Video Transcript: Recognizing God's Spirit (1 John)
Unit 08 03 Recognizing God's Spirit 1 John
How do we recognize God's Spirit? That's a really, really important question. And it's one of the main questions that the book of First John in the Bible deals with. John wants to help us recognize God's Spirit and also to recognize spirits that are not from God. John wrote, with some very important purposes in mind, one purpose of the letter was to debunk deceivers to show who the liars were, John said, I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. And John wanted to help them recognize the spirit of deception. But another very important reason and a wonderful reason for writing was to confirm the confidence, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. Those are two major purposes of First John, to help protect us from lying spirits, and also to confirm our confidence that we belong to God that we have eternal life, that the Spirit of God lives in us. And that means that we need to be able to recognize God's Spirit. In first, John, there are a variety of ways of describing a real Christian, quite a few times it speaks of being born of God. It also speaks of someone who knows God, and of God living in us, and we living in him or his spirit, living in us. And all of these terms are referring to a genuine Christian who has been born again by the Spirit of God, who has a living relationship with God and knows God, and where his life is in God, and God's life is in him.
Now, how do we recognize God's Spirit? You might say, well, that's simple enough, let's go back to the day when God's Spirit came on the church, the day of Pentecost, there was a sound like a mighty rushing wind, flames of fire came to rest on the heads of Jesus followers. And they began to speak in other languages, other tongues and those who heard them, were able to understand what they were saying. And so it's simple, you know, you receive the Spirit of God when something amazing and extraordinary happens. Well, those were wonderful things that really did happen when the Spirit was first out poured. But we do not recognize the Spirit of God nowadays by just waiting for a flame to come down and rest right above someone else's head, or to hear a really loud noise of a blowing wind, and not even to receive a gift of speaking in other languages. Some have said, Oh, in order to really know you've received the Spirit, you need to be able to speak in tongues. Nowhere does the Bible say that? Nowhere does the Bible say that speaking in tongues is the sign always, of having received the Holy Spirit. These things happened in the book of Acts. But that does not mean they always continue to happen. And the book of First John, which speaks of knowing how to recognize the Spirit of God says absolutely nothing about flames of fire, or about tongues or about other supernatural phenomena for that matter. The Spirit can grant such things if and when he so chooses. But that's not the way you recognize whether or not you've received the Spirit of God. In fact, I've known missionaries who told me that the non Christians, the unbelievers, with their own religions, were able to speak in tongues more than the Christians did in those particular settings. And so let's not be mistaken about supernatural phenomena, being the way to recognize the spirit. Another way that we might think of recognizing God's Spirit is by results by lots and lots of people flocking to know God. And on the Day of Pentecost, that certainly happened. Peter preached a message calling people to repent and to trust in Jesus and 3000 people were added to the church that day, and it was the work of the Holy Spirit, no doubt about it. But you will not always recognize the Holy Spirit by the 1000s of people who are drawn in all at the same time. The fact is that phony religion often attracts more people than real faith in Jesus Christ. And so you can't recognize the Spirit of God simply by how many people talk a certain way, or how many people flock to a particular cause. Nowadays, spirituality is very popular with many, many people, but it's often not a spirituality that comes from God's Spirit. There are some very large religious In the world, with millions and millions of followers, but they are religions that do not come from the Spirit of God in all cases, and so results when there is real conversion and mass conversions that comes from the Holy Spirit. But that's not the way to recognize sometimes Christians are a very small and despised group, but you can still recognize the Spirit of God in them. Well, how do we do that? If it's not the ability to speak in tongues? If it's not the sheer results of large, large groups of people following a particular perspective? How do we recognize the Spirit of God? That's where First John can really help us. When we want to recognize God's Spirit, there are three main things The first is belief in Jesus. And first John shows us that God's Spirit reveals Jesus as the Son of God, as the Messiah, who became human, to be our sacrifice, and Savior. That's a loaded statement. And we'll explore it a little further. But that's the basic belief in Jesus that comes to someone who has the Spirit of God. A second aspect of recognizing God's Spirit is fellowship with the apostles. Now, this apostolic fellowship is something where God's Spirit connects people to the book that the Holy Spirit inspired scripture, and to the body, that the Holy Spirit indwells the church. And again, we will say more about that in a moment. And thirdly, God's Spirit is recognized by the fruit by what happens in a person's life, God's Spirit empowers act of love for God, and for other people, and obedient living, where we live holy lives, becoming like the God who lives in us like the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. So let's look at each of these in more detail. And as we do that, let's first just read a chunk from First John, First John chapter four, in which we see these three emphases very strongly. Your friends do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God. Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God, this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and even now is already in the world. You their children are from God, and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. Notice, there can be vast numbers where you might think even the world is going a different direction. That is not a sign of the Spirit. The Spirit is at work in God's people, and not necessarily in the world at large. We are from God. And whoever knows God listens to us. But whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of falsehood. Your friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us. He sent His one and only Son into the world, that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Your friends, since God so loved us, we also want to love one another. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him and He in us because he has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen him testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in Him, and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. Now just looking at that passage, we see those three things, belief in Jesus, apostolic fellowship, and godly life. And we see those things throughout the whole letter of first, John. So let's take just a little closer look at that. First of all, belief in Jesus. This is how God showed His love among us. He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love heart that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Now in that statement, you see two main things. God said his one and only son. That's who Jesus is God's one and only Son, the one who is Himself, God the Son. And so you need to know that about Jesus, who he is, and also why He came. He came as the supreme expression of God's love. And he came to pay the penalty for our sins to be the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice, the one who suffers in our place, and takes our punishment that our sins deserve, so that we can be forever right with God. You need to know those two main things about Jesus, who he is, and the meaning of his death. There's more to know about Jesus's than that, of course, his teaching his life, all that he's come to do, but who he is, and why he died. Those are of supreme importance. Now, throughout First John, key things are said about Jesus, he's the Christ, which means he's the Promised Messiah, of the Jews set by God to fulfill his promises. He's the son of God that stated again and again, He is the true God, and eternal life. That's Jesus. In a nutshell, if you just have to know one sentence, He is the true God, He is eternal life. To have him is to have eternal life. As John says, Here, he who has the Son has life, He who does not have the Son of God does not have life. And Jesus is the Son of God, but he's also come in the flesh.
That's a key thing. And we'll see a little bit more about that he has come in the flesh. There were false teachers at the time of John, sometimes they're now called Gnostics, who claimed that Jesus did not come in the flesh that the Son of God did not come as a human being. And it's very important to know that Jesus is not only God, but that he's also completely human God come to live among us the word become flesh, as the Gospel of John chapter one, verse 14, says, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and a mark of the Holy Spirit, His belief in Jesus as the Son of God, come in human flesh. And he did this to die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. It says that a number of times, and he came to deal with Satan, to destroy the devil's work. The teaching of First John about Jesus is very brief, but very rich, and the basics are there, the conqueror of Satan, the sacrifice for sin, the son of God come in human flesh, the Christ, the Promised Messiah of the Jews, what tremendous teaching and this is how we recognize the Spirit of God, any spirit that denies these things, any spirit that does not display and teach these things about Jesus is not from God, no matter what might seem attractive about that particular teaching or spirit. The spirit of antichrist, is mentioned in first John a couple of times, every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist. There was teaching at that time that John was opposing, teaching that there was a Christ Spirit, who came on Jesus, the man at his baptism, and then left Jesus again before his crucifixion. So Christ and Jesus were divided, they were united only between Jesus baptism and his crucifixion. But before that, Jesus was not the Christ. And after that period, Jesus was not the Christ. And so there was this separation of the Christ spirit, from Jesus in the flesh, and the spirit that acknowledges that Jesus has come in the flesh, that the Son of God has been flesh from the moment of his incarnation in Mary's womb, and remains flesh still today. That is what the Spirit of God teaches, and it's the spirit of antichrist, to deny either that Jesus is God or to deny that Jesus has come in human flesh, who is the liar. It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ such a man is the Antichrist and he's not just denying the sun. He denies the Father, too. Now, John points out that we don't need to wait around for one big huge meanie at the into the world to be the Antichrist. He says you've heard that the Antichrist is coming about now many antichrists have already come. I've mentioned already. The dasa tests are Gnostics who were teaching at the time of John and afterward, and they were denying that Jesus was God or that Jesus had was the Christ come in the flesh.
