False Christs are not usually demonic manifestations. They are distortions of the real Christ and His gospel that undermine His life-giving effect on people. We need to understand what Jesus meant by false christs. All of us are capable of knowing Jesus as He is. But not all of us do. He is not a projection of the institutional church church. (But he manifests as the church in those for whom He is life) Jesus can be muffled by religion and rendered unrecognisable to Himself by fundamentalism. Jesus is not an assortment of higher qualities gathered together as a deity. This is the principle of all idolatry – projecting idealised features onto an object. It is somewhat like the ancient Egyptian reverencing of the Hippopotamus god through deifying its qualities. We can do the same with our values and fundamentalisms when we try to make Jesus a transcendent effigy of the tenets of the law, of Christian values and Christian culture.
To worship Jesus is to be His spirit and life. To be in idolatry is to worship His stuff.
‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ Col 1.17 NIV. All that exists has its meaning and purpose in Jesus. All that lives in Jesus the Person will grow into the fullness of identity and purpose that they were meant to be.
God is not an effigy of rules and morality. He is subordinate to nothing physical or abstruse. He is a person and He is life itself. Jesus is one with our Father. He is I AM, complete in Himself and perfectly Himself. He lives in joyful relationship with His Father and Holy Spirit – their relationship is joyful and satisfying because they live enhancing each other without smothering each other in any way.
If Jesus is effaced by fundamentalisms and positional religion, He is expunged by the law. When we insist on importing the law into the new testament and pretending that Jesus is now among us to help us ‘keep’ what was done away with, we reduce Him to a phantom of Himself and render ourselves virtually invisible as sons. Law-mongers can never be more than ghosts of who they could have been in the spirit of sonship.
‘Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ’ Col 2.16,17 NIV.
Reality is Christ. We are real and alive in spirit when Christ alone is our life. Live in shadows and we will be a shadow. The reality is Christ who makes us real, whole and able to celebrate being who He has made us to be: Real sons in spirit and in truth. In rules and prescriptions we are false sons living as an illusory self.
In Jesus we grow into the fullness of His humanity with spirit and life. We deplete Jesus by living from religious motions. This is pleasing to the Enemy who gloats over the fact that He has insulted Christ through our worship and turned many of us into religious cripples who cannot model real life or advance the new creation in any meaningful way. This is why Jesus urged us to worship God in spirit and in truth and not according to our personal perspectives, misguided dogmas and faithfully adhered to non-gospels.
‘I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV. By coming in the flesh – your flesh – Jesus manifests as you and you increasingly become the expression of His life.
Revelation and truth – the truth of who Jesus is and who we are is found entirely in Him. Only Jesus knows you and only in Him can we become who we truly are. Only Jesus knows our Father and only Father knows Jesus. Holy Spirit knows them both. They unite in Holy Conspiracy to reveal themselves as they are so that we may know who we are and enjoy our extravagant inheritance as ordinary folks indwelt by God.
Francois Du Toit writes, ‘It is impossible to contemplate the real Jesus, without being overwhelmed with the way he unveils the real Father and the real you in himself!’
In similar vein, J Baxter Kruger writes, ‘Jesus is the one who knows the Father. He knows the Father’s love and acceptance. He sees the Father’s face. Jesus has freedom for fellowship with his Father, and Jesus shares his heart with us. He puts his own freedom for relationship with his Father in us through the Spirit.’ In the real Jesus we get to worship in spirit and in truth, know God in spirit and in truth and be ourselves in spirit and truth. Anything less than this and we are dead men talking.