1Jn 4:4-6 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
In the first through the third verses of this chapter, we have been told that many false teachers have gone out into the world spreading the spirit of antichrist. This is the “them” that John is referring to in verse four. We are victorious over the spirit of antichrist. Our victory is not in what we have done in our own strength or how confident we are in our own wisdom. We are not greater than any man that is in the world, but He that is in us is greater than every man that is in the world.
We are victorious over the spirit of antichrist because “Ye are of God.” We need to give some consideration to what this actually means. The word translated as “are” carries the meaning “be, have been, and belong.” The word translated as “of” is rendered as “the point whence motion or action proceeds.” We have overcome the spirit of antichrist because we belong to God. We are His purchased possession paid for by the blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ (1Pe 1:18-19). As men, we are sometimes prone to impulse buying; we make purchases without planning or thinking about their real worth. God is not man; we belong to Him because of His planning and purpose. God is the point from which our actions that overcome antichrist proceed. We have overcome the spirit of antichrist spread by false teachers because God, who dwells in us, is greater than the lying spirit that dwells in them.
The word rendered “are” when John says “They are of the world” in verse five does not have the same implication as the word “are” when he said “Ye are of God” in verse four. While “are” in verse four signifies belonging to God, “are” in verse five signifies agree when speaking of the false teachers being of the world. This difference indicates to me that the false teachers agree with the world but do not necessarily belong to the world. These false teachers love the praise of men, and the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (the world); this is the point from which their actions proceed. We have overcome the spirit of antichrist because we have been called by God to have confidence in Him and not man. We often think of a spirit of antichrist only as that which denies Christ’s existence.
A spirit of antichrist is often more subtle than a denial of the existence of Christ. After you were convinced in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, did you entertain the idea that you were too sinful, too unlovable, too unworthy for Him to care about? This is a denial of the power of Christ; it is antichrist. Those that preach a belief in Christ, but display Him as a Savior who is waiting on the will of man is antichrist. When we are unwilling to forgive our brother, this is antichrist. Believing that the church is somehow losing its light and power in this world is antichrist (see Isa 9:7). God forbid that we should let the malaise that may exist in our little corner ever cause us to doubt His truth!
When John says “We are of God” in verse six, the word rendered as “are” here has yet a different meaning than in either of the previous instances. In this phrase, “are” indicates “are, be, have our being, X have hope, + [the gospel] was [preached unto] us.” We not only belong to God, but we have heard the good news of Jesus Christ. We have heard: not just from the sense of auditory reception, but from the standpoint of this becoming a motivating factor in our lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ has, by God’s grace, brought us to the place that our lives have no meaning outside the constructs of His teaching; this is where we have our being.
John begins by pointing out to His audience that God has worked in us: “Ye are of God…” He then draws us again into fellowship with the faith and walk of the apostles; “We are of God…” Those that know God hear the gospel we preach with our lives and our words. Those that don’t know God (agree with the world) do not hear this gospel. Being of (in agreement) with the world, they speak worldly things that honor man and not God. The world hears them because without the working of the Holy Spirit they cannot hear us. However, the spirit of antichrist has not and cannot win. He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.
May we never waiver in our conviction that the spirit of antichrist is defeated because He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world!