1 John 2:18-23, The Spirit of Antichrist and the Anointing of the Spirit

August 24, 2017

 

Verse 18a: “Little children, it is the last hour…”

 

What in the world is happening to our world? Do you find it hard to believe that we are living in the last days of human history? Are we the last generation? There are so many signs that tell us we are living in the last days of earth's history. The apostles thought the second coming would come in their lifetime. Jesus said to His disciples, “I will come again” (John 14:3). Further, at the ascension, two men (angels) told His disciples as He was rising to heaven, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Matthew records the words of Christ: “For as the lightning comes…so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 42, 44, 46). Will the world soon arrive at this climactic event?

When the disciples asked Jesus about the date of His return (Matthew 24:3), He told them that only God the Father knows: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (verse 36). Then He urged them to be prepared so that they would not be taken by surprise. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (verse 44).

Make no mistake! The Bible is plain about the Return of Jesus Christ! I  have looked for His coming since I became a Christian, but even more so as I see that day approaching rapidly. “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT).

Mark 13:33,37 “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is…And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

A young boy was playing in his grandmother’s house near a large grandfather clock. Noontime was approaching, and when both hands of the old timepiece reached 12, the chimes began to ring.

As he always liked to do, the boy counted each gong as it sounded. This time, however, something went wrong with the clock’s inner mechanism. Instead of stopping at 12, it kept right on chiming—13, 14, 15, 16 times.

The boy couldn’t believe his ears! He jumped to his feet and ran into the kitchen, shouting, “Grandma! Grandma! It’s later than it’s ever been before!” In his excitement, the youngster expressed a truth we all would do well to consider.

It is later than it’s ever been before—in the history of the world, in the days allotted to man, and on God’s calendar of events. With each passing hour, the words of James 5:8 take on added significance: “The coming of the Lord is at hand.”

Verse 18b: “and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming…”

In broad terms, an antichrist is anyone “who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (1John 2:22). More specifically, John understands such a person to be a human representative of the “evil one” of whom Jesus spoke (John 17:15). The world (cosmos) will move in all-out rebellion against God when the Antichrist appears… This is more than just someone who opposes Christ, but one who seeks to replace Christ, that is, a counterfeit Christ. This is the idea in Mark 13:22 where Jesus warns his followers about “False messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.” This is clear in 2 John 7 where the author explicitly labels the opponents as “the deceiver and the Antichrist” and in 1 John 2:26 where the author says, “these things I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you.”

Paul writes:

 

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4).

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin (antichrist) is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”  (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

“The Bible is clear that one man will be the final, most complete and powerful Antichrist. He will appear in the future history of the world in a time which is called the time of the Tribulation. This is a time that will end man's day. It is a time, a seven-year period of time divided into two three-and-half year sections in which Satan releases his power in the world, at the same time God releases judgment in the world. And there will be in that day a world ruler who is identified as the Antichrist. He is the culminating and final one, that's why we have here the singular "Antichrist is coming.”–John MacArthur

Verse 18c: “even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

There exists a principality of the deadliest order, that has been tolerated by believers for so long that its influence is considered normal for the church. This diabolical entity is “the spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3). This spirit stands firmly opposed to any renewal, revival or restoration of the church of Jesus Christ. Anyone who is against Christ, or denies Christ’s Sonship, His deity, His humanity, His offices, and His grace, and teaches or practices any doctrine that is against these truths is the spirit and doctrine of antichrist.

Mark 13:22,23, “For false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.”

“John uses  antichrist, antichristos to describe anyone who denies the deity (1John 2:22) or the humanity (1John 4:3; 2 John 1:7) of Jesus Christ. The latter was denied by the Docetic Gnostics of John's day. They said that Jesus only seemed to have a physical body. Following the lead of some Early Church fathers, we have applied the term Antichrist to the beast of Revelation.” –Ralph Earle

But when he says, “even now many antichrists have come,” he means that the evil spirit that will characterize the final Antichrist is already working in these false teachers who have left the churches. False teachers rise up within the church and present a system that subtly presents something instead of Jesus Christ. The false teacher may use the same label, “Jesus Christ,” but he will not be the same Jesus that is presented in the Bible. If a gullible person takes the bait, he is led farther away until finally he is in total opposition to Christ.

