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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 4:4

 

 

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Ye are of God - Ye are under the influence of the Divine Spirit, and have overcome them - your testimony, proceeding from the Spirit of Christ, has invalidated theirs which has proceeded from the influence of Satan; for greater is the Holy Spirit which is in you, than the spirit which is in the world.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ye are of God - You are of his family; you have embraced his truth, and imbibed his Spirit.

Little children - Notes, 1 John 2:1.

And have overcome them - Have triumphed over their arts and temptations; their endeavors to draw you into error and sin. The word them in this place seems to refer to the false prophets or teachers who collectively constituted antichrist. The meaning is, that they had frustrated or thwarted all their attempts to turn them away from the truth.

Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world - God, who dwells in your hearts, and by whose strength and grace alone you have been enabled to achieve this victory, is more mighty than Satan, who rules in the hearts of the people of this world, and whose seductive arts are seen in the efforts of these false teachers. The apostle meant to say that it was by no power of their own that they achieved this victory, but it was to be traced solely to the fact that God dwelt among them, and had preserved them by his grace. What was true then is true now. He who dwells in the hearts of Christians by his Spirit, is infinitely more mighty than Satan, “the ruler of the darkness of this world;” and victory, therefore, over all his arts and temptations may be sure. In his conflicts with sin, temptation, and error, the Christian should never despair, for his God will insure him the victory.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-4.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Ye are of God, my little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

Ye ... Stott pointed out that 1 John 4:4; 1 John 4:5; and 1 John 4:6 all begin with an emphatic personal pronoun: "(1 John 4:4) ye ([@humeis]), (1 John 4:5) they ([@autoi]), and (1 John 4:6) we ([@hemeis])."[17] These refer respectively to (1 John 4:4) John's readers in general, (1 John 4:5) to the false teachers, and (1 John 4:6) to John the apostle and other apostolic witnesses of Christ and the revelation of his doctrine to mankind. This distinction is important.

Ye have overcome ... This ought to be understood as a statement of fact. "By refusing to listen to the false teachers, the sheep have overcome them, conquered them; the seducers have gone out, unable to hold their own within the fold."[18]

He that is in the world ... is a reference to the devil, "the prince of this world."[19] It also includes the meaning that the indwelling God in Christian hearts is greater than any particular advocate of Satan's teaching.

Morris was impressed that, "Apart from Revelation, where it is used 17 times, 1John uses the verb to overcome more often than any other book (6 times)."[20]

He that is in you ... This is a clear reference to the fact of God indwelling, or being "in" Christians, a truth which is no different in any manner from Christ or the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. See more on this in my Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, pp. 97-99.

[17] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 157.

[18] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22,1John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 103.

[19] W. N. Sinclair, op. cit., p. 487.

[20] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1267.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-john-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Ye are of God, little children,.... This, with what follows, is said for the comfort of the saints, and to deliver them from the fears of being drawn aside by the delusions of the false prophets, and antichrists; since they belonged to God, were his elect, and therefore could not be finally and totally seduced; they were the children of God by adopting grace, and could not become the servants of men; they were born of God, and so were kept by the power of God unto salvation, as all that are begotten unto a lively hope are; they were enlightened by the Spirit of God, and had a discerning of truth from error, and therefore could not be imposed upon:

and have overcome them; the false prophets, being in a good cause, fighting the good fight of faith, and having good weapons, particularly the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and invincible arguments from thence; and also gracious assistance from the Spirit of God, who gives a mouth that none can shut, and wisdom that none can resist; as well as an inward experience of the truth, and power of Gospel doctrines: a testimony within themselves, which will stand the whole shock and opposition of the enemy: the Vulgate Latin version reads, "and have overcome him"; antichrist, whose spirit was then in the world; or the world itself, or Satan, the god of the world; and so the Ethiopic version reads, "and have overcome the evil one", as in 1 John 2:13; the reason of which victory, and which adds to the comfort and support of saints in their present warfare, is,

because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world; by "he that is in the world" is meant either the devil, the prince and god of the world, and who goes up and down in it, dwells in the hearts of the men of it, under whose influence they are, and in whom he works effectually; or antichrist, whose spirit was now in the world, and whose doctrine was propagated by the false teachers, in whom he began to appear; but he that is in the saints, either God who dwells in them, and their in him, 1 John 4:15; is mightier than the man of sin, and his emissaries, to keep and preserve from all corruptions, and every false way; or Christ, who dwells in their hearts by faith, and is stronger than the strong man armed, and able to save and deliver out of his hands; or the Spirit of God; and so the Arabic version reads, "the Spirit that is in you"; who is in the saints, as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, as a spirit of adoption, and the earnest of their inheritance; he is able to carry on the work of grace in them, and finish it, and will do it; and he, as a spirit of truth, is more powerful than the spirit of error; and when the enemy comes in like a flood, or pours in a flood of errors and heresies, he lifts up a standard against him, causes him to fly, and secures the saints from being carried away with it: compare with this the Septuagint version of Psalm 124:1, "if it had not been the Lord who was on our side"; which render it thus, "if the Lord had not been in us".


