Tuesday, 12 May 2020
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 4:6
John now uses the same formula as the previous verse, but provides it in a contrasting form to indicate believers who listen to the true apostles, rather than unbelievers who listen to false prophets –
“They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. (4:5)
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us.” (4:6)
The contrast is made, and the divide is absolute. This division comes down to one thought alone – “Has Jesus Christ come in the flesh or not?” Explained, this means, “Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, meaning fully human and fully God, or is He not?”
The Greek of “He who knows” is literally, “The one knowing.” It is an ongoing and increasing knowledge of who Christ is. Paul, for example, was knowing, but he was also growing in his knowledge and pursuit of the Lord. He strove daily to attain to the full knowledge of God in Christ. For those who teach this as a truth, and for those who receive it as such, John says, “We are of God.”
Just as the false teachers and those who accept their message are of the world, those who accept the message of the true apostles are of God. As this is so, John continues by affirming that “He who knows God hears us.” If someone accepts that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, he will hear the apostles’ message. This is inclusive of, and probably especially speaking of, John’s gospel and his epistle which he is presenting.
He, and any with him, had come to present this truth many years after the writings of the other gospels and other epistles. Confusion had crept into the church over these issues. False teachers had come in with false messages, and John had written his gospel and epistles to speak out against these things. Those who are of God will receive his words as intended. Those who are not will not.
For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have John’s words, but they do not “hear” them. Their teaching denies the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. And so, even though they have the word, it is meaningless to them. They remain of the world. As John says, “he who is not of God does not hear us.”
Such people, and so many others, simply do not hear the truth of Scripture concerning Christ. They reject its obvious truths, and they are not “of God.” They remain in Adam, under the devil’s authority, and their condemnation remains. Finally, John says, “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
Here, John uses a term that is different from verse 4:2. There it said, en toutou. Here it says ek toutou. Of this, Vincent’s Word Studies says, “It occurs only here in the Epistle. Ἑν τούτῳ is in this: ἐκ τούτου from this. The former marks the residing or consisting of the essence or truth of a thing in something the apprehension of which conveys to us the essential nature of the thing itself. The latter marks the inference or deduction of the truth from something, as contrasted with its immediate perception in that something.”
In other words, John is saying that we can make a logical deduction concerning what we believe. We are of God when we believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In this acceptance, we have tested the spirits (verse 4:1) and we know that we have followed the spirit of truth. Likewise, we can test the spirits of those who do not believe this truth, and we can know that they are not of God, and that they have followed the spirit of error.
In this, John is using “theological math” where 1 plus 1 will equal 2. We can logically and accurately determine such things by simply adding the points presented and coming to a right answer to the equation.
Life application: When John says, “we are of God,” he is referring to himself and the other apostles who are speaking the truth of God’s message. It is actually kind of nuts to think otherwise when John was one of the apostles who lived with, saw, felt, heard, and learned from Jesus.
If someone proclaimed a false message, all his audience would need to do would be to talk to John about what was and what wasn’t true. He is a messenger of Jesus and therefore whoever “knows God” would listen to him and his message (including his letter which is now included in the pages of the Bible.) Likewise, to know who is not of God, just look at who rejected John and the other apostles’ messages (and those who teach false messages today.)
This isn’t difficult and it doesn’t take a degree in theology to figure out. When someone teaches or preaches what is right from the Bible, he is teaching based on the spirit of the truth. When he isn’t, he is teaching from the spirit of error. If there is disagreement, then all we need to do is go to the Bible and read to find out what is right and what is wrong.
It should never cease to amaze us that those televangelists who promise blessings, healings, and miracles get any support at all. People should be checking out their teachings against the Bible. There we can see that they take Scripture entirely out of context and misapply it for financial gain. And yet, they keep getting richer. And those who listen to them keep finding themselves in the same unhappy circumstances. This is also the case with other false teachings. Things that are unprofitable, and yet which flourish, are because of the desires of tingling ears. These things spring up from deep wells of unsound doctrine.
The best part of waking up shouldn’t be what’s in your cup. Rather, it should be the time you spend in your Bible. Make every effort to know and cherish this incredible gift of God.
Give us wisdom, O God, into the vast riches of Your word. Keep us from error and being deceived by people with unsound agendas. Instead, give us right reasoning concerning those things which are profitable in Your eyes and which will bring You glory! This is our hearts’ prayer today. In Jesus’ name… Amen.