“Summer of Love” // 1 John 4:1-6
The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, July 10, 2022 at our West U Baptist Church campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.
Good to be with you. Welcome those online. Hey, Grab your copy of the God’s Word and meet me in 1 John 4.
Our world is noisy, isn’t it? Our world is loud. If we’re honest, sometimes we don’t even recognize how noisy our world is until we find ourselves somewhere quiet.
There are so many things competing for our attention — our EMAIL, our Social Media, News Outlets, Marketing Companies, Telemarketing Companies…people wanting to get our attention to lead us somewhere.
And one of the challenges we face is learning how to cut through all of the noise to determine which way we should go.
The Problem — But do you know what? One of the challenges in life, with all of those who are trying to get our attention, is to not be led astray or be taken advantage of by a counterfeit offer. Or our identity gets stolen.
Just last Sunday as worship was beginning, I come in from the Missouri City Campus for the 11 am service here, and I see my wife sitting outside of the sanctuary and she says to me, “Someone just got access to my Venmo account and I’ve got to change all of my passwords and make sure someone doesn’t clean out the bank account.”
Friends, can I tell you something? That’s not what you want to hear when you are about to get up to preach.
And the strategy last week was to get what appeared to be a Venmo Transaction, was to make the Venmo transaction look real so that you click a link and “Unknowingly Authorize” the transaction.
Deceptive messaging is always cloaked in what appears to be real. And when you take a bite of that fruit, it can be very expensive.
This is true in the natural world as well.
For instance…let me show you some “look-a-likes” that if you eat them, can kill you.
Grapes or The Canada Moonseed
“The Canada moonseed (Menispermum canadense) is a climbing vine with grape-like leaves and clusters of grapey-looking fruits. These fruits are not grapes however, and are potentially fatal if eaten.” The seeds resemble a crescent moon or Pac-man instead of the normal round or oval variety of edible grapes.
How about this one. Is this….
Tomatoes or Horse Nettle
Do not eat wild tomatoes in the continental United States. More than likely it is horse nettle whose fruit is poisonous from the toxic alkaloid solanine.
Blueberries or Pokeweed
The pokeweed plant makes some berries that look like amazing blueberries. Animals and birds are fine to munch down on them, but a “handful could kill a child, and a little more could take out an adult.”
All of these fruits look very enticing. But taking a bite out of these can lead to a lot of trouble.
Now, think about this with me for a moment. If taking a bite of the wrong fruit can get you really sick or kill you… and clicking on the wrong link can cost you a lot of money…and buying into the wrong Philosophy, Message, or Theology, can have eternal consequences.
In 1 John 4 we see John write to the church, most likely in Ephesus, about how noisy their world is. For these followers of Jesus, it’s noisy because there is a message that has seeped into the church that is diminishing Jesus and elevating the individual. Let’s look at 1 John 4:1-6.
1 John 4:1-6
“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. 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. 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. 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.”
Now, notice a few things with me.
- The word spirit or spirits is used six times to refer to false teachers, the spirit of the world, or the spirit of those who are “ANTI-Christ,” … or those who are opposed to Christ.
- The Holy Spirit is referenced two times.
- As noted in past weeks, many believe that John is addressing the emerging problem of Gnosticism that taught that all “flesh” and all “Matter” was evil. Their conclusion then was that Jesus never really took on flesh.
Now, knowing this, note with me what Warren Wiersbe says.
Warren Wiersbe states…
False Christians in John’s day used two special words to describe their experience: “knowledge” and “unction.” They claimed to have a special unction (anointing) from God which gave them a unique knowledge. They were “illuminated” and therefore living on a much higher level than anybody else.
So, how do you cut through the noise when it comes to the messaging we hear when it comes to Jesus Christ, our Salvation, His Church, and our Theology?
Cutting Through the Noise
- A Word of Warning
- A Simple Test
- A Word of Encouragement
Let’s look at this first one…
I. A Word of Warning
Look again at verse 1 and see this warning.
