The Apostle John, the youngest of the twelve, writes three short letters that are located toward the end of the New Testament. In the last of these letters, he speaks out against those who love the preeminence among God`s people. He names one Diotrephes, who refused to receive strangers in the fellowship and used malicious words to gain and to exercise authority over God`s people through intimidation.
In his second letter, John`s emphasis is on the doctrine of Christ: that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in Bethlehem, was the prophesied Messiah [the words Messiah and Christ carry the same meaning].
Without this truth, the death of Jesus means nothing. There is no resurrection. There is no redemption. If Jesus is only a man, then faith in him is vain. But Jesus is the Christ.
The New Testament teaches us that, in him, "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" [Eph. 1:7]. This teaching concerning Jesus is so important that John writes in his second letter, "Whosoever transgresses and abides not in the doctrine of Christ has not God" [II John 1:9].
But it is in the first of these three letters that we learn the affect of this faith in Jesus Christ. This is the reason we are told to try the spirits of men, to see whether they be of God [I John 4:1]. And John gives us three ways that the Spirit of God will affect our lives.
The first is a love for Jesus: "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" [I John 4:2]. The second is a love one for another: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God and knows God" [I John 4:7]. The third is a love for God Himself: "If a man says, 'I love God,` and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" [I John 4:20].
How we treat others reflects our love for God. This is true in a neighborhood or on a national scale. For one to single out a nation, such as our nation, and cry out for its destruction is for that person to publicly testify that he knows not God. How can he know God, let alone love God, when he hates those made in the image of God?
How do we love one another? We love God: "This commandment have we from him: he who loves God love his brother also" [I John 4:21]. We love God by loving one another. This is a circle; it is two sides of the same coin. We show our faith in that which is unseen by the way in which we treat that which is seen. "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us and his love is perfected in us" [I John 4:12].
God`s presence is evidenced in us by God`s Spirit: "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit" [I John 4:13]. Our actions are to reflect His attitudes. And God has told us His attitude: the fruit of God`s Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance [Gal. 5:22,23].
Believe not every spirit. Instead, try the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world.