Modern False Teachings

Written on 06/09/2021
Christian Dunn

Verse: 1 John 5:6-12
6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

In the decades following the resurrection of Jesus, false teachings about Jesus began to circulate. Gnosticism was a big one. Among other things it taught that everything Spirit was good, and everything Body was bad. So the "body" of Jesus was actually not truly physical and human, it was an illusion (because God couldn't have put on a body, since physical material is evil). They taught that the Spirit of "Christ" descended on Jesus at his baptism and left before the crucifixion.

These beliefs taken together disagree with Biblical teaching that Jesus was the Son of God - fully human and fully God. And it disagrees with atonement - that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

Why am I bringing this up? Because these beliefs are still popular today. There are some very popular "Christian" authors today who seem to write about faith in Jesus, but if you dig deeper into their belief system you will find a form of Gnosticism. You will find them saying that "a loving God could never ask his son to die on the cross" and "many of the stories in the Bible were meant as metaphors and didn't actually happen - including the resurrection" and "what kind of God would require death in penalty for sin" and "the Spirit of Christ was not uniquely on Jesus, but is everywhere, in everyone."

These authors tend to promote universalism (everyone is right with God no matter what) and unitarianism (all beliefs in anything spiritual are "good" and lead to the same "god.")

The problem is that they dress their content up in Christian sounding verbiage, but gut them of all of the power of the Gospel. It's appealing because it sounds loving and hopeful, but in the end it only deceives people, and leads them away from the actual teachings of Jesus.

This is exactly what John was encountering. Gnosticism was claiming to be a better form of Christianity. And John was writing to make sure people knew a few things:

  • Jesus came in human form (vs 6; "looked at and touched" - 1 John 1:1)
  • Jesus was the son of God (vs 10)
  • Jesus died to atone for our sins (1 John 2:2 - "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.")
  • If you have Jesus, you have life, if you do not, you do not (vs 12)
  • If anyone teaches anything else and claims it is from God, they are a liar (vs 10)

I find it so interesting that the same heresies that were being pushed in early Christianity are still being pushed today. People want to craft Jesus into an image that fits their worldview. It is safer. But Jesus won't live inside our boxes.

So the question for me this morning, and for you, is where in our lives are we believing things about Jesus that aren't Biblical? Do we hold any thoughts or beliefs that run contrary to the teaching of Scripture? In what areas are we trying to conform Jesus to our worldview, instead of the other way around? These are hard questions, and often best answered in community. If you are struggling with your beliefs about Jesus and the Bible, don't give up and don't go it alone. Reach out to someone who's character and commitment to Christ you respect, and start a dialogue! Doubt and questions aren't bad. They often lead us to a greater sense of God's truth, and therefore, his love.