They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 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 and the spirit of error. – 1 John 4:5-6 ESV
1 John 4:1-6
John made a fairly bold claim when he wrote, “We are from God.” He was telling his readers that he could be trusted because what he wrote, he had received directly from God. He was making it up. It wasn’t his opinion or his fading recollections of how things had happened. John had received his message directly from the Spirit of God, just as Jesus had promised. “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26 NLT). John had special help and assistance. So did Paul and the other writers of the Old and New Testaments. Paul made a similar claim when he wrote the church in Corinth, “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths” (1 Corinthians 2:13 NLT). Paul and John both believed that what they were writing, teaching, and proclaiming was the very Word of God. Paul reminded Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV). And Paul was not just referring to the Old Testament. The authors of what would become the New Testament believed what they were writing was from God. Peter said this of Paul, “just as also our dear brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, speaking of these things in all his letters. Some things in these letters are hard to understand, things the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they also do to the rest of the scriptures” (2 Peter 1:15-16 NET). These men were penning the words of God. They were prophets acting on behalf of God. Listen to what Peter claimed:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,i with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Peter 1:16-21 ESV
Peter was confident that what he wrote was from God, given to him by the Holy Spirit. So what they taught concerning Jesus was God’s words, not their own. That is why they were so adamant that their readers, those who believed in Jesus, not be deceived by any other messengers who might teach a different Jesus, a different gospel, or a different Spirit. Paul and the other New Testament authors wrote under the divine influence of the Spirit of God. They were not just motivational speakers coming up with their own version of the truth or their own take on spiritual life. Paul wrote, “And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:4 NLT). He claimed, “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths” (1 Corinthians 2:!4 NLT). The things of God are impossible for the non-spiritual to discern or understand. “But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT). But they can understand the things of the world. The non-spiritual, those who do not know Christ, are susceptible and receptive to falsehood, because they don’t know any better. But believers have the Holy Spirit, who helps us discern the difference between truth and fiction, the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. But we must learn to listen carefully to what He is saying. We must spend time in the Word of God in order that the Spirit of God can educate us and equip us for life in this sometimes very confusing world. We have the truth, as revealed in the Word of God. We have the ability to understand God’s Word because we have God’s Spirit. And we have the promise that “the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4 NLT).