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

3 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.

(3) He comforts the elect with a most sure hope of victory: but yet so, that he teaches them that they fight not with their own power, but with the virtue and power of God.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-john-4.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Ye — emphatical: YE who confess Jesus: in contrast to “them,” the false teachers.

overcome them — (1 John 5:4, 1 John 5:5); instead of being “overcome and brought into (spiritual) bondage” by them (2 Peter 2:19). John 10:8, John 10:5, “the sheep did not hear them”: “a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

he that is in youGod, of whom ye are.

he that is in the word — the spirit of Antichrist, the devil, “the prince of this world.”


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-john-4.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Have overcome them (νενικηκατε αυτουςnenikēkate autous). Perfect active indicative of νικαωnikaō calm confidence of final victory as in 1 John 2:13; John 16:33. The reference in αυτουςautous (them) is to the false prophets in 1 John 4:1.

Because (οτιhoti). The reason for the victory lies in God, who abides in them (1 John 3:20, 1 John 3:24; John 14:20; John 15:4.). God is greater than Satan, “he that is in the world” (ο εν τωι κοσμωιho en tōi kosmōi), the prince of this world (John 12:31; John 14:30), the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), powerful as he seems.


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-john-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Have overcome

See on 1 John 2:13.

Greater

Compare 1 John 3:20.

In you

The Christian society. Compare John 6:56; John 14:20; John 15:4-10; John 17:23, John 17:26; Galatians 2:20(of the individual).

He that is in the world

In 1 John 5:19, the world is said to be in the evil one. Compare Ephesians 2:2.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-john-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Ye have overcome these seducers, because greater is the Spirit of Christ that is in you than the spirit of antichrist that is in the world.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-john-4.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Have overcome them; have successfully resisted them,--that is, the false spirits.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-john-4.html. 1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

4.] Ye (so we had ὑμεῖς ch. 1 John 2:24; 1 John 2:27; his readers clearly and sharply set against the antichristian teachers) are of God, little children (thus he ever speaks to his readers, as being children of God, see ch. 1 John 3:1 ff.), and have overcome (there need not be any evading or softening of this perfect: see ch. 1 John 2:14. It is faith outrunning sight: the victory is certain in Him who said ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον, John 16 ult. The ground of this assurance follows) them ( αὐτούς, the false prophets, thus identified with antichrist. The vulg. has the unjustified reading eum, which is naturally referred to antichrist (Aug(68), Bed(69), and the R.-C. expositors generally); to the world, “devincendo concupiscentiam,” by Lyra; to “antichrist and the world,” by Erasmus), because greater is He (that is) in you than he (that is) in the world.

ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν is most naturally understood of GOD, seeing that ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστέ preceded; for he who is ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ has God dwelling in him. Though, as Düsterd. remarks, it matters not much whether we take it thus, or of the indwelling of God by His Spirit, or of the life of Christ in believers. The former of these is taken by Lücke, al., the latter by Aug(70), Bed(71), Grot., Corn.-a-lap., al.

ὁ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ is the devil, the prince of this world. Having said this, he proceeds in the next verse to identify these false prophets with the κόσμος of which he has spoken.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-john-4.html. 1863-1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4Ye are of God He had spoken of one antichrist; he now mentions many. But the many were the false prophets who had come forth before the head appeared. (83) But the Apostle’s object was to animate the faithful, that they might courageously and boldly resist impostors, for alacrity is weakened when the issue of the contest is doubtful. Besides, it might have caused the good to fear, when they saw that hardly the kingdom of Christ had been set up, when enemies stood ready to suppress it. Though then they must contend, yet he says that they had conquered, because they would have a successful issue, as though he had said that they were already, though in the middle of the contest;, beyond any danger, because they would surely be conquerors.

But this truth ought to be farther extended, for whatever contests we may have with the world and the flesh, a certain victory is to follow. Hard and fierce conflicts indeed await us, and some continually succeed others; but as by Christ’s power we fight and are furnished with God’s weapons, we even by fighting and striving become conquerors. As to the main subject of this passage, it is a great consolation, that with whatever wiles Satan may assail us, we shall stand through the power of God.

