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April 7, 2016, 12:29 PM

1 John

The book (which was more accurately a letter) of 1 John was written to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ against the heresy of Docetism. This should bring up some very valid questions.  What is Docetism? What are the dangers of Docetism? Why did John write an entire book of the bible arguing against it? Lastly, if 1 John is dedicated to Docetism, then should we even study it? What I mean is, why get mixed up in talking about something wrong? Doesn't that just make it more likely that someone may stray toward that kind of thinking?

First, take note of how John defends the gospel of Jesus. He does not spend any time attacking those with the false doctrine. John does such a good job of this that we barely know anything about those pushing the false doctrine. Our best guest only comes from a small mention by Irenaeus about a man named Cerinthus of Asia Minor. John, rather, dedicates a great deal of time and energy define the reality of who Jesus was and still is. John uses his letter to show the greatness of what and who he believes in, rather than showing the error of what he doesn't. I believe that this is a great example of how we should talk about Christ. No counterfeit can hold up when placed beside the real deal. 

So, what was so wrong with Docetism? Docetism is the idea that Christ was not fully human, and that He only appeared to be a Man. One might be tempted to believe that if we are going to error, this is the safer error. After all, Docetism still claims that Jesus was completely God, and isn't that what is really important?  Well, NO.

What is at stake with the issue of Docetism is Substitutionary Atonement. Those are just fancy book words for saying that Jesus died on the cross in our place as a substitute. When Christ was put to death, He fulfilled the Law. God, in the willing death of Jesus, justly punished sin once and for all. In raising Jesus from the dead, we see that God's wrath has been satisfied fully. 

If Jesus is not fully God, then He does not have the authority to forgive sin. If Jesus is not fully man, then He does not have the ability to fulfill the Law and face God's judgment on our behalf. If we take part or all of either away, we lose the truth about Jesus. And it is the truth about Jesus that sets us free. 

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