1 John 4

Observation & Interpretation

  • “Test the spirits” – my guess is that this was much more of an issue before the closing of the cannon of Scripture.  As far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t agree with the Bible, it isn’t from God.  But the text here takes it a step further.  “every spiritthat does not confess Jesus is not from God ; this is the spirit of the antichrist.”
  • “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God” – hard to argue with that.  Pretty straightforward.
  • “God is love” – Harder to wrap the mortal mind around that one, but it sure sounds good.
  • Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” This immediately follows the description of God sending his son to die for our sins.  To me that bar is set as high as it can go and we’re expected to reach it.  How do you follow God’s example of sacrificial love?  By living sacrificially.
  • “There is no fear in love ; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”  In the context the phrase “perfect love casts out fear” seems to mean fear of eternal punishment.  Which makes sense because if you are in the Lord, you should have no fear of that.  That said, I worry that some take this phrase out of context and mean for people to have no fear of anything.  Sure, eternally there’s nothing to fear, but a little healthy caution of Earthly things is always good.  And fear of the Lord is obviously prominent throughout the Scriptures.
  • “the one who loves God should love his brother also” – basically “love thy neighbor” – a good reminder

Applications

  • Make sure that the guidance you are being given is in agreement with the Lord’s Word and professes Christ as Lord.
  • Love thy neighbor as Christ loved us – sacrificially.  Meaning, think of others before looking out for your selfish desires.
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