But we must observe the reason which is immediately added, because greater, or stronger, is he who is in you than he who is in the world. For such is our infirmity, that we succumb before we engage with an enemy, for we are so immersed in ignorance that we are open to all kinds of fallacies, and Satan is wonderfully artful in deceiving. Were we to hold out for one day, yet a doubt may creep into our minds as to what would be the case tomorrow; we should thus be in a state of perpetual anxiety. Therefore the Apostle reminds us that we become strong, not by our own power, but by that of God. He hence concludes, that we can no more be conquered than God himself, who has armed us with his own power to the end of the world. But in this whole spiritual warfare this thought ought to dwell in our hearts, that it would be all over with us immediately were we to fight in our own strength; but that as God repels our enemies while we are reposing, victory is certain. (84)


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-4.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE TRIUMPH OF GREATNESS

‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.’

1 John 4:4

St. John points out two currents in the stream of humanity, and he points out that there is a motive power which is controlling in each case the apparently irresponsible movements of the shifting throng. We call these two currents the Church and the world, and St. John shows us the two controlling agents which he calls respectively ‘He that is in you’ and ‘he that is in the world.’ And there is no doubt which is the more popular.

I. Is not greatness the aim of so much of the restlessness in the surging throng that passes us?—Men want to be great, they want to lead, they want to emerge from the ruck. At one time they thought that brute strength was going to do it, and this is not the only age of the world which has been prepared to worship an athlete. They thought riches were going to do it, and rich men have power, as we know full well. They thought the clear brain and wise head were going to do it, and yet there are some things absolutely hid from the wise and prudent. This greatness is a splendid aim; ambition may be the last infirmity of noble minds, but no one can be great without it. We may not sit still and look down on life as if we were the epicurean gods of Olympus, or spectators at a football match, whose interest is the interest of the non-combatant. No, it is St. John who is talking about greatness, sovereignty, strength, and he claims that the preponderance is on our side—that is, on the weaker, less popular, discredited side.

II. St. John would reassure us.—He surely would say that the greatest power in the world is goodness. Certainly among much that tends to disquiet us in things around us it is one of the most cheering signs that God’s presence is still with us, that we are able to appreciate goodness where we see it; nay, more, that the fascination of goodness, and the supremacy of goodness, where it is manifestly displayed, stands unrivalled. Again and again, we see knots unravelled by goodness which have withstood the subtle skill of cleverness or the overwhelming force of coercion. It has been said that ‘hearts will only yield to God.’ Cleverness too often arouses the combativeness of the human heart in the desire to find a suitable retort or to win a dialectical victory. Force provokes antagonism as a matter of course. But when behind the futile blow of a well-meaning partisan men hear, however faintly, the great “I AM,” they go backward in involuntary homage and fall to the ground. Goodness seems to be a power which few recognise but every one feels. And as we gaze out on the jostling throng to-day, those forms, few and insignificant, retiring, even despised, are found to exercise a force out of all proportion to their apparent strength. They are the pillars of society. These are the merciful men, whose righteousness has not been forgotten.

III. The ambition comes to most of us at some time or another to be of some good in the world, to be known, yes, to be great, to be famous, at least not to have lived in vain. And then there has come the disappointment which has crushed us in upon ourselves. The world is full of claimants for its posts of honour; it has a tendency to get weary of its Admirable Crichtons, and in sheer wilfulness to ostracise Aristides because his reputation for justice has become oppressive. It does not choose that we should elevate ourselves on the ruins of others; it despises jealousy. It does not value our own estimate of ourselves; it spurns vanity. There are few things more capricious and uncertain than fame, and it is a poor thing when we have attained to it. But goodness, the desire to do our piece of work as well as we can, for its own sake, not seeking a reward, is quite another matter. We began wrongly in looking outside ourselves; perfecting the instrument for God is our hope for usefulness. ‘First give thyself wholly to God, and then to the work which God gives thee to do.’ Listen to the words of the Apostle—‘He that is in you.’ ‘Christ in you the hope of glory,’ as St. Paul had said before him. Is not this the blessed truth which the Incarnation brings home to us? That once in the world’s history a Perfect Man stood forth, Whom we now acknowledge to be God, Who showed us what perfect infancy could be, what it is to be a perfect boy, what power there is in a perfect man; Who showed us what a superficial blemish poverty is, and that pain and even death can be worked into the full message of a perfect life. And it has been revealed to us that ‘As many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God.’ Each of us may become, if Christ be in us, a faint imitation of Christ in our lives and actions. ‘He that is in you.’

