5th Sunday of Easter – B LSB #979
Text – 1 John 4:6
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth & the spirit of error.
KNOWING THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
“…every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming & now is in the world already.” (1 John 4:3 ESV) For all the inflammatory use of the word Antichrist, by some preachers, that actual word appears only 4 times in all of Holy Scripture. Three of them are in 1 John, & the 4th one is in 2 John.
The truth is, God’s revelation of Himself in His Son Jesus has drawn the line of division between the children of God & the unbelieving world. Christ & Antichrist, true prophecy & false, the Spirit of truth & the spirit of error, these confront one another in absolute antithesis. Jesus Himself outlines that division in rather stark terms in the 12th chapter of St. Luke:
“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two & two against three. They will be divided, father against son & son against father, mother against daughter & daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law & daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53 ESV)
Truth & reality are two things mankind has been searching for ever since Eve bought into the lie of the devil. Up until that moment Adam & Eve’s entire existence had been one of truth, only the truth, & nothing but the truth.
The reason truth & reality bring such horrible division is because, on any given issue, some believe the truth & others the lie. The two cannot coexist apart from the love of Christ. Even as He brings division to the world, in Him all things hold together.
We see that in the conflict which goes on in marriage. It’s only the love of Christ, going
back & forth between husband & wife, that is able to overcome the division & carry their relationship forward. Belief & unbelief, truth & error, are now being held together by Christ until the last day. He’s holding them together in order that some might still be saved.
At Judgment Day, it’s not just believers & unbelievers that will be separated. Everything that is true will be separated from everything that is false. You see, we tend to look at the world we live in as normal, because this is all we’ve ever known. Holy Scripture assures us that this is the aberration. This is not the complete, whole & true reality.
That is heaven – a place of perfection & total harmony with no lies & no deception. Today, God’s children have eternal life, but it’s hidden underneath whatever is false. Our brokenness & sin is certainly a reality, but it covers up the perfection & holiness that already belongs to us as children of the heavenly Father.
Heaven is the true reality – creation as God designed it to be. Until we get there we clearly live in not only an imperfect world, but a world where evil is rampant. False teaching is everywhere, so John writes the letter that our epistle reading is from to warn us & to direct us to the truth. In so doing, he is pointing us to life & away from death.
“Beloved, does 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.” (1 John 1:1 ESV) Those false prophets are leading people in the direction of eternal death. False teaching is not something to be toyed around with like you might play with a harmless garter snake.
Satan’s initial temptation of Eve seemed like child’s play, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Who of us has not questioned God’s Word? In our brokenness we can’t help but question it. That’s a constant part of life. That’s why the movement to bring the teaching of evolution into the church is so dangerous. It normalizes our natural tendency to question the Word of God. Even though Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created…” evolutionary teaching is based upon the premise that there is no God. Evolutionary teaching explains the basis of everything in the universe apart from Christ, & without Jesus there is no salvation. Listen to St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians:
For by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven & on earth, visible & invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him & for Him. And He is before all things, & in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:16-18 ESV)
Christ, who Paul says created all things, is the firstborn from the dead. Jesus is the first human being to rise from the dead, never to die again. He is, even now, drawing us to Himself in heaven. There are pastors in Christian denominations who teach that evolution is true, & the creation event of Genesis is not. They are drawing people away from Jesus & from salvation.
“…every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” (1 John 4:3a ESV) Some pastors who teach evolution might actually still believe in Jesus as Savior. However, they have to be inconsistent in their interpretation of the Bible to make that so. Many people listening to compromising pastors recognize the inconsistency & end up rejecting any need for a Savior.
The reason truth & reality bring such horrible division is because, on the issue of creation versus evolution, some believe the truth & others the lie. The reason truth & reality bring such horrible division is because, on the issue of Christ as our Savior from sin, some believe the truth & others the lie.
Once a person has rejected God’s version of how men & women came into being, then it’s not a big stretch anymore to end up where Bruce Jenner has. Satan is attempting to destroy that man’s soul. Sin is not a child’s game. It’s not something to be toyed with. It begins very slowly, & looks very harmless. When sin has done its work, however, it destroys everything right down to your identity. Sin takes away everything you have & gives you nothing in return. It seems pleasant for a time, but devours you in the end. The antithesis of sin therefore is Christ, because He allows Himself to be devoured by death in order that He might give us everything. He takes our sin away & gives us life instead. Unbelief does not believe in that kind of love.
At heart, whether it realizes it or not, unbelief hates that kind of love – thus the drastic line of division that Jesus talks about in Luke 12: “…from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two & two against three. They will be divided, father against son & son against father, mother against daughter & daughter against mother…”
Children of God appreciate the love of Christ & cling to it even when the unbelievers would drive them away from it. That is going on around the world today as children of God are being killed for their faith in Jesus. The line of division there between truth & error is very stark. To the eyes of the world, it appears foolish to cling to this Jesus.
The author of Psalm 119 would not agree: “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law. I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, & I find comfort in them.” (Psalm 119:50-52 NIV)
Human beings certainly are not evolving in any kind of moral way. There’s as much corruption & greed as ever. We see that all over the news. Yet people would ask us to evolve in our understanding of the ancient laws of God & get rid of them. However, the psalm writer finds comfort in them.
He finds comfort because God does not change for the worse. God cannot change for the better because He’s already perfect. Thus the psalm writer trusts in God’s love & promises. They are eternal. God put the tree of the knowledge of good & evil in the garden so Adam & Eve could show God their love for Him. Today, numerous false teachings are running rampant in our culture. It could well be that God has allowed them so we can show God our love for Him, by not giving in to the temptation of those false voices. Instead, we trust simply in Jesus & the Word of God. Whoever knows God listens to the Apostles & the prophets as they are recorded in the words of Holy Scripture.
By listening in humility to God’s Word we will know the Spirit of truth. That Spirit will rescue us from all the brokenness of this world. That Spirit will set us free from the shackles of our sin so that one day we can enjoy nothing but the reality of true life in heaven. Amen.
God, whose almighty word chaos & darkness heard & took their flight: Hear us, we humbly pray, & where the Gospel day sheds not its glorious ray, Let there be light! Spirit of truth & love, life-giving, holy dove, speed forth Your flight; move on the water’s face,
bearing the lamp of grace, & in earth’s darkest place Let there be light! Amen.
 Colossians 1:17
Pastor Dean R. Poellet