Ministry Of The Spirit – 1 John 4

By John Bellingham on January 25, 2015
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Ministry of the Spirit

 1 John 4

– Chapter 4 does not so much introduce new material as it does reinforce material that the Apostle John has already introduced in chapters 1-3

– John’s main emphasis here in chapter 4 is on the manifold ministry of the Holy Spirit

I. His Ministry of Discernment (vv. 1-6)

  1. Command to ‘test the spirits’ (v. 1)
    1. There is a spiritual reality behind every teaching and prophecy
    2. No neutral ground – we must discern between what is true and false!
  2. Distinction between the ‘spirits’
    1. Holy Spirit tells the truth about Jesus
      1. His full humanity (v. 2)
      2. His full deity (1 Corinthians 12:3)
    2. Spirit of ‘antichrist’ lies about Jesus (v. 3)
  3. Truth is always defined by the authoritative Apostolic teaching – the Scripture (v. 6)

Application: Test everything you hear, read, see, and think against the inspired Word of God. Satan masquerades as an angel of light, and the most dangerous lies always have an appearance of truth.

II. His Ministry of Love (vv. 7-12)

  1. Receiving God’s Love
    1. God is love by definition (vv. 8, 16)
    2. The sending of the Son is the ultimate expression of God’s love
      1. Jesus is the source of spiritual life
      2. Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (recall chapter 2:2)
  2. Demonstrating God’s Love
    1. God loved us before we loved Him
    2. The love of Christians for one another makes the invisible God visible to the world! (v. 12)

Application: Underlying John’s entire discussion of love in vv. 7-12 is the ministry of the Holy Spirit who enables us both to receive and to give the love of God

III. His Ministry of Perfection (vv. 13-21)

  1. Holy Spirit ‘perfects’ God’s love in our lives
    1. ‘Perfection’ = brought to completion
    2. The Holy Spirit enables God’s love to have its full, intended effect in our lives
  2. Perfected love -> Assurance of Faith
    1. ‘Perfected’ love drives out fear of God’s punishment (vv. 17-18)
    2. God will never punish believers for their sins, because the Son has already been punished on our behalf – no double jeopardy!

Application:  Lack of assurance in the life of a Christian doesn’t mean we’re not saved, but it does show that we haven’t fully grasped the depth of God’s love for us – Ephesians 3:14-19


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