IV. Here is a greatness within the reach of all—There is no aristocracy in goodness. Living in one room in Spitalfields will not of itself make you bad, neither will living in twenty in Belgravia of itself make you good. There were saints in Cæsar’s household, there were saints among the publicans and sinners, as well as among the sheltered lives of those who had time to think and room to expand. It is no use saying, If I were some one else I might be great; if I had a different nature I might be good. Read God’s records in the times of old, and see how He raises up his deliverers out of the parts most obnoxious to the attacks of the enemy; how He chooses obscure tribes and younger sons, and those whom the world has sent away, as having no sort of value in the common currency of merit. Bethlehem is the rival of Imperial Rome, Nazareth surpasses the wisdom of the Academy. Judæa itself was a strange country to arrest the gaze of the civilised world. It is open to any one here to-day to do a piece of work which shall last, to be a pillar in the House of God, because he has accepted the fulness of meaning which underlies the Apostle’s word, ‘Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.’ He has received Christ in his heart, and He has given him power, yes, the right, to become the son of God. Here is a work which may well fire the ambition of us all. But we cannot shut our eyes to its extreme difficulty. Before Christ can be in us there must be the absolute and entire surrender to Him of body, soul, and spirit.

—Rev. Canon Newbolt.

Illustration

‘What did St. John know about greatness? After all, he was only a Galilean fisherman, little at home even in the Greek language. Where would St. John be now if we put him down in the world of London, and who would listen to him? But St. John did not lie inert and lifeless in a backwater, still and unruffled, of the world’s stream. He was thrown violently across the agents and the genius of that Empire which claimed to be the mistress of the world. He was thought important enough to be banished for his opinions. And while we are seeking to estimate his power of attaining to greatness or of knowing what greatness meant, I would ask you how many in this congregation could tell me a single fact in the life of the Emperor Domitian, supreme ruler at that time of the haughtiest despotism that the world has ever seen, except, perhaps, that he killed flies? Whereas, I suppose, there are few, if any, who could not narrate many incidents in the career of the Apostle John. There is hardly a home in England, unless it be that of the utterly abandoned, where his writings are not to be found, hardly a church in which you will not find some representation of him either in statue, painting, or glass. We seem to hear, while we are thinking about greatness, the despairing cry of a rival heathenism—“O Galilæe vicisti,” “O Galilean, Thou hast conquered.”’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-john-4.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 4. And have overcome] viz. In your Head, Christ, and by the help of his Holy Spirit, your sweet inhabitant, whereby ye are more than conquerors, because sure to overcome and triumph.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-john-4.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 John 4:4. And have overcome them: From this and several other passages it appears, that the Christians to whom St. John wrote, had not yet been drawn aside by the false teachers, though they were in imminent danger thereof: there had been frequent contests between them; but by steadfastness in the faith, through the grace of God, they had hitherto gotten the victory. And the apostle puts them in mind of the victory which they had obtained, to intimate that the cause was not in the least degree desperate, but that by the same methods they might still go on conquering, and to conquer. See Revelation 2:20; Revelation 2:29; Revelation 19:1-2; Revelation 19:21.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-john-4.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. A character and description given of these Christians to whom our apostle writes. He tells them they were of a nobler descent, of a more excellent pedigree, and higher offspring, than their false teachers; Ye are of God, regenerated by the Spirit of God, quickened by his renovation, led by his manuduction, acted by his influences, animated by his assistances: Little children ye are of God.

Observe, 2. What is affirmed of these Christians, Ye have overcome them; that is, ye have resisted their temptations, withstood their seductions, and all their arts and endeavours to mislead you, when others have been perverted by them.

Learn hence, That by steadfastness in the doctrine of Christ, Christians do overcome impostors and seducers, when unstable souls are overcome by them.

Observe, 3.The reason assigned why, and the means declared by which, they overcome, namely, because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world; that is, Christ, who by his Spirit and doctrine dwells in you, is greater and more powerfully efficacious than the spirit of error, which influences these vile impostors and secucers that are abroad in the world.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-john-4.html. 1700-1703.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 2453

GOD AN EFFECTUAL HELP

1 John 4:4. Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

CONSIDERING the opposition made to Christianity in the apostolic age, it is surprising that it gained so speedy, so extensive, and so permanent a footing in the world. That its establishment was effected through miracles, there is no doubt: but miracles, unless attended with a divine power to the hearts of the beholders, could effect nothing. The very raising of Lazarus from the dead served only to embitter the minds of many against him who had effected it. That which gave energy to the word, and caused it to work effectually for the conversion of men, was the power of the Holy Ghost. Moreover, after that men had embraced the Gospel, every possible method that Satan could devise was used to turn them from it: but millions maintained their steadfastness, even to the end: for, as St. John informs us, “greater was He that was in them than he that was in the world.”

