Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 23 Mar 2014
1 John 4
1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 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.
4 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.
Since 1966 there were two words from the Bible we held very precious and which has protected the work. The words are, ‘watch and pray’ (Matt 26:41), or to, ‘test the spirits’, for there are many who do not have God’s Spirit. Many claim to be from God, but it’s false. In fact some who claim to have the Spirit of God actually have the spirit of antichrist, where anything in your life take the place of Christ. So we must be careful, and discern which is His spirit and which is foreign.
In our text, 1John 4:2-3, those that deny that Jesus has come in the flesh have the spirit of antichrist. This might confuse some, for who deny that Jesus came in the flesh? Even the Muslims and Hindus acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh.
What then is the full meaning of this word? Does it mean that all these people have the Spirit of God?
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Here we see that through Jesus Christ all things were created! Clearly Jesus is God in the flesh!
This is a mystery. And that’s the difference, because the Muslims don’t believe that God became flesh in Jesus Christ.
Now let us, who call ourselves Christians, see whether we have the Spirit of God or the spirit of the antichrist. We all celebrate Christmas and that Jesus was born.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
He took on our flesh, “in the likeness of sinful flesh”, so that the sin in our flesh can be condemned and overcome.
Why does it say there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus? For the one who abides in Christ Jesus is not found with sin, like irritability or lying in his life. You cannot find something to condemn the one that abides in Him (John 15:1-4).
He became flesh so that we might be set free from the law of sin and death.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
That is, if you walk in the flesh there will be many things in your life to condemn you. While you call yourself a Christian you will still find sin reigning in your members.
If you walk in the flesh then sin will dwell in you. That’s why you find Christians committing the most hideous crimes for they do not abide in Him.
That is why Jesus came to save us from these sins.
It’s like a boy who wants to get rid of smoking. So he throws the packet in the toilet, but soon after buys another packet. He cannot stop for sin dwells in him. He must be set free by Christ and abide in Him.
But for those in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation, for He condemned and overcame the sin in our flesh.
Sin dwells in the Romans 7 man, and that’s why he cannot overcome.
But the one that abides in Christ Jesus can live a life free from sin and therefore without condemnation.
You must become a new creation. Otherwise you will go back to your old life. You can be educated, taught, etc., but without being transformed by Christ Jesus, and then abiding in Him, that old life of a dog will return. No amount of education can save a man.
So that’s where the dividing line lies. Do you believe that Jesus came in the flesh to overcome sin in your flesh? Discern and see if the Spirit of God dwells in you.
There are many preachers preaching so wonderfully, but then things come to light and you realise it wasn’t God’s spirit in them. And they return to their life of sin. They had the spirit of antichrist, for there was something in their life in the place of Christ.
So if you want to distinguish if a person has God’s Spirit, look at his life if he is living a holy life abiding in Christ. Discern if it’s the spirit of God or the spirit of antichrist, which is in the place of Christ.
It’s written that one day many will say,’Lord Lord’ , but He will reply, ‘I do not know you, for you did not do the will of My Father in heaven’ (Matt 7:21-23).
You therefore need not be confused when someone comes to you claiming to be from God, you only need to look if he really believes that Jesus came in the flesh, i.e. is the works of the flesh dealt with in his life through him abiding in Christ.
We also read that when the Holy Spirit comes He will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
If you abide in Christ you won’t have to cry, ‘o wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death!’ (Rom 7:24).
We don’t understand this description but in Paul’s day the punishment of a murderer was that the corpse of the murdered would be tied to the murderer, nose to nose, mouth to mouth and so he would walk and eventually die because of the decaying body attached to him.
Whether you’re a child or grown-up, the Holy Spirit can work this divine work in you that the sins of the flesh is overcome in your life and you’re no longer condemned.