SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> As we consider the question today, Who are you listening to, let us read together from 1 John 4:1-6.”Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because 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 of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. And therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
Did you notice here in this passage that John tells us there are two spirits, the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
The question is, who are you listening to?
I want us to notice a number of things that John tells us here to help us with this question.
First of all, let’s notice, don’t listen to everyone you hear.
Read again with me 1 John 4:1. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Don’t believe everyone. Some are just gullible, I know. They’re going to believe anything and everything. It’s like that George Strait song about ocean front property in Arizona. If you believe that, I’ll throw in the Golden Gate Bridge free. Some have been defrauded out of a lot of money because of things like that. But how much worse if we’re gullible when it comes to what God says? We may lose our souls.
In Proverbs 14:15 the Bible says, “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.”
Most of us are not so gullible, but we are apt to more readily believe something we want to hear. We want to believe something if it’ll save us money, for example. We want to believe it if it’s something bad about our enemies or if it’s something good about our children. So because it’s something we want to hear, we don’t really check it out like we should. This is especially true when it comes to our religion. We don’t want to hear anything that disagrees with what we believe, even if it’s what the Bible says.
The apostle Paul warned us about this in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, where he said this, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.”
Even those of us who are more discerning need to beware. False teachers are going to do everything to deceive us. They’re not going to say, Hi, I’m a false teacher, no. We must be constantly on guard.
Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
They’re not going to let us know that they’re out to destroy us. We’ve got to beware.
In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Paul spoke of these deceitful workers. He said, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder. For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. And therefore it’s no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness whose end will be according to their works.”
Just because they call themselves men of God or they carry a Bible and even can quote from it does not mean they’re telling the truth.
John says to test the spirits. Don’t listen to everyone you hear. Be discerning. Check it out. Investigate. Use your brain. Don’t be so gullible. Don’t be drawn away by words that you want to hear. See if it’s the truth from God or the erroneous teachings of the many false prophets in the world.
In Acts 17:11 we’re encouraged to, “like those noble Bereans of old, to receive the word with all readiness, and search the scriptures daily to find out whether these things are so.”
We need to check out what we hear from God’s word, the Bible. That’s going to require diligent study on our part.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Paul says to “test all things, hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil.”
We’ve got to check it out and look for that which is good and right and true.
As Paul told the young preacher Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15,Be diligent That is, you make every effort to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
It’s so important how we handle God’s word, that we don’t just listen to anyone about anything, but that we check it out and see what the scriptures really say. There’s something else that John helps us with here in 1 John chapter 4. He teaches us to listen to what is said about Jesus.
Let’s read it again, 1 John 4:2-3. “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
Now this test of Jesus Christ is not the only test of truth and error.
“ Even the demons confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God,” Luke 4:41.
But we know that they were deceivers. But certainly this is a good place to start.
What is the person saying about Jesus Christ?
It was what was troubling those to whom John was writing. All kinds of strange things were being said against Christ. In chapter 2 we read about the many antichrists that had gone out from among them denying that Jesus is the Christ, trying to deceive them. And you know, we still have such false teachers today who try to deceive us.
They’ll tell us that Jesus was a good man or that he was a prophet, even a high angel, but they refuse to accept him as the Christ, the Son of God, like the scriptures teach. Some would tell us that he is a god, but not the God, that he is not eternal, but that he was created by God.
Those of John’s day were saying that he could not have come in the flesh because the flesh is evil, and the Son of God could not have been tempted and suffered and died. But we know that unless he had, we could not be saved from our sins. It was only the sacrifice of a perfect one who could pay for our sins so that God could be just in forgiving our sins.
We read about this in 2 Corinthians chapter 5. In verse 19 we learn that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.
Verse 21 tells us that “Him who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
So you see, Jesus did have to come in the flesh. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to become one of us. He had to be tempted, he had to be tried, he had to suffer and die as that perfect one to pay for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God.
Now, there are many other tests that we might use in determining who we should or should not be listening to. For example, if someone claims to be a prophet of God and what he said does not come to pass, you know he’s not speaking for God. Let me read to you this test in Deuteronomy 18:21-22. Moses warned Israel here to check out what is being said and see if it really comes to pass.
Notice Deuteronomy 18:21. “If you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken, when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if a thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You shall not be afraid of him. No, those who claim to know something about the future, who make great predictions and those things do not come to pass, don’t listen to those people.”
The Bible also teaches us not to listen to anyone who does not speak according to God’s word.
In 1 Peter 4:11, the Bible says, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.”
So again, we much check it out from the scriptures. Don’t listen to those whose word cannot be backed up with the word of God, the Bible. Don’t listen to anyone who goes beyond what is written. 1 Corinthians 4:6, the apostle Paul warns us against that very thing. There are those who would preach the word, but then they would go beyond the word. They would add to the things that God has given us here. Don’t listen to anyone who would add to it, who would take from it, or in any way seek to change the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible.
Remember Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that, “All scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.”
So we don’t need a new revelation, a modern-day revelation. We have God’s word complete in the Bible, in the scriptures.