This truth being still as important as ever, I shall,

I. Confirm the assertion as relating to former times—

“Great,” it must be confessed, “is he who is in the world”—

[“Many false prophets,” even whilst the Apostles were yet living, “had gone out into the world:” and great were the efforts which they made to turn men from the faith of Christ. Our blessed Lord had foretold that such persons would arise, and that their efforts would be productive of incalculable injury to his Church and people. “Many prophets shall arise, and deceive many.” “For there shall be false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before [Note: Matthew 24:11; Matthew 24:24-25.].” In accordance with this prediction, we find that “the faith of many was overthrown [Note: 2 Timothy 2:18.];” “whole houses were subverted [Note: Titus 1:11.];” and great multitudes were “turned back unto perdition [Note: Hebrews 10:39.].” At a future period we expect still more extensive ravages of the flock, through these wolves in sheep’s clothing [Note: Matthew 7:15.]: for the Spirit speaketh expressly, “that in the latter times some will depart from the faith; giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron [Note: 1 Timothy 4:1-2.].”

But it is Satan, in reality, that is the great agent in all these transactions: and the men who are more immediately engaged, are his instruments. In “these false apostles, these deceitful workers, who transform themselves into the Apostles of Christ, it is Satan himself transformed into an angel of light [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.].” It is “the prince of the power of the air, even the evil spirit himself, who worketh in all those children of disobedience [Note: Ephesians 2:2.].”]

But “greater far is He who is in the Church”—

[“The strong man armed keepeth his palace, and his goods, for a time, in peace. But there is a stronger than he, who comes upon him, and overcomes him, and takes from him his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils [Note: Luke 11:21-22.].” He rescued millions from the dominion of that wicked one, and preserved them from the assaults of their cruel adversary. And “greater He still is,” than that wicked fiend, and all his adherents.

He is greater in wisdom: for though the “devices” of Satan are inconceivably numerous, and “his wiles” beyond all conception subtle, yet he discerns them all, and knows how to counteract and defeat them all. He is greater also in power: for though Satan is “an angel that excels in strength,” and has millions of wicked spirits, like unto himself, acting in confederacy with him, and under his special controul, He who sitteth in the heavens laugheth him to scorn; and says to him, “Hither shall thou go, and no further.” Earnest as Satan’s desire was to destroy Job, he could effect nothing, till permitted by the Deity; and then could he not move an hair’s breadth beyond his appointed bounds. Not even the herd of swine could he destroy, till he was liberated from the restraint which our Lord’s superior power had imposed upon him.]

That we may improve the assertion for our own use, I will,

II. Confirm it as applicable to the present day—

The same wicked spirit works mightily in the world at this time—

[Various are the instruments he employs, and incessant are his exertions to destroy the souls of men.

He works by open infidelity. It is well known what efforts he has made throughout the whole of Europe, and with what prospects of success; insomuch that his agents boasted that they should soon crush our blessed Lord, and extinguish his religion. And in our own country, if the legal authorities had not interposed to uphold the laws, there is reason to fear that impiety and blasphemy would have filled every corner of our land.

He works, too, by secret discouragements. In every place, he assaults the souls of those who are desirous of being liberated from his dominion. He would persuade them that they are, on some ground or other, excepted from the general invitation to accept of mercy. They are not among the elect; or are too unworthy to obtain God’s favour; or have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, so that their day of grace is passed. All such suggestions are for the purpose of effecting that in individual characters, which, by infidel principles, he endeavours to accomplish on the community at large.

He works also by specious admixtures; mutilating and debasing the true Gospel, by confounding it with the law, and introducing into it terms subversive of its fundamental principles. It matters little to him, how he effects his purpose: if it be by a bold denial of all religion, or a desponding rejection of proffered mercy, or a perversion of the Gospel under a pretended zeal for good works, he equally attains his end: and therefore he varies his assaults according to the diversified characters of men, if by any means he may draw them from Christ, and finally effect their ruin.]

But a mightier power is in us also—

[God is still with his Church and people; and still worketh in them, “mighty to save.”

He is greater to instruct, than Satan is to deceive. The deepest of Satan’s devices he can unveil, to the very weakest of his people; and can overrule them for the accomplishing of his own gracious purposes towards them. Satan hoped, by destroying the Messiah, to subvert his kingdom: but God made it the very means of establishing that kingdom. It was “by death that our Lord overcame him that had the power of death;” and on the very cross he spoiled principalities and powers, “triumphing over them openly in it.”

