4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them because greater is He that is in you then he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. 6 [But] we are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears us not. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.1 John 4:4-6
Despite the fact that a swarm of devilish rival-christs, along with their fanboys have gone out into the world, this should be of no discouragement for the children of God. As God’s children, we share in His victory. It can be truly said that we overcome (2:13-14). The basis for our triumph is not in ourselves of course, but because God, the Greatest of all, has come to dwell in us by His Holy Spirit. He is greater than he that is in the world. As Watts put it wonderfully:
Shall persecution or distress
Famine or sword or nakedness,
He who hath loved us bears us through,
And makes us more than conquerors too.
The teaching of the false prophets of 4:1 is enlarged upon here in 4:5. They speak of––or perhaps a more vivid rendering would be “prattle on about”––the world. As one put it well, “The world listens to those who speak its own language.”1 Their nature is worldly, therefore the content of their message is worldly, and the world eats it up with a spoon. Itching ears want ticklish messaging (2 Tim. 4:3).
Worldliness is insanity. In its quest for transcendent glories it bypasses the glory of the Transcendent becoming Incarnate. It is the ultimate self-loathing. The gnostic denial of Jesus Christ coming in the flesh, lusting after secret knowledge, is a longing for “un-creation.” It is the insane desire to be “un-made”. In Jesus, God remade the world. Creation was not evil, it was fallen. In Jesus Christ, the world is saved (2:2). Creation is redeemed, restored, and God says, “It is good” once more. But only in Christ.
Therefore, those who adapt, mar, mangle, twist, torture, or otherwise change the Apostles’ witness regarding Jesus of Nazareth being the Eternal Christ in the flesh are not of God. This is line in the sand between truth and error. Do they affirm the Apostles’ Witness to Jesus Christ’s divinity and humanity? Their answer will tell you all you need to know. Those of God will affirm this fundamental Gospel creed. Those of the world will run headlong into the void. They have the spirit of error (literally delusion/deception).
One final comment is needed. If you hear the witness of God’s Word, you are of God. You cannot hear His voice, unless you have been given new ears by the Spirit of Truth. Once more, simple & straightforward assurance is given to us. If you know God, you will hear the Apostolic Gospel. If you don’t know God, you won’t endure the sound doctrine of Christ’s heralds.
1 Smith, David. The Expositors Greek Testament. Edited by W. Robertson Nicoll. Vol. Five. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979. Pg 190
- 1 John 4:7-10 | God is Love
- 1 John 4:4-6 | Overcoming Swarms of Devils
- 1 John 4:1-3 | Stranger Danger
- 1 John 3:23-24 | The Nail in Timidity’s Coffin
- 1 John 3:19-22 | God is Greater than Our Hearts
- 1 John 3:13-18 | The World Hates You
- 1 John 3:10-12 | Children of God, Children of the Devil
- 1 John 3:7-9 | To Destroy the Works of the Devil
- 1 John 3:4-6 | Sin is Lawlessness
- 1 John 3:1-3 | What Unearthly Love