1 John 4

The Holy Spirit and false spirits

1 My friends, do not believe everyone who says that they speak God's message. There are many false prophets who are travelling round everywhere. They say that they have a message from God's Spirit, but really it is a false spirit. So, check their message carefully to see if it is really from God.

2 How do you know whether a person has God's Spirit in him? He must agree that Jesus is God's special Messiah who was born as a human baby. If someone says that, then he has God's Spirit. 3 But if someone does not agree to say that about Jesus, he does not have God's Spirit. That person has a spirit that comes from the enemy of Christ. You have heard that this enemy of Christ was going to come among us. Now it is already here in the world.

4 My little children, you belong to God. You have won against those people with a false message. You have been able to do that because God's Holy Spirit is in you. He is more powerful than the spirit that belongs to this world. 5 Those false prophets belong to this world. Their message comes from the way that people of this world think. So the people of this world believe what they teach. 6 But as for us, we belong to God. Everyone who knows God believes our message. But anyone who does not belong to God does not believe it.

So, that is how we know if someone's message comes from God's Spirit or not. God's Spirit brings us a true message, but false spirits tell lies.

4:6It is very important to know the difference between true spirits and false spirits. Some people say that Jesus was not really a man. Other people say that he was not really God. People like that do not have God's Spirit. What they teach is false.

Love each other because God loved us

7 My friends, we should all love one another. It is God who makes us able to love other people. Everyone who loves other people has become a child of God. That person knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love other people does not know God. We know this because God's own nature is love. 9 This is how God showed that he loves us: He sent his only Son to come and live in the world. He did that so that we could have true life with God because we believe in Jesus. 10 This shows what real love really is: It is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us. He loved us so much that he sent his Son to save us from sin. He sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice to take the punishment for our sins.

11 My friends, this shows how much God has loved us. So then, we should all love one another.

12 Nobody has ever seen God. But, if we love each other, it shows that God really lives in us. Then we can love people completely, in the same way that God loves us. 13 God has given us his Holy Spirit to live in us. Because of this, we know that we are united with God. And we know that he is united with us. 14 God the Father sent his Son to come into the world. God sent him to save the people of the world from their sins. We apostles have seen that it is true, and now we are telling people about it.

15 If anyone says clearly that Jesus is the Son of God, that person is united with God. God is also united with that person. 16 We really know the kind of love that God has for us. We believe that God has put that love in us. God's nature is love. So, if someone continues to love other people, he is united with God. And God is united with him. 17 That is how we are able to love other people completely. Then, we will not be afraid on the day when God will judge all people. We can be sure that God will not punish us. We know this because we have lived in this world in the way that Jesus lived.

18 If we really love God, we will not be afraid of him. We cannot love him completely and also be afraid. We would only be afraid of God if we thought that he would punish us. So, if someone is afraid that God will punish them, it shows that they do not completely know God's love.

19 We are able to love God and other people because God loved us first. 20 Someone may say, ‘I love God.’ But if he says that and he hates other Christians, he is telling a lie. He can see other believers but he does not love them. So, he cannot love God that he has not seen. 21 This is the rule that God has given us. He has told us that anyone who loves him should also love other Christians.

4:21God's love is very special. Christians know how much God loves them. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sin. We are no longer afraid that God will punish us for our sins. That is how much God loves us. Because of that, true Christians love other people. If they hate other people, it shows that they do not really know about God's love.