Please Explain What John was Saying

Q. What does 1 John 4:2-3 imply? Does it mean that only saved believers can utter these words? Or is it meant to be some type of test to see if one is a believer? Also in 1 John 4:15 the same questions. Can an unsaved person really say this without believing really? Therefore how can one know for sure if he really means it when he/she says “I confess that Jesus is the Son of God and he has come in the flesh?”

A. 1 John 4:2-3  says, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”

The false teaching called gnosticism held that since God is pure He could not dwell in a human body because all flesh is sinful.  Therefore Jesus, being human, could not have been God in the flesh, and could not have died for the sins of the people.  They believed that the path to salvation was the acquisition of secret knowledge (The Greek word for knowledge is gnosis).  Various forms of this view still exist today in the New Age religions.

John’s point in chapter 4 was the way you can tell whether a teacher is truly from God, and not a proponent of gnosticism, is if he teaches that Jesus is God in human form and that His death paid the penalty for our sins. Teachers who teach this have the Spirit of God.  Those who don’t, have the spirit of anti-Christ (1 John 4:3).  When you put 1 John 4:14-15 together you can see they’re saying this as well.

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