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First John, chapter 4, part 2

Feb 27, 2018

The first three verses in 1 John 4 speak of spirits that are either of Christ or of antichrist. In other words the origin of the antichrist spirit goes back to the first sin, when Adam and Eve brought the antichrist problem into the world. Their sin was the first occasion where the soul usurped power over the spirit. The soul took upon itself the calling that the spirit was supposed to have.

The soul, however, was—and still is—incapable of fulfilling the call given to the spirit. Only the spirit is spiritual and can make that direct connection to God, who is spirit (John 4:24). That which is of the soul is soulish; that which is of the spirit is spiritual. So when the soul took upon itself a calling that it was not meant to have, the soul was put onto cursed time. It was held responsible to do something that it was incapable of doing.

To find grace and return to blessed time, the soul needed to give up its desire to lead and to submit to the leading of the spirit. Throughout history, a few have done this, and when the full body of overcomers have been united through resurrection and transfiguration at the end of the age, then the governments on earth will begin to change as well.

Governments only reflect outwardly the inner conditions of men, for they are dependent upon men to give them power. As long as there are soulish men in power, governments will remain soulish—some better than others, but ultimately imperfect. It will take the manifested presence of the overcoming sons of God to institute real and lasting change.

Of God or of the World

1 John 4:4 says,

4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them [the antichrist spirits]; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

He who is in you” is the same as what Paul calls “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Isaiah 6:13 prophetically refers to this as “the holy seed,” picturing it collectively as the remnant, the tithe of the fallen tree of Israel that remains true to God. It is also Paul’s “new man” (Ephesians 4:24 KJV) and the “inner man” (Romans 7:22) and also the “new creation” (Galatians 6:15).

John described this holy seed in 1 John 3:9, telling us that it cannot sin because it is begotten of God and because God’s seed abides in him. Being both immortal and incorruptible, that holy seed has overcome the world within itself, and this conquest, as it were, will spread externally until all that is in the world is subjected to Christ.

This is guaranteed, “because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” John continues in 1 John 4:5, 6,

5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 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.

The soul that has usurped authority over the spirit can only speak from the perspective of the world. Likewise, it hears the voice of the world, which speaks through “the spirit of error.” Such is the condition of soulish men. But when “the spirit of truth” begets the holy seed in us, we are given ears to hear the voice of the Master. When we identify with that new man, we discern truth because it resonates with the word of truth that abides inherently within the new man.

The Sheep

This is an extension of what Jesus said in John 10:26, 27, where Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews,

26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

How do we distinguish (in a practical way) those who are Christ’s sheep from those sheep that belong to others? It is simply by whose voice they hear and follow, for Jesus said in John 10:2-5,

2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.

In other words, when we speak the truth, it is not our job to force anyone to become a sheep or to hear our voice. It is better to observe who responds to the truth and who does not. Those who respond are the sheep that we ought to care for, while those who do not respond are sheep that still belong to another shepherd.

It is the Spirit of truth that begets Christ in us by the word, or gospel. I have met many believers who have no interest in truth, for when they hear it, their response is to put up barriers and walls. Even Christians are content with “getting saved,” and after professing Christ, their interest lies only in hearing more about a simple salvation message.

It may be that their salvation is based upon the Old Covenant and that their faith is in their own ability to keep their vow (decision) to follow Jesus. Or it may be that they have been begotten by the gospel, but their soul has remained in authority over their spirit. Or it may be that they are sheep that belong to a denomination or to a man that they consider to be righteous.

Whatever the reason, we search for those who have ears to hear the spirit of truth, and all others we consider to be future believers whose time will come at their appointed time. We must be careful not to consider them to be “enemies,” even if they consider us to be enemies, for we must walk in love always. Love is the chief characteristic of Christ in you.


This is part 22 of a series titled "Studies in First John." To view all parts, click the link below.

Studies in First John


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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones