God Is Love
1Dear friends, don't believe everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God. Test them all to find out if they really do come from God. Many false prophets have already gone out into the world, 2and you can know which ones come from God. His Spirit says that Jesus Christ had a truly human body. 3But when someone doesn't say this about Jesus, you know this person has a spirit that doesn't come from God and is the enemy of Christ. You knew this enemy was coming into the world and now is already here.
4Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God's Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one who is in the world. 5These enemies belong to this world, and the world listens to them, because they speak its language. 6We belong to God, and everyone who knows God will listen to us. But the people who don't know God won't listen to us. This is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies.
One of the myths we believe in western culture is the importance of being independent. It is a poisonous untruth for us as followers of Jesus. If we are in Christ then not only are we dependent on him for everything, but we belong to him in a family relationship and to his body, the church. To be in relationship with God means belonging to a family through full dependence, just as a child is with his or her parents.
But sometimes in families falsehoods can crop up regarding what we believe. These lies, if they are given room to fester and grow, may seriously compromise our beliefs. This is exactly what is happening in John’s day. And rather than ignore the obvious, John spends quite a bit of time in his letter bringing attention to them. At the start of chapter 4 John revisits something he’s already raised earlier because it is really serious: false prophets and their lies.
There were various false beliefs circulating about Jesus. One claimed that Jesus really didn’t have a physical body at all but that he was only a spirit. Another asserted that during Jesus’ earthly life the spirit came on him, but that he wasn’t really the Messiah. Both assertions are false and John is determined not to let them gain ground. So he exposes them!
But he doesn’t just uncover them for the sake of denouncing them. He has a deeper purpose. John is pointing us back to our dependence on God. He reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the One who will show us the truth as we rely on and listen to him (vv 4,6).
Do you know of someone who believes false ideas about the divinity and humanity of Jesus? In love, following the example in John’s letter, how can you respond to them?
Holy Spirit, thank you that you are more powerful than the enemies of your truth. I offer myself to you today, depending on you to show me your truth in all circumstances. Empower me with your love to speak your truth to someone who needs to know you as you really are. Amen.