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Test the Spirits (v. 1-6)
There are many spirits out there, you need to test them to see which are from God. Every spirit that confesses Jesus has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not is not from God.
First, I thought we were not supposed to test God,
Second thought, this seems like a pretty easy test for an impostor spirit to pass. All he has to do is claim that Jesus came in the flesh, then he can tell you anything else he wants. We better hope none of those spirits ever get their ethereal hands on a bible.
God Is Love (v. 7-21)
Anyone who loves was born of God, and anyone who does not love does not know God.
I love my wife, does that mean I know God?
Guzik says that every display of love doesn't have to be from a Christian, but our capacity to love comes from God because we were created in his image.
v18 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."
But I thought God wanted us to fear him. For example, recently in 1 Peter 1 we saw that God wants to rule us through fear. If you want more examples, a quick google search reveals many examples.
Now, this is an item for my summary, as I want to be able to reference it later to put as contrast to other verses which say fear is a good thing, but do I count this item as good? I don't think it's good, love doesn't cast out fear, you can love something and still have fear in regards to it, for example, you could love someone and be afraid for their safety. Ask any parent whose kid is doing something dangerous. If anything, there is an argument that this would be bad, as it might make people think they don't really have love as they still have fear. I think I'll just put it as "interesting"
Guzik has an explanation for this, which I want to quote here
What about the many passages of Scripture, Old and New Testament (such as Ecclesiastes 12:13 and 1 Peter 2:17), which tell us we should fear God? The fear John writes of here is not the appropriate reverence we should all have of God, but the kind of fear which involves torment - that agonizing kind of fear which robs our soul of all joy and confidence before God. It is the fear that is the opposite of boldness in the day of judgment.Basically, his explanation is that we are talking about different kinds of fear, this is a translation issue. So I decided to take a look at the lexicon. The current verse (1 John 4:18) uses phobos, which is "panic, flight, fear, the causing of fear, terror". This is the kind of fear we should not have according to Guzik's interpretation. If we look at 1 Peter 2:17 we get phobeisthe, which is "to put to flight, to terrify, frighten", which doesn't read as that much different to me. And wouldn't you know, it also says that the origin of phobeisthe is phobos, I think there is a pretty good argument that we are talking about the same kind of fear.
[note: added after I recorded the podcast as I noticed this during recording]
v12 "No one has ever seen God..."
This seems like a pretty obvious contradiction, my understanding is that Moses talked to God, didn't God tell him what to write for the part of the old testament that he wrote? And certainly Moses talked to God when he went up the mountain to get the 10 commandments, right?
Guzik claims that no one has seen God because he is invisible. He then addresses the complaint I had with the following quote from Boice:
The Old Testament theophanies, including the apparently contradictory statement in Exodus 24:10, did not involve the full revelation of God as He is in Himself but only a suggestion of what He is in forms that a human being could understand.Basically, the claim is that anywhere it says they saw God, they didn't really see God, they saw the avatar of God which isn't quite the same as seeing God. This is utter nonsense as far as I am concerned. The bible says plainly that they saw God, not that they saw a facsimile of God, but they saw God. If you want to say that they thought they saw the real God but they didn't actually see God, fine, but you have to admit that you are just making stuff up to reconcile some obviously contradictory verses. Otherwise, cite an actual source.
For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)
1 John 4:1 Don't believe everything you hear
"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."
1 John 4:18 Love casts out fear
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."
1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God
"No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."