A couple of centuries later, a bishop named areas began to teach that Jesus was the first creature, that before he was Jesus, he was a spirit creature, but he was the first creature he was not God, the Creator, He was not truly the eternal Son of God, equal to the Father. And this was a terribly powerful heresy that nearly took over the Christian church, and only by God's Spirit was it stopped. And more recently, we've had variations on this denial of Jesus being fully God, and fully man, Muslims 600 years after Jesus began to teach that Jesus is not God appearing among us, but just a prominent prophet. And the Muslims also deny that Jesus came as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. They say Jesus did not die at all, but that as a property was taken directly to heaven. And so you see, there is a fundamental direct denial among Muslims, of the two hallmarks of who Jesus is and why he came. Muslims deny that Jesus is God, and they deny that he's an atoning sacrifice the very two things, that first John emphasizes the most. Unitarians and theological liberals teach that Jesus is not God, but just a great teacher who had a lot of a sense of God within him. Mormons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints teach that Jesus came from Mary's union with the visible body of Elohim the Father. And so Jesus had a beginning. And Jesus is not fully equal to God, the Father and Mormons also emphasize salvation more by works than by the atoning work, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses, deny that Jesus is fully God. They teach that the Archangel Michael gave up his angel nature, to become Jesus, the man and Jesus was never God, I want you to notice, these are not just nice little varieties in religious opinion, according to first, John, these are teachings of anti christ. These are anti Christ's who have come into the world ahead of the final antichrist and they deny who the Christ really is, they deny the saving work, the atoning death of Jesus Christ, for our salvation, many anti Christ have already come. And you need to be able to recognize the spirit of antichrist, and how the spirit of antichrist and its teaching differs from the teaching from the Spirit of God. So that's the first thing in recognizing God's Spirit belief in Jesus. God's Spirit reveals Jesus as Son of God and Messiah, who became fully human, to be our sacrifice and Savior. Secondly, apostolic fellowship is a mark of God's Spirit. God's Spirit connects people to the book, he inspired the Bible, and to the body, that the Spirit indwells the church. First John begins with these words, That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched. This, we proclaim concerning the word of life, the life appeared, we have seen it, and testify to it. And we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was when the father and has appeared to us, we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. First thing I want to point out, who is we are us here. It's John and his fellow apostles, who knew Jesus, who lived with Jesus who heard the voice of Jesus here on Earth, who looked at Jesus with their own eyes, who touched Jesus who ate with Jesus, these appointed apostles, these appointed eyewitnesses, were telling what they had seen and heard and handled, concerning the Word of Life, Christ who had lived among them. Now, John says, I'm writing these things so that you'll have fellowship with us and our fellowship is with the Father, and with Jesus Christ. If you're not in fellowship with the apostles, you are not in fellowship with Jesus Christ.
And notice what he's saying. Again, this is opposed to the ideas of the Gnostics that the spirit only seemed to be human in Christ and only appeared to be human, and only appeared to have flesh. You see, the Gnostics were anti body. They didn't like the body and John emphasises, we saw his body, we heard his voice, we touched his body, we know that he had a real body. And now we're proclaiming to you that real body of God made flesh. And we're doing it in human words. The Gnostics wanted something that was not human flesh, and they wanted something that was not communicable in human words that could not be spoken in human words, they wanted mysteries. They didn't want something that could just be spoken. And God has given us His Son in a body. And God has given us His gospel in human words, human body, and the human words. And those who deny the human body of Jesus, or the human words of Scripture as the revelation of God, are not in fellowship with the apostles. There's an emphasis here, you've got to be in fellowship with the teaching of the apostles, and with the body of the Apostles in order to be in fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. Nowadays, it's popular say, oh, I can be a Christian without the church. But the Church is the Body of Christ. And you can't be in fellowship with Christ without being in fellowship with His body. Notice what John says, even now many antichrists have come, they went out from us remember us is the apostles or the apostolic church, the body built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the chief cornerstone, as it says, elsewhere in the Bible. They went out from us, they bailed out the Church of the apostles. But they did not really belong to us at all for if they hadn't belonged to us, they would have remained with us, but they're going showed that none of them belong to us. Leaving a church that is in union with the apostle is a very, very serious matter. Now. In some churches, there's been an emphasis on what's called apostolic succession. And they say that the true church is marked by bishops, who originally had their hand had hands laid on the by the apostles. And then those bishops lay their hands on more bishops who lay their hands on more who laid their hands on more down to our generation. And that's what apostolic succession is. But apostolic succession is not just the succession of who managed to get whose hands laid on them. It is the succession of the spirit, and of the teaching of the apostles. And notice what John says it's not just the apostolic body, then but also the apostolic truth, they book we are from God. And whoever knows God listens to us. That's apostolic succession. The people who listen to the Bible, to the testimony of the apostles in the New Testament, and of course, all of the Old Testament scripture that the apostles were echoing and building upon, were from God, and whoever knows God listens to us, you know that you are a true Christian and a true church of Jesus Christ. If you're listening to the Bible, if you're adding all sorts of sources of information besides the Bible, or denying the Bible, then you are not truly from God. Whoever is not from God does not listen to us apostles. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of falsehood. So do not abandon the body of Christ, the Apostolic Church, do not abandon the truth of the gospel of Christ, the book, the Bible, the apostolic truth. That's how you recognize the Spirit of God is in line with the body and with the book. So belief in Jesus apostolic fellowship and then thirdly, what's your life like? God's Spirit empowers active love, and obedient living. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers, anyone who does not love remains in death.
