Message Title: ‘Our God is greater!’ Text:1 John 4:1-6
Introduction: I want to begin by asking one of the most important questions I will ever ask you.
- Who are you listening too? Who has your ear? (same question worded differently)
Let me ask you again.
- Who are you listening too? Who has your ear?
And here’s why I ask. Those you listen to, those who have your ear… will also have your heart.
- ‘They’ will also have your heart.
Look, I know some, many of you won’t believe that.
But simple advertising proves it.
- Those you listen to, those who have your ear will have your heart.
- And when ‘they’ have your heart they will also have your pocketbook.
Have you ever seen an ad in the paper/magazine, on a billboard, on TV or the internet… and sometime after that, purchased the product or service? Of course you did, we all have.
- Those you listen to, those who have your ear will have your heart… and your pocketbook.
And while that can have a negative effect on your finances, if those who have your ear are whispering spiritual matters, they too will have your heart. And it absolutely will influence your behavior and beliefs. That’s why the writer of Proverbs 4:23 pleads with us:
- Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
So it’s vital that those we listen to, those who have our ear, are speaking God’s Truth… you got me?
We live in a world with thousands of voices, all trying to push their own agenda on us.
- Who are you listening to? Who gets to speak into your life?
We have a name for those individuals who we allow to have our ears. ‘THEY.’ Am I right?
- ‘They’ said… I read somewhere that ‘they think…
And the truth is, we will be influenced by the ‘theys’ in our lives. And make no mistake, the ‘they’ are competing for our attention and our loyalty.
We have never had in our history, more information
Available, literally, at our fingertips (cell phones, lap tops, tablets, computers.)
We live in a time with so many ‘theys’ it’s far too easy to get distracted. And if truth be told, we like the distractions
- Because ‘they’ keep us entertained when we’re bored.
- But… ‘they’ also keep us from listening to that ‘still small voice of God’… and responding to Him.
Pastor Jack Arnold said this: A Christian must know how to believe and not believe at the same time; that is, he must believe truth and reject error.
The Scriptures demand that Christians be unbelievers as well as believers. This may sound contradictory but it’s like breathing. In breathing one must inhale as well as exhale. Both are absolutely necessary if life is to be maintained. So it is with belief and unbelief…. 1 John 4:1-6 tells us that it’s impossible to believe truth… without rejecting error.
Last Sunday, John told us that God is greater than our feelings. Today, John will tell us, that God is greater than the world and what it whispers into our ears.
Transition: Open your Bibles to 1 John 4:1 where we’ll find ‘Our God is Greater’!
- 1 John 4:1 Don’t believe everything you hear
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
John begins by warning us that there are false teachers (that’s what he means by spirits.) There are false teachers in the world; in your world, in your sphere of influence. So… you need to be careful who you listen to.
- ‘They’ may be teachers, acquaintances, friends, celebrities, relatives, church people or just ‘they.’
- ‘They’ seek to be the authority in your decisions, whether overtly or covertly.
- And ‘they’ will slowly lead you away from Jesus, if you’re not careful.
The Life Application Bible lists some warning signs of hos false teachers whisper lies into our ears to influence us to follow them and their beliefs.
- They claim to have “new truth” or special revelation. Their authority is some leader rather than the Bible. They seek to “add to” or ‘take away’ from the Word of God.
- They twist Christian doctrine. They string together unrelated verses in order to “prove” some unbiblical viewpoint.
- They promote salvation by works. They stress what you do in order to be accepted by God.
- They undermine the assurance of eternal life in God’s grace.
That’s why John tells us to test the spirits, to see if what they say is true. Test is a technical term used in determine the strength of metal. It means to see if it’s up to the standard.
And John tells us the standard: Are they from God?
Is what they’re saying, consistent with God and His Word?
- The final authority for all teaching concerning faith and practice, is the Bible and only the Bible.
- Our authority is not reason, nor is it experience. It’s the infallible, inerrant Word of God the Bible.
So when ‘they’ are whispering in our ears and speaking into our lives,
- we must have some reasonable understanding of what it is we believe about the Christians faith, and have some sort of grasp, of God’s Word
- to discern whether it’s from God or not,
Christian, that means we need to be lifelong students of the Bible. To do that you can take advantage of the teaching forums we have here at CBC:
- Small groups like ‘Women’s Walk, ‘Men’s Breakfast’, ‘S2S,’ Married Couples group and others, Sunday Worship, Pioneer Girls, Bible Blast, GYM, to name a few.
- And take time at home for independent study.
Be intentional about letting God’s Word saturate your life. So that when ‘they’ whisper into your ears, you’ll know it does not meet the standard of God’s Word.
Transition: Next, John will focus on where ‘they’ often go astray from God’s standard.
- 1 John 4:2-3 Jesus is the test
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.
John is giving us a specific test to see if what ‘they’ say, is true, if it comes from God. He writes that every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
But this perhaps can still be a problem for us. There certainly are people who have confessed that Jesus came in the flesh, they said they believed in Jesus’ incarnation. But that didn’t change the fact that they were not truly saved. Jesus Himself spoke about this particular group of ‘they.’ Matthew 7:21:
- Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
So.. that tells me to confess that Jesus has come in the flesh, means more than just mouthing the words.
- Remember John has been telling us throughout this letter, that what we say and how we act must be aligned, must complement one another.
- What we believe and how we behave, must be consistent with each other and with God’s Word.
So, John’s saying the test is not just what someone says about Jesus, it’s also are ‘they’ living in light of who Jesus is? In this case, Jesus Christ… in the flesh. And listen, that’s a… packed statement.
Let me briefly break it down:
Jesus: The name means Savior.
The angel of God announced that to Joseph:
- She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matt 1:21)
The Apostle Peter adds in Acts 4:12
- And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Christ: Is not Jesus’ actual last name, it’s His title. It means Anointed One, or Messiah.
- It’s an OT term referring to God coming in the flesh, as a man.
- It refers to God’s promise to be with His people, to rule them, to bless them, to guild and help them.
- To lead His sinful, wandering people, back to Himself.
Has come in the flesh: Is the manifestation of God not only becoming human, but retaining His divinity.
- Jesus is fully God and fully human.
It’s what John had already taught them in his Gospel:
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, (John 1:1-3,14a)
So, the simple idea behind every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, is this:
- Do ‘they’ believe and live as though Jesus is the only way to the forgiveness of their sin?
- Do ‘they’ believe and live as though Jesus is in fact, God?
Those who do, are saved, are from God. Those who don’t… aren’t.
And those who don’t, are of the spirit of the antichrist, they have taken sides with the unbelieving world which John has already told us, is in opposition to everything that is of God.
Transition: But, Christian, John will tell us that we don’t have to worry about the ‘theys’ around us, those who whisper lies into our ears. You see, while ‘they’ are of the world, we, beloved, are of God.
- 1 John 4:4 God in you
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
This is the central point of Johns argument. Three amazing truths, realities, facts that are undisputable.
- Christian, you are from God.
- Christian, you have overcome the ‘theys’ in your life.
- Christian, God in you, is greater, than he (the ‘they’ and the ‘one’ behind the ‘they) that is in the world.
John has told us a few times already that the Christian, those who have a new kind of life through faith in Jesus…
- are children of God, born of God
- and have God’s Spirit living in them.
- Oh my loved ones, no matter what ‘they’ whisper in your ear… you are a forever child of Almighty God. Never forget that.
Next, John commends the Christians who are reading this letter, for the times they have defeated the lying voices of the ‘they’ around them.
- The Christians didn’t listen to what ‘they’ whispered. Didn’t let what ‘they’ were saying influence their belief or behavior.
- The Christian not only overcame the ‘theys’ around them, they overcame the one behind all of the ‘theys’ in the world… Satan.
And listen, the Christian didn’t, doesn’t defeat the ‘theys’ around them by their own strength or intelligence. No, they overcome the lies and the one behind the lies, because of the strength this new kind of life the Christian has, through faith in Jesus.
- A new kind of life that’s characterized by the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit of God, living inside them.
How does the Holy Spirit help us overcome the lies? By helping us to remember the truth. That’s what Jesus told His disciples before He left them to return to heaven.
- These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:25–26)
So, let’s get the big picture here. John steps back from the details of all of this, the trees if you will, from the ‘Christian’ and the ‘theys’ around them, to a much bigger forest, to God and to Satan in the phrase: He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Just so I’m clear:
- He who is in you (God Himself thorough His Holy Spirit) is great than, more powerful than, mightier than
- He (Satan, the devil) who is in the world.
Listen Christian, Satan can do a lot. BUT…
- He cannot separate us from God’s love.
- He cannot remove God’s Spirit from within us.
- He cannot stop us from being a child of God.
Listen to Jesus’ very own words on this: (John 10:28-29)
- I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
And Christian, no one…includes the Devil himself.
- Christian, Our God IS Greater… period !
Transition: But John says that doesn’t mean the voices of the ‘they’ around us will stop. It’s what ‘they’ do because it’s who ‘they’ are.
- 1 John 4:5-6 Competing voices
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Here John tells us there are competing voices that want to have inroads in our lives…
- the voice of the world/the false teachers in it
- and the voice of God and His Word.
John begins with the voice of the world and the false teachers in it. He’s making a connection between the origin of the false teachers and their message.
Remember John told us the world is the evil system ruled by Satan that’s in opposition to all that is of God.
John’s saying that the reason the false teachers are false teachers is because they’ve bought in to the lies of the worlds sinful system.
- They teach the lies that the world around them wants to hear.
We might call this a ‘secular worldview.’ It’s an understanding of life that does not include God and His Word.
- So, because they’re of the world, because they view life from a completely secular, God absent worldview,
- ‘they’ reject what they hear from those who are of God, who have a ‘God Centered world view’ that teach the truth of God and His Word.
John then says, Christian, those who know God who have a ‘God centered’ worldview, listen to and live to honor God and obey what they hear being taught from His Word.
- The way we have a God centered worldview.
- The reason we listen to the truth of God’s Word when we hear it.
- The reason we reject what the world around us teaches.
Is because of the Holy Spirit of God, living in us, God’s children. It all goes back to the central theme of these verses for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
- The world doesn’t share our values or desires.
- The world doesn’t share our hope.
- The world’s agenda stands in sharp contrast to the lives, we’re called to live.
- The world teaches and promotes philosophies that are in opposition to what we know in God’s Word.
Yet, there are still those in the church who are attracted to it and are then influenced by it. And that happens more often than not, when the Bible, God’s Word, has little place their lives.
- Instead of listening to the ‘still small voice of God’ when they’re reading the Bible,
- They’re listening to whispers of lies from the world around them, because they are not reading the Bible.
But, when the truth of God’s Word, the Bible, has prominence in our lives, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we will not be led astray by error and lies.
Christian, Revelation 3:3 says Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast…
And remember this: No matter what you may be hearing or experiencing in the world around you…
- God… Is… Greater! Let’s pray.