Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3)

I was taught in religion classes in college that our confessions teach that the papacy is the antichrist. I always had a hard time with that, knowing many Roman Catholics who are Christians. And I heard so many of the things the Pope said, and how Christian it sounded. It was explained to me in oh-so-many ways how it is true that the papacy is the antichrist even if the pope himself is a true Christian. Okay, this may be obvious to lots of folks, but it never really made sense to me.

As we have been studying 1 John during Thursday morning Bible class these past months, one thing Pastor has been pointing out is that "the spirit of antichrist" is the doctrine of works-righteousness, in all its many forms. True doctrine is that God took on human flesh, bore our sin, and fully atoned for our rebellion and errors, giving us His holiness, and that our standing before God is entirely in what He has done on our behalf.

I asked about the people who believe that Jesus came in the flesh, was a "good teacher," but was not God. The answer was that "Jesus Christ" means something. It means "Yahweh is salvation" and it reminds us of all the promises of the Anointed One throughout the Old Testament, and who He was, and what He would accomplish. Thus "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" isn't just about a historical figure, but about the eternal God becoming man so that He might bear the cross so that we don't have to.

Pastor pointed out that, at the time the confessions were written, the papacy had declared Luther's teaching anathema (damnable). The papacy said that anyone who believed that he stood before God, righteous and holy and blameless, fully on account of Christ's death and His blood shed, was going to hell for such a belief. Well, uh, that was kinda sorta "against Christ" (antichrist) doncha think?

And yet, the teaching that causes us to look to our own works, our own goodness, our own merits before God, that teaching was present in the early church prior to the existence of a papacy, and that teaching is present now [gasp] even among us. It is the very essence of the sinful nature, and must "daily be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires."

I don't know about you, but seeing "antichrist" as being works-righteousness (instead of only as the papacy) wraps up a lot of loose ends for me.

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