“By this you 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 the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” ~ 1 John 4:2-3
Explanation of the Text: Brothers and sisters, we are engaged in a spiritual battle. This is no secret in the Christian life. The spiritual battle is consistently portrayed across Scripture. We see the antagonism towards Christ through the Gospels, while Paul suffered for His savior through Acts, and John wrote Revelation from Exile on Patmos. Here, John reaffirms this point noting that the Spirit of the Antichrist is in the world. It is for that reason that believers must be on guard, ready to defend that which we know to be true. John begins chapter four with a reminder to not believe every teacher but instead they should be tested. Part of the spiritual battle is the issuance of deceit and false teachings in order to lead people astray and away from faith in Christ, which we know to be the only true way. John does not merely give us this warning though, but he also gives us some practical points to discerning between false teachers and true teachers.
The first point John teaches to us is one of christology. Who is the Christ? Only those who are of the truth can confess the truth while those not of the truth are unable to. The word confess literally means to say the same thing, thus in this instance to confess Christ is to agree with God about who Christ is according to the Scriptures (1).
Examination & Application of the Text: Lessons learned from these verses can be hard to find in terms of practicality, but there are at least two lessons:
- Testing Others: John is pretty straightforward in that the teaching of others should be tested and the first way to test them is through their allegiance. Who is that they confess as Lord?
- Testing Ourselves: While we should expect others to have a high view of Christ, we also need to have a high view of Christ.
As John opens up his first epistle, he begins by proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ. This opening exemplifies both of the lessons that we learn from these verses. Everything in the Christian life comes down to a person’s view of Jesus Christ. Everything is dependent upon who Jesus Christ is in your life.
Questions to Consider:
- Who is the Lord Jesus Christ?
- Who is the Lord Jesus Christ in your life (does who He is in your life reflect who He is in reality)?
- Take some time and read some primary verses about who Christ is (John 1; 1 John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-24)
(1) John MacArthur, 1, 2, 3, John, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007), 157.