This chapter has two definite sections: vs 1-6 warnings about those who are false and vs 7-21 living out the faith in love. We must remember that John was called the “son of thunder” by Jesus for a reason. He was headstrong, impulsive and quick to make judgments. He learned from the Savior how to be discerning and now wants his “friends” and “children” to also be wise and discerning. The author of Hebrews tells us that only those who are mature in the Word are able to distinguish or discern truth from error. John is saying to his beloved followers and to us there are several ways you can discern who is a true follower/teacher/prophet and one who is false.
Often when we are faced with discernment it seems like we are walking in a maze. Distinguish truth by words, not works. What is said when you ask “Who is Jesus.” Is he is “the” Christ come in the flesh; lived, died and rose again according to the scriptures (1Cor 15); the one who atoned for sin? Listen with a discerning ear.
The second say is to distinguish by their life. Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and observe their life. “The love of God displayed in His people is the strongest apologetic that God has in the world.” [Bruce].
The Holy Spirit will not lead you astray; love is the end of this maze.
Photo: azcoloring.com/printable-coloring + author’s phrasing