II JOHN 1:7-11: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Are you aware of the age old deception, the subtle lie that kills? John was writing to address the heretical teaching of his day that was known as “Gnosticism”. We generally do not hear that term used today, so here is a simple definition. Gnostics taught that matter was evil and the spirit was divine. Therefore, Jesus Christ was not God in human flesh. Rather, the divine came upon Jesus at His baptism and left before His crucifixion. It is the “higher knowledge” that the divine in Jesus imparted that leads us to salvation, not the physical death of Jesus Christ. The resurrection never really happened, as the divine ascended prior to Jesus death.
Now, let’s put “Gnosticism” into modern terminology. Modern day “Gnosticism” proclaims – “Jesus was a great man. Jesus was a great teacher. We can learn a lot from Jesus, as we can from many of the great men and teachers that lived before us. However, Jesus was not God, He was not divine. We all know that miracles like the resurrection do not really happen. It is the teaching of Jesus that rises and lives. In reality, Jesus is as dead as any man.” This is the Gnosticism of the 21st Century. This is the picture of Jesus portrayed in many books and documentaries that have been made and are currently running. This is the image of Jesus that comes from the deceiver and the spirit of antichrist.
Why is this error so great and dangerous? First, it dismisses the Biblical record. Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ESV)
What is the true Gospel? Christ lived. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, Christ was buried, and Christ rose on the third day according to the Scriptures. All of the teachings of Jesus Christ would be merely lofty words if this were not true. They would not be the words of life. Jesus was the Word of God who became flesh, dwelt among us, walked in perfect obedience to the Father, died in our place taking the penalty of our sin, and defeated sin and death by rising from the dead to live evermore. Anything short of this is heresy. It is a non-Biblical, man-made, deceptive, and false view of Jesus Christ.
Why is modern day “Gnosticism” so deceptive, subtle, and destructive? If Jesus is not God, if He did not die for our sins, if He did not rise from the dead, then we are still dead in our sins. There then is no hope for mankind to be set free from both the power and the penalty of sin. The only pathway left is the pathway to eternal separation from God. This is what the enemy of our souls wants, and this is what this destructive heresy leads to. Paul again writes::
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19 ESV)
Lord, open the eyes of those who have been deceived by this false view of Jesus Christ. Open their spiritual eyes to see Jesus Christ for who He is – the Son of God, God in human flesh, crucified, dead, buried, and risen – sitting on the right hand of God the Father in power and glory. And seeing with unveiled eyes, may each one of us surrender our hearts and lives to the one Who lives, Who was, Who is, and Who is to come! Let us hold fast to the “faith” – once for all delivered to the saints! Let us hold fast to Jesus Christ our Lord!
In Jesus Name!