“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.”1 John 4:1-3 NLT
John makes a seemingly impossible claim: “Those who profess the body of Jesus have the Spirit of God in them.” For context, this is because the protocol-gnostic philosophy was that Christ was indeed God, but couldn’t be human. This idea was a core idea of the pagan belief that matter and spirit must be separate. They believed that creation was innately evil. If Jesus was God, he couldn’t also have a real body. Secondly, John has gone through great lengths to show that denying the body of Christ means removing the tangible element of his life. To do so means no real victories in the material world. Christian love is wholly dependent on these tangible elements. Love must be performed in a material way to demonstrate to created beings how God is a meaningful reality and real space and time. It seems almost trite to condense so many variable factors down to a single point is in judging the authentic Spirit of God in someone. Nevertheless, it seems effective at its core. Truthfully, those who will not hold the body of Christ as a historical reality cultivate anti-christological viewpoints and behaviors. And while only affirming the body of Jesus while not affirming the Spirit could also be anti-christological in nature, it is much easier to spot and call out as not Christian. John’s metric not only makes sense but is wise.
This post first appeared at JoshMcGary.com