Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      1 John - Chapter 04 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Dear 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,
    2. and you can know which ones come from God. His Spirit says that Jesus Christ had a truly human body.
    3. But when someone doesn't say this about Jesus, you know that person has a spirit that doesn't come from God and is the enemy of Christ. You knew that this enemy was coming into the world and now is already here.
    4. Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God's Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world.
    5. These enemies belong to this world, and the world listens to them, because they speak its language.
    6. We 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. That is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies.
    7. My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God's children, and we know him.
    8. God is love, and anyone who doesn't love others has never known him.
    9. God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life.
    10. Real love isn't our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.
    11. Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other.
    12. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts.
    13. God has given us his Spirit. That is how we know that we are one with him, just as he is one with us.
    14. God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. We saw his Son and are now telling others about him.
    15. God stays one with everyone who openly says that Jesus is the Son of God. That's how we stay one with God
    16. and are sure that God loves us. God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us.
    17. If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won't be worried about the day of judgment.
    18. A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows that we have not really learned to love.
    19. We love because God loved us first.
    20. But if we say we love God and don't love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don't love the people we can see?
    21. The commandment that God has given us is: "Love God and love each other!"

1 John - Chapter 04

Entered: June 02, 2005

Entered: May 09, 2010

John encourages his readers in chapter 4 to be discerning about a person's relationship with God, thus providing two tests of whether a person is of God or not. The first test is rather straight forward. Does a person confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh? If so, this person is from God, and conversely, those who do not confess Jesus is not from God. By this simple confession we can know the "Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception." (4:6) The claim of a Christian that Jesus is the only way to God sounds conceited and intolerant to a worldly mind. Such a mind conceives that there are many roads to God as if one could devise their own pathway to get to God and God has nothing to do with it. But scripture tells us that there is only one way to God and it is through Jesus Christ. And it is by this confession that we can discern whether a person is from God or not.

John's second test of a person's relationship with God is that person's demonstration of love. He says, "everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." (4:7) Everyone has the capacity to love their family members, but the one who knows God and is from God loves those who God loves, which includes all people. This, too, is our motivation for love - not that a person is or is not deserving of our love or that a person is lovable. Our motivation is that God loves them and we love God, if indeed we are from God. There is a flow to this love. It does not start with us. We do not decide to love God and then He returns our love. It is the other way around. God already loves us and we decide to return His love. God is the source of love and revealed His love to all mankind by sending "His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him." (4:9) When we come to know of God's love for us through Jesus Christ and to accept that love and love Him in return, we also love others since He loves them. However, if we do not love others, it is made clear that we also do not love God nor do we even know Him.  If we claim to love God yet do not love even our Christian brothers, we are a liar. We deceive both ourselves and others. (4:20)

John goes on to tell us that although "No one has ever seen God," (4:12) we see Him in the atmosphere of mutual Christian love. Furthermore, such an atmosphere of mutual Christian love is possible because "He has given to us from His Spirit." (4:13) Those who abide in God become participants in the Spirit of God.