Knowledge of the Holy

Bible Book: 1 John  4 : 2-6
Subject: Truth, Discerning the
Series: 1 John

The Gospel of John was written that we might know God through a personal relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.

“Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

The First Epistle of John was written that we might know that we know Him. God wants us to know, provides abundant evidence that we are children of God, and expects us to accept that evidence. With all the evidence He provides, it would seem to me that it would be a serious offense for any believer to refuse to accept the evidence He provides.

Security of believers (perseverance of saints) is stressed throughout the New Testament. In John 10:28 we read,

“...I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall 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. I and the Father are one" (John 10:28-31).

We could point to other passages, but our emphasis here has been more on Assurance of Salvation than Security of Believers. Regardless of what position different believers hold on Security of Believers, all Christians desire assurance of salvation.

Once we have assurance of salvation, the Lord wants us to know sound doctrine, to find His will, and to grow in your relationship with Him. There are countless false prophets out there, spreading false, doctrines and seducing not only lost people but many Christians. Christians do not have to be deceived and the Lord has taken all the steps necessary to prevent our being carried away with false religions. And believe me, the danger is as great and the warning as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. Now, before going on, let us read 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”


A. The True Spirit Confesses That Jesus Came in the Flesh, 4:2.

1. Jesus was absolutely human.

2. He was absolutely divine.

B. This Scripture Destroys Gnosticism and All Related Heresies.

1. John 1:1-14 answers Gnosticism and all similar false religions.

2. One principle tenet of Gnosticism was the denial of the humanity of Jesus.

3. Most of the cults of the past two thousand years have their roots in Gnosticism.

4. Your belief in both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus proves your are of God.

C. Any Spirit That Does not Confess the Humanity of Jesus Is a Spirit of Antichrist, 4:3.

The Gnostics taught that spirit is good and matter is evil, and that spirit could not touch matter without becoming contaminated by it. When some of those pagans who had embraced Gnosticism became Christians they tried to synchronize Christianity with their former religion. By the end of the First Century, an incipient Gnosticism was having a negative impact on the church, as all heresies will if left unchecked. God’s first response is seen in the writings of Paul, but in the Gospel According to John the Lord places his heel squarely on the head of the serpent and begins to grind it into the dust, and though it is writhing and striking out today, its doom is set and there will never be a reprieve.

The former Gnostics who came into the church were trying to fit Jesus into the Gnostic scheme. They taught that there was one supreme God, who had created a system of lesser gods - and the lesser gods created lesser gods. Picture a chain running down from God, with each link representing an a god, in a descending order down from the supreme god. Way down the chain, claimed the Gnostics, there was a god they called Logos, a god so far removed from the supreme God that if he became contaminated the contamination could not reach the higher gods, and certainly not the supreme god. At the same time the Logos retained enough power to create the world. He would have been contaminated but he would not contaminate the supreme god. John was the human instrument by which the Lord refuted this false doctrine. Listen to His words:

“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 came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” John 1:1-3.

The word “Logos” means word, with the emphasis on communication. How does God best communicate His message of redemption to us? Through Jesus, the Christ of the Bible, but not the Christ of the cults.

Jesus is eternally the very God of God, not a god (as the Jehovah’s Witnesses version has it, but the God. He is one with the Father, the Second Person of the Trinity. Sadly, during the last half of the Twentieth Century a lot of preachers rejected the Trinity in favor of a unitary theory of God. Francis Shaeffer said that it was the Doctrine of the Trinity that enabled him to move beyond agnosticism to theism. His reasoning was that if God had to create man to meet some need within Himself for fellowship or a relationship, then God was not complete within Himself. There is a horizontal relationship between the members of the Trinity. We are blessed with the privilege of a vertical relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, by the grace of God.

That covers the divinity of Christ, but what about His humanity? John covers that: “And the Word (Logos - Jesus) became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:14. That was probably written around A. D. 86, and now a few years later John was inspired to write:

“...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; and this is the spirit of the antichrist,” 1 John 4:2-3.


