This We Know: How Do I Know This is Really from God?

Not everything that claims to be Christian is actually true Christianity. The amount of “Christian” content available for consumption has never been greater and therefore the need to be discerning has never been more important. Why? Because ingesting false teaching will complicate your life, possibly eternally. Therefore we must test everything with the Scriptures to see if the things you hear or see are true.

1 John 4:1-7 Sermon Guide

In this week’s study of 1 John 4:1-7, we will examine the scriptural tests to determine if something is a true work of the Holy Spirit or a counterfeit.

6 Tests to Discern a True Work of the Holy Spirit

  1. A true work of the Holy Spirit will confess the biblical Jesus.
  2. A true work of the Holy Spirit will convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
  3. A true work of the Holy Spirit will point to the Scriptures.
  4. A true work of the Holy spirit will glorify Jesus.
  5. A true work of the Holy Spirit opposes worldliness.
  6. A true work of the Holy Spirit produces love for God and others.

Other Key Takeaways

  • Christian content remains as accessible as ever. However, not all content labeled Christian is spiritual gold and the Church must be able to distinguish truth from err.
  • In this letter, John warns against false teachers preaching a false gospel which threatens to cause his audience to doubt their salvation and be led astray from true fellowship with God.
  • Appearances can be deceiving. Jesus warns against false teachers posing as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Likewise, Paul describes Satan as disguising himself as “an angel of light” and false apostles as “servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
  • If a teacher doesn’t confess the biblical Jesus, run! Who is Jesus?
    1. Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the image of the invisible God — conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary.
    2. Jesus was and is fully God and fully man. Fully God, He was sufficient to die for our sins. Fully man, He died as our substitute.
    3. Jesus came to redeem sinful man through His perfect life, death, and resurrection.
    4. Jesus is the only means of salvation.
    5. Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God.
    6. Jesus will return and will judge the living and dead.
    7. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
  • Beware of false teachers who do any of the following:
    1. Deny the deity of Jesus
    2. Stress our performance of signs and wonders
    3. Advance the Word of Faith Movement (“speak things into being”)
    4. Minimize sin and repentance
    5. Equate the Christian life with health, wealth, and prosperity (“your best life now”)
    6. Seek revelation in isolation or in contradiction with the Scriptures
  • Personal gain is never to be elevated above personal growth in holiness.
  • Today, many churches may have clear, sound doctrinal statements, but lack the joy, love, and growth in holiness of a Spirit-led, Christ-exalting church.
  • The Divine Physician’s General Warning: “Ingesting false teaching will complicate your life, possibly eternally. Test everything with the Scriptures to see if the things you hear or see are true.”

Discussion Questions / Application

For personal reflection:

  • Are you aware of any false teachers or source of false teaching you need to cut out from your life? What lies or areas of your life do you need to be more diligent to rely on God’s Word, Spirit, and people instead of the world?

Discuss with your community group:

  • How can you become better equipped to discern spiritual gold from fool’s gold in your life? What’s at stake when it comes to filtering truth from err for you, those in your sphere of influence, and our Church?
  • What biblical passages would you reference that expose the following claims as fool’s gold?
    1. “I believe Jesus was a good man, and even a prophet, but he was not God.”
    2. “God wants to make you happy and keep you healthy. He wants to help you live your best life now.”
    3. “If you would just believe more, God would answer your prayers.”

Passages Referenced

Matthew 7:15, 2 Corinthians 7:13-15, John 16:8-15, Colossians 1:15, John 14:6, Ephesians 2:5, 1 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16, John 17:17, 1 John 2:15-17, John 16:33, 2 John 7-11.

Read before next Sunday: 1 John 4:7-21