Dealing with Antichrist, Rejoicing in Relationship with The Father
“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour…” (1 John 2:18-23).
The spirit of antichrist: it is very prevalent in our day. Many cannot see that Jesus is the Christ because He did not come and do as they expected in His first appearance as Savior. Though He fulfills every prophesy spoken concerning the Christ’s appearing, they cannot recognize Him. The spirit of antichrist has blinded their spiritual eyes and hinders their perceptions so they cannot understand to see the truth. Others are snared by belief that the Holy Bible is antiquated and Jesus is the parable. Others approach Him with their own expectations, and, finding things with the Christ not as they think it should be, they quickly turn away. Still others walk into the church and profess Him with their words, desiring some miracle or expecting some magical experience of Him, and finding that lacking, they deny His reality and turn aside to other things. And others come into our midst looking for the Christ in the people, where they should be able to see Him, yes, but not understanding that we are continually being perfected, disillusioned by what they see as hypocrisy or having their feelings hurt, they walk away never having truly believed. Then there are some who come in as a thief in the night, pretending to know Him, and with words that sound right, leading even the elect astray, they form the cults of our day.
We see Jesus dealing with the spirit of antichrist often in His ministry. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the day, misunderstanding the way the Christ would first appear and why, jealous of His renown often came against Him, fooled by the spirit of antichrist working through them. Many who followed Jesus were looking for their own desire of what they would find in the Christ. Jesus revealed this truth in John 4:48, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe’.” And I see in the parable of the seeds sown on many soils a picture of the various ways in which the spirit of antichrist can pull the heart of man from knowledge of the Christ as disillusionment and discouragement pull us from the truth (Matthew 13:18-23). Then we have the words of John, telling of Jesus dealing with this blindness in those of His day:
“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:9-13).
Still today people cannot accept that we are born anew through Christ, who covers our sins—past, present and future—as we go through the process of growing up as the children of God, made new day by day through the perfecting work of the Spirit of God within us. They cannot understand that it is a work of God. We cannot be good enough apart from His Spirit at work in us. And we can only have His Spirit as we recognize the Christ for who He truly is and put our faith in Him. The spirit of antichrist hinders this faith.
Part of our role as we complete the sufferings of Christ is to recognize the spirit of antichrist at work in our day and to stand against it; not only living in stark contrast to it, but taking every opportunity to correct the understanding of those deceived by it. Anything that leads a people to look for and follow after the christ of their expectation and miss the true Christ is ensnared by the spirit of antichrist. Many rise up among us, believing they know what Christ should look like and how He should be in our lives, and having just enough truth to be believable, they break off from the true church and true faith to lead many astray to a false-christ.
I see this passage in 1 John as proof text of once saved, always saved. Those who truly believe will remain, that is what it says. Why? Because God, through His Spirit, is able to make them stand.
“…They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us…” (vs. 19).
Those who do not truly believe may walk with us for a time and may even appear to be true believers, but eventually the deceptiveness of their understanding will be revealed as they walk away due to one of the previously stated reasons above or some other not covered here. Many of these become the voice of the spirit of antichrist in our midst as they begin to put down those of true faith and the truth professed. These who fall away as our focal passage implies often become a false teacher that, if we are not alert and watchful, can lead even the mature in Christ away from the paths of truth and righteousness.
Scripture warns that even the elect (Matthew 24:24), those who have sincere faith in Christ and a true, growing and strong relationship with Him, even they may be fooled for a time by the lie that has just enough truth in it to be believable. They are still true believers in Christ, but they get on a wrong path because they are not alert and growing in their own understanding in the area of falsehood they have fallen too.
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth” (vs. 20-21).
From my own experience, I believe that the elect who are fooled for a time but who are sincerely seeking God in Christ will eventually recognize the truth and turn back to right paths. Verse 20 of our focal passage confirms this as it says that we know all truth because of the anointing that is in us, The Spirit of God within us who teaches us all things. But it can be devastating to the lives of those who see the example of the elect who may fall away from truth for a time, as those who follow us, not truly knowing Christ, become snared by the fake because of following the true believer during their time of false understanding. So we, the elect, must be alert and constantly growing in the truth of Christ.