“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

A. Believers Are Empowered and Equipped to Discern Between True and False Spirits, 4:4.

1. True believers have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

2. True believers have overcome false teachers and false doctrines.

3. God Who indwells us is greater than any false teacher or false doctrine.

B. False Religions Are of the World, 4:5.

1. Their speech is the speech of the world.

2. The world is “user friendly” to those who are of the world,

3. The world is an enmity with Christ.

C. There Is a Way to Discern Between the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error. 4:6.

1. We are of God.

2. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

3. We have the Word of God.

4. We have teachers to teach us the truth.

5. We have preachers to proclaim the Word of God.

When the Lord called me to preach the Gospel He did not call me to traumatize His sheep; He did not call me to entertain His sheep; He did not call me to psychoanalyze His sheep. He called me to feed His sheep. That means preaching the Word, and the most effective method is expository preaching. New Testament preaching seeks to edify the saints and to equip the church.

D. We Must Discern Between Truth and Error Today.

1. There are many false prophets.

2. There are many false spirits.

3. There are many false doctrines.

E. God Will Give Us a Victory Over False Spirits.

1. He is the answer to Mormonism, which preys on the ignorance of God’s people.

2. He is the answer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who seek out untrained Christians.

3. He is the answer to the occult, with all its movements and approaches.

4. He is the answer to Islam, which attracts support from the liberal media.

5. He is the answer to New Age Movements, of which there are many.

Ann Coulter, in her new book, TREASON, quotes the former Communist Whittaker Chabmers as saying that it had been his fate to witness “the two great faiths of our time” - Communism and God. Communism, he said is “the vision of man without God.” He went on to say that it was man’s second oldest faith: “Its promise was whispered in the first days of creation under the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “ye shall be as gods.” These, he added, were the “irreconcilable opposites - God and man, Soul and Mind, Freedom and Communism” [p. 9).

Let me see if I can fine tune this just a little. From the Garden of Eden until early in the Twentieth Century man lived in a theistic world. Either man believed there is a God or he believes there is no God. Communism, which Ann Coulter rightly identified as the enemy of God and the enemy of the church, was not a normal religion, even though it functioned with religious zeal and with religious organization. There were notable atheists during this time, but basically man believed that God existed, even if he did not commit himself to Him. The Huxleys and Charles Darwin in England, and their counterparts in America were preaching a gospel of evolutionary Humanism. The Scopes Trial in 1925 gave the liberal media just the cause for which they were looking, and within another ten years it was hard to find a college professor who did not embrace evolution and mock special creation.

Shaeffer said that England entered the post-Christian period of her history in 1895, America in 1935. I have often argued in my mind that America - I only knew the Bible Belt - entered the post-Christian era following World War II, but the more I study it the more I realize that as a nation Shaeffer’s date may be closer.

As I said earlier, from Adam until the Twentieth Century man the world was basically theistic, but Humanists did everything within their power to supplant God and enthrone man as sovereign on earth and in human minds and hearts. One man said that he wanted to get rid of “the dying carcass of Christianity” in America. Using the Humanist Manifesto, the Communist Manifesto, the ACLU, and every other force at their disposal, they waged a war against Christianity and the Word of God. The Scopes Trial, the famous Monkey Trial was a major attack on God, the Bible, and the church.

The goal of the Humanists was to get rid of every vestige of Christianity and make America a totally secular society. Then, something happened. At first it was so subtle we hardly noticed any difference, but there was a big difference. We began hearing the term New Age, but sadly, most Christians thought New Age referred to a small bunch of cooks with some weird music. In reality, the Humanists said, “There is no God.” This was an “in your face” attack on God. Masses were turned off by this ugly, offensive attack.

In stepped the New Agers with a response, “Of course there is a god. In fact there are many gods. And if my god suits me and your god suits you we should both be happy for each other. They adopted the moral relativity of the Humanists, but they injected a godless Humanism with s spiritual dimension, and America fell for it. Gallup Polls seemed to indicate that Christianity was winning the war against Humanism. We were not winning the war, the New Age Movements were supplanting Humanism a force that undermines the Gospel.

