“About the Antichrists” 1 John 2:18-27
Today as in the Apostle John’s day there are some who are the tools of Satan to steal away our faith. They seek to sound good. They want to be almost truthful. However, in the end, the desire is to deceive and to tear us away from the truth. Satan delights to make himself into an angel of light and to destroy our lives and our churches so that God will not use us.
Satan’s deception can make us believe that we are saved and keep us far away from the truth of who the Lord Jesus Christ is. God wants us to have a real relationship and fellowship with Him and His Son. John lays open the danger and shows us how to avoid it in this text.
In the first part of this passage, the Apostle issues a warning. At verse 18, John abruptly changed the subject. It may be that writing about the dangers of the world system made him think about the perils of this “last hour.” At any rate he warns us again of the danger of a major deception practiced by the great deceiver, Satan, and his helpers, in this last hour. “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18).
What does John mean by the phrase “last hour?” Verses 28-29 found later in this context are about the Lord’s return. It seems likely then that the Apostle John believed in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Although it would be millennia after this that the Lord would return, he knew that this was the last time before Christ came. He knew the Lord Jesus could return at any time.
Who are the antichrists who are in the world? They are those who oppose the Lord Jesus. We will learn as we go along more about these enemies of the Gospel, but it is enough in this verse to point out that the antichrists abound in the last hour and are an evidence that this is the last time before Christ comes back.
Verse 19 is the visible result of the work of these deceivers, some depart. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 John 2:19). John wrote not about everyone leaving the body of believers, but only those who specifically believed the lies of the antichrists and so left the fellowship.
John is clear about the differences between those who are “of us” and those “who are not of us.” “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:20-23)
The first difference between these believers (and us) and the antichrists is that we have an anointing from God. This can be a very disturbing statement to us, but John simply said what Paul wrote in Romans 8:9, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” We have talked about this verse in Romans 8, but it is vitally important for us to understand that being saved means that the Holy Spirit of God actually lives in us.
The second difference is that they and we know the truth. “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” (verse 21). The truth John wrote about is the truth that he and the Apostles have taught. This is God’s self-revelation written down for us in the Bible. They had learned the truth. They understood the truth and they made the truth a part of their lives. Do we know the truth? Have we invested our lives in the truth?
Third, these true believers differed from the antichrists because they knew how to identify lies and truth. “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (verses 22-23). The negative reality we must understand is there is no middle ground between truth and a lie. God is either God or He is not. Jesus is God the Son come in the flesh or He is not. You cannot divide between the Father and the Son. You cannot have One without the other. We must have God on His terms. We must receive Christ on His terms or we do not have Him at all. The positive reality is if we have the Son we have the Father. If we abide in the Son (that is, if we live in relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ),we also live our lives in relationship and fellowship with the Father.
John warned us about antichrists in verses 16-23. How do we inoculate ourselves against these antichrists and their false teaching that could divide us from Christ? The Apostle John gives us three tools to help us “abide” or live in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, they must live and remain in the truth they heard from the beginning. “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” (verse 24). What have we heard from the beginning? In chapter one of First John, he wrote about the incarnation and the living Christ who was from the beginning. The truth, the revelation we have been taught through the written Word of God, is the key here. Antichrists have a huge opening in the church today because we do not study and know the Bible like we should.
Second, we must cling to the promise of eternal life. “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.” (verse 25). Do not cast aside your faith in the promise that we have in the Lord Jesus that we have eternal life. Eternal life is life that will never end. It is, at the same time, a life lived in a growing living relationship with the Father and His Son. John 17:3 says, “This is life eternal, that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John wanted us to get serious about our relationship with God and hold fast to promise of eternal life. Take hold of it and never let go.
Third, be aware of the enemy and listen to the Holy Spirit with in you. “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (verses 26-27). This is a warning. We must remember it and not take it lightly. John is serious about what he wrote.
He also is serious that we need to listen to the Holy Spirit. He is not saying because the Holy Spirit lives in us we are omniscient. However, the Holy Spirit will teach us and reinforce the truth of the Word of God.
What do we do with this? Heed the warning. We must be aware that some would undermine our faith if they could. We must learn, know, and practice what the Bible says. A consistent daily diet of the Bible is vital to our Christian Growth. If we are going to live above the world and those who seek to destroy us, we need to be men and women of the Book.
We must cultivate our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This comes through our time in the Word and prayer with Him.
Finally, we must not let anyone take away our promises. Do we often review the truth of the Word of God in our hearts to help the Holy Spirit remind us of that truth when we need it most?