I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. (2 John 1:7)
Relate: I am half tempted to talk about gnosticism here and illustrate how an early form of it was beginning to develop in the later years of John’s ministry. However, there is absolutely no way I can even begin to do so in a devotional that I try to keep around one typewritten page long. It just can’t happen. So all I will say on the general concept of gnosticism is that it is an incredibly broad term for a very diverse set of beliefs spreading over hundreds of years and dozens of cultures. Also, please don’t try to read up on it through using wikipedia. It is a horrible article there and I wouldn’t even know where to begin trying to fix it.
I will also add the fact that the term “gnosticism” which basically means “knowledge” is also very misleading. One of the few things that does unify pretty much all of the varied set of beliefs fitting under the umbrella we call “gnosticism” is that the material world is evil and the spiritual, or mental, world is good. A focus on “knowledge” (gnostikos), or thought, or ideas are the only way people can transcend the evil that is our bodies. Gnosticism was not a logical, or scientific, or rational, or even very practical set of beliefs. Quite the opposite.
The only thing they have going for them with that regard is their name and our ignorance. In our lack of understanding, many simple people have taken the view that since Orthodox Christians right from the start stood in opposition to the various gnostic heresies, Christianity has been anti-knowledge or anti-science right from the start. I’ve even heard some modern Christians saying general ideas along this regard as an excuse for their being too lazy to do the work of educating themselves.
React: Now, coming back from that rabbit trail, John writes a significant part of the letters he wrote in his twilight years to oppose a growing trend he saw in the churches. The number of people who had actually seen and walked and talked and listened to Jesus was fast dwindling. Another generation was coming of age that had only heard the stories of the gospel second hand and to make him more socially acceptable among the growing number of philosophical mystics who would become the neoplatonists and various sects of gnostics of later generations, they started to doubt that Jesus had actually come in literal physical, human form.
John would have none of this. He wasn’t about to soft pedal around the issue. He wasn’t going to meet anybody halfway. On the issue of the incarnation, John drew a line hard and fast. Anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh is the antichrist. In 1 John, anyone who denies this of the Son has no part in the Father.
I am so thankful that You truly are, Immanuel. You are God made flesh. You have come and walked among us. You experienced humanity in all of its trials and triumphs. You understand its struggles and sweetness. You are not distant. You are not absent. You love us, You love me enough to come down. There is no way I could ever begin to express my gratitude and my relief that You care enough to know exactly what I am going through. Jesus, with ever fiber of this frail physical body and with every thought in my metaphysical mind, let me live out an expression of love to You.