7 Spiritual Tests

The book of 1 John was written for four stated purposes: (1) “that your joy may be full” (1:4); (2) “so that you may not sin” (2:1); (3) “concerning those who try to deceive you” (2:26); (4) “that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (5:13).  Notice the last stated purpose.  John wanted them to have confidence of eternal life.

John provided these with seven spiritual tests whereby they could evaluate their spiritual condition.  Let’s consider these tests, and apply these to self. 

1.  Is your Christianity more than words?

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).

The word “darkness” refers to that which is contrary to God’s will (1 John 1:6 cf. 2:4).  The word “walk” is in the present tense.  It suggests a manner of life, a life-style.  It is impossible to maintain fellowship with God, while living a life-style that is contrary to God. 

The word “light” refers to that which is consistent with God’s will (1 John 1:7 cf. 2:3).  The word “walk” is in the present tense.  It suggests a manner of life, a life-style.  It is possible to maintain fellowship with God, through the blood of Christ, while living a life-style according to His will (cf. Psalm 119:105; John 8:12).  Guy N. Woods comments, “This is a state of grace – not human perfection – and we should be ever-more thankful that in spite of our imperfections we may through grace enjoy his approval” (Guy N. Woods, Questions and Answers, Vol. 2, p. 188).

How are we living?  Are we seeking to live in submission to His will? 

2.  Are you humble enough to admit your sins?

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Some will not admit their sins.  They are self-righteous.  They have trouble recognizing their own sins (e.g. John 9:40-41; Luke 18:9-14).  Some recognize their sins, but hide such (cf. Proverbs 28:13). 

We need to be humble enough to confess, admit our sins.  Peter told Simon, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22).  Proverbs says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

How do we deal with our sins?  Are we willing to repent and pray, confessing our sins?

3.  How far are you willing to go to justify self?

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).

Are you willing to make God a liar?  The word “confess” (homologeo) literally means “to speak the same thing,” that is “to assent, accord, agree with” (Vine’s).  It is used to mean “confess, declare, admit… to confess by way of admitting oneself guilty of what one is accused of…” (Vine’s).

Some will not admit that they have done anything wrong, even when scripture is used to expose their actions as sin.  Such people make God a liar. 

How do we deal with sin?  Do we admit sin?  Or, do we deny what the Scriptures plainly say to defend self?

4.  Do you truly love God? 

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.  By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5).

The word “know” is sometimes used of “favorable knowledge” or “fellowship.”  Consider: Matthew 7:21-23.  This is how it is being used here (1 John 2:3 cf. 1:7; 1 John 2:4 cf. 1:6).

The word “keep” is in the present tense.  It is describing how one lives, the consistent manner of life.

It is not enough to claim academic knowledge.  Do we really know Him as we should?  Do we have fellowship with Him?  Do we love Him?  We show our love for God by living a life of obedience to Him (1 John 5:3; John 14:15, 21, 23).

How is our love for God?  Do we love Him enough to live for Him? 

It is not enough to claim academic knowledge.  Do we really know Him as we should?  Do we have fellowship with Him?  Do we love Him?  We show our love for God by living a life of obedience to Him (1 John 5:3; John 14:15, 21, 23).

How is our love for God?  Do we love Him enough to live for Him? 

5.  Are you following Him?

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

To “abide in Him” (cf. 2:6) is equivalent to “knowing Him” (cf. 2:4) and “having fellowship with Him” (cf. 1:6).  Roy Lanier Jr. comments, “Here, as well as in John 15, the word ‘abide’ (menein) means more than simply to be in Him.  It includes the idea of remaining in Him… The essence of the word is a permanent and intimate association, not temporary or superficial.  This union lasts” (Roy Lanier Jr., Epistle of John, p. 32).  On the word “abide” see John 15:1-8. 

Does our walk identify us with Him?  Paul instructed, “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).  Again, he wrote, “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). 

6.  Do you have hatred for your brother in your heart?

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.  He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.  But he who hates his brother is in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9-11).

The word “brother” may be used in different ways.  It may refer to brothers in a family (e.g. 1 John 3:11-12).  It may refer to fellow citizens in a nation (e.g. Acts 2:29 cf. 2:36; Acts 2:37; 22:1-3).  It is sometimes used of fellow humans, brothers in Adam.  It is used of relationship in Christ (e.g. Galatians 3:26-29 cf. 4:28).  In context, “brother” seems to refer to brother in Christ (1 John 2:7-8 cf. John 13:33-34; 1 John 3:16; 4:11).  However, other passages clearly show that we are to love our fellow man (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 10:25-37). 

One who hates his brother is in darkness (1 John 2:9, 11).  It is a serious thing to be in darkness (1 John 2:9 cf. 1:6).  Guy N. Woods comments, “Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 15:17); he made love the badge of discipleship (John 13:35); and without it, one remains in darkness – the element which characterizes all away from God” (Guy N. Woods, A Commentary on the New Testament Epistle of Peter, John, and Jude, p. 229).  Again, he describes the one in darkness, “The inner condition is one of darkness; the outward life is a walk in darkness” (ibid, p. 231). 

There are sometimes difficulties between brethren.  We should not hate one another.  We should endeavor to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).  We should desire reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15).  We should be forgiving (Luke 17:3-4; Matthew 18:21-35).

Do we love our brother(s) as we should? 

7.  Do you love one another?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). 

The words “one another” seems to refer to love between brethren.  It is addressed to “beloved” (cf. 1 John 3:2).  It concerns “one another” relationship (cf. 1 John 1:7; 3:14-15). 

This was not written for the purpose of telling the non-Christian what to do to be saved.  Bill Lockwood, “The grand mistake of the Baptist pulpiteers in this is the utilization of passages (such as 1 John 4:7) that refers to the continued obedience of the child of God and trying to make them germane to the process of conversion of the non-Christian” (Hammer & Tongs, September-October, 1995, p. 6).

Love is essential in our relationship with God.  Love is not the only condition to continued fellowship with God, but it is a condition.  If we want to be spiritually related to God, we must love. 

Our love is to be more than words.  It is to be sincere (Romans 12:9; 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Peter 1:22).   It is to be fervent (1 Peter 1:22).  It is to be expressed in action.  “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

We are to be abounding and increasing in love (Philippians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).  We are spiritually nothing without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  How is our love for one another?

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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