The Book of 1 John
Shielded from False Teachers
1 John 2:18-23 7/3/11 SCC
We have recently phased through a period of the prediction of the end of the world. Harold Camping told us it was going to be May 21. 2011. But here we are. Can we really expect there to be an end of all things? John says yes we can. Actually he tells us very plainly that we are already in the last hour. And the way we can discern this is not by earthquakes and cataclysms. He says we can know this because of the presence of antichrists—many of them in fact. Having just finished discussing the impulses of the flesh as standing against the love of God, he now turns to a concrete example of this, that being false teachers or antichrists.
SINCE IT IS THE LAST HOUR WE CAN EXPECT ANTICHRISTS TO ARISE 18
1. Twice he says it is the ‘last hour’. This is a code word for the end-time fulfillment of prophecy. Here he is referring to the last age before the coming of Christ. Specifically, it is not just the coming of Christ but the coming of the antichrist he says. So we are in the last period of God’s program before the antichrist manifests himself. At this time there are many antichrists—Satan always has antichrists in the world any of which might become the one antichrist of the Tribulation period. Satan does not know God’s timetable, so he has antichrists always ready to come into world power. John says there are many antichrists and that’s how we know we are in the last hour.
2. John had no idea it was going to go on for over 2000 years. But we do learn that ones characterized by the flesh and the world and the devil v 14-15 are these false teachers who are worldly to the core. So what is the character of the antichrist to come? And what traits will be displayed by the many antichrists who will come before him? They will display hostility toward God’s Christ v 22. The denial that Jesus is the Christ makes these the children of the antichrist. This persistent attitude throughout history sets our age apart as the one called ‘the last hour’. The stage has been set for history’s final and climactic drama. Think about it for a moment. Whose name is spurned in this age? How many diverse opinions are there in religion about the person of Jesus Christ? We cannot pass through an Easter season without his identity being analyzed; his claims being scrutinized; his work being humanized; his deity being crucified. So we are in the last days—literally the last hour of those days—the last age before Christ comes to rule.
FALSE TEACHERS ARE FALSE BECAUSE THEY REJECT THE APOSTLES TESTIMONY 19
1. Five times in this verse it is ‘they’ vs ‘us’. They went out from us refers to these false teachers leaving the apostles and their teaching and authority. Apparently they once were part of them possibly in the Jerusalem and Judean groups of believers but had seceded from them. So these antichrists are a threat to the readers because they had come out of the same soil that Christianity arose from. They did not just arise out of the world, they went out from us—that is from the apostles influence.
2. John is eager to deny any connection with these guys so he makes clear ‘they did not really belong to us’. They were never of us, and if they were they would have remained with us. The idea seems to be that these antichrists did not really share the spirit and perspective and teaching of the apostolic circle since they had left it. So we can assume that heresy and false teaching is usually unmasks a fundamental disagreement of lack of harmony with the spirit and doctrine of the apostles—that is their New Testament teaching for our age. This is proof that false teachers are truly false. This is how it is shown that they are not of the apostles. They do not accept the apostle’s testimony about Jesus Christ. This is what it always comes down too. What do you believe about Jesus Christ and is it consistent with what
the apostles have said?
BELIEVERS ANOINTING FROM THE GOD PROTECTS US AGAINST ANTICHRISTS
1. V 20 we learn that the difference between them, the antichrists and us is that we have the anointing from God, the holy One. That anointing is the Holy Spirit who indwells us from conversion since the anointing ‘teaches’ us v 27. This suggests the anointing is conceived of as a person. Jesus was also anointed with the Holy Spirit Acts 10:38. The outcome of this anointing is insight, perception, and comprehension—‘you all know’. In other words, we know what the antichrists of this age and until the final one to come do not know—that this world is passing away along with its lusts v 16-17—that it is all temporary and fading.
2. V 21 what we have come to know then, is the truth. This is why John is writing to us—because we accept and believe what he and the apostles have taught. He wrote this to us because it is the truth. And via the Holy Spirit we can discern this to be the truth that antichrists and their followers cannot comprehend. So the truth must never be confused with a lie. Satan is a liar and he has been so since the beginning. There is no truth in him. In other words, one thing apostolic followers are not doing is denying that Jesus is the Christ. Because we are not, John can say we know the truth and he is affirming that truth to us and with us. We have not left the apostles teaching and the Holy Spirit has convinced us of the truth of their teaching. If not you would not be here. So God has placed within us through the Holy Spirit the ability to discern the truth of God’s Word.
FALSE TEACHERS ARE FALSE BECAUSE THEY DENY JESUS IS THE CHRIST 22-23
1. Antichrists are liars 22
The real question is, who is the liar here? Is it the apostles? The readers? The antichrists? The acid test is ones belief about Jesus Christ. The one denying Jesus is the Messiah and is not of Christ. To ‘deny’ means to refuse, disclaim, or denounce. It is the antichrists who are liars denying the testimony of the apostles. You just cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim to be of the apostles and deny what they taught. So John is clearing the air. The outcome of this denial widens to include denial of the Father and the Son. The antichrist will deny Jesus as the Christ and establish a worldwide religion of worship of himself. So any claim to having the Father’s approval is false. Jesus own ministry established the intimate association between the Father and the Son. “I am the Father are One’. ‘I have come to do the will of my Father’. At his baptism the skies open and the Father declares’ this is my beloved son in whom I am well please. Listen to him.’
2. Deny the Father; deny the Son 23
One cannot have the father without the son. To reject One is to reject the Other. This includes not only the cults and world religions but it also includes Judaism. However, the one who confesses the son has the Father also. You do have the Fathers approval in this case. You are saying the same thing about Christ that the testimony of the apostles and the father has said. The outcome is a relationship with God the Father.
1. Do not be surprised by the plethora of antichrists that exist today by means of their followers, their religious practices, and their holy books. This characterizes our age—not the OT or Kingdom ages.
2. We will be challenged to provide a constant apologetic about the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is the work of our age—the gospel of which Jesus Christ is the centerpiece. We lose this then we lose our voice.
3. Ultimately we are followers of Jesus Christ by means of his apostles teaching. So learn the New Testament. Obey Christ’s commands. Live a life of devotion to him and you father will pleased.