The spirit of truth and the spirit of error
[1Jo 4:1-21 NASB95] 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the [spirit] of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak [as] from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Knowing God through love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Seeing God through love
12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son [to be] the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
The consummation of love
17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.
Obedience by faith
20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
Chapter Four John cautions his readers not to believe everyone who claims to be led by the Spirit, but to test them (1-6). He then exhorts them to manifest brotherly love in keeping with the character and example of God’s love as demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son (7-21). POINTS TO PONDER * Distinguishing the spirit of truth from the spirit of error * How God’s love should impact our love for one another REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Test the spirits - 1Jn 4:1-6 - God is love - 1Jn 4:7-21 2) Why should one not believe every spirit? (1) - Because there are many false prophets 3) If one is truly led by the Spirit of God, what will they confess? (2) - That Jesus Christ has come in the flesh 4) What did John say about the coming of Antichrist? (3) - It was already in the world at the time John was writing 5) What did John write about their ability to overcome? (4) - He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world 6) How does one discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error? (6) - By whoever listens to the apostles (cf. 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13) 7) Why should we love one another? (7-8) - Love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God 8) How was God’s love for us manifested? (9-10) - By sending His Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins 9) How can we ensure that God will abide in us? (12-16) - By loving one another 10) When we love one another as we should, what does it give us? (17-18) - Boldness in the day of judgment; i.e., no fear 11) If we claim to love God, but hate our brother, what does that make us? Why? (20) - Liars; if we do not love someone we’ve seen, how can we love Him we’ve not seen?