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1 John 4:1-6: Spiritual Battles Require Spiritual Help

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world

1 John 4:4

Watch Week Four Day One

A favorite recurring scene in action movies comes right at the big fight moment. The good guys show up to the battle seemingly outmatched by the bad guys. Then, just when all hope seems lost, a glimmer of hope shines over the horizon. Reinforcements show up just in the nick of time, and the good guys know they have what it takes to win the battle.

John, wanting to reassure his readers that they have reinforcements in this very real spiritual battle they face, reminds them of who and what stands on their side: the indwelling Holy Spirit and the objective doctrinal beliefs passed down from the apostles.

Capital-S Spirit

The writings of 1 John as well as other places in the New Testament address the fact that people were falsely claiming to prophesy in the name of God. Not wanting the Ephesian churches to get carried away by the false teachers, John exhorts them to test the spirits. There is only one Grand Canyon, one Milky Way galaxy, one recipe for true Dr Pepper, and only one capital-S Spirit. No counterfeits. Naturally, one might wonder, How do we test the spirits to see if the claim of the prophet comes from the capital-S Holy Spirit? John returns to his doctrinal litmus test and reminds us that the Holy Spirit always testifies that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God come to save His people. Anyone who says otherwise fails the test.

Holy Spirit Testifies

Embedded in John’s instruction about the Spirit is that one of the distinct roles of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity is to testify about and glorify Jesus Christ. The Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—orbit around each other in self-giving, loving relationships. Always seeking to honor the others, the Holy Spirit who dwells in believers must always declare the truth about Christ. When the capital-S Spirit speaks, you can bet Christ will be lifted high.

Bring the Spirit to the Fight

In the very real battle for theological clarity, we do well to heed John’s advice. The church two thousand years ago and today both face opponents who declare half-truths and outright lies about our Savior. Rather than coming unprepared to face this opposition, we should arm ourselves with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and ground ourselves in the historical, apostolic teaching about Christ. What they believed, we declare: Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be the Savior of the world.

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Do you sometimes struggle to know if a claim about Jesus is true? How do John’s words encourage or instruct you in this very real fight?

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