Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:1-8
Last Thursday allowed us to consider the first mark of a work of God’s Spirit, that being the lifting up of the true Jesus Christ. This week brings us to the second mark of the Spirit’s work. These marks will help us to discern what is truly behind movements, fads, meetings, and other such occurrences in Christian circles. The second mark of God’s Spirit is found in verses 4-5, which are as follows:
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
These verses, inspired by the Spirit and penned by John, show the reader that the ones not working by the Spirit of God, the “them” and “they” of this text, are of “the world” and this makes “the world” hear them. This shows us a confrontation of sorts between the Spirit of God and the world. In short, we can say that the second mark of the Spirit of God is an opposition to worldliness.
This leads us to a very important question that must be answered: what, exactly, is worldliness? To some Christians, worldliness is everything done on this planet; if it is on Earth, it is worldly. This had led to some believers adopting an almost monk-like attitude to the Christian life, something that can be called ‘hyper-separation.’ This attitude, however, ignores what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:10, in which he forbids Christians from withdrawing from the world and its people. Yet, what is “the world?” In short, “the world” in the context of 1 John 4 (and it is a very contextual word) refers to the Lost Man’s way of thinking. It is an unbelieving mindset that ignores the glory of God and the ultimate purpose for all of Creation. It is set purely on how to use the things of this life for maximum physical pleasure. This is what the Spirit of God apposes: not the things of this world, but the mindset of the world.
We must then ask, do we see this mark evident in those we follow? We must, of course, use wisdom in applying this; we can easily misjudge someone’s motives. That being true, what is being taugh by these peoplet? Is it a philosophy of life that focuses on ‘living your life to the fullest’ or ‘glorify God and enjoy Him to the fullest?’ Do we see ‘follow your desires’ or ‘crucify your self and follow Jesus?’ Is it a ‘go your own way’ mentality or a ‘go the way of the Cross’ mentality? One of these is opposed to God’s Spirit, but the other is directly from Him. May this Spirit give us the wisdom to see the difference.