Chapter 4

4.1-3 spirits. John continues to expound on the source of sin and evil. The results were easily seen in the attacks the church were experiencing. By revealing the source of the evil as spirits, the battle can be engaged and won. To battle the actions without cutting off the intent will only prolong the carnage. The source of sin and evil is spiritual. The test of what spirit is at the root of any action is, does that spirit confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh? This is a direct attack on the spirit of Gnosticism. John singles out the spirit of Gnosticism as the spirit of antichrist.

4.3-6 spirt of truth and error. John clearly points out both truth and error are fueled by spirits. It is the intent behind each of these spirits that reveal their source. True believers have the spirit of Jesus Christ while false believers have the spirit of antichrist. Possibly there was some frustration that these false believers were not hearing John’s admonitions. He again raises the intent issue. If their intent is to hear truth they will hear him. If their intent is wrong they will not hear him. The spirit of truth and the spirit of error are defined by the intent of the believer. If a believer hears John’s instruction, then they are of the spirit of truth. If they discard John’s instruction, they are of the spirit of error. John’s style of contrasting two ideas is bold and decisive and leaves no room for gray, obscure areas. They are plain words but they are easily understood.

4.7-11 love. The outward demonstration of love shows the believer has the same intent as Jesus Christ. If love is not manifest from the heart of the believer, the believer does not know God. The mark of loving your neighbor as yourself grows out of being born of God. If a person does not love, they do not know God. God showed His intent by love. God so loved the world he gave His only begotten Son. Love gives so others are bettered. Because God loved, God gave, because God gave, we live. Love is not proved because we love God. Love is proved because God loved us. This is the pattern for the believer. Love others. Do not wait until they love you. Follow the intent of God by loving others first. We ought (to be under obligation, to owe), also to love one another.

4.12-14 love in action. The action of love shows the world the God they cannot see. No man hath seen God, but men can see the intent of God through acts of love to other people. Love is a language all it’s own. Love needs no words. Love needs no interpretation. Love never needs explaining. Love is the purest example of God man can display. God loved us. We see this by His sacrifice of His son. To love one another is to perfect the love of God in ourself.

4.15-19. perfect love. To confess (to assent, to covenant) that Jesus is the son of God proves the believer is of God. The inner intent reveals the action. The believer follows the pattern and example God sets of love others first. This is to dwell in God, for God is love. He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. The simplicity of this is profound. Countless people have sought to know how to dwell in God. The answer is simple yet profound. John uses simple words to reveal this profound truth. To dwell in God, love others. This is when love is made perfect and God lives in the believer. This intent produces boldness (confidence) in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world. The pattern is set. We love Him because He first loved us. We must love first, and never wait for others to love us first. The epitome of hypocrisy is the claim to love God while withholding love from others. 

4.20-21 hate. John closes this line of thought with a final contrast to illuminate true love. John holds up hate. The image is stark and ugly. Coming on the heels of the last illumination of true love and the power of God’s love, hate is revealed as the scourge it is. Into the light of brilliant love and hope, John holds up the antithesis and the image is etched forever in the mind of the believer. This moment ties all of love together. To love is to be of God. To hate is to be a liar. Love and hate, light and darkness, truth and liar, the seen and the unseen, the intent and the action, the illumination is stellar.

Thanks for reading today….