Overcoming the World: 1 John 4.1-6

Have you ever been in a group and heard someone say something that you know can’t be right? Like: …

“… I know I can’t afford the payments on this truck, but I think God wants me to have it; so, I’ll buy it.” Or …

“I know God wants me to stay in this marriage, but I believe He wants me to be happy too; so, I’m getting out.” Or …

“I know God doesn’t heal everybody, but I’ve had a dream that He’s going to take my cancer away; so, I’m trusting in that promise.”

How do we know that what we’re hearing and thinking and believing and basing our decision-making on comes from God?

In his first epistle, Apostle John has been giving us tests for our assurance that we belong to God. First John 4.1-6 includes another of the Tests of Right Belief about Jesus. And while we need to tie into what was going on in first century Christianity to understand the passage, John’s idea is immediately relevant to us every day. It involves decision-making that is dependent on Jesus, not on the world’s way of thinking.

Make Jesus big in my decision-making (:1-3). John’s instruction starts with a command: … test the spirits to see whether they are from God (:1). This is a picture of early church worship that would involve singing from the Psalms, reading in and instruction from what we call the Old Testament, readings form the Apostles (what became the New Testament) and a time of prophecy and testimony where believers could spontaneously and under the direction of the Spirit give testimony to what God was doing. Imagine now, if someone were to stand up and say, “The Spirit has revealed to me that Jesus was only a man who became the Christ, and we can become christs like Jesus, if we …” (fill in your blank).

Here’s the test for such an occasion, John says: By this you will know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist … (:2-3)

The critical message, as we might translate it, is: “Jesus has come from God as the Christ”.  Jesus is God who took on flesh. Jesus is not flesh who took on God. Every teaching that misses Jesus as God and teaches you to depend on something else is not from God!

This is much more than a history lesson for us. There are two world and life views at work here. The World System says, “We need to do something to perfect ourselves so that we will get God’s blessing. The Jesus-Centered, Overcoming-the-World System says, “We are blessed because of Jesus and what God has done and is doing through Him, and we depend on Him.”

Jesus said that we’d be able to identify the true Spirit of God because the Spirit would point to the Son: But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, he will bear witness about me (Jn 15.26).

So, just like the Spirit of God, we’re to magnify Jesus. We’re to make Jesus big in all our listening and learning and thinking and decision-making. In so doing, we (along with Jesus, Jn 16.33) overcome the world and its thought systems. This is practical stuff. It will involve believing things like:

“I know there a good reasons to buy a truck, but debt makes me a slave, and I already have a Master in Jesus; so, believing in Jesus as the Christ matters in my finances.” Or, …

“I know marriage can be hard, but we learn to depend on God through hard times; so, believing in Jesus as the Christ matters in my marriage.” Or, …

“I know God heals, but He hasn’t promised physical healing in this life; so, believing in Jesus as the Christ matters as I endure suffering without losing my faith.”

Decision-making that overcomes the world magnifies Jesus as the Christ.

What decisions are you making right now?

How would you make these decisions according to the World System that values the world’s economy in this passing-away now-time? 

Now, how would you make these decisions in a way that agrees with the Spirit of God and magnifies Jesus? 

Have a talk with somebody about your decisions. And have a great week in the Lord.

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