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1 John 4Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has[a] come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus[b] is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.

Knowing God through Love

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way:[c] God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the[d] propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God.[e] If we love one another, God remains in[f] us and His love is perfected in us.

13 This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent His Son as the world’s Savior. 15 Whoever confesses[g] that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.[h] So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love[i] because He first loved us.

Keeping God’s Commands

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen.[j] 21 And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.


  1. 1 John 4:2 Or confesses Jesus to be the Christ
  2. 1 John 4:3 Other mss read confess that Jesus has come in the flesh
  3. 1 John 4:9 Or revealed in us
  4. 1 John 4:10 Or a
  5. 1 John 4:12 Since God is an infinite being, no one can see Him in His absolute essential nature; Ex 33:18-23.
  6. 1 John 4:12 Or remains among
  7. 1 John 4:15 Or acknowledges
  8. 1 John 4:18 Or fear has its own punishment or torment
  9. 1 John 4:19 Other mss add Him
  10. 1 John 4:20 Other mss read has seen, how is he able to love . . . seen? (as a question)

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