Sermon Discussion Guide: 2/25/24

Sermon Recap:

Text: 1 John 4:1-6

Big Idea: Being formed as people of love is a battle for truth.

Summary: Since Genesis 3, and the deception of Adam and Eve by the serpent, humanity has been on a path of formation—either a formation away from God's design or toward the image of God. The formation of humans has become a battle between the ruler of this world (Satan) and the Kingdom of God brought to earth through Jesus Christ. The battle for formation, in many ways, is a battle for truth.

John, in this passage, inserts these few verses on discerning the "spirits" and truth versus lies in the larger context of urging his readers to be formed in the way of love (see 3:11-24 and 4:7-21). John reminds his readers that the battle for truth, which will have a formative impact, is ultimately a spiritual battle. However, the battle should not cause fear because "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 Jn. 4:4).

In a cultural milieu that is increasingly post-Christian, where reliable information is drowned out in endless "fake news," and where artificial intelligence is making it near impossible to distinguish between authentic and fabricated, the stakes are at an all-time high for the Church to content for truth. We cannot afford to be tossed to-and-fro by the lies of the false teachers of our day that advocate for forming humans in ways leading to destruction. It is imperative that we hold fast to the truth that has the power to change the world—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What is the correlation between the "battle for truth" and the "battle for formation"?

2. How would you summarize John's exhortation to "test the spirits"?

3. How do you see the disinformation of our current context operating as spiritual warfare?

4. How do you approach technology (social media, news outlets, websites, etc.) so as to not be persuaded by the counter-formational agenda of the spirits of our day?

5. How are you doing "renewing your mind" (Rom. 12:2) by "listening to [the apostles]" (1 John 4:6) through your engagement with the Scriptures? What does this time look like?

6. When you encounter "grey issues," that are not clearly right or wrong, what practical strategies could you use to discern how to respond?

7. How does our battle for truth and our "testing of the spirits" practically look as we pursue being people marked by Christ-like love? Give concrete examples if possible.

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