Verse 21 instructs us in how to recognize the false teaching of antichrist:
First, any little falsehood found in a teaching should give us pause. If we are drawn to a new teaching and there is something in it that we recognize as a lie, that is a clue that we need to dig deeper into the so called “new truth” and make sure it is not an old lie behind a façade-christ.
Then the Amplified version of verse 21 speaks to me of another thing we can realize as warning that we need to look closer at a “new truth” before we go running after it. “I write to you not because you are ignorant and do not perceive and know the Truth, but because you do perceive and know it, and [know positively] that nothing false (no deception, no lie) is of the Truth.” As I read this version of this verse I see not only assurance of truth, but I sense the peace of mind and heart that assurance brings to us. When peace is disturbed by a new teaching, it is a signal to look more closely and discern from whom the teaching comes: The Spirit of Christ or the spirit of antichrist.
Another warning of a need to check our facts is what is being said about Christ and the Father (vs. 22-23): “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”
I.e.: any teaching that denies Christ being God with us, Immanuel, God incarnate in the body of One call the Son of God, the propitiation or full price for our sin, is antichrist. And this passage warns that we cannot have the Father without first having the Son in truth. They are a package deal.
The spirit of antichrist is not to be trifled with. It is prevalent in our day and it is the major force of our day that blinds the eyes and deceives the hearts of many. We must seek constantly to know the truth for ourselves, so that we can be used of God in our day to dispel the false.
Before I close, I want to stress verse 23, Amplified: “No one who [habitually] denies (disowns) the Son even has the Father. Whoever confesses (acknowledges and has) the Son has the Father also.”
Note the words, “habitually denies and disowns the Son”. I don’t know about you, but I have experienced times when the devil—the author and perfecter of the spirit of antichrist, has raised a doubt in me about the truth of Christ and even made me wonder about the truth of God. It is what he does. But God always leads me back to truth as I know it from His Spirit’s teaching me, not only from reading it in scripture, but from experiencing it in life.
The word “habitually” is vital for the Christian to remember. We will, because of where we are in our flesh and in the world, fall from time to time to sin. But we do not lose our salvation because of a temporary fall that is not based in habit (Romans 2:1; 1 John 3:6, 9, Amp., scroll down). Habitual sin is seen in those who refuse change, refusing to become like Him; it is the sin that, when recognized, sees us shake our fist in the face of God and, denying the right of Christ to rule that area of our lives, we choose to hold to that habit of sin. If we make a habit of denying that Jesus is the Christ, feigning faith through half-hearted or total lack of obedience to turn away from sin, that falls under the category of habitual sin that proves we do not belong to Him.
An occasional struggle in our faith that is defeated by truth is a temptation to sin. Satan may try to convince those who have such struggle with temptation that they are not of true faith, but Romans 8:1 tells us that God does not condemn us in our struggle against the flesh, the world, the devil, and the spirit of antichrist. Tell that demonic accuser to go away and keep standing on the truth. He will eventually give up.
Now we all have habits that seem constantly to pull us back into struggle with our sin nature in this life. This is what Paul was speaking of in Romans 7:14-8:1. These are habits that we may have struggled with all our lives, hate having in our lives, work to overcome, but often get snared by it despite our stance against it. Such lifelong habits are often hard to break and too easily fallen back into. Realize that when we hate a sin that too easily snares us though we actively struggle against it, Jesus has us covered in our struggle. Every repentance of such sin and new attempt to have victory over it is aided by His Spirit until we find victory in His strength. It is the sins that we do habitually, giving ourselves to it in rebellion against God that is antichrist and can be proof of false faith that is no salvation at all.
So we have to not only watch what is going on around us and realize when a spirit of antichrist is pulling us and others away from true faith; but we also have to watch for that spirit at play in our lives, chaining us to habitual sin. The wisdom of the flesh, the wisdom of the world, and the wisdom of demons are all antichrist in nature. This is our battlefield as we seek to walk with Him, and not against Him. As we choose to follow Christ, daily taking up our cross of self-denial: seeking, finding and standing firm on His truth, we complete the suffering-affliction of Christ in standing against the spirit of antichrist wherever it is found. So walk by faith, rejoicing that by having the Christ, you get the Father also, and take every opportunity to give an account of the hope that is in you.
“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:13-16).