Monday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

1 John 4:1-3

He Has Come in the Flesh

Having spent time testing ourselves, it is now time to test others.  John began this discussion with 2:18-27.  There we learned that the spirit of antichrist begins with denying that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one.  John immediately equates this with denying our Lord’s Sonship and equality with the Father in the very next verse.  In other words, to say that Jesus is the Christ is to say that Jesus is the Son of God: “No one who denies the Son [i.e., that he is the Christ] has the Father.  Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Now the Apostle hones matters down even further.  He begins by warning believers to “test the spirits.”  Do not think of “spirit” as some ghost but as the doctrine that is taught by someone animated by a spirit—in this case, an evil or demonic one.  John tells us that the world is full of these spirits and we must be discerning, for the devil is the father of lies and very subtle in his words.  So, John adds this very important test: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”  There were some in that day that believed God only “seemed” to come down in human form—that the ineffable God could not really do such a thing.  But Christianity teaches exactly the opposite—that God did come down, and not only “appear” in a human form for a moment like some Greek god, but actually took upon himself human flesh and blood, body and soul, born of a virgin, lived our life, died, rose again, and then returned with that same humanity and flesh to his rightful place beside the Father.  Marshall writes: “The Incarnation was not a temporary event but the permanent union of God and man in Jesus Christ” (NICNT, 205).  To sum, the believer confesses that the Son of God, who is God of God and Light of Light, who always has been and ever shall be, came down from heaven and was made man for our salvation.  And to deny this is to deny the faith and to ally oneself with the spirit of antichrist.

It is rare today that one would deny that such a man as Jesus lived; that is an historical fact.  But few will confess that he was God walking among men in human flesh—godlike or godly or a good man, to be sure—but not God Incarnate.  This “spirit,” regardless how tolerant and inclusive it may sound, is the spirit of antichrist for the simple reason that it denies the truth of who Jesus is (the God-man) and thereby what he does (save us).  This spirit was in the world then and is in the world now.  We must ever beware of it for such people seem harmless enough—and those are the worst kind.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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