Then something else happened. When the term New Age began to attract unwanted attention, they dropped that name and continued. With their same influence in environmental issues, in politics, and in social matters. I was first alerted to the satanic subtlety of the movement when I read a book on Post-Modern Times and realized that Postmodernism is nothing more that the same old New Age philosophy. It is being embraced by millions who have no idea what it is to which they are submitting.

Let me stress one important point here: the New Age Movements are deeply rooted in Eastern Mysticism. Guess where we find the roots of Eastern Mysticism? They are planted deeply in the same Gnosticism of which John is warning in this epistle. Sadly, the church as a whole has never come to grips with New Age religious influence. They think we are still fighting a war against “Secular Humanism.” This is a point Ann Coulter misses - even though she does not miss much!

A year or so ago I heard two people asking if we thought our culture was moving beyond New Age to Animism. I responded to one by pointing out that the New Age umbrella is big enough to accommodate Animism, just as it does so many other religions. They only hate Jesus Christ and any Christian who will not compromise with them. Let me stress this again, New Age, or Post-modern religions love religion, but hate Jesus Christ. Is that surprising? Did Jesus not tell us that the world hates Him?

Now, our greatest danger does not come from the center of one of these New Age Movements, it comes from those who have been influenced by them without knowing it. Let me illustrate. Recently I was introduced to a professional lady, a successful, self-assured lady who has a lot of power and influence. Suddenly, she smiled and said, “Oh, I just read your book. I normally don’t like Paul, but I like your book.” She went on to stress again that she did not like Paul. I probed for a reason, but mostly I waited for her to explain her position. She added, “Paul was strictly a product of his times.”
She went on to add that she like to argue about religion.

I don’t! As long as you are throwing light on a subject you should pursue it. But once you begin to throw more heat than light on any subject you may find yourself working under the law of diminishing returns. It you persist the whole thing may blow up in your face. But what was this young attorney saying? She goes to church, reads what she likes from the Scripture, but avoids Paul. What did Paul write that turns her off? Is it possible that she rejects what Paul writes about the roles of men in women in the home? I know there are people who do not like Paul because of what he wrote about homosexuality. Others may not like him because he is judgmental, and still others because what Paul writes is too exclusive.

The truth is, Paul had been a product of his times - but that was before he met the Lord on the Rode to Damascus. After that, he was a product of the mind of God. What he wrote was what he was moved to write by the Holy Spirit. Every word is God-breathed, as thought exhaled by the Holy Spirit.

 6. The truth will protect you against other errors.

The better grounded we are in the Word of God the less likely we are to be deceived by left-wing extremists - and right-wing extremists. There are a lot of church members with good intentions and righteous fervor who nevertheless broadcast errors every day. What about the person who announces that God has given him a message for you. What about the person who tells you he has a “word of knowledge” for someone out there in TV land who has a lower back problem? What about the person who tells you that you cannot be saved without speaking in an “unknown” tongue? We have an answer for these people. Stay with the Word of God and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

What about the person whose only interest is in the Second Coming? We should look for the return of our Lord, but avoid speculations that involved our trying to look over God’s shoulder at His end-time calendar so that we might make specific predictions as to the time of his return. Remember this, there is a lot in the Bible that we may understand and apply and we must not neglect that while obsessing about that which no one can predict. The Gospel is glorious - it is also realistic. Stay with the Word of God to avoid problems - and to enjoy His blessings.


You can know the truth from error. God has empowered you resist evil, He will equip you to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. He has sent His Spirit to guide you. There is no reason for you to be misled. If you are a born again believer you have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the divine Author of Scripture, Who is not the divine Illuminator, Whose work it is to help us understand the Word of God and make an application of it in our daily life. Now, listen to our text again (1 John 4:2-6).