The False Teachers of the Light


Prayer:  Help us, Oh, Lord, to see the lies and hypocrisy of those who would alter and miscommunicate Your precious Word.  Encourage us to read your Book of Truth with a mind and heart set on Your Spirit that we might rightly interpret its veracity.  Help us to find those who speak the truth of your Word in love, Amen!

Main Scripture:

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.  (1 John 4:2-3)

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 (1 John 4:8-10)

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so, we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4:13-16)

We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Associated Scriptures:

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans 5:17-18).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:4-6).

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (John 3:17-18).

Correlative Quotes:

It is necessary to distinguish the "Spirit of God" from false "spirits" (i.e., spirits advocating falsehood), "because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (cf. 2:18-27). False spirits (utterances or persons inspired by a spirit opposed to Christ) produce false teaching. John was speaking here of the "false prophets" as the mouthpieces of the spirit that inspired them, not as the foretellers of future things.[1] – Thomas Constable

Without any reason or consideration on our part, and without any desert in us; we ought also, in like manner, to love one another, and not suspend our love to a fellow-creature, either on his moral worth or his love to us. We should love one another for God’s sake; and then, no unkind carriage of a brother would induce us to withdraw our love from him; for if it has GOD for its motive and model, it will never fail.[2] – Adam Clark

It is not necessary, in order to a proper interpretation of this passage, to suppose that he intentionally deceives. The sense is, that this must be a false profession. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, etc. It is more reasonable to expect that we should love one whom we have seen and known personally, than that we should love one whom we have not seen. The apostle is arguing from human nature as it is, and everyone feels that we are more likely to love one with whom we are familiar than one who is a stranger. If a professed Christian, therefore, does not love one who bears the Divine image, whom he sees and knows, how can he love that God whose image he bears, whom he has not seen?[3] – Albert Barnes



The critical issue with God is obedience.  The test of every believer’s salvation is unconditional love.  Our love is an outright expression of what has happened inside.  With the indwelling of the Spirit of God, we now have an agent of the Trinity that councils us, convicts us, teaches us, and directs us toward obedience and its expression, love.

The Spirit of God and Love

  1. Recognizing the Truth: “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” (vs. 2b-3a). 1 John 4:2b-3a describes in a few words the primary test of truth in the believer and the lie of unbelief. Those who say that Jesus has come in the flesh, God born in the form of flesh (1 Timothy 3:15, John 1:1, 14), are speaking the truth. The truth is that Jesus is God in the flesh.  Those who deny Jesus as God in the flesh are liars.

Jesus Christ came in flesh of a perfectly holy kind, and hence there was in Him that wonderful manifestation of eternal life, of which the first verse of the epistle speaks. To deny His coming in flesh would mean the denial not only of the possibility of this dear manifestation amongst us, but also of there being in Him the Divine fullness to be manifested. But the matter is put here even more strongly. We need not wait for a flat denial for even non-confession of the truth betrays the spirit of antichrist.[4] – F. B. Hole

  1. Recognizing the Love: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (vs. 9). Salvation, by grace through faith alone, was accomplished by the shedding of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). If you have confessed verbally, out loud, before God Almighty, that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life and the Lord of Heaven (God Himself) and if you believe with all your heart the God has raised Jesus from the dead, then you are a true believer (Romans 10:9-10).  This is the ultimate expression of our belief and the test for the salvation of others. 

Our salvation was accomplished by Jesus alone.  He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  He is our redeemer (Luke 1:68).  He is the atonement for our sin (1 John 4:9).   Galatians 3:13-14 explains the doctrine of atonement when it says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

  1. Recognizing the Power: “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” (vs. 13). After the appearance and indwelling of the Spirit of God at Pentecost believers knew that they were truly God’s children, born again in Christ because they had the power of the Spirit of God. Today we have that same Spirit living in us and we have access to that same power.  Through that power, we can communicate with God (James 5:16), interpret scripture (John 14:26), praise and worship Him (John 4:23), and lead others to a saving knowledge of Christ (Acts 1:8).
  2. Recognizing the Result:

But the law, by reason of our depravity, never produced love. We were commanded to love, but we did no such thing. The spirit that is in us is selfish, and it lusts to envy and to enmity. Why do wars and fights come among us? Come they not from our lusts? Since the Fall, man has become man’s bitterest foe upon the earth, and the world is full of hate, slandering, struggles, fighting, wounding, and slaying. All that the law can do is to show the wrong of enmity and threaten punishment, but it cannot supply an unregenerate heart with a fountain of love.[5] – Charles Spurgeon

Christ left His position of authority to come to earth and be our kinsmen redeemer (Philippians 2:7).  His decision to die for the sin of mankind was an extreme act of unconditional love shown towards us.  We love because he first loved us (vs. 19).  We can only love because God loved us first.

Summary Statement:

Jesus was a real person.  He became a human being just as all mankind began as a baby born in natural childbirth from a woman who was completely human.  The fact that spiritually He is also God does not change the truth of His physical birth (Matthew 1:18-25). 

Not only was Jesus born just as we all experience birth and lived a life as a human being with its trials and temptations just as we live, but He also died a real death just as all mankind dies (John 19:28-30).  John 19:32-35 adds this gruesome account, “Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.”

Finally, unlike other human beings, Christ’s dead body, now lying in a grave, sealed by a great stone (Matthew 27:57-61), rose from death to life (Matthew 28:1-8).

We must recognize Jesus for who He is.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and He is also Life now and everlasting (John 14:6).  Being the Truth, He cannot lie. 

We know that God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit.  God is also truth and so we must worship Him according to the truth. John 4:24-25 says this about worshiping God, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

This same Jesus, who was born as we were born, lived as we have lived, died as we have and will continue to die, but rose again to give us eternal life, loves us.  His birth, life, death, and resurrection are a testimony to that love.  His ascension and continued advocacy (1 John 2:1-2) are products of Christ’s continued love and provision for us.

Lesson within the Lesson:

What is the key question we must ask another person who says they are born again in Jesus and yet seem to be teaching heresy?

Explain the basis for saying that God showed his love to each one who believes.

Explain the statement, “Salvation is by grace through faith alone.”

What is the essence of our love and in what ways should it be expressed to others?

[1] Thomas Constable, Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable, Ibid, P. 89.

[2] Adam Clark, The Adam Clarke Commentary on Revelation, Ibid, P. 897.

[3] Albert Barnes, Notes Explanatory and Practical, Ibid, P. 4870

[4] Frank Binford Hole, Commentary on 1 John 4:1, Ibid, P. 18.

[5] Charles, Spurgeon, Herein is Love, Public Domain, 1896, vols40-42/chs2448.pdf, P. 1