Daniel 1-2 1 John 4
“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2-3 NCV)
One of the beliefs at the time John wrote his letter was that the body, or the flesh, was evil. People who believed this way, and then tried to follow Jesus had a problem. How could God become human? If God were to take on a human being, the very act of having flesh would make Him imperfect, in their eyes. Thus, if Jesus came in the flesh, He couldn’t be God. But they wanted to believe that Jesus was God, so they began finding philosophical ways around the Incarnation. One of those heresies was to believe that Jesus was pure spirit who just appeared to be human. So, while He might look like a human being with flesh and everything, He was a Spirit. That would sure put a damper on Christmas celebrations! John fought back against this heresy and taught us that one of the tests to recognize if a teaching is from God is whether or not someone acknowledges that Jesus came in the flesh. Any spirit, any person, any teaching that doesn’t acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh is a damnable heresy straight out of the pits of hell come from the spirit of the antichrist. That spirit lived back then, and still lives today.
Alright, I joked about Christmas celebrations because they didn’t observe Christmas back then, but the Incarnation is the basis of our religious observance of Christmas today. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. He came to earth in the flesh. This doctrine is important, not because we can celebrate Christmas, but because it paves the way for the understanding that Jesus lived a perfect life even though He endured all the temptations that we endure in life today. While He didn’t have to worry about what He said on social media, He spent a lot of time with people. Sometimes, His words were harsh when He spoke with the Pharisees. Always, He spoke the truth in love. It was Jesus’s unblemished life that allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice for sins. It was Jesus’s flesh that made the resurrection so miraculous. If Jesus were just a spirit, none of that would be a big deal. Fleshly desires wouldn’t attack Him. If He were spirit, not only could man not put Him to death, He wouldn’t need to be resurrected. It’s easy to get lost in the different ways we celebrate Christmas, but for Christians, the primary reason to celebrate is to acknowledge that God became man and lived among us, so celebrate the Incarnation!
Lord, thank You for coming to earth as a man, living a perfect life, and then sacrificing Yourself for our sins. Thank You that as we celebrate this season, we’re reminded of these great truths.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.