John Stapleton

Christian Conviction by John Stapleton

Basic Christianity / Apologetics; Incarnation / 1 John 4:1–6

This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a
person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus
Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of
God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not
acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not
from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist,
which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is
already here.

1 John 4:2-3 NLT

1) False Teachers

As we have seen the last 2 times we were together, John really is going toe-to-toe with the lies that were taught in his day. You might wonder why it is so important to stand for truth. After all, doesn’t discussing doctrine divide people?

Yes, it does. That’s precisely why we need to preach and teach doctrine! The only thing we have to lose are people who are not genuinely following Jesus.

Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the
Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists
have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has
come. These people left our churches, but they never really
belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with
us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.

1 John 2:18-19 NLT

People that leave are antichrists. These are false prophets who claim that they’re authority to speak is from God, when they are merely heretics. They are also subversive as they are taking the trust of people who rely on them to point them to God, when in reality they are guiding people away from him.

These people are opposed to Christ. Some people are opposed to him by denying his incarnation.

…If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that
Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit
of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does
not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not
from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist…

1 John 4:2-3 NLT

Some people were claiming that Jesus never took on flesh. Today, people who promulgate this are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormon (CWB doesn’t believe in Mormonism, as there is a difference between the two. Consider the following Youtube video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in-sPf0pLQM – for a better understanding)s. This has serious implications if it is true Jesus isn’t who the Bible shows he is. That means Jesus never died on the cross or rose from the dead. That leaves us hopeless and still in our sins. There would be no assurance of God’s kindness to us.

2) The True Spirit

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already
won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who
lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the
world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we
belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If
they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is
how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the
spirit of deception.

1 John 4:4-6 NLT

John is trying to encourage his listeners. Again, it is a very confusing time in the church with all these lies circulating, but we have “already won a victory over those people” because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us and is the best teacher who is not going to steer us wrong.

Not only that, but John gives us a clear system by which to filter out these frauds. He tells us that they have a different perspective or worldview. The ESV renders the Greek as “they speak from the world” (4:5). The world preaches to us too, you know.

Music, TV shows, social media, books and blogs – they are all sermons packaged neatly as “entertainment.” This is an easy concept: if we wrap some ham around the pill, the dog will easily accept the medicine, maybe. Most people don’t realize that the world (as the Bible calls it) is actively preaching that we should be rebellious, ungrateful, sexual deviant and promiscuous, and I could keep the list going.

The World Hates Every Way That God Has Commanded Us To Live.

But John then draws the attention back to where it belongs. What the world is doing and saying isn’t the point. The point is what is true and how God is acting through his church. The point is that these heretics aren’t submitting to apostolic authority, so it doesn’t matter what they say.

But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to
us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us.
That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or
the spirit of deception.

1 John 4:6 NLT

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you have given us a way to spot false
teachers and lies. Not everyone is a heretic but some people
are and it is amazing how some of the same lies are still part
of the conversation today. Thank you that you have given us
the Holy Spirit who always teaches what is true. Amen.

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