The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11
The book of 1 John was written during a time when a false teaching called Gnosticism was being spread, deceiving many people. Gnosticism is the false teaching that when Jesus came to Earth, He came in a spiritual body, not a physical body. It began, as well to underscore the value of the physical bodies of all people, blurring the connection between the physical and spiritual selves of human beings. Now, at first glance, this false teaching might not seem like such a big deal, but let me assure you that it was a very big deal. In our Bible study today, we are going to talk about the dangers of Gnosticism, and see how it is still deceptive today, and be encouraged to recognize and call it out when we see it.
Not only was Gnosticism a problem in John's letter, the apostle Paul recognized its danger as well. Gnosticism was the idea that Christ never came to Earth in human form, but Spirit only. Therefore, with this false belief, Christ never died in the flesh, only Spirit. Not only is this a problem because it goes against what Scripture teaches, it also presents a major theological issue. You see, if Jesus never came to Earth in the flesh, lived an earthly life, and was crucified in the flesh, he never could have conquered sin because the payment demanded for sin, according to Scripture, is a physical death. If Christ never died in the flesh and then rose again, he never could have conquered sin and death and paid the price for sin. If that had been the case, we would be without hope and destined for an eternity separated from God. This, my friends, is why Gnosticism was so dangerous.
Before we think that this false teaching was only prevalent in the New Testament era, we need to take a moment and examine our society. You see, Gnosticism is still being believed today. The false teaching of Gnosticism today teaches that the physical and spiritual realms of our lives are completely separated and never intertwined. Most often, it is seen in the idea that only the Spiritual realm matters, so anything that we do to our fleshly bodies is okay.
Praise God, however, that Gnosticism is indeed a false teaching. You see, Christ did, indeed come to Earth in the flesh and die in the flesh. He also resurrected again. Because of this, we have hope, and we have eternal life with Him one day if we place our faith in Him.
Take time right now to reflect. How have you seen Gnosticism show up in society today? Why is it a problem when people begin to fall for its false teaching? Next, think about ways that you can fight against it today.
Read Romans 8:1-17 (NLT)
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
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