He is greater also to uphold, than Satan is to cast down.— The efforts which Satan made to intimidate the Apostle Paul were such as appeared sufficient to daunt the strongest mind: but observe how God enabled his servant to triumph in every assault: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed: we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

He is greater too to save, than Satan is to destroy.—Satan would have “sifted Peter as wheat:” but God would “not suffer his faith to fail [Note: Luke 22:31-32.].” In the Epistle to the Church of Smyrna, it is said, “Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: and ye shall have tribulation ten days [Note: Revelation 2:10.].” Mark how Satan is here restrained. If he could have had his own will, he would have cast, not “some,” but all; not “into prison,” but into hell; not for “ten days” but for ever. No “tribulation” short of that would satisfy his malignant mind. But “whereinsoever he, or his emissaries, deal proudly, our God is above them:” and the very means which he uses for our destruction will God make use of for the promoting and effecting of our salvation.]

Two questions, we may suppose, you will be ready to ask:

1. How shall I know by which spirit I am moved?

[This question is easily answered from the preceding context. We are bidden to “try the spirits, whether they be of God.” And this shews the propriety of suggesting the question before us. We have also the answer given: “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God [Note: ver. 1–3.].” Here, then, is a plain test, by which the matter may be tried. Whoever, or whatever, would keep you from a total surrender of your souls to Christ, is from the devil: and whatever would lead you to it, is from God. All the false prophets before spoken of are antichrists: for “there are many anti-christs [Note: 1 John 2:18.]:” and whatever be the particular line they adopt, their object is the same; namely, to keep you from glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. But whatever means our God is pleased to use, his object is, that Christ should be glorified in us. This is the matter contested between God and Satan; as St. Paul also explicitly declares: “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto us. But God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6.].” This exactly accords with the testimony of St. John, and completely answers the question that has been proposed. Know then, that if infidelity would pervert you, or despondency discourage you, or self-righteousness deceive you, they have “the mark of the beast upon them, as clear and visible as the sun at noon-day. The object of them all is, to keep you from Christ. But, whatever leads you to Christ, to believe in him, and serve him, and glorify him, you need no other evidence of its being from God. Reject therefore, with abhorrence, every anti-christian spirit: and receive with gratitude every motion which bears upon it the character and impress of your heavenly Father.]

2. How may I secure the final victory?

[This also it is easy to answer: “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.” “They were of God,” and relied altogether upon him: and therefore they overcame. Do ye the same; and the victory shall be yours also. Never will God forsake those who trust in him: never will he suffer Satan to “pluck one of them out of his hands.” He may leave them to endure many conflicts: but he will be with them, and succour them with great might, and make them “more than conquerors” over all their enemies. No one need to be discouraged on account of his weakness; for “God will perfect his own strength in their weakness.” “His hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is his ear heavy, that he cannot hear.” Still is he as able, and as willing, to save his people as ever; “nor shall one of his little ones ever perish.” Look on your enemies then, my dear children, (that is the meaning of the word translated “little children:” it does not here refer to age or stature, but is a term of endearment, and is so used by our Lord himself to his disciples [Note: John 13:33.];) and say to every one of them, “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain [Note: Zechariah 4:7.].” Only “be ye of God;” and all the powers of darkness shall fall before you, and “Satan himself be bruised under your feet shortly [Note: Romans 16:20.].”]


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Bibliography
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/1-john-4.html. 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 John 4:4. After the apostle has characterized the twofold πνεῦμα, he directs the attention of his readers to the relationship in which they stand to the false prophets.

ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστε] A contrast to those who are ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου; believers are of God, because the πνεῦμα which animates them is the πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ.

καὶ νενικήκατε αὐτούς] αὐτούς is not = antichristum et mundum (Erasmus), but τοὺς ψευδοπροφήτας, in whom the antichristian nature dwells.

νενικήκατε is to be retained as perfect, comp. chap. 1 John 2:13; Calvin inaccurately interprets: in media pugna jam extra periculum sunt, quia futuri sunt superiores. John could say to his readers: νενικήκατε, not only inasmuch as in them was mighty the strength of Him who had said: θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον, and inasmuch as they in Him were sure of ultimate success (Neander, Düsterdieck), but also inasmuch as their opponents with their seductive arts must have been put to shame by their faithfulness, and must have been repulsed by them (Ebrard, Braune). The cause of this victory, however, did not and does not lie in the human power of believers, but in the fact ὅτι μείζων ἐστὶν ἐν ὑμῖν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ;

ἐν ὑμῖν, i.e. θεός (according to Grotius, Erdmann, and others: χριστός); as the believer is of God, God remains in him as the soul of his life; ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, i.e. διάβολος, “whose children the antichrists are” (Lücke). Instead of the more particular ἐν αὐτοῖς, John uses the more general ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, in order thereby to signify that they, although they were for a while in the Church, belong nevertheless to the κόσμος, which the following words expressively bring out.


