(1 John 4) Who is Fair Dinkum?

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"...Test the spirits, whether they are of God..." (1 John 4:1)


We live in a confusing world. So many people say they teach the truth and we should follow them. How do we know who is teaching the truth? 1 John, chapter 4 talks about this very issue.

We are given tests we can use to measure what is "fair dinkum" truth. There are two questions we need to ask of any new idea to see if it is truth.

1 Does it agree with the Bible?

1 John 4 starts out by saying: "Do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

1 Timothy 4:1-2 says a very similar thing, from the pen of Paul: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron."

We need to test the moral and spiritual implications of any new idea. Any idea is false if it denies the deity, humanity, or saving work of Jesus Christ. In other words, anyone who says that Jesus is not fully God, or that Jesus is not fully man, or that Jesus cannot save us from our sins and help us live in victory over sin - is false. Anything less than full acceptance of and obedience to, the divine-human Christ is following the antichrist.

1 John 4:5 tells us that those who are not of Christ are listened to by the world. ("They speak as of the world, and the world hears them.")

Those who listen to and obey God's Word are of the truth.

Beware of anyone or anything that waters down what God's Word says.

2 Will it make me more like Jesus?

This is the second question we need to ask ourselves when faced with any new idea. Will believing this idea or doing this thing make me more like Jesus? There are two parts of God's commandment: Belief in Jesus as the Son of God. And, love for one another. Happily obeying God's rules shows that we have a close, personal relationship with God. And, loving others shows that we are like God.

Verse 17 says: "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world."

A man named Steele has said, "The likeness of Christ consists in the fact that we have...the holiness of Christ...an imparted, inwrought holiness, making us facsimiles of the Lord Jesus Christ."

What is a "facsimile?" We often send a "fax" to people. It isn't the original document that the person on the other end receives, but a copy of the original. We need to be "copies" of Jesus. Does the Bible say that? Yes, it says "As He is, so are we in this world." All through this chapter we are told we are to be "of God."

Two examples are: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them..."(verse 4)

Verse 6 says, "We are of God..."

God was revealed to this world in Christ, and Christ is to be revealed to the world through us!

Our love for God is outworked in our love for others. "He who abides in love abides in God and God in him." (verse 16)

3 How can we be more like Jesus?

Wow! We say, that is a big order! How can I live like this? How can I be so like Jesus that the world is drawn to Him through my life and influence?

We are told in verse 13, "By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit."

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the secret to living the life of a fair dinkum Christian. It is the secret to loving others.

This "abiding" is a present and continuous walk with the Lord. We must keep on abiding in Him. Why would we be warned to test the spirits, if we could not be tempted to turn away? We must keep walking "in the light, as He is in the light" as John said right back in chapter one.

Do not let anyone or any new idea turn you away from following Jesus.

The world around us has much to distract us from following Jesus. Some are turned away by putting their families, jobs, studies, sports, etc., as higher priority that Jesus. What will you say when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ and He asks why you couldn't be bothered to set aside the Lord's Day to worship Him? Your excuse will look rather weak, won't it?

What will you say if you turned away from following the Lord because the things you watched on videos or TV or in magazines or books became more important than the things of God?

An article entitled "Lead us into Temptation" in the March 2001 issue of the Wesleyan Advocate, had a quote from Augustine's Confessions that relates to the current TV viewing which is similar to a problem faced by the first century Christians (long before TV or videos was ever thought of. It seems Augustine's friend, Alypius, was disgusted by the brutality of the gladiatorial games and vowed to avoid them. One day some friends forced him to accompany them to the arena. Augustine wrote that the arena "was seething with the lust for cruelty." Alypius closed his eyes tightly. But he did not close his ears. Something in the fight drew a loud roar from the crowd. Curious, Alypius opened his eyes, and "His soul was stabbed with a wound more deadly than any the gladiator had received." Colson concluded: "He reveled in the gore and he was hooked." Are you hooked on the rubbish put before us as "entertainment?" Are you soaking up sensual sounds instead of hearing God's still small voice speak to your soul?

What are you "hooked on?" Is it what you watch and read that deadens your sensitivity to the things of God? Has "feasting" on the things of this world taken off the "edge" of your hunger for God? It happens easily. Test the spirits to see if they are of God. What is the message of the songs you listen to and the things you read or watch? Our world makes fun of the very things that God has given us. Marriage is made a joking point. Fathers are portrayed as weak and stupid. People acting the part of a church leader are portrayed as cowards and compromisers, or as "with-it" and modern - throwing out the Bible's teachings. Watch what you watch! Your view of life and God is influenced by the things you soak into your mind.


How do we recognize truth? Just like people who work in banks recognize counterfeit money - not by handling the counterfeit notes, but by working with the real money - so we will know truth as we abide in Christ. Ask yourself as you go about your daily life, "Does this agree with the Bible?' "Will it make me more like Jesus?"

To know if anything agrees with God's Word you have to read God's Word. Let it soak into your mind. Read good Christian books and wholesome secular books. Give your heart and mind some "soul food." Spend time alone in prayer. Help others in need. Serve the Lord through your local church. Reach out to others who need to know that there is a God who can meet the deep needs of their soul. There is a God who can give us His perfect love that "casts out fear" as 1 John 4:18 tells us.

Are you His child? Are you walking in obedience with Him? If not, come to Him and let Him clean up your life and guide and direct your path. Are you walking with Him, but becoming discouraged in your walk? Take heart! "Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world."(1 John 4:4)


Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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