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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Interplanetary Dialogue

Bridging the communication gap.

1 John 4:4–6

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

I like to say, “Christians are from another planet.”

Of course, “planet” isn’t the right word; we’re from another “world,” or “kingdom.”

But “planet” conveys the right feel. “World” and “kingdom” don’t get anyone’s attention. “From another culture” is even weaker.

We think the thing to say to someone we just met is something like, “Do you know about Jesus?”

Okay then, but if the person says, “No,” the follow up should be, “Take me to your leader.”

All kidding aside, the culture gap between believers and non-believers is huge. John is trying to convey a sense of that in this passage.

It’s not a language barrier; it’s a hearing barrier. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us.

And this leads to an extra test for discerning whether a spirit is of God or not.

The spirit of error will have a curious deafness problem.


In practice, the deafness will be in the person with the spirit of error. The spirits hear just fine.

But the art of deception often keys on preventing communication. The word of truth presents unpredictable dangers to the forces of darkness. For them, deafness is safest.

This is wonderfully illustrated in Letter IV of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Screwtape, a senior demon, advises Wormwood, a junior temper, with this pearl.

It is funny how mortals picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

The challenge in evangelism isn’t in getting someone to agree with you; it’s in getting them to hear you. And this isn’t literal deafness. They hear your words, but they can’t make out what you’re saying.

As John notes in today’s passage, if they don’t hear you that’s a red flag. However, what if you want them to hear you—say it’s a loved one—what can you do? What can you say that overcomes deafness?

Nothing. Prayer is the only way.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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