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-john-4.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 John 4:4. ὑμεῖς, ye) who acknowledge Jesus Christ.— νενικήκατε, ye have overcome) ch. 1 John 5:4-5.—[ αὐτοὺς, them) the false prophets.—V. g.]— ἐν ὑμῖν, who is in you) God.— ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, who is in the world) the spirit of antichrist, or the evil one.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-john-4.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Their being born of God, and their participation of a directive and strengthening influence from him, kept them from being overcome by the plausible notions, the alluring blandishments of the flesh and sense, the terror of persecution used towards them by these antichristian or pseudo-christian tempters; and enabled them to overcome, because the Divine Spirit in them was stronger than the others’ lying, impure spirit.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-john-4.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Overcome them; the false prophets, through whom the spirit of antichrist works, seeking to seduce you from the truth.

He that is in you; God, who dwells in you by the Holy Spirit, enlightening, sanctifying, and strengthening you, and thus preserving you from the wiles of these false teachers.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-john-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

4. ὑμεῖς. Ye, with emphasis and in marked contrast to the false teachers, are of God. The emphasis is intensified by the asyndeton.

νενικήκατε αὐτούς. In the masculine S. John passes from the antichristian spirits to the false prophets who are their mouthpieces. By not listening to these seducers his ‘little children’ have overcome them. ‘A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers’ (John 10:5). Thus the stranger is defeated.

ὅτι μείζων ἐστὶν ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν. Qui audit ‘Vicistis’ erigit caput, erigit cervicem, laudari se vult. Noli te extollere. Vide quis in te vicit (S. Augustine). ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts’ (Zechariah 4:6). It is precisely for this reason that they may have confidence against all spiritual enemies: it is not confidence in themselves (1 Corinthians 15:57 and especially Ephesians 6:10-17). In ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν and ὁ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ we have two personal powers opposed to one another: and therefore ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν must be understood of God or Christ rather than of ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ.

ὁ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. The same as ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (John 12:31), the devil, the father of these lying teachers (1 John 3:10; John 8:44), whose works Christ came to destroy (1 John 3:8). By saying ‘in the world’ rather than ‘in them’, the Apostle indicates that they belong to ‘the world’. “S. John constantly teaches that the Christian’s work in this state of probation is to conquer ‘the world’. It is, in other words, to fight successfully against that view of life which ignores God, against that complex system of attractive moral evil and specious intellectual falsehood which is organized and marshalled by the great enemy of God, and which permeates and inspires non-Christianized society” (Liddon).


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Bibliography
"Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-4.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4. Second test of antichristic spirits—worldliness. In the contest between the Church and the world, they are on the world’s side.

Have overcome— By placing faith in Christ, the world’s conqueror. Note on 1 John 5:4.

Them—The antichristic spirits, who are identified with the world. He…

in you—God.

In the world—Satan, as its inspirer and prince.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-4.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John"s readers had so far overcome these opponents of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit who indwelt them ("He who is in you;" cf. 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:2; 1 John 4:13). The Holy Spirit is stronger than Satan ("he who is in the world"). We overcome Satan, his agents, and his influence as we resist his temptations to doubt, deny, disregard, and disobey the Word of God ( 1 Peter 5:9; cf. Genesis 3; Matthew 4). "You are from God" is the center of a chiasm that embraces 1 John 4:2-6. [Note: Smalley, p216.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-john-4.html. 2012.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 John 4:4. ὑμεῖς emphatic (cf. 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27, 1 John 3:14), as contrasted with the deluded world. The faithful are God’s delegates ( ἐκ), bearing their Master’s commission and continuing His warfare (John 20:21), and they have shared His victory ( νενικήκατε). αὐτοὺς, i.e., the false prophets (1 John 4:1). Eum (Vulg.); “Quem nisi Antichristum?” (Aug.). ἐν ὑμῖν, i.e., God (cf. 1 John 3:24); ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, i.e., ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (John 12:31; John 14:30).


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-john-4.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

You....little children, born anew in Christ by baptism, have overcome him, (i.e. every such antichrist) not by your own strength, but by the grace of Christ, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world; i.e. the Spirit of God in you is above all your enemies. (Witham)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-john-4.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

little children. App-108.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-john-4.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Ye - emphatic. YE who confess Jesus: in contrast to 'them,' the false teachers.

Overcome (1 John 5:4-5) - instead of being 'overcome, and brought into (spiritual) bondage' by them (John 10:5; John 10:8; 2 Peter 2:19).

He that is in you God of whom ye are He that is in you - God, of whom ye are.