These false teachers, whom John labels “antichrists,” did not carry pitchforks and wear red suits with horns and a tail, or T-shirts saying, “Warning: I am an antichrist!” Rather, they arose in the churches. Some of them may have been elders or pastors, who for a while had taught the truth. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “From among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Now these men were leaving the churches to form new groups, saying, “We have come into a deeper knowledge of the truth. Follow us and we’ll let you in on this secret knowledge.” –Adapted from, Steven J. Cole, bible.org

The proliferation of cults indicate that we are now in “the last days”  “Even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (verse 18).

There are literally hundreds of cults, I mention just two very popular current-day religions that fit the category of antichrist…

“Jehovah Witnesses,” deny the deity of Jesus Christ, “Jesus was Michael the archangel who became a man,” The Watchtower, May 15, 1963, p. 307, The New World, 284. “Jesus did not rise from the dead in His physical body,” Awake! July 22, 1973, p. 4.  

“Mormonism,” who also deny Christ’s deity, “In Mormonism, Jesus is a creation, the product of relations between god and his goddess wife who used to be people from another world (McConkie, Bruce, Mormon Doctrine, p. 192, 321, 516, 589). Jesus is the literal spirit brother of the devil and of you and I (McConkie, p. 192, 589). Also, in Mormon theology, God has a body of flesh and bones (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22) as does his wife and together they produce spirit offspring in heaven who inhabit human bodies on earth.” –carm.org

 

Verse19a: “They went out from us…”

“They” refers to the antichrists of 2:18. “Out from” is the Greek preposition ek which indicates that these antichrists were once in fact members of the community of believers. “Us” is the  body of Christ, genuine believers, but had now seceded from it, which proved they were never genuine members of the community. John does not say these antichrists were thrown out, but that they went out voluntarily. Furthermore, when they went out it was not simply a matter of leaving one church to join another. They left the church, much as Judas left the fellowship of the disciples, indicating his betrayal of Jesus and denial of the faith.

Verse 19b: “They were not of us…”

Some leave the church because they were not part of it to begin with. Their departure from genuine Bible believing Christians demonstrated that they were not genuine believers.  They were physically within the circle of genuine believers but they were not true believers. Paul warned about these false teachers when he was leaving the church at Ephesus: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.  For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:28,29).

If these had been genuine believers, true members of the Body of Christ, the Church, holding the same sound doctrine as the true believers, they would have stayed. They were not members of the visible, organized church on earth. They did not partake of the divine life of the members of the Body of Christ, made up of true believers. All of which means that an apostate is an unsaved person who has mentally subscribed to the doctrines of the Christian faith and who then rejects those doctrines while still remaining within the organization of the visible church and posing as a Christian. They departed from the doctrinal position of the Church so that it could be shown that they did not belong to the company of the saints.

Verse 19c: “For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us…” An old friend of mine, when speaking of some folks who had left his church, said, “The elect stick!” True believers do not leave the company of believers.

False teachers that come from within the church are more dangerous than those coming from without.  There is a level of trust among people you know. It is difficult to distinguish the wheat from the weeds at times because the weeds grow among the wheat.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew” (Matthew 13:24-26).

A counterfeit dollar bill is more difficult to detect than a three-dollar bill.

Most cults and sects come from within the church.  Jesus and the apostles predicted this.  These people hide and obscure what they truly believe.

Verse 19d: “But they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

Their leaving makes it plain they were not part of the church of Jesus  Christ. To leave the church is to defect from the truth. To be hostile to truth is to be an antichrist. No matter what congregation or church to which they may join themselves they continue to be antichrists unless they repent and embrace the truth they learned from the beginning.

Characteristics that identify antichrists:

•They tend to be popular (well-liked by all).Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets”  (Luke 6:26).

•They are men-pleasers. “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (1Thessalonians  2:4).

      

•They teach a grace that overlooks immoral behavior. “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ”  (Jude 1:4).

•They distort the truth, drawing disciples to themselves. “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30).

•They are smooth-talkers. Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

•They disguise themselves as religious leaders or authorities. “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

•They form new groups around new theology and tend to be exclusive to certain think-tanks to discover new truths that the New Testament writers missed.

