In a world with ever-changing vocabularies being generated on social media with every meme, rap song, or YouTube video, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest slang.
But, there’s a recent idiom that has relevance for 1 John 4, especially as it relates to describing God Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
G.O.A.T. is an acronym for the Greatest Of All Time. The acronym is usually used to describe an outstanding player in a particular sport.
So, G.O.A.T. is not a title that is easily bestowed. G.O.A.T. is not used to refer to those who are “kind of great” or “approaching greatness.” G.O.A.T. is a term reserved only for the truly GREATEST OF ALL TIME!
1 John 4:4 is one of the most well-known and often-quoted Bible verses among Christians . We quote it to remind and encourage Christians that they can overcome any difficulty or hardship in their lives.
In fact, I use it on myself in exactly the same way–to remind myself that the God I serve is greater than the devil that creates many of the problems I face in this world.
But, 1 John 4:4 is actually the crux of John’s case against false teaching in vs. 1-6. John indicates that false teaching–specifically, denying the incarnation of Christ–has demonic origins. John states that this world is controlled by spiritual influences and that the Spirit of God abiding in Christians enables them to distinguish these demonic spiritual forces at work in these “anti-Christ” teachings.
So, this verse isn’t meant to be an axiom for overcoming difficulty….
It’s a battle cry! It’s a call to action to live a victorious Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit abiding in you!
Because, there is a war waging in this world….
And, we don’t fight it by reciting platitudes, applying logic or making a scientific inquiry.
It’s spiritual warfare!
And, it takes the power of the Holy Spirit, who is greater than any demonic force at work in this world, to enable you to spiritually determine what’s of God and what’s not of God.
There’s evil forces at work in this world. If the Spirit of God abides in you, then you can spiritually discern and avoid their evil influence because the SPIRIT OF GOD WHO LIVES IN YOU IS GREATER THAN THE EVIL SPIRIT THAT IS IN CONTROL OF THIS WORLD!
Yes, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the really, truly GREATEST OF ALL TIME and live in you if you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate and the Savior of the world (vs 2-3)!
God didn’t just rescue you from the eternal destiny devised for the Evil One and his followers. God equipped you to be spiritually triumphant over the evil influence of Satan.
And, if that’s not enough to get you feeling spiritually empowered, then how about John’s later assertion in vs. 17: “In this world we are like Jesus.“
In this world we are–to be, can be, should be–like Jesus. Because Jesus, by His Spirit, lives in us. And, that’s what makes you a Christian (vs. 13)–and a powerful person.
God’s Spirit abiding within us not only enables us to discern evil but also empowers us to love one another, particularly our sisters and brothers in Christ (vs. 16, 20-21)!
The GREATEST OF ALL TIME lives in you. Because He lives in you, He makes you like Him.
And, you have the power to discern evil and manifest love because God’s greatness residing in you makes you greater than the Evil One who is in control of the affairs of this world.
God is great and you can be too, when He lives in you!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)