Grace Thoughts

On God, His Word, His Church, and His World

  • No Docetic Love

    April 7, 2016

    One of the false teachings the New Testament emphatically addresses is an early form of docetism (pronounced DOE-se-ti-zim). Docetism, from the Greek word for “to seem” or “to appear,” is the false teaching that denies the humanity of Christ; in other words, those who hold to docetism teach that Jesus only appeared human but really wasn’t. The Bible is clear that a Savior who only seemed human cannot save since He cannot die, and if He cannot die, then we are still dead in our sins. That’s why John opens his first letter with his testimony that Jesus had been heard, seen, and touched (1 John 1:1-3), actions that cannot be done to apparitions or ghosts:

    1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

    Docetism denies God’s love because it denies that Christ came in the flesh to die for our sins (1 John 4:2-3, 10). The Bible tells us that God did not appear to love us. He actually did love us, and that’s why He actually sent Jesus.

    If God’s Love took on flesh and was visible and physically tangible for His people, what about our love for one another? God refuses to allow His people an abstract love that’s expression-less to our fellow Christian. He refuses to allow us a hazy, invisible kind of love to one another that’s empty of action: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (4:20). Christian love is tangibly expressed and issues from a heart of obedience to God: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (3:18). Christian love is no docetic love.