“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… 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…
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…
“We love because he first loved us. ‘If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. ‘Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:1-6,13-16,19-21
When we hear ‘whoever,’ we want either to quickly step up and wave a hand for favor and notice, or shrink back and hide if that identity brings disdain or punishment. John spends this whole letter assuring Christians “that they may know they have eternal life,” so every ‘whoever’ brings another test. We either confess Jesus, or we do not. We are either from God, or from the world. We either have the Spirit, or we do not. We either abide in Him and His love, and so love others, or we do not, and cannot. God’s bold whoevers make stark and clear distinctions for every person. (1 John 5:13)
By what do we know what we know and believe? Every day we have a choice whether we will listen to the antichrists who do not confess Jesus, and speak falsehoods and error from the world, or to the Spirit of God, and those through whom He speaks according to biblical truth. The distinguishing factor is what they say and support about Jesus, whether or not He came in the flesh as the divine Son of Man. He is not just a prophet, a good teacher, or one of many sons, but the immutable, unique, holy Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Any lesser identity is inadequate. (John 1:29; 3:16)
By what are we known? How clear is the evidence that we know and love Jesus? Do we readily confess His name and supremacy? Do we exercise Spirit-led discernment? Are we abiding in His love and generously loving our brothers?
Father, test and prove me by Your word and Spirit. Help me live out every assurance that I know and belong to You, so those who meet me, recognize You. (Romans 8:16; Hebrews 4:12)