Verse 20a: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One…”

“You have” is in the present tense which signifies this (the anointing, the indwelling Spirit) is the saint's permanent possession.

“Anointing” in Greek is chrisma to daub, smear, anoint with oil; English word Chrism is consecrated oil used in certain ceremonies. It is a noun which literally means what has been spread on, such as an ointment. “That with which the anointing is performed — the unguent or ointment." (Vincent)

John says this anointing was one they had received from God and abides in them and is something that teaches them. While John does not clearly identify the anointing, these associated features (especially teaches) would strongly support the premise that the anointing represents the Holy Spirit. We know Jesus sent Him to abide in believers and to teach us and lead us into truth declaring, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13)

In 1 John 4:13, John says, “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” Assuming the anointing (in our text is the Holy Spirit, John is explaining that the Spirit is from Jesus. John also reminds his readers, “And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” In His Upper Room Discourse, Jesus gives His worried disciples a prophecy concerning the Holy Spirit, promising “If I go, I will send Him (the Spirit) to you” (John 16:7-11). In Luke 24:49 Jesus said “I am sending forth the promise (referring to the Holy Spirit) of My Father upon you…” In Acts Jesus explains that His disciples would “receive power (dunamis) when the Holy Spirit had come upon them” (Acts 1:8) What is the Source of this power? The anointing from the Holy One is His gift of the Holy Spirit from Jesus to His believers. The Holy Spirit is to be our supernatural Source of power for supernatural ministry, including the discerning of good from evil as well as true from false, as in the present context of false teaching about the Christ.

 

Verse 20b: “and you know all things.”

Christians obviously do not know all things. The correct rendering, is "you all know." Because of the anointing which you have received from Jesus Christ, the Holy One, you all know. There is no doubt that this anointing is the Holy Spirit whom the Lord Jesus gives to those who believe in him.

 

When I accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit moved into my life. So I No longer walk in confusion, darkness and uncertainty, unable to find my way through the maze of contradictory opinions and forces, but you have something by which you can know. For the first time in your life, you have received the necessary equipment to know. To know what? To know the truth!

“John is telling his readers that spiritual knowledge is not restricted to some elite inner circle. Rather, they all know the truth of the gospel because they all have the anointing from the Holy One, which refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit that Jesus, the Holy One, promised to send. The false teachers may have been using the word “anointing” as a technical term for being initiated into their special gnosis, or knowledge. But John takes their term and uses it of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of the new birth, God’s Spirit opens our blind eyes to see the truth about our sinfulness and the all-sufficiency of what Christ did on the cross to pay for our sins. This simple gospel message is what these believers had heard from the beginning (1 John 2:24).” – Steven Cole

“Previously John used the word (ginosko) meaning knowledge by experience; here he used the word (eido) meaning knowledge by intuition. We know some things intuitively by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”–Guzik

1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” To know Jesus is to know the truth: John 14:6. Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” And in John 8:31,32, “Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Free from never having known truth.

Here I Stand, Verses 21-23: 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.”

Therefore, brethren, stand fast [continue, establish, persevere, stand firm] and hold the traditions [precepts, teachings] which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15].

It has never been popular to stand for truth! Martin Luther in his defense said, “Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen.”

Where can absolute truth be found? My obvious answer is the Bible in its original autographs. I can tell you for certain, having personal experience with Scripture, that the Bible’s truth can change your life for the better! The Scripture is totally relevant for the twenty-first century and beyond, just as it has been for the past twenty-plus centuries. The words, “truth,: “true,” and “truly” appear three-hundred-thirty-eight times in the Bible. Jesus Christ, the Messiah says, “I tell you the truth,” eighty times in the Bible, another twenty times Jesus says, “You have heard it said…but I say to you.” God is truth! God’s word is truth! All truth is God’s truth! Therefore the only word we have from God is the Bible, as revealed to its translators in the original autographs.

2 John 1-3: “My dear congregation, I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I’m not alone—everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you. Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!”  (2 John 1-3 MSG).

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:30-32).

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17).

Will you be deceived by the “Spirit of antichrist or will you be anointed by the Spirit of Truth?

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Tråanslation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English  bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).

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