What does it mean to acknowledge someone? Can this be merely intellectual or emotional recognition? Can this be merely verbal confession? Does any of that count as true (complete) acknowledgment?
What does it mean to love people as Christ loved us – with God-like love? Can we love people and not feel love for them? Or, can we have feelings of love for them and not truly love them? And, can we truly love God and yet treat people with hate (as defined by God, not culture)?
The Lord Jesus led me to read 1 John 4 (Select vv. NIV).
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. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: 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. Vv. 1-3
What is a spirit? It could be a demon or an angel, the devil or the Holy Spirit, or some type of mystical force or influence present in the universe. It could also be the soul, essence, inner self, heart and life of a human being. Or, it could be someone’s disposition, temperament, attitude, nature, character and/or personality. It can, as well, be someone’s fortitude, guts, determination and/or their moral fiber.
So, we are to test these spirits, all inclusive of what is mentioned above, to see whether or not they are of God or of the antichrist. So, what is the measurement for this test? It is whether or not they acknowledge Jesus Christ, who he was and is, and what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, and in being resurrected from the dead victorious over hell, sin, death and Satan.
Well, to acknowledge means to admit, recognize, allow, accept, confess, answer, respond, or rejoin. The opposite of this is to ignore, i.e. to snub, disregard, discount, pay no attention to or to dispense with. I believe that says a lot! What it says is this is NOT a mere intellectual assent nor is it a mere formal declaration or a public confession that someone exists or even of who they are and of what they have done.
What this is saying, I believe, in its fullest extent, is that we should test not only people’s words, which could be “just words,” but we should test their character, attitudes, actions, behaviors, their morality, temperament, and lifestyles, to see whether or not, in these areas, they allow for, receive (agree, consent, say yes to), answer to, join with and follow Jesus Christ, or if they deny, reject, disregard and dispense with him and his Words and the truth of why he gave his life up for us, which was to free us from our chains.
And, first and foremost, we should be testing these things within ourselves.
Outward, verbal confessions of Christ do not necessarily equate true heart and life transformations, in other words. Not saying we will all be perfect, as you know, or that we will never sin again, but that our overall attitudes, behaviors, words, and actions give more testimony as to whether or not we truly are following Christ or if we are following what is antichrist.
This is why scripture stresses so much that we must be walking according to the Spirit (God’s spirit) and not according to the flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God. We must, by the Spirit, be putting sin to death. We must be walking (in lifestyle) in the Light, and no longer in darkness, for if we profess to be in fellowship with God but we are still walking in darkness, then we are liars (1 Jn. 1:5-9; cf. Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 5:19-21).
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. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 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. Vv. 4-6
So, if we are in God, by faith in Jesus Christ, we have overcome the spirit of the antichrist, i.e. that which is opposed to God and his Word and his character, will, purposes, morality, truthfulness, righteousness, and holiness, etc. Thus, we are now accepting of what is of God in the way of truth, holiness, righteousness, justice and mercy into our moral fibers, characters, personalities, temperaments, attitudes and behaviors, etc.
The reality of what Christ did for us in dying for our sins, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, should now be reflected in these areas in our lives, not in absolute perfection, for we are all in the process of sanctification, as followers of Christ. But, they should be reflected in our lives in an obvious heart transformation away from resisting, refusing, ignoring and dispensing with Christ and his witness to our hearts, to an apparent desire for the Lord which is evidenced by our receiving, obeying, saying yes to, and our cooperating with his work of grace in our lives.
If we, who are now in Christ by faith, who are overcomers through Christ who loves us, are now living the truth, walking the truth, and speaking the truth, in love, then those who are of God and who are also acknowledging him by their attitudes, heart, behaviors, and morality, etc. should listen to what we have to say. There should be an immediate recognition in their spirits that what is being said is of God and that what is being said is truth.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. Vv. 7-12
The way we are to love one another is with God-like (agape) love, which centers in preferring what God prefers, and is divinely persuaded as to God’s will, morality, righteousness and holiness. This kind of love will do no harm to another, not on purpose, anyway. This kind of love is looking out for what is in the best interest of others, i.e. what is God’s perfect will for them. So, this love will not lie to, cheat on, steal from, gossip about, or take advantage of others. It will, instead, speak the truth in love to them, show them the way to true peace, joy and fulfillment, and encourage faithfulness, holiness and godliness, even if the one loving is treated despitefully, in return.
In other words, love is not a feeling or an emotion, at least not in this context. So, it is possible to “feel” love and yet not love because we are not acting in love towards others. It is also possible to not “feel” love because of how someone has treated us, and so we don’t have fuzzy feelings about them, but we love them by showing love despite how they have treated us.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. Vv. 19-21
Hate is the opposite of love. Love is giving. Hate is taking. Love is kind. Hate is unkind (defined by God, not by culture). Love is self-sacrificing. Hate is self-centered, thinking only of self, and despite who gets hurt in the process. Love considers the other’s needs and heart, whereas hate considers only the wants of self, without regard for other’s needs or their hearts. Love does no harm to another, whereas hate has no difficulty sinning against others, stomping on their hearts, and doing what is evil against them. Love is willing to be hated for doing good, whereas hate thinks only of self and complains or lashes out if confronted with sin.
Basically, God is love, the devil is hate, and love and hate are opposites. So, if we are acting in opposition to love, then we are acting with hate, most likely. So, we need to examine our hearts, our attitudes, our behaviors and our characters, and we need to ask ourselves, before God, if our lives reflect the love of God or hate for God and other humans, and if they reflect true acceptance of Christ and his Word, or if they reveal that we are ignoring God, disregarding his truths, and thus dispensing with him and them.
An Original Work / May 30, 2011
“Fill me with Your Spirit;
help me to love others;
Let me know Your power;
be an overcomer.
Show me how to follow
Jesus Christ, my Savior;
Be His faithful servant
to obey Him always.
“Lead me with Your presence;
help me know the right way;
Teach me love and kindness,
Give me grace and courage
to be Jesus’ witness,
Teaching His salvation
to a world who needs Him.”
Won’t you come and follow
Jesus Christ, your Savior?
He died so you’d be
free of control of your sin;
Free to follow His ways
in complete surrender;
Living sacrifices –
let His grace transform you.
Sunday, January 14, 2018, 9:58 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your word. I pray we will all test our own spirits to see if they reflect Christ and his Word or if they reflect our flesh, i.e. what is antichrist.