Read 1 John 4:1-6
Today we get to listen to Pastor John as he speaks to his struggling church about something they shouldn’t be fighting about: the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The passage provides a clear we versus they framework along with details that we should view with great emphasis.
I’ve talked about how important the church-word “incarnation” is for Christ-followers in the past. Reading this passage stirs up that hornet’s nest once again. Forgive the soapbox, but as we seek to build relationships with those far from Christ, we simply must wrestle with this concept.
God in the Flesh
Those of us raised in Christian homes probably have never stopped to think about how crazy it sounds to question the authenticity of this assertion: Jesus was God in the flesh. We tend to jump straight to John 3:16 without hesitating to consider the full implication of the thought. But this is why Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus in John 3. And probably why John had to summarize everything Jesus was teaching during that all-nighter. If you remember, the seminal verse is not offered in red letters. Look for yourself: John 3:16. The red letters stop at verse 15.
If we don’t believe Jesus was actually a man that walked and talked, we are truly lost. I’m very confident that anyone who is in their right mind would agree that Jesus was a man. But this isn’t the same as being God and human at the same time. This is the definition of incarnation. This is the big deal that John is addressing with his fledgling church.
To begin the discussion, John provides an important preface:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
The idea of false prophets is disturbing. Many look good on the outside but are absolutely wolves in sheepskin. John understands the problem and provides an answer key for his beloved church.
Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:2-3
From John’s perspective, there is an obvious distinction between those who are and those who are not from God. Those who accept the truth of the incarnation are on the right and those who don’t are on the left.
Search your soul. Prayer and meditation offer the opportunity to hear from God. By this, I mean real prayer and sincere meditation. Music is one medium we can use to get lost in prayer, but I would encourage you to use music as a way to prepare yourself for hearing what God has to say. Get lost in the Spirit. Seek to discern His voice above everything else.
When we arrive at this point, the real voice of the loving Father is clear, and we are ready to hear this affirmation:
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
We will hear the voice of the Spirit and know the truth.
We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:6
Surround yourself with people that are listening to this truth. Remind yourselves that there are many who haven’t tried to understand how amazing our God is that He would send Jesus in the flesh to walk and talk amongst dirty, lost, contrary, foolish humans.
If He was willing to get dirty, so will I. Great song. Listen to So Will I and pray for hearts that fully embrace the concept. Think about those who are far from Christ who can’t sing that song, who don’t understand the deep meaning behind each thought.
Know the truth: the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Now go and be a light to a dark world.