Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Do You Know You're Saved V

Continuing in I John chapter 4, John is exhorting the brethren not to believe every teaching they hear. Again he tells us that many false prophets have gone out from their midst to deceive the world, and indeed many had. They had false prophets then, we have them today, we've had them every day from then to now and we will continue to have them until the very day of the LORD. But John tells us a simple way to discern if someone is teaching God's truth, or in the spirit of error. Anyone who professes that Jesus the Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and those who do not are of the spirit of antichrist.

Before we go any further, note that antichrist is not capitalized. Read carefully and note that John is not saying that these people are The Antichrist, of Apocalypse fame, but that they are teaching in the spirit of error. And any one or all of them could very well repent and be brought into the fellowship. In fact, the Apostle Paul himself began by teaching against Christ, and fervently so. When Paul, or Saul of Tarsus if you prefer his Hebrew name, began he was very much antichrist. I only make the point as a warning not to read more into this passage than was written.

So what does this phrase mean, to confess that Jesus the Christ is come in the flesh. Many will say that it means to deny the deity of Jesus, and that's certainly implied by the phrase "come in the flesh." But there's much more in this statement. What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One? It means that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3: 25; I John 2: 2; I John 4: 10). It means that He is the way of our salvation, the only way of our salvation, and that no one can come to the Father but through Him (John 14: 6). It means everything that is meant by saying the Jesus is our Lord and Savior. But then, as now, there were many who said that Jesus was a good man, a man of God, a prophet, and that His teachings were good, but that there were other prophets of God as well.

But not all who teach the spirit of antichrist, this spirit of error, are those who say that Muhammad or Buddha (which is tragically ironic to anyone who knows anything of Buddhism) are just as effective as Jesus for finding God (although there are plenty). Note in verse 3 that John does not say all of these false prophets will say that Jesus the Christ is not come in the flesh. Instead, he says that they will not say that He has. This is a subtle difference, but an important one nonetheless. Some of the spirit of antichrist say that Jesus is not the Christ incarnate, while others simply do not say that He is.

Even today, there are many who will say that Jesus is Lord, and that you must follow His teachings. But they also say that His sacrifice was not sufficient alone for your salvation. They will tell you that there is still at least some part of your salvation that is up to you to earn, or to justify, or to keep, as though you could. There are even some who call themselves Christian that say that Jesus is not Emmanuel, i.e. God among us or God incarnate. But this should not surprise us. Jesus Himself told us that not everyone who calls Him Lord will see His Kingdom (Matthew 7: 21, 22). And all of these are teaching in that spirit of error, that spirit of antichrist.

John goes on to explain that these false prophets will have many followers. They speak of the world. They appeal to man's natural reason, to corporeal, common sense. And thus, those who are in the world understand them and accept their teachings. But to the people in the world the things we teach are foolishness, and they can not understand (I Corinthians 2: 14). Only those who abide in God can understand the things of God.

In verses 7 - 12, John again explains that if we love each other, as He loved us, then it can only be because we are born of Him, that He abides in us. But anyone who doesn't love, doesn't know God and God is not in him. John then explains that this is true, not because we loved God, but because He first loved us.

Take a moment and think about this point. This is the fundamental difference between the truth and the deception. Remember the question that John is addressing in this letter. How can we know that we're saved, that we are not the ones who are deceived. And this very point is fundamental to the difference. All of the teachings of all the false prophets of our world, they all have this in common. Religion is what they do to get right with God. Christianity, on the other hand, is what God does to reconcile us to Himself. We see this in the Garden of Eden. Man didn't create a God, but God created man (Genesis 1: 26, 27). When God told Moses to build the Tabernacle of Witness, He didn't tell Moses to design a tabernacle for Him. Instead He told Moses to build it "according to all that I have shown you," (Exodus 25: 9). In other words, it wasn't man's idea. It wasn't Moses' idea. It was God's idea, God's plan, and it is His work, not ours (Ephesians 2: 8 - 10).

And so John explains that none of us has ever even seen God. Therefore, if we do love Him, if we love each other, it is because God sent His only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sin and because He has done this work in us.

John now, in verses 13 - 21, reiterates both of these things and once again answers that fundamental question he addresses in this letter. We know we abide in God, and He in us, because he has given us His Spirit, and thereby we do testify that Jesus the Christ is come in the flesh, that the Father has sent His Son to be the savior of the world. He's even more explicit. He states plainly that whoever teaches that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God, that God dwells in them, and they in God.

But note the dire warning, the pointed bluntness of verses 20 and 21. Anyone who says they love God, but hates the brethren, that man is a liar. John states plainly that no one can love God whom they've never seen, and yet hate the brethren whom they have seen.

I John 4: 1 - 6
1    Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 
2    Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 
3    And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 
4    Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 
5    They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 
6    We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

Romans 3: 25   Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

I John 2: 2    And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 14: 6    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Matthew 7
21    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 
22    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

I Corinthians 2: 14    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I John 4
7    Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 
8    He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 
9    In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 
10    Herein 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 ought also to love one another. 
12    No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Genesis 1: 26, 27    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Exodus 25: 9    According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

Ephesians 2: 8 - 10    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

I John 4
13    Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 
14    And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 
15    Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 
16    And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 
17    Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 
18    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 
19    We love him, because he first loved us. 
20    If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 
21    And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.