The Apostle Paul had the ability to say so much with so few words. Jesus is God the Son, Messiah, Lord God, and Seed of David according to the flesh. The Apostle John also had that ability:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …” John 1:1, 14
I was an atheist before becoming a Christian, so I didn’t believe that Jesus was God or man. I thought he was just a myth or legend. However, because of the answers I received to a multitude of questions about the historicity of Jesus, I came to see that He was a man who claimed to be God even before I “believed” He was God and man. If an enquiring atheist can see that Jesus was a real flesh and blood man who claimed to be God, why can’t people who believe in God and the Bible see that?
We discover the answer in the words of the Apostle John:
“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. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4:1-6
John was most likely the last Apostle standing. Paul, Peter, Andrew, Matthew, Philip, Nathanael and the other Apostles had become martyrs for Christ. It had fallen on John’s shoulders to carry the Apostolic banner to the end of the 1st century AD. In his first letter, John addressed serious problems in the early Church. Some members of one or more churches had left the others because of doctrinal differences. John put it in the context of the spiritual battle that it was – and still is:
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” John 2:18-19
This is the first time the term “antichrist” was used in the Bible. John is the only writer of Scripture to use it. Here are the other three times we find the word:
“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22
“… 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.” 1 John 4:3
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” 2 John 1:7
Notice the behavior that accompanies the “antichrist” — “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son” — “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” — “many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
John spoke of “the Antichrist” and “many antichrists.” Who did he mean by that? John and the other apostles had learned the identity of “the Antichrist” from Jesus the Christ.
“Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Luke 10:17-18
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” Luke 11:17-18
John knew that Satan had a spiritual kingdom that was “anti” Christ. John also knew that Satan was the “father” of those who opposed Christ – “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44) From Satan, the Antichrist, comes “the spirit of the Antichrist,” which leads to “many deceivers” who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. “This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
Because of this false doctrine entering the Church concerning Jesus Christ coming “in the flesh,” John wrote his first letter to oppose it. In fact, the first words he penned were a powerful reminder that he was an eyewitness of Christ’s humanity.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3
All of Christ’s Apostles believed that He had come in the flesh and preached and taught the humanity of Christ throughout their ministry.
“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.” Acts 2:29-31
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:2-4
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” Ephesians 2:14-16
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Colossians 1:21-22
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit …” 1 Peter 3:18
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin …” 1 Peter 4:1
“By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God …” 1 John 4:2
This is the STRONG position of Christ and His Apostles concerning His coming in the flesh. It is a LIE of Satan that Jesus did not come in the flesh. It is the lie of the Antichrist and those who follow him — the antichrists. Why that particular lie? Because it is the KEY to the Seed of the woman (Jesus born of a virgin) crushing the head of the seed of the serpent (Satan).
In the next part of our study, we will see how this lie of the Antichrist has impacted the Church for hundreds of years and how it is still impacting us today.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”