1 John 4:1
“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.
Beloved – “Dear Friends”. Can you hear his affection and love for them? In verse 4 he’ll say, “Little Children.” We’ve seen him do this in the previous 3 chapters, reiterating his love for them, his care for them, his concern for them, his heart for them.
He says, based on my love and affection for you, listen to me. Listen to my word of warning. There are spirits out there, and he defines who/what those spirits are. They are false prophets/false teachers. There are a lot of voices out there and you can’t trust every voice out there, every take, every opinion.
- He says there are “many false prophets” He’s used this language in chapter 2 as well –
1 John 2:18
“Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.”
- I find myself talking to my kids more and more about this as they’re exposed to “false teachings” often – dealing with the modern day takes on human sexuality, the recent Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision so much more…
- So we shouldn’t be surprised at false teachers. (Turning on TV/posts online/takes online shouldn’t shock us…really it’s not new) –
As a matter of fact, we are warned about false teachers throughout the Bible. Notice this in Deuteronomy, early on in Israel’s history.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
We see this in Matthew’s Gospel in Matthew 7:15.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
As Jesus is speaking of the end times, notice what is included in his description of that time.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Jesus says that as things develop toward his coming, not only will lawlessness increase, and the love of most grow cold, but there will also be MANY FALSE PROPHETS that will ARISE AND LEAD MANY ASTRAY.
You see, we need to be warned because we won’t be sheltered from false teaching.
We want to be, don’t we? That’s the common and natural response — to seek shelter from false teaching and the philosophies of this age.
But, if you have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, or if your simply watch the news, you will have the philosophies of this age forced down your throat.
Ideally, we can protect our children from these teachings, but here’s the truth…it’s impossible to be sheltered from it altogether. John certainly doesn’t say to shelter, to isolate, to seclude ourselves into a Christian bubble away from the world.
Rather, we can be prepared for false teaching. And this is what John is doing. He’s preparing his children in the faith // us to be prepared.
So, how can we be prepared for it? How can we even know it’s false teaching to begin with?
- He says, Test every teacher. Rigorous examination // put under a microscope what’s being taught, said, investigate that post, that claim, that take…
How do we cut through all of the noise?
Cutting Through the Noise
- A Word of Warning
- A Simple Test
- A Word of Encouragement
II. A Simple Test
Here’s the Test (vs. 2-3) — Who Is Jesus?
1 John 4:2-3
“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.”
How do you know if something being taught, that spiritual take, that spiritual post, that spiritual reel is from God or not?
John helps us…What is this preacher / teacher / professor / blogger / vlogger / podcaster/ influencer saying about Jesus?
And how do you know if that thought / feeling / emotion / idea is from God?
John says this: Do they confess / admit / celebrates that Jesus has come in the flesh is from God?
Do they confess and gladly receive that Jesus was sent by God to take care of our sin problem by dying on the cross and raising from the dead?
And the reverse is true as well. If the preacher / teacher / professor / blogger / vlogger / podcaster/ influencer doesn’t believe Jesus came, that he is not the way to relationship with the Father, then not from God.
Quote: Warren Wiersbe says…
To confess that “Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh” involves much more than simply to identify Christ. The demons did this (Mark 1:24) but it did not save them. True confession involves personal faith in Christ—in who He is and what He has done. A confession is not a mere intellectual “theological statement” that you recite; it is a personal witness from your heart of what Christ has done for you. If you have trusted Christ and have confessed your faith, you have eternal life (1 John 2:25). Those who cannot honestly make this confession do not have eternal life, which is an ultimately serious matter.
George Whitefield, the great British evangelist, was speaking to a man about his soul. He asked the man, “Sir, what do you believe?”
“I believe what my church believes,” the man replied respectfully.
“And what does your church believe?”
“The same thing I believe.”
“And what do both of you believe?” the preacher inquired again.
“We both believe the same thing!” was the only reply he could get.
A man is not saved by assenting to a church creed. He is saved by trusting Jesus Christ and bearing witness to his faith (Rom. 10:9–10).