He that is in the world - the spirit of Antichrist, Satan, "the prince of this world."


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-john-4.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
are
6,16; 3:9,10; 5:19
and have
2:13; 5:4; Romans 8:37; Ephesians 6:10,13; Revelation 12:11
greater
13,16; 3:24; John 10:28-30; 14:17-23; 17:23; Romans 8:10,11; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 3:17
than
5:19; *Gr: ; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-john-4.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

But you belong to God. "You belong to God and allow Him to teach you!" And have defeated. "You have discovered and defeated these false teachers, because you have God's Truth!" Because the Spirit. "All false teachers have the spirit from the Enemy of Christ. You have the Holy Spirit from God!!! As God is INFINITELY more powerful than the Devil, so the Spirit of Truth is more powerful than the spirit from the Enemy of Christ!"


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-john-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The disciples had overcome them (the antichrists) because they were the children of God. He will care for those who trust in Him, and that will insure them the victory over the enemy because God who is in them is greater than the "wise men" of the world who were trying to seduce them.


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Bibliography
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/1-john-4.html. 1952.

Just as our Saviour is God who was manifest in the flesh, so the antichrist will be the devil incarnate. He is going to gather the nations together and make war against the Saviour ( Revelation 13,20). Satan and all his disciples hate God, hate the Son of God, hate the people of God, hate the Word of God. Let us not be deluded. The issue is very clear. If we stand for the Saviour, it is going to cost us something.

Since we are to take our place and stand for the Person of Christ against the world around us, there is a word of encouragement for us.

1 John 4:4. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Our Lord has already conquered the powers of darkness. The victory is already assured. The Spirit of God who indwells you is greater than the prince of this world, the god of this age.

I want to tell you very frankly and joyfully that when one accepts the Saviour he has a relationship with the Saviour, and the Spirit of God indwells him. Greater is Hebrews , the Spirit of God, that is in you than he that is in the world. The Spirit of God is greater than any other force in the world or in hell, and so the victory is guaranteed.

1 Corinthians 6:15 gives us this same assurance. If we love the Saviour, our bodies become members of Christ, and verse19 states that we become the sanctuary of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us. It is the presence of this indwelling Spirit of God that guarantees the victory.

I love the testimony of a man who had been a slave to drink, a down-and-out alcoholic. He accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and one day someone said to him, "So you have the mastery over the devil at last."

"No!" he said, "No, but I have in me the Master who has conquered the devil."

Of our own strength we cannot overcome sin, or the devil, or the world. But there is in the one who accepts the Saviour the Spirit of God, and "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." You are of God, little children, and have overcome them.

1 John 4:5-6

We have been dealing with the fact that we are to test the spirits by testing their character. We test those who claim to speak for God on the basis of their belief about the person of Jesus Christ. Now we learn that we are also to test them on the basis of their witness. We are to determine the source and the effect of their witness.

1 John 4:5. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.

1 John 4:6. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

We are to test not only the messenger but also the message. Those who have the spirit of antichrist, those who deny the Incarnate Word of God, are of the world. And the effect of their witness is that the world hears them. When we hear someone preach or teach, we need to discern whether the source of their teaching is of the world.

Is it of Satan, the prince and god of this world? We can determine this because the world loves its own. The world speaks of its own. The world exalts man instead of exalting Christ. For the world, man is the center of attraction.

We find in the world a rebellion against God because man wants to be the center. So people of the world are confused. Satan sees to it that they are confused. And I would say to you, until they have their faith and their love centered in the Saviour, they will continue to be confused.

People who are not of God belong to the world. They are of the world. They will gladly hear the world. They do not want to hear the things of God. In contrast, the believer loves to hear the message from God.

Therefore, we have a criterion by which we may test any witness that we hear. The message of the world will make man the center. The message from the Spirit of God will always make Christ the center.

"But when Hebrews , the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative; but whatever He hears, He will speak: and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you" ( John 16:13-14).

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God ( 2 Corinthians 5:20).

For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building ( 1 Corinthians 3:9).

Jesus, speaking of Himself and His work, told his disciples,

"You are witnesses of these things" ( Luke 24:48).

May I add here that the Word of God is the standard of truth. When you choose a church, be sure it is one where the worship of Christ is the central attraction and where you will be taught the Word of God. It is His Word that must be the rule and guide.

Proof Texts

I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, and give thanks to Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth; for Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name ( Psalm 138:2).

In the revised text this is translated,

Thou hast underwritten every word by Thy name.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Now these (the Bereans) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so ( Acts 17:11).

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good ( 1 Thessalonians 5:21).


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Bibliography
Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jgm/1-john-4.html.

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