Monday, January 10, 2005

The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
“You are of God.” That means that they are those who confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. That is the definition the Apostle John has just established in verses 2 and 3.

“Little children.” John is speaking very tenderly with them, as a father with his children. This not only indicates John’s advanced age, but more importantly, the well-established relationship he bears, for he has been a father of the faith to them.

“And have overcome them.” These little children, who are “of God,” have overcome those who deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Jesus is the great dividing line. Those who confess Him in His humanity and historicity, as well as in His divinity, overcome those who do not. They are not deceived.

The cause of this decisive victory is not themselves, but God in them. He abides in them because they have believed on the name of His Son Jesus Christ. What is more, He is the source of their faith in Jesus Christ, and of the confession they make concerning Jesus Christ.

However, there is also one who is in the world, who is the source of unbelief and denial. This is the devil, and he is the source, not of the created earth, but of the world-system that is in rebellion against God.

He seeks to hinder and obscure the revelation that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine. He will allow one confession or the other, but not both together, because that sounds the death knell for him. In the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, God and Man are reconciled and heaven and earth are brought together. That means destruction for what the devil is trying to do. But that is indeed why Jesus came, to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

The truth and the cause John brings forth is this: God in us is greater than he who tries to influence us from the world-system.
They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us: he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:5-6)
John has already stated that those who deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh are not of God. What is the source of their unbelief and denial, then? It comes from the rebellious world-system. They speak as of the world because they have listened to the lie of the world and believed it. Because they listen to the world-system and speak what it says, the world-system, in turn, receives them and their words.

“We are of God,” John boldly counters. But how can he be so audacious as to say such a thing? It is because he has seen Jesus with his own eyes, heard Jesus with his own ears, touched Jesus with his own hands. He comes as an personal witness to the life and ministry of Jesus, declaring both the humanity and divinity of the “Word of Life” (1 John 1:1-4).

“He who knows God hears us.” Just as those who are of the world-system receive the unbelief and denial of the world-system, so those who are of God receive the confession that comes from God, and those who make such confession. Those of the world receive the witness of the world. Those who are of God receive the witness of God. The witness of God is greater because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the fallen world-system.

Those who have the witness of the Holy Spirit in them hear and receive the teaching of the Apostles. Or to put it another way: Those who know God, who are growing in personal relationship with Him and who increasingly discern, or recognize His voice, hear those who come speaking that which is of God.

John concludes the matter: By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. That is, those who receive the spirit of truth — who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and confess that He has come in the flesh — are of the truth of God. Those who do not, are of the error the world-system.

There is a conflict in the world today between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. It is a conflict between the God who created heaven and earth, and the fallen system of a world in rebellion. The outcome is certain, for God, who is the source of our faith in Jesus Christ, dwells in all those who confess Jesus Christ, and He is greater than the one who foments the rebellion of the world against Him.