Monday, September 24, 2012
1st John Chapter 4 Part 2
4:1-3 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world, cont.
What is the major determiner of whether we know a message is genuine or not? John’s focus was on Jesus Christ, because Jesus is the center and sum of the church, and the subject of Scripture.
The Old Testament likewise focused Israel’s attention to whether or not the teacher desired to truly glorify God: “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him,” Deuteronomy 13:1-4.
The matter John presently speaks about concerns the fact that Jesus Christ truly came in the flesh. Every spirit that confesses such a thing is of God; every spirit that rejects this truth was not sent by God, but is the spirit of the Antichrist. Any teacher posing as a Christian teacher and setting himself against God’s revealed truth about Jesus is then in fact an antichrist, a type of the lawless one yet to come who shall be Satan’s champion against God’s people.
What about the coming of Christ in the flesh needs to be clearly proclaimed? That Jesus, both before and after His resurrection, possessed a material body of flesh, Luke 24:39; John 20:27-28. That inhabiting that flesh was the very God whom Israel served and worshiped for thousands of years, Romans 9:5; 1st Timothy 3:16. Jesus was (and is) God Almighty. Cults and various pseudo-Christian religions that reject this unique message of a transcendent, monotheistic God coming in the flesh to redeem humanity by the act of vicarious sacrifice are in fact agents of the Devil, functioning and empowered by the spirit of the Antichrist. The word “Anti” means “opposed to” and “in the place of;” an apt description of the many cults who in reality function in the stead of God, judging the salvation and standing of their adherents. The Christian confession of Jesus Christ being God and man, being the only way of salvation, of rising the third day in a physical body in triumph over the grave, all of this is bound up in the message of the cross that Christians preach, and the groundwork of what Christianity is.
John cautions at the end of his epistle to keep ourselves from idols, 1st John 5:21. There is no more dangerous idol than to erect than a Christ that is less than the perfect Savior Scripture reveals to the lost world. To tamper with either His humanity or His deity is heresy of the worst sort, and John cautions that the men who champion this doctrine have not God’s Spirit, but the antichrist’s. This subtle idolatry was endangering John’s spiritual children, which was another reason the apostle opted to write his epistle, 1st John 2:26.
The Corinthian church was in danger of embracing another Jesus conducted by another spirit than the Holy Spirit, 2nd Corinthians 11:4. Decades later John confronts similar heresy and writes to remind his children what they believe, why it is true, and how to detect error creeping into the church. Discernment of the spirits is sorely needed because many shall come in Christ’s name, and lead astray many, Matthew 24:4-5, 11. John’s final words are sobering if we contemplate them: keep yourselves from idols. Keep yourselves from turning to and embracing a Christ constructed from men’s corrupt ideologies, and not the Jesus of history, sent by the Father to be the world’s Savior, John 3:17; 1st John 2:2.