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I listen to my favorite teachers and podcasts while I’m at work and, early last week, I listened to a YouTube video where another video was being discussed.  The other video was of a gentleman who was stating there was nowhere in the Bible where Jesus was called God.  I wasn’t paying much attention because I couldn’t fathom which version of the Bible this gentleman was reading in order to state a thing with such confidence.  Every version of the Bible I have available to me consists of the Old Testament which points to Jesus and the New Testament which reveals Jesus and tells me who I am in Him as well as who He is in me.  There is Jesus’ name: Yeshua in the Hebrew which means “He will save”.  There was Jesus’ not so subtle declaration in John 8: 58 where He says, “Before Abraham was I AM” using the Name God used when He revealed Himself to Moses.  There’s John 1:1-14 which is such a beautiful passage: I read and re-read and re-read it.  There are so many other specific scriptures I could list but the purpose of this post is not to convince anyone Jesus is God. (Except do read 1 Timothy 3:16!) I’m going to assume that, if you are reading this, you already declare Jesus is God from God, God manifest in the flesh, or are at the very least open to the possibility and I am going to get to my material point.

Which is: my ears perked up when I heard this same gentleman say he had the holy spirit which had shown him these things.  That arrested me and I mulled on it for days.  I, of course, do not agree the spirit teaching this man comes from God at all but there is no discounting his sincerity.  It took me quite a chunk of time to digest the irony of someone saying they have the holy spirit who has revealed Jesus is not God when 1, if Jesus is not God there is no possibility of the Holy Spirit and for this I point you to John Chapter 16.  The entire chapter is worth reading but for the sake of this post I am referencing verses 7-16.  And 2: if Jesus is not God made flesh, and assuming God still had a reason to pour His Spirit out on us humans, what would He say?  John 15:26: But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”

And so, while I don’t believe this gentleman and I are hearing from the same spirit, how can I be certain?  Well, the Bible gives me guidelines.  There is 1 Corinthians 12:3 which states, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”  There is Romans 8:15-16 which state, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  There is 1 John 4 which popped into my head while I was listening to the video and verses 1-5 state; “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 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.”

The Amplified has, “…prove (test) the spirits…By this you may know (perceive and recognize) the Spirit of God: every spirit which acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [actually] has become man and has come in the flesh is of God [has God for its source]; And every spirit which does not acknowledge and confess that Jesus Christ has come in in the flesh [but would annul, destroy, sever, disunite Him] is not of God [does not proceed from Him].”

Francois du Toit expounds on disuniting Jesus in the Mirror Study Bible and it’s so great I have to share it.  Verse 3 and his commentary state: “No so-called “spiritual revelation” that fails to communicate the revelation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, is of God.  This is the anti-Christ spirit that you have heard of and even now witness in the world.  Any idea that Jesus Christ is not the incarnate word of God does not originate in God but is the typical pseudo mindset of the spirit of this fallen cosmic system. (The Latin rendering from the 2nd century reads, “No spirit that would separate the human Jesus from the divine Christ, is of God.”)1

My Archeological Study Bible tells me John wrote this passage to refute Gnostic heresy and I found an interesting blurb on Gnosticism which I’ll quote parts of:

1 John 4.  Gnosticism was one of the earliest Christian heresies.  Gnostic writings are many and varied, frequently drawing upon Platonic concepts, imagery from the New Testament and pagan myth…Certain broad observations can be made of Gnostic literature.

  • From the Greek word gnosis meaning “knowledge”, Gnosticism was a movement that claimed to provide secret knowledge about God.  Its adherents considered the Biblical God, the Creator of the world, to be an inferior god.  In Gnostic teaching the material world was innately evil and thus its Creator a lesser deity.
  • The Gnostic Savior, rather than providing atonement for sin, brought the knowledge of humanity’s “true” divine origins, thus freeing people from their ignorance and enslavement to the material world.
  • Some Gnostics believed that “the Christ” (a kind of spiritual anointing or presence) came upon the man Jesus at his baptism and departed before his crucifixion—thus, that there was no lasting union of divine and human natures in Jesus.  In their view, the true Christ had no physical body. 
  • One particular brand of Gnostics, called “Docetists”, believed that Jesus was actually a divine spirit who only appeared to be physical: His body, they argued, was not truly flesh but was only an illusion.  First John 4:2 (“Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God) refutes this teaching.  Possibly those whom John countered were forerunners of the groups that later wrote Gnostic texts.

John’s warnings indicate that heresy can come in many forms, often in the guise of apostolic teaching.  Those who deny the humanity of Jesus are equally as heretical as those who deny his deity.  In addition, any doctrine that understands the created, material world to be intrinsically evil is dangerous and misguided.2

I find this so fascinating, especially in light of the idea of “Christ Consciousness” I see gaining momentum today.  I do not know if it’s “now more than ever” but certainly the necessity of testing, proving, and discerning the spirits if they be of God is just as important as it was when John wrote his letter.  Here are two of my three litmus tests:

  1.  Who is this person saying The Father is?
  2. Who is this person saying Jesus is?

My third litmus test is in regard to the Holy Spirit and, for that, I want to look at another interpretation of 1 John 4 I found.  I plan to share that next week.

To be continued…

  1.  du Toit, Francois, Mirror Study Bible, Francois du Toit, 2012, Page 473. “Scripture taken from THE MIRROR. Copyright © 2012.  Used by permission of The Author.” 
  2. Archaeological Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005, “The Reliability of the Bible: The Gnostics and their Scriptures”, Page 2029