1 John 2:18-19 ESV
“Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 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 it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
Who is the antichrist? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah – who denies both the Father and the Son. And, what does it mean to deny Jesus as the Christ? It may be a verbal denial, but it doesn’t have to be. The main way we deny Jesus is by how we treat him and others.
And, this is because the Scriptures teach us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and that his servants masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness, and that wolves in sheep’s clothing will be among us, and they will twist the gospel of grace (Matt 7:15-23; Acts 20:29-31).
So, what this is saying is that people can confess Jesus with their lips but deny him by their wicked and evil hearts and by their actions which are just faking faith in Jesus Christ for their own evil purposes. How else would Satan be able to deceive Christians? He pretends to be one of them.
So, when this says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us,” this is NOT speaking of them leaving the institutional (state) church, which is how many people are interpreting this passage. For the institutional (state) church is NOT the church, and Jesus is not its head.
The true church is the body of Christ, which is comprised of true believers in Jesus Christ across the globe. We become members of this church by faith in Jesus Christ, which involves repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord of our lives (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
So, when this says “they went out from us” it is speaking of a spiritual departure, not a physical one necessarily, because these antichrists, i.e. these wolves in sheep’s clothing are still physically among the people of God pretending to be servants of righteousness.
So, how is it plain that these “antichrists” are not of us? It has to do with what they teach. It has to do with their lifestyles. And, it has to do with the fruit that they bear. Are they teaching the unadulterated truth of God’s word? Or are they teaching a mixture of truth and lies?
1 John 2:20-23 ESV
“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
Anointed by the Holy One
When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior with God-given faith, we die with Christ to sin and we are reborn of the Spirit of God to newness of life in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
When this takes place, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within us and to teach us all things related to Jesus – to counsel, correct, instruct and empower us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. This is our anointