Published June 4, 2009
1 John 2:18-29; 4:1-6
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, June 21
John, the gentle, aged apostle of love, appears to give way to a young, bold, passionate firebrand as he now demonstrates a tough, protective side. He calls Satan and his missionaries to task. He and his brother, James, had been so aggressive and volatile early on as new disciples that Jesus personally nicknamed them Boanerges (“Sons of Thunder,” Mk. 3:17) because, among other things, they wanted to call down fire to destroy a Samaritan village for refusing to let Jesus pass through (Lk. 9:52).
Here in chapters 2-3, “Boanerges” strikes again. He calls the Gnostics liars (22), deceivers (26), useless (27), children of the devil (3:10), murderers (3:15), false prophets (4:1), and possessors of the spirit of error (4:6).
The last hour, the antichrist(s) - 1 John 2:18
Having been fairly reserved and thoughtful in the previous chapter and verses, the gloves are off now to protect and encourage the faithful and to do battle with the enemy. The Gnostics’ blatant denial of Jesus as God in the flesh caused John to think the “last hour” of the last days was literally at hand. He knew this denial was to be the mantra of the antichrist – and the theological theme of the end times.
John, like Paul, thought the last day and coming of Christ was imminent. Many scholars feel that since John’s timing was off by some 2,000 years, he must have meant they were in the “last stage.”
John nor Paul were wrong and in fact were both in good company. Jesus himself was, by choice I believe, not privy to the timing of His own return (Mt. 24:36). The lesson? Every believer in every age should think and live as if we are in the “last hour” of the last days.
The antichrists (plural) in this verse are the forerunners of the official antichrist. These messengers are with us today and still promote Jesus as a good and enlightened man, or as possessing a “divine consciousness.” As smooth and intelligent as these words sound, John says they come from the evil mind of the evil one himself to deceive people.
The proof - 1 John 2:19
The proof that the Gnostics were pretenders and not genuine Christians was that they could not withstand the demands of true Christian fellowship and accountability, so they left the church. God and His kingdom people are always building family, trust, and community by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Satan can only tear down, separate, and divide, which is his very nature. It is extremely rare that Satan and his followers start anything good and helpful for people. But they are quick to join in and take over for their own purposes.
Unable to totally undo the true fellowship, they showed their true identity and left the flock. God had exposed them for who they really were.
God ultimately exposes all of the works of antichrist and his boss, the devil.
The anointing, abiding - 1 John 2:20-27
Confidence and comfort come to the battered flock as John reminds them that their belief in Jesus as the virgin-born Son of God actually puts them “in the know.” The Gnostics put themselves in the special spiritual elite group called the “spirituals” and nicknamed the ignorant unenlightened church members “the fleshlings” (“The Epistles of John” p.46, Stott).
In verse 20 “the Holy One” is the special protective “anointing” who is none other than the Holy Spirit of God Himself. Basically John is saying in vv. 20-24 that if you have the same Jesus as experienced and taught by him and the apostles, then you also at the same time have the Father and the comforter-teacher, the Holy Spirit.
The anointing (the Holy Spirit) illuminates the scripture and teaches the believer so that we need no “newly discovered” or revealed information on Jesus. He is saying to beware of anyone who says otherwise.
In this world of deception and uncertainty, the Holy Spirit of God empowers, protects, and teaches the believer the truth of God about this life and the life to come. Because He abides (remains) in us when we are saved, we have confidence to walk (abide) with and remain faithful to Him in the middle of the storms and pains of life.
Test for authenticity - 1 John 4:1-6
The antichrist of the end times is a real person who will appear as a “wonderful” world leader bringing peace and stability. His knowledge and skill will convince the world that he possesses godlike intelligence. He will solve the religion problem by declaring all religions equally true, and that Jesus was just another man who one day “realized the god within” and died like every other man. Period.
Anyone who espouses that thinking is promoting the mind and spirit of the real antichrist of the end times. We are commanded to put all philosophy and religious and spiritual teaching to this test: If it denies the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth, that He was the virgin-born, only Son of God, it is gross error.
Test every doctrine, denomination, and spiritual concept with this test.
Hear the interesting advice of a banker to spot counterfeit money: “You count money constantly during the day. How will you pick out the one counterfeit bill from the over 6,000 bills you might handle on an average day? Believe it or not, it is not the portrait, or the misalignment of numbers, the run-together pattern, or even the missing red and blue threads that will first tip you off. It is the feel that will instantly alert you to the fact that something is wrong with the bill. Take a real good look at a bill that ‘feels different.’ There is a good chance that it’s counterfeit.” – Bankersonline.com
To detect a counterfeit theology we must constantly handle the genuine.
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