What is the Truth

1 John 4:1-6


Testing the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Who do you believe, and what do you know to be true?

Eugene Peterson’s translation of 1 John 4:1 in The Message is rather blunt and straight forward: 

My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.

Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John are rather blunt, too:
“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
(John 8:31b-32, NRSV)

We learn over time, don’t we? We learn who to trust, who to believe, what to trust and what to believe. There have been times when I listened to, trusted and believed in someone or something that I later learned not to be true. I am sure I am not alone.

So how do we know? What is truth? How do we know for sure?

I won’t go into media and what is true and what is fake – this is not the place for that conversation.

Let’s focus right now on our relationship with God, and God’s relationship with us.

When it comes to your walk with God and your faith in God, what are your “truth tests?” What do you seek to find the truth about who God is, and what God is all about?

I will offer a few “truth tests,” and I invite you to share your own with me.

  1. God is love. And all God is, and all God does, is out of love.
  1. God created, and what God created is good – very good. And, God loves what God created.
  1. We are all created in God’s image.
  1. God’s desire is not to condemn, but to save. 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
  1. Our role as children of God is to remember that God is God, and you and I are not.
  1. Jesus offers the answer to what is the greatest commandment by saying, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)


Look – we are back to love. Hmm.

So, when it comes to lying preachers, let’s begin with love.

That is the truth that will set us free!


Let us pray:

Almighty God, open our eyes and our hearts to your truth. May we hear it, be filled with it, guided by it, and follow you in keeping it true. As you have loved us, so empower us to love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


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