“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
From the very beginnings of Christianity, there has been false and heretical teachings. The apostle John tells us how a false teacher can be identified. If someone denies either the deity of Christ or His humanity, that man is a fraudulent teacher. We are to discern the spirit that is behind a teacher or his doctrine. “Dear friends,” John reminds us, “do not believe every spirit. You are to test the spirits to determine if they are from God.”
We are reminded in earlier verses, that there are many spirits in the world that are not to be trusted, and the apostle points out the importance of testing every spirit to see if it is from God, or if it has been spawned from the evil one. We are told that many false prophets and false teachers have gone out into the world with the deliberate intention of misleading Christians by teaching a false gospel… under the pretence of being a true believer.
From the time of John, there have been teachers and religious groups that refuse to accept that Jesus is fully God or that He is fully Man. But Jesus is both fully God and fully human. Some like to suggest that the Lord Jesus was a lesser god – a created being, while others have taught that Jesus was not fully human.. but simply the mirage of a man. However, only the perfect God is good enough to pay the price for sin and only a sinless Man could die on the Cross and shed His life-blood as payment for humanities sin. It is only in the hypostatic union of Christ’s humanity with His divinity, that qualified Him to be our Substitute for sin.
It is ONLY faith in the incarnate Son of God – the eternal God made in human flesh, that is sufficient to pay for the price of sin and save us from death and hell. Without faith in the humanity of Christ, there is no Christian faith. Without the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no forgiveness of sin and without trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection to save… we remain dead in our sin and without hope in the world.
John gives clear guidelines to discern whether or not a doctrine is really from the Lord. He tells us that, “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” has the truth… for every person, every preacher, every teacher, every denomination, every doctrine, every spirit that does not acknowledge the humanity of God-incarnate, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, proclaims a false gospel and is influenced by a ‘spirit’ other than the Holy Spirit of God.
It was only by the eternal God becoming a Man, that He could die as a Man as payment for the sin of mankind. It was only because the eternally existing Son of God set aside His glory for a time and took upon Himself humanity, that sin and death could be defeated. Life is in the blood and only the shed blood of a perfect Man was sufficient to pay the price of sin. Only the God-Man could die for us and be resurrected to life – so that in HIM we might be forgiven, through his blood, and receive His life.
We do well to reflect on this truth, for Scripture tells us that as the Church age comes to a close, apostasy, heresy, the doctrines of demons, and all manner of false ‘gospels’ will infiltrate every sector of Christianity.
Let us hold fast to the truth and confess Christ crucified, as the anointed Messiah of God and Redeemer of the world – for our Saviour Jesus Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King. He is Son of God and Son of Man. He is very God of very God – incarnate and not created. He is the Word that became flesh. He is the unique God-Man, Who alone is our Kinsman-Redeemer, our Lord and our God.