Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
First of all, who are “them”? They would be the persons with the spirit of the antichrist mentioned in the previous passage. Remember, we are still comparing those who are Christian from those who aren’t.
The concept spoken of here is very simple: those who are like minded listen to each other. Those who have the spirit of the antichrist listen to and are convinced more by those who also have the spirit of the antichrist. Likewise, those who have the Spirit of God listen to and are more convinced by those who also have the Spirit of God. But those who have the Spirit of God have the higher ground, for the Spirit that is in us is greater, or more powerful, than the spirit that is in them.
One of the major themes in I John, at least in my opinion, is to not be convinced by worldly arguements. I believe that there was a major temptation for this in John’s time.
Are we any different now? Alister McGrath once said,
“We criticize the German Christians for obeying Hitler in the 1930s, conveniently choosing to overlook that they were simply submitting themselves to the prevailing cultural norms. We are doing the same today, bu allowing ourselves and our churches to follow societal norms and values, irrespective of their origins and goals.” (A Passion for Truth”, (Downers Grove, Il: IVP, 1996), pp. 63)
It is important to keep a sharp distinction between who we are, and who the world is. In Matthew 5:43-48, what does Jesus ground His teaching on loving your enemy on? Upon being different than the world. And it is not being different for the sake of being different. Choosing what you do based on the world, whether its being like them or being different from them, is still allowing the world to control what your actions and beliefs. We are not just called to be different, but better, living a higher standard and standing for a greater truth.
After all, we have the Spirit of God inside of us, while them have a spirit of emptiness: a spirit of eliyl. Why should we envy them? Why should we look to them for wisdom? We have such a great and wise God who will not pause to help in any thing that we may ask of Him.
Therefore, do not give heed to the teachings of this world, but to God alone. Listen to the Word, both written and preached. For we are called to change this world, and “a theology which is grounded in values, whether radical or conservative, drawn solely from the secular world becomes powerless to criticize that world.” (ibid) To trust the world over God is to think the world greater than He, and to make us impotent towards any good that we may do.
So take heart my siblings in the Lord, and celebrate our Father by standing for truth, and living for Christ!