Thursday, February 19, 2009

Living By The Spirit (1 John 4)

Key Words:

  • spirit(s)
  • Spirit
  • false prophets
  • Jesus Christ
  • antichrist

 

Implications:

  • The idea of "spirit" is an extension of chapter 3.  "We know it by the Spirit he gave us." (The Holy Spirit is a gift from God which confirms our life in Him).
  • The CONTRAST of this passage:
    • false prophets gone out into the world -- spirits which are from God
    • false spirits -- Holy Spirit
    • spirit of antichrist -- Spirit of God
  • The question or challenge of the passage deals with which spirit we will "believe".
  • How we tell the difference:
    • Spirit of God -- Jesus Christ has come in the flesh from God
    • spirit of antichrist -- does not acknowledge Jesus

 

Background:

  • Gnosticism claimed that Jesus could not have been God in flesh because flesh is evil.  Thus John was making it clear that anyone who made that specific distinction could not be trusted as a true teacher.
  • What is the gnosticism of today?  What are the lies about Jesus we are told now?  Pluralism?  Not really God?

 

Discussion:

  • For each of the following items, shout out what it is that provides the power for it to accomplish it's task:
    • Car (engine)
    • Canoe (paddle)
    • Steamboat (steam)
    • Paddleboat (paddle)
    • Motorboat (motor)
    • Covered Wagon (horses)
    • People...
  • When you think about the Holy Spirit. what are the first thoughts you have?  How do you think the Holy Spirit works in people's lives?
  • The word for spirit in the New Testament is "pneuma" which also means "breath" (think "pneumonia").   Would it be okay to call the Spirit of God the "breath of God?"  Why or why not?  How  might the idea of breathing shape our relationship with the Holy Spirit?
  • What do you think the "spirits" are that replace the Holy Spirit in our life?  (influences, urges, thoughts, desires, inclinations, other people, etc...)  Why do you think John compares these spirits to false teachers?
  • What are some false things people believe about Jesus? (didn't exist; wasn't God; just a good man; etc.)  If someone is being controlled by the Holy Spirit will they believe these things?  Why or why not?
  • The most important aspect of our relationship with Jesus is depending on Him for our salvation.  Our dependence of Him is significantly tied to the fact that He is God.  However, there are times when we choose to depend on ourselves rather than Him.  When we do this, we are in effect suggesting that we are more reliable, dependable, or powerful than Him.
  • How are ways we are tempted to rely on ourselves instead of God?
  • When we rely on ourselves instead of Jesus, what "spirit" are we listening to?
  • If you could list one or two things you think the Spirit of God is talking to you about, what would you say?  Why?
  • How can the group pray for you?

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