As false teachers infiltrated the church, the apostle John penned his first epistle, and, under the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, he separated out the lies of Gnostic invaders from the truth of God. In doing this John gave us specific tests of truth regarding our Christian faith. Note how many times he writes . . .
- “. . . by this we know that we know Him” How? “. . . if we keep His commandments” (I John 2:3 – NKJV)
- “By this we know that we are in Him” How? “. . . whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in Him” (I John 2:5-6 – NKJV)
- “. . . by which we know that it is the last hour” How? “many antichrists have come” (I John 2:18) – False teachers, “antichrists,” those who deny Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, who deny His deity, had come into the church and John wrote so that they could be purged from the assemblies (note 2:19; 4:4-6)
- “. . . by this we know that we are of the truth” How? That we “love in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18 – NKJV)
- “. . . by this we know that He abides in us” How? “. . . he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him . . . by the Spirit whom He has given us” (I John 3:24 – NKJV)
- “By this we know the Spirit of God” How? “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3 – NKJV) – Gnosticism denies that Christ, very God, has come in the flesh. The modern day version of Gnosticism, the New Age Movement, continues to propagate this lie in the language of our time.
- “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” How? John says of himself and other believers, “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us” (I John 4:6 – NKJV)
- “By this we know that we abide in Him” How? “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us . . . He has given us of His Spirit” (I John 4:12-13 – NKJV)
- “By this we know that we love the children of God” How? “. . . when we love God and keep His commandments” (I John 5:2 – NKJV)
John then ends his refrain by explaining why he has written these things,
- “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (I John 5:13 – NASB)
This letter of I John has always been one of my very favorites, one which enabled me to “know” whether or not I am a true believer, to be able to tell the difference between “truth” and “error.” It is so very relevant for our day. Here are words of “truth,” given to us in the very midst of spiritual warfare, that we might “know that we know Him,” that “we are in Him,” that “we abide in Him,” tests that if we have embraced them and believed them and continue in them, we “know that (we) have eternal life.”
With all the false teaching that is so very prevalent in our day, in the church and outside of it, these truths are invaluable.
Have a good day brethren . . . and as you walk take time to think upon and consider these tests of truth.