John refers to his readers as “friends” and “children” multiple times throughout 1 John. He is clearly a man in deep relationship and uses these words to remind them of this because the things that he is saying appear to be strong; without the context of relationship there is the temptation to ignore what he is saying. In essence, John is telling his readers:
- test every spirit to know whether or not they are from God. Why? False teachers are EVERYWHERE and are bent on deception
- those that acknowledge that Jesus is of God are the true spirits. And by acknowledge, John means a life changed.
- we can know that we are “of God” by our response to that message. Are our lives changed? If so, we are His. If not, we are not His.
- the proof of being His is that we love one another because love is from God. John repeats this phrase numerous times throughout 1 John; this is his theme.
- love is defined as the sacrifice of Jesus. With that love as our model, when we sacrifice ourselves for others in love, then, and only then, are we truly loving.
- the love that was planted in us (1 John 3:9) by God grows and is made complete when our love for others mirrors Christ’s love for us
- because of His love for us, and our love for others, we can be confident on the day of judgment because this love gives life
- you cannot “love God” but hate your brother.
- truly loving God will lead to true love of, and for, your brother.
From 1 John 4.