“… and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” [1 John 4:3-4 (NKJV)].
Why is the Christian doctrine of the God coming in human form so vital to our faith? The doctrine of the incarnation forms the foundation for all divine evidence that was witnessed and attested in the earthly life of Jesus.
There was a branch of Gnosticism the Early Church confronted that is called Docetism. This name comes from the Greek verb ‘dokein’ which means to have an appearance. Docetism held that Jesus’ earthly body was a phantom that had the appearance of being human. The idea that God, who is divine and pure spirit, should inhabit a human body made of sinful matter was unthinkable to the Gnostics.
It is to this heresy that John wrote in 1:14 of his Gospel: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” As a human person, Jesus was conscious and susceptible to all human experiences common to us yet today. The authenticity of Jesus’ humanity is amply demonstrated by John in his Gospel. In chapter 2 he refers to Jesus’ mother. Again, from the cross Jesus places his mother into the care of His beloved disciple, John. [John 19:26-27].
In chapter 7:2-10 Jesus refers to his biological brothers. John wrote of his weariness at the Well of Samaria in 4:6, of physical thirst in 4:7, and again from the cross in 19:28. John speaks of Jesus human grief in 11:33 and in 12:27.
John attests to Jesus death on the cross in 19:30 and actual, physical burial of his body by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in 19:38-42. In these references we see Jesus as one of us.
If Jesus is not human, then all that occurred in reference to His life, His sorrow in Gethsemane, His suffering of rejection by the Chief Priests, the cruel beating by the Roman soldiers, His agonizing death on the cross and ultimately His unexpected resurrection, have no substance in our faith. And there is no atonement, and most crucial, there is no expiation of human sin.
To this incredible heresy, John rebuts in verse 4, “4You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The “You” is emphatic in this sentence. You are from God and have overcome these evil spirits that are in the world. There is no reason for this heresy to hold you down. You are overcomers because the greater Spirit is within the believer. He is more powerful than the false spirits of this world.
Our victory ever has its foundation in the Word and in God from whom His Spirit comes. As Jesus promised in John 14:16-17, “… I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– 17the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
We may not be challenged by the Docetist today, but Satan will ever be spreading His lies within the Church. The presence of God’s Holy Spirit in us is our security by which we can discern the truth from the false. Is He dwelling in your heart today?
Prayer: Lord, You have given us Your Spirit to be an indwelling presence in our lives. Place an urgent pain in our hearts if we are reluctant to have this divine presence in our lives today. For Jesus sake. Amen.
Pastor Ivan Schwenn – 2020-11-23