A Genuine Disciple Affirms the Deity of Christ
Read 1 John 4:1-6
"Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God."
Today it is difficult to distinguish what is real from what is false. The cheap knock-off looks just like the original. Truth and misinformation become indistinguishable. We face the same challenge today in our pursuit of the authentic Christian faith. There are churches claiming to uphold the Bible and Christianity and yet proclaiming contradictory messages regarding the authority of Scripture and its moral and spiritual requirements. But this is not new. Even in the first century, when the church was just getting established, there were various self-proclaimed prophets who were peddling every form of doctrine and moral teaching. As John is writing his first Epistle, he recognizes that there will be many false teachers who proclaim to be purveyors of the truth but are proclaiming a lie in reality. To help his readers, John establishes the baseline of authentic disciples of Christ; he points them to the person and work of Christ.
As he is writing, he provides several essential lessons. First, we are to be discerning and cautious regarding the teachers we affirm (4:1). Not all those who claim to be from God are actually from God. Many are false teachers who distort the gospel to their own end. We are to carefully evaluate their teaching and examine them to see if both their teaching and lifestyle conform to God's word.
Second, we are to examine their view of Christ. Do they affirm the incarnation and humanity of Christ as well as the deity of Christ? Do they acknowledge that Christ came in the flesh and his redemptive work is a historical fact? The message of Christ (and all the Bible) is not a fable invented by men merely to convey spiritual insight. Christ came, born of a virgin, walked the earth, died a propitiatory death on the cross, and rose again on the third day. To deny this is to reject the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Furthermore, Christ was God himself, and any who denies the full deity of Christ rejects Christ. In 5:20, John goes on to affirm that Christ was God himself, "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life" (see John 1:1, Colossians 1:15, 2:9; Philippians 2:9-10).
Third, we are to examine their lifestyle and the morality they proclaim. Does their lifestyle correspond to the world in which we live and its morality, or does it follow the Scriptures (4:4-6)? Many claim to be followers of Christ, but their message conforms to the culture and the moral ethos of the world in which we live. Rather than following the instructions of God, they reinterpret the Bible to agree with the views of the world.
A genuine disciple of Christ grounds his/her life in their confession of Christ. He becomes the focus of their faith, and his words become the basis for their actions. This then enables us to examine our own life to make sure we are genuine disciples. Do you pattern your life after the teachings and life of Christ? Do you affirm both the historical reality of Christ's life and death and the redemptive work he accomplished?