Frauds are those who deceive others for personal gain. Spiritual frauds are those who claim spirituality but are self-deceived.
At the conclusion of the first century, the Apostle John writes a letter to confront and expose those making fraudulent spiritual claims. He points out five such claims and offers a corresponding reality check:
"If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" (1 Jn. 1:6). People make all kinds of claims, but evidence validates truth. It isn't what a person claims, but what is real, that matters: "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1:7).
Talk and walk are parallel tracks on which life runs. One cannot contradict the other.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1:8).
Many claim personal goodness by denying sin or redefining their sin as flaws, disorders, addictions, etc. John declares, however, that only confessed sin is forgiven: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1:9).
"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and, His word is not in us" (1:10).
On his best day every person sins by omission or commission; to deny sinfulness is to deny the need for Jesus Christ as Savior. John states that only those who recognize and acknowledge their sin appreciate the advocacy that Christ offers: "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (2:1-2).
"He who says, 'I know him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (2:4).
No man who calls Jesus "Lord" continually rebels against him. If He is Lord, then He is obeyed. John notes, "By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (2:5-6).
Continued disobedience disavows lordship. Proof of lordship shines through one's behavior, for the "darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining" (2:8).
"He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him" (2:9-10).
Light and darkness are opposites; therefore, those who say they walk in the light but hate their brothers are deceived about their spiritual state; they are still in spiritual darkness.
When medical personnel arrive on the scene of an accident, they do not request a birth certificate to ascertain life; they examine the body for life--they check the vital signs. In the same way, John puts his finger on the pulse of a person's life to detect spiritual life. It doesn't matter if the body has a birth certificate; the body must exhibit the vital signs of breath and a beating heart. No vital signs--no life.
What does John establish about the person of Christ?
List the truths about the wicked one contained in John's epistle.
What does John give as the primary test for discerning false teachers?
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