A Warning against False Teaching
4 Delightfully loved friends, don’t trust every spirit, but carefully examine what they say[a] to determine if they are of God, because many false prophets have mingled into the world. 2 Here’s the test for those with the genuine Spirit of God: they will confess Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh.[b] 3 Everyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus is from God has the spirit of antichrist, which you heard was coming and is already active in the world.
4 Little children, you can be certain that you belong to God and have conquered them,[c] for the One who is living in you is far greater than the one who is in the world.[d] 5 They belong to this world and they articulate the spirit of this world, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and whoever truly knows God listens to us. Those who refuse to listen to us do not belong to God. That is how we can know the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.[e]
God Is Love
7 Those who are loved by God, let his love continually pour from you to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of him. 8 The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love.[f] 9 The light of God’s love shined within us[g] when he sent his matchless[h] Son into the world so that we might live through him.[i] 10 This is love:[j] He loved us long before we loved him. It was his love, not ours. He proved it by sending his Son to be the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins.[k]
11 Delightfully loved ones, if he loved us with such tremendous love, then “loving one another” should be our way of life! 12 No one has ever gazed[l] upon the fullness of God’s splendor.[m] But if we love one another, God makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is brought to its full expression in us. 13 And he has given us his Spirit within us so that we can have the assurance that he lives in us and that we live in him.
14 Moreover, we have seen with our own eyes and can testify to the truth that Father God has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Those who give thanks[n] that Jesus is the Son of God live in God, and God lives in them. 16 We have come into an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love he has for us.[o]
God is love![p] Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them. 17 By living in God,[q] love has been brought to its full expression in us[r] so that we may fearlessly face the day of judgment,[s] because all that Jesus now is,[t] so are we in this world. 18 Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment[u]has not reached love’s perfection. 19 Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us.[v]
20 Anyone can say, “I love God,” yet have hatred toward another believer. This makes him a phony, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? 21 For he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.[w]