Daily Devotion

Discernment Between Truth And Error

God’s children are able to discern false doctrine.

A sure mark of every false religious system is doctrinal error, particularly about the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Those systems deny that He is Savior and Lord, God in human flesh, the only way to the Father (John 14:6) because salvation comes only through Him (Acts 4:12).

A sure mark, then, of all true children of God is that they believe the truth about Jesus Christ and do not deviate into doctrinal error. Although they may be temporarily duped by false teaching, they will not be permanently deceived by it. The apostle John wrote, “[False teachers] are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:5-6).

When you were saved, you were clear about who Christ was. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ,” writes John, “is born of God” (1 John 5:1). Had you not passed that doctrinal test, you wouldn’t have been saved. God’s children distinguish spiritual truth from doctrinal error because the Spirit of truth (John 14:16) indwells them.

“O Timothy,” Paul exhorted his beloved son in the faith, “guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Tim. 6:20). I pray that you will guard the precious treasure of truth entrusted to you in the Scriptures and so assure your heart that you belong to the God of truth.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for revealing His truth to us in the Bible.

For Further Study

Read John 1:1; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 2:9. What do they teach about the Person of Christ?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.

Daily Devotion

The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit

In John 14:26, Jesus described the Holy Spirit as “the Helper.”

One of the most important ways He helps us is by assuring us that we belong to God. Several works of the Holy Spirit, if present in our lives, give evidence of the genuineness of our salvation.

In 1 Corinthians 12:3 Paul writes, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, you would not know who Christ was, nor would you confess Him as Savior and Lord. If you have experienced that work of the Holy Spirit, that is evidence you are a true child of God.

Another essential ministry of the Spirit is that of illuminating Scripture. First John 2:27 says, “The anointing which you received from Him abides in you . . . His anointing teaches you about all things.” Do you understand the Bible when you read it? Does it convict you of sin? Does it lead you to rejoice and worship God? If so, that is evidence of the Spirit’s illuminating work in your life.

Do you long for intimate fellowship with God? That, too, is the result of the Spirit’s work in your life (Gal. 4:6). Do you feel compelled to praise God? The filling of the Spirit produces praise (Eph. 5:19). Does your life manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)? Are one or more of the gifts of the Spirit operating in your life (1 Cor. 12)? Those, too, are evidences of the Spirit’s work in your life.

All of those ministries of the Holy Spirit are the way He “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). If they are manifest in your life, they provide evidence that you abide in God and He in you (1 John 4:13). Let the Holy Spirit’s work in your life dispel the dark shadows of doubt.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would help you examine your life for evidence of the Spirit’s work.

For Further Study

Read 1 John 3:24.

• What is our part in obtaining assurance?

• Are there any commandments you are willfully violating? If so, confess them, repent of them, and begin to experience the blessedness of assurance.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.

Daily Devotion

Rejection Of The World

Genuine believers love God and reject the world and all its philosophies.

As the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), Satan has designed a system that the Bible simply calls “the world.” The Greek term (kosmos) refers to a system encompassing false religion, errant philosophy, crime, immorality, materialism, and the like. Of it the apostle John wrote, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17). While the world and its fleshly preoccupations are but temporary realities, the true believer has eternal life and will abide forever.

When someone becomes a Christian, he acquires a new set of goals and motivations; the world and its lusts no longer attract but repel him. He no longer loves “the world, nor the things in the world” (v. 15). At times he may be lured into worldly pursuits, but he is doing not what he loves but what he hates (cf. Rom. 7:15). That’s because new life in Christ gives the believer a love for God and the things of God.

Jesus said those who follow Him are not of the world, just as He was not of the world. We still move about in it to do His will, but we are not of it. That’s why Jesus specifically asked the Father to keep us from the evil one (John 17:14-16). We’re vulnerable to being sucked into this evil world’s system now and then, but our love is toward God. That love is what will redirect our focus toward heavenly priorities.

Do you reject the world and its false religions, damning ideologies, and godless pursuits? Instead, do you love God, His truth, His kingdom, and all that He stands for? If you reject the world and its devilish desires, that is a strong indication you have new life in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to reveal to you ways you may still be clinging to the world. When He does, sever those connections.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:1-3; and James 4:4. What is Satan’s ultimate goal in pulling people into his system?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.

Daily Devotion

Obedience To God’s Word

True believers obey God’s commandments.

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, He gave the following Great Commission to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Notice that a true disciple was to observe, or obey, all of Christ’s commands.

The apostle John understood well the Lord’s instruction. He knew that obedience to the commands of God produces assurance—the confidence of knowing for sure “that we have come to know Him” (1 John 2:3). The Greek word for “keep” in that verse refers to watchful, careful, thoughtful obedience. It is not an obedience that is only the result of external pressure; it is the eager obedience of one who “keeps” the divine commandments as if they were something precious to guard. Such obedience is motivated by love, as John indicates in verse 5: “Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” That’s supported by the word translated “commandments,” which refers specifically to the precepts of Christ rather than laws in general. Legal obedience demands perfection or penalty, while 1 John 2:3 is a call to gracious obedience because of the penalty Christ has already paid.

However, those who claim to know God and yet despise His commandments John calls liars: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (v. 4). “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).

How can you determine if you are a true Christian? Not by sentiment, but by obedience. If you desire to obey God out of gratitude for all Christ has done for you, and if you see that desire producing an overall pattern of obedience, you have passed an important test indicating the presence of saving faith.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you have found your obedience is predicated more on the act of obedience than on gratitude for God, confess that now and seek to change your attitude.

For Further Study

Memorize 1 Samuel 15:22 as motivation for the right spirit of obedience.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.

Daily Devotion

A Sensitivity To Sin

True believers are sensitive to their sin and confess it.

Throughout Scripture, light is used as a metaphor for truth—both intellectual and moral truth (cf. Ps. 119:105, 130; Prov. 6:23). When the apostle John writes, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), he is stating that the Lord is absolutely sinless since light and darkness cannot coexist.

Some claim to have fellowship with God (v. 6), to have no sin (v. 8), and even to have never sinned (v. 10). But they are living in darkness; it is characteristic of unbelievers to be oblivious to the sins in their lives. But that is not true of genuine believers. They have a right sense of sin: they “walk in the light as He Himself is in the light” (v. 7), and they “confess [their] sins” (v. 9). True believers know that if they want to commune with God, they need to confess their sins and turn to Christ as their “Advocate” before God (2:1).

The apostle Paul was very sensitive to the sinful realities of his life (Rom. 7:14-25). What about you? Are you aware of the spiritual battle raging within you? Do you realize you must live a holy life to have fellowship with God? Are you willing to confess and forsake any sin in your life? Do you realize you can choose not to sin? Are you weary of doing battle with the sin in your life (cf. Rom. 7:24)? If these things are true of you, rejoice in the assurance of your salvation.

Suggestions for Prayer

Confess any known sin to God right now, then forsake it.

For Further Study

Read Romans 7:14-25.

• Make a list of all the ways Paul was sensitive to his sin.

• How many of those can you relate to?

• How should you respond?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997