“Beloved, do 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…
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them,
for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
1 John 4:1, 4
Beginning my quiet time this morning, I listened to an advent devotion by John Piper (found here). I highly recommend it, and if you have a moment to listen, please do, as my reflections this morning stem from its focus on Jesus as the fulfillment of hope and replacement of the shadows of the Old Testament, on the relief and joy experienced at seeing Him who has been hoped and longed for. The illustration given in Piper’s devotion stirs this sense in a tangible and powerful way.
As I opened my Bible, my heart was still contemplating that truth, and the Lord expanded it further with these verses in 1 John 4.
I must test any spirits around me because I want nothing less than the Holy Spirit of God. I must test every thought, feeling, perception, response, by holding them up to Christ and His Word, because anything that doesn’t reach His example, His commands, His truth, is less than what I truly long for and need. It is less than joy, less than peace, less than freedom, less than deep and lasting satisfaction of the soul.
The enemy wants to deceive us, to corrupt, trap, and destroy. As he has deceived the world. But Christ wants us to be free and whole, light with no darkness tainting or binding us. That is why He came. That is His heart and the heart of the Father behind every command and direction.
Sometimes temptations and sin-nature reactions feel too strong to resist. Sometimes they are so strong we don’t particularly want to resist. But if you are in Christ, He who is in you is greater. Greater than the one in the world, greater than the sin nature you were initially born with (because He has already recreated you with a new nature – His). He is greater than all.
He who is in you is Almighty. None can even come close to His power or sovereignty, because He created all and all power and dominion come from Him.
He who is in you is also more wonderful. When we turn from the darkness and consistently, daily, intently abide in Christ and in His Word, our hearts are filled with all the fullness of God, with the inexpressible fullness of Jesus’ joy, with peace that passes all understanding, with the deep realization of the boundless depth and steadfastness of His love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Peter 1:8; John 15:11; Philippians 4:7). Abiding in Him, we see His glory and our hearts are utterly captivated. Abiding in Him, we find the rest for which our souls long. Abiding in Him, we find our home.
Today, do not settle for anything less than the everything found in Christ. Because He is the real thing, the One waited for with great anticipation. Even shadows of good things cannot compare to the wonder and joy of knowing Him and abiding in His fullness. The true light has come into the world. Let us run and bask in His light, receiving grace upon grace and a fullness of joy we cannot know apart from a life lived in and for Him.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”