The opening declaration, "We are of God," serves as a foundational assertion of the believers' identity. It signifies their spiritual lineage and connection to God. This sense of belonging establishes a clear distinction between those who are aligned with God and those who are not.
- Listening as a Marker of Identity:
The verse introduces a crucial aspect: the act of listening. John asserts that those who truly know God will listen to the message proclaimed by the apostles. This listening becomes a litmus test for one's spiritual identity—those aligned with God will heed the teachings of the apostles.
- Distinguishing Between Truth and Error:
The verse goes on to present a binary contrast: "By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." The ability to discern between truth and error is closely tied to the willingness to listen to the apostolic message. This discernment is a key characteristic of those who are of God.
- Significance of the Passage:
Identity and Belonging: The declaration "We are of God" affirms the believers' identity and belonging to the divine family. It establishes a sense of spiritual lineage and connection.
Listening as a Spiritual Act: The emphasis on listening highlights the active engagement required in the spiritual journey. It's not merely about hearing, but about truly comprehending and internalizing the apostolic message.
Discernment of Spirits: The verse introduces the theme of discernment—discerning between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. This discernment is not only a cognitive function but a spiritual sensitivity cultivated through a relationship with God.
Discernment in Teaching: In a world with diverse spiritual teachings and philosophies, the verse encourages believers to discern the messages they encounter. Those aligned with God will be discerning in their approach to spiritual teachings.
Active Engagement with Scripture: The call to listen is a call to actively engage with the teachings of the apostles, primarily found in Scripture. It prompts believers to approach the Word of God with a receptive and discerning heart.
Unity in Truth: The verse emphasizes the unity of those who are of God. In a fragmented world, it encourages believers to find unity in the shared truth of the apostolic message.
John 10:27: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." This statement by Jesus aligns with the emphasis on listening as a characteristic of those connected to God.
John 18:37: "Pilate therefore said to him, 'Are you a king then?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this reason, I have been born, and for this reason, I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.'" Jesus underscores the connection between truth and attentive listening.
1 John 4:6, with its emphasis on identity, listening, and discernment, serves as a timeless guide for believers navigating the complexities of spiritual life.
See also: vs 7-8
1 John 4:6. We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesn’t listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.