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1John  ◦   Chapter 4

1My dear friends, do not trust every spirit-being, but test all intelligent beings to see whether or not they are from God, and practice his methods and principles, because false prophets, misrepresenting God, have gone out into the world.2Here is one way you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every intelligent being who comes from God will proclaim that Jesus Christ has come to earth in our humanity and perfectly revealed the Father,3but every intelligent being that does not proclaim that Jesus is the perfect revelation of the Father is not from God. This is the argument and mindset that comes from the enemy of Christ, who has been lying about God from the beginning. You have heard that false pictures of God and false purposes of the cross would come — in fact, they have already started to spread around the world.

4But you, dear children, are in union with God and have rejected the lies about God told by these false prophets, because the one who is healing and recreating you in love is greater than the power of selfishness in the world.5These false prophets originate from the world and therefore present a fallen human view of God, portraying him as a being who imposes law, inflicts punishment, and requires appeasement. The worldly people love this false picture of God.6We, however, are from God and present the truth: God was in the Son, restoring this creation to unity with himself; and all those who truly know God listen to us and realize that the Father is exactly as the Son revealed him to be. But whoever is not from God distorts the truth about God and creates a disparity between the Father and the Son. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood: The Spirit of truth affirms that Christ is an exact representation of the Father, while the spirit of falsehood proclaims that the Father needed the Son to turn away his anger and wrath.

7So, my dear friends, let us live in love–giving all we have for the health and welfare of one another–for genuine, selfless love comes from God. Everyone who loves as Christ loves has been healed and recreated in heart and mind and restored to intimate oneness with God.8But whoever does not love others more than self has not been healed and doesn't even know God, as God is love.9God showed his love to us in this: He sent his one and only Son as a real human being into this selfish world that we might be healed and restored into unity with God through him.10This is what real love is: It is not that we have loved God, or that we have done something to get him to love us, but that he loved us so much that he sent his Son to become the Remedy and cure for the infection of sin and selfishness so that through him we might be restored into perfect unity with God.11Therefore, my dear friends, since God is love — and since he loves us so much — we should also accept his cure and be transformed, and love one another.12No mortal has truly seen God; but if we love one another as God has loved us, then God lives in us and we see his perfect character of love lived out in us.

13We know that we have been restored to oneness with God, and have his character reproduced within us, because his Spirit lives in us.14We have seen with our own eyes and do testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the divine Remedy to heal and restore the world into loving unity with him.15Anyone who reveals God's character in their life, and who attributes all honor to Jesus as the Son of God, is living in unity, harmony, and loving fellowship with God.16And thus we have been genuinely transformed from beings motivated and driven by selfishness to fully healed children of God, motivated and energized by the love God has for us. God is love, and those who live a life of love live in unity and oneness with God–and God with them.17It is in this way–through the fellowship of a community of love–that God's true character of love is made complete among us. And because we have been restored to full unity with him and are like him in heart, mind and character, we are confident to stand before him.18In love, there is no fear. Fear is part of the infection of selfishness, but is purged by love, as fear has to do with concern for oneself. The one who remains self-focused and afraid has not been healed by God’s love.

19We are able to love only because he first loved us.20If we claim to love God, sacrificing self for him, but go right on exploiting others–we are liars. For those who exploit the person near them–whom they have seen–cannot sacrifice self for God whom they have not seen.21God’s prescription is this: Internalize God’s love–which transforms the entire being–so that you love both God and people; for whoever loves God will also love others.