deeply for his readers, their churches, & was seriously concerned about the possibility of false teachings infecting their minds & souls. John knew that, in his day of house churches where there w/ no formal creeds to inform their doctrine [Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, BF&M] & no written NT for each person to have [we all have MANY Bibles – have Bible on our phone, etc.], there were many (question #1) false prophets & teachers spreading a false gospel, & he was willing to step into the fight. He knew that false teachers could be very convincing & persuasive [& still are!], emphasizing good things in their evil doctrines. They may teach things that sound very close to orthodox, biblical doctrine – mention Jesus, emphasize morality, justice, serving, helping, fulfillment, destiny. But I remind you of the definition of a heresy: Every heresy is the overemphasis or perversion of some great truth.
- v. 2 – John told his readers to “test the spirits,” (v. 1) the teachings coming out of the mouths of the teachers to see if they are of God.
- “test” – dokimazo – examine, try it out, analyze
So, what was the test? What do you say about Jesus? What a person believes about Jesus makes his/her teaching true or false. Why? If the person is truly saved, then the Holy Spirit is in that person, & the Holy Spirit will always glorify Jesus. He cannot do otherwise. So, if the teacher does not confess true, foundational truth about Jesus, then that teacher fails the test & is a false teacher.
- The true teacher confesses “Jesus” – Name means “Savior” – the ONLY Savior.
- The true teacher confesses “Christ” – the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, the promised Messiah of Scripture who fulfilled all the prophecies.
- The true teacher confesses that Jesus “has come in the flesh” (question #2) – that He is the Son of God, sent from God to man, to “seek & save those who are lost” (Lk. 19:10).
- Philippians 2:5-11 – “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
- v. 3 – Since there are so many false prophets/teachers in the world, it’s obvious that the spirit of the antichrist is already actively at work in the world today (question #3). The false teacher destroys the hope of salvation & eternal life w/ God, leaving us w/out hope. Jesus Christ is the crux of the Gospel message & our only hope is Him! To not teach the TRUTH about Him or to alter the truth about Him is to promote the spirit of the antichrist. That spirit is very actively moving & working in our world today!
- v. 4 – But here’s the GOOD NEWS, that awesome verse that causes us to straighten up, stiffen our back, strengthen our spiritual resolve, & set our feet firmly in place w/ our eyes firmly fixed on our conquering Savior & King, Jesus! Take heart, brothers & sisters b/c “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!” (question #4) Matthew Henry: “There is a strong preserver w/in you: b/c greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. The Spirit of God dwells in you, & that Spirit is more mighty than the men of devils. It is a great happiness to be under the influence of the Holy Ghost.”
- v. 5 – B/c Satan is such a deceitful foe & had so many false prophets/teachers at work for him in John’s world, & has so many at work in our world today, the lost who are all around us – those who are of “the world” [there are 57,000 people in 15-min driving radius of CW], are listening to them & being influenced by them & are headed to hell unless they turn to Jesus Christ alone for their salvation [Anyone here today need to trust Christ for your salvation?] (question #5).
- v. 6 – “We are from God.” (question #6) John makes this foundational statement of truth & triumph, clearly delineating & clarifying that which sets us apart from the false teachers & their followers. When someone asks you, “Where are you from?,” your answer tells them where you live, where your home is, where your family is, where your roots are. “We are from God” – We live in Him; our home is w/ Him; we are a part of His family; our roots are sunk deeply in Him, His truth, His Word, His plans & purposes for our lives.
So, how did you do on the T/F test? There’s a more important test that we all have to pass, & that’s the test of how we are going to live our lives as Christ-followers in the face of the abundance of false teaching that is prevalent in our day & age.
3 quick things you need to know if you are going to pass that all-important test:
Don’t be gullible. Someone who is gullible is easily deceived, easily misled, easily taken in. P.T. Barnum known for his statement, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” In other words, there is always somebody somewhere who is foolish enough & gullible enough to be tricked into some scam or some deception. That’s true in every area of life, but it’s especially true in the spiritual realm. Mormons ride their bikes everywhere. JW’s show up at your door all the time. So-called Christian churches & denominations are watering down biblical truth in every arena of life. Don’t be that gullible person, that spiritual sucker taken in by false teachers. Deception is likely where growth is lacking.
Discern the Gospel. The way to NOT be that gullible spiritual sucker is to discern the Gospel – study it, strive to understand it, to comprehend it, to grasp it, & let it grasp YOU! Some folks want you to believe that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something. What a crock! You can climb up the steeple of our church & believe that you can jump off, flap your arms, & fly around the parking lot. You & others will find out real quick just how faulty that belief system is.
Listening to Adrian Rogers sermon this week – When reading Scripture:
- Read it through – maybe multiple translations
- Think it out – Renew your mind (Rom. 12:1-2)
- Pray it in – Turn Scripture into prayer – PERSONALIZE IT!
- Write it down – spiritual journals
- Live it out – “I will live by this truth today!”
- Pass it on – Share w/ spouse, family, friends, strangers
Depend on God. I know that sounds simplistic, but I want to end on this absolutely crucial, absolutely critical, absolutely Christian statement: Depend on God!
- He is in you – The “Spirit of truth” (v. 6) who is in you & is greater than he that is in the world.
- He is w/ you – Ps. 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, Thou art w/ me…”
- He is for you – Rom. 8:31 – “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”