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Your children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth, and over and over? In First John, we're told that someone who claims to be in the light that hates his brother is still in the darkness. Anyone who claims to love God but doesn't love his brother can't be a child of God because it's impossible that if you don't love your brother, whom you've seen, you can't look have God whom you haven't seen. And so loud is a hallmark of really having the spirit of love. In you, Neal, remember, the apostle Paul said, in Galatians, five, the fruit of the Spirit is, well, first of all, love. And without love, there is no spirit, along with love, and just in case, we think that love is just kind of a feeling, and then it doesn't matter what we do, we can kind of do whatever we want. There's also obedience to God's commands, we know that we have come to know Him, if we obey His commands. The man who says, I know him, but does not do it, he commands is a liar. And the truth is not in him. Those who obey His commands live in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us we know it, by the Spirit He gave us you see that connection between recognizing the spirit and obeying God's commands. When you have the spirit you love. And you listen carefully to God, you study his word, you study, especially the words of Jesus, but also the rest of the scriptures, and you obey his commands. And that's how you know that you live in him, and that he lives in you. So again, there are many ways of that are proposed for recognizing the Spirit of God. But the scriptures inform us that if you believe the truth about Jesus, if you're connected, and in fellowship with the apostles, with the apostolic book, and the apostolic Body, the Church, and if you're living a life of love and obedience, then you can recognize that you have the Spirit of God, and that he's working in you, and where those things are lacking. The Spirit of God is missing. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God, Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him, you have the very life of God, the Holy Spirit of God, living inside you. And this is what gives you the ability to believe. This is what connects you to the body and to the truth of the Bible. And this is what helps you to live like God, and to love like God, because God is actually living in you, and God is actually loving through you. These are the marks of having the Spirit of God. And again, let me remind you of the purpose, the purpose is to test the spirits to test your own spirit. And when you see these marks, it strengthens your assurance again, and again. And again, first, John says, I'm writing these things so that you will know, I want you to know, I want you to recognize, I want you to know, God wants us to have clear, strong assurance that we belong to him, that his Spirit lives in us that we are safe, we belong to Him. If we fail these tests of the Spirit and discover that our own spirit is not indwelt by the Spirit of God, then we've discovered something very worthwhile as well, we can't have assurance of salvation. But we will have discovered that we need to be born again, we need to be born of God. And so God can show us our great need. And that's often the first step in bringing us to noubar. So there's tremendous value in testing your spirit, either to assure you of salvation you already have, or to show you the need to receive salvation. There's also great value in testing other spirits if you test the spirits, and you find that this person or group of people,
passes these tests that they believe the truth about Jesus, that they are part of the Apostolic Church and they hold to the Bible, and that there's love and obedience among them not perfect. If we claim to be perfect, then obviously, we've already failed the test. Because John says in chapter one, if we claimed it without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us if we confess our sins, He's faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. So in these tests, it's not like you get a 100%. On every test, we sin we have weaknesses sometimes in our beliefs. We certainly have dreadful weaknesses in our life, but we keep repenting of those and turning to Christ and, and where these basic tests are their belief in Jesus trust in the scriptures and belonging to the church and loving and obeying them. When we see that and other people. We say hey, whatever we might disagree on whatever might come between us. Those people are Our brothers and sisters in Christ, they might disagree with us about the timing of when God created the world. They might disagree on the exact roles of men and women in the church. They might disagree on the question of speaking in tongues or what have you. But if they are in fundamental agreement on these tests for recognizing God's Spirit, then their brothers and sisters and we ought to embrace them, love them, and treasure them as fellow followers of Jesus and support one another in our walk with Jesus. If you run into a group or a teaching or an individual who doesn't pass these tests, stand firm, resist the fakes, recognize the Antichrist, and don't go along with them. There's tremendous value and benefit in knowing the truth about spirits who do not belong to Jesus Christ. So let me remind you one last time belief in Jesus God's Spirit reveals Jesus as Son of God and Messiah, who became human to be our sacrifice and Savior. Apostolic fellowship, God's Spirit connects people to the book, he inspired the Holy Scripture, the Bible, and the body, that the Spirit indwells the church. And thirdly, the transformation that brings about a godly life, God's Spirit and powers act of love, and obedient, living, and all of this has been written so that we will know. And John ends his epistle by speaking of knowing, we know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin. The one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, hand that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also, that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, even any Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Your children, keep yourselves from idols. Trust, the one who is the real and living God and resist the fakes and rejoice that we know that we belong to him.