By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (
1 John 4:13)
“We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” That is what Martin Luther said—and it is true to the Word of God. This is the behavior of belief. Real faith yields tangible results. It is like the wind in the sense that you cannot see it, but you will surely see its effects. John, in his first epistle, writes to expose the false converts that had infiltrated the church and to assure those who were truly saved. John speaks much of a new birth—a spiritual birth that occurs when one comes to Christ. The Holy Spirit regenerates us and comes to abide in us. When the God of the universe takes up residence, there will be evidence!
God is true and so His children believe the truth (
1 John 4:1-6). While we know that genuine faith goes beyond believing
a set of doctrines, nevertheless it is foundational to know and trust a
fundamental set of truths. This rubs
many Americans the wrong way. They want
to be free to believe what they want.
You can be a citizen of
and believe—or disbelieve—as you wish, but you cannot be a child of God and do
so! The faith that saves has Christ as
its object. We must be sure it is the
real Jesus—the Christ revealed in Scripture—and not some Jesus of our own
imagination. That is idolatry, and no
false god can be the basis of true salvation.
Do not follow the world by seeking to be politically correct, but be led
of the Spirit to be theologically correct.
John warns us to be discerning, and not swallow everything we hear
(v.1). Apply the Jesus test (v.2-3), for
every false religion misses it here.
That is the spirit of Antichrist, and those who have the Spirit of
Christ will not subscribe to such.
Orthodox beliefs of themselves will not get you into heaven, but you
won’t get in without them either. The
child of God is a warrior who overcomes false thinking (v.4). We spurn the company of the deceived and find
shelter in the church (v.5-6), “the
pillar and ground of the truth.” ( America 1 Tim.3:15)
God is love and those who have His Spirit in them behave in a loving manner (
1 John 4:7-21). There is this balance of truth and love. Without love, truth becomes rigid and harsh—that
is legalism. Love without truth becomes
soft and spineless—that is liberalism.
What God produces is the Biblical balance. Thus far, in this chapter, John has stressed
the truth side of salvation, and now he will bring the love dimension front and
center. Love is the very essence of
God’s being. Like Father, like son—the
love He has will be reproduced in His children (v.7-10). The cross is God’s graphic demonstration of
His love for us. Since God loved us by
giving His all for our benefit, then we ought to give of ourselves to the
welfare of others—and that is real love (v.11-21). Our objective in love is to be a blessing to
others, but that does not mean we are not blessed as well. Love casts out fear. It gives assurance that we have saving faith.
God is light and God is love. Those who know Him have the same qualities—believing the light of truth and behaving with the love of God.