Paul also gives this very strong warning in Galatians 1:8-9. He says, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we’ve said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
We know the gospel of Jesus Christ, those of us who are Christians, because we believed it, because we have obeyed it, and we’ve been saved from our sins and free to live for God. We know when someone is changing that gospel and they’re not telling us what the Bible really says concerning it. Don’t listen to those people. Don’t listen to just everyone. Hear what they’re saying about Jesus Christ.
Are their words in accordance with the scriptures as revealed to us in the Bible?
But here is a third and a final test that we learn here from 1 John 4:4-6. Here we learn who you are determines who you listen to.
Let’s read these verses together, chapter 4, verses 4 through 6. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. And therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. And he who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Those of us who have heard, and believed, and obeyed the gospel of Christ, we know the truth. We’ve experienced it. It has brought us forgiveness, it’s freed us from the guilt and condemnation and the power of sin. We know that the one in us, the Holy Spirit, is greater than he who’s in the world, Satan, the devil. We do not have to be afraid of him or think that he has something we need to listen to. No. Why would we listen to the devil? But the world, the world does, because they themselves are of the world, and their ears are open to the lies and deceptions of Satan because they do not love the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.”
I want to read to you today from 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. I want you to notice in this passage how the apostle Paul warns us about the deceptions of Satan and how he would use these deceptions to lead us astray from God, to cause us to fall away from the Lord and from his church. It’s because we really don’t want the truth, we really don’t love the truth, we’d rather go on and do what we want to do. And we fall into these deceptions of the devil.
Here’s what he says, 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 beginning in verse 9: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.´
Of course those of the world who do not love the truth, who have pleasure in unrighteousness, they’re going to listen to the devil. They’ll be deceived by his deceptions. On the other hand, those of us who are of God will listen to those who are of God.
John 8:47 says, ‘He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear because you are not of God.”
Another passage in John, chapter 10, verse 26 and 27 says, “But ye do not believe because you are not of My sheep. As I said to you, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Jesus is saying that he’s like a good shepherd and his sheep follow after him. But those who would be deceived who do not love the truth, who have pleasure in unrighteousness, they will not listen and they will not follow.
So how do we know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error?
By their attitude toward God’s word.
Let me ask you today, who are you listening to?
Are you listening to the spirit of truth or the spirit of error?
Your connection with God depends upon your answer.
If you’re not a child of God, if you’ve never made connection with God, will you turn your ear to him?
Will you hear the truth of the gospel and be saved today?
Turning from your sin, confessing Jesus the Son of God as your Lord and savior, and being baptized into Christ, trusting him for your salvation? I’m sure that many of you have never become obedient to the gospel of Christ. You’ve turned a deaf ear to him for whatever reason. Or perhaps this morning some of you have had your heart opened, your ears opened, and you’re ready to respond to the gospel.
You can do that today. We can help you to do that. If you’re ready to be baptized into Christ, to give yourself to him, let us know here at The Truth In Love so we can assist you in that very matter.
Or visit one of the local churches of Christ in your area, because more than anything else in the world, Satan wants you to stay in the world. But God wants to bring you out. That’s what he’s done for you through Jesus Christ. He wants you out of the world of sin and misery and heartache and sorrow and suffering and death. When we’re involved in sin and we’re condemned by our sins and our connection with God has been broken. God has done everything to reconcile us back to him, to restore that connection.
He’s calling for you today. Are you listening to God today?
Let me tell you about a very dear friend of mine who a number of years ago, it’s been probably over 30 years now, was taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. His wife was baptized into Christ. In time, his two children were baptized into Christ. They all became Christians. But through the years he never made that commitment to Jesus Christ. He never made that decision to become a Christian. Oh, he would attend services with them and he would continue to study and to learn about Jesus, but it wasn’t until just this past week that he gave himself to Jesus Christ.
I hope that it doesn’t take you that long to hear the gospel and to believe it and to obey it. But even now we have opportunity. God is longsuffering, not wishing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. I’m so thankful that God gave opportunity to my dear friend so that he could become a Christian and join us in the body of Christ, the church. We want the very same for you.
Have you become Christian, but you’ve turned a deaf ear to God again?
Listening to the world again, you’ve been called astray.
If you’ve lost that connection you once had with God, come back to God, come back to his church.
Do you need encouragement from God’s people?
Do you need their prayers?
Let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven. And I hope that all of you today will be asking yourself this question each and every time you hear someone speak, are you listening to God? Are you listening to God calling you today?
SINGING>> When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say it is well,
it is well with my soul.
It is well, it is well, with my soul, with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.
It is well, it is well,
with my soul, with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight.
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll.
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend.
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well, it is well,
with my soul, with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today, and we would really like to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas, 76053.
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All of our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We want to thank the many churches of Christ who help support this program and encourage you to visit one of them in your area very soon. Their names will be scrolled on the screen at the end of our program. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.
SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come?
From whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul, from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in.
Above thee watching, he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth, yea for evermore.