Don’t miss what John is doing here…He is establishing where our minds must be: immersed in the gospel. Constantly considering the gospel – what God did for us in Jesus.
The gospel must be always close to us. When we find ourselves close to the gospel, we hear things that don’t seem quite right, we see things that are off – all because we’re walking with Jesus who is giving us his heart.
We also feel things / sense things / think things that are of God when we are walking closely with Jesus. When the gospel is close to us, our discernment is strong. And the reverse is true – when the gospel is far from us, our discernment is weak.
So, how do we keep the gospel close?
Matt Chandler has a word of practical application on this he derives from John Calvin – How to keep the gospel close: Ordering your life around the gospel. These can help us stay close to Jesus, walk with Jesus consistently so that we can test the spirits well.
- Yearly – some kind of a yearly retreat to connect with God.
- Monthly – A day where you have the opp to get alone with Jesus
- Weekly – Church, Fast Wednesdays (Breakfast/Lunch) & break the fast by having dinner with family or friends.
- Daily – time with the Lord
Let’s Look at this last principle that John shares with us to help us discern the truth and cut through all of the noise.
Cutting Through the Noise
- A Word of Warning
- A Simple Test
- A Word of Encouragement
III. A Word of Encouragement
1 John 4:4-6
“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. 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.”
Notice this great word of encouragement. “Little children” – again, very affectionate, very loving and tender…He says you are from God and have overcome them – anyone antichrist (against Christ).
He says, I want to say this again to you, I’ve already said it before in 2:13-14…”You are overcomers! You have won and are victorious over these.”
And How are they overcomers? This is so good… Instead of the spirit of the world, or the spirit of the antichrist, or the spirit of error…It’s the wonderful Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth
Vs. 4 says… “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
My friends, when you are in Christ, Christ is in you! When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in you.
And there is a clear and distinct difference in identity.
When I was in one of my preaching classes in seminary, we were charged with bringing in a 12 minute sermon to give in class. I have a feeling some of you would have enjoyed that class because the limit for the sermon was 12 minutes.
Well, I had just done a funeral and I decided to get some more mileage from that work, because it was about 12 minutes long.
As I was delivering the message to my class, I saw my professor smile…it was a wryly smile. I had surprised him, and he was going to do something with that moment to instruct the class after I was finished.
After I completed my delivery, he then opened it up for comments. I don’t know what all of the comments were, but I remember that he Challenged us in our funeral preaching to make sure we shared the gospel of Jesus.
You see, funerals are gatherings of both the lost and found…those who don’t know Christ and those who do. And I was doing a funeral recently, and I could see it on the faces.
Look again at what John says in verses 5&6.
1 John 4:5-6
“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.”
John clearly talks about these two audiences…the lost and the found.
So, I was preaching this funeral, and those gathered there who were followers of Jesus were with me…they were engaged. Their countenance showed it.
And those who did not know Christ had life-less blank stares. And some wouldn’t even look up at me.
It was that obvious to me who the lost were and who those were who were the saved. Those who were saved…they are the overcomers.
So, when you have faith in Jesus, you overcome because Jesus has overcome everything and everyone.
Why so important?
Why this message from John here?
Is this really that big of a deal?
The answer is yes, this is a really big deal. It’s a big deal because your joy is at stake. John records something Jesus said in John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
The desire of Jesus is to give us abundant life, more and better life than we can imagine. Don’t you want that? The only way to realize this life is to reject false teachers and the enemy’s strategy to steal and kill and destroy us and believe the gospel and keep it close to us. As we do this, we experience the abundant life that Jesus desires for us to live, and joy that’s unimaginable and at the same time available.
So what’s your next step?
- Be encouraged, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you are an overcomer. That’s what John reminds you today. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross and resurrection, you have overcome!
- Be intentional – order your life around the gospel – Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, Daily rhythms
- Be made new – Do you know Jesus? Have you trusted him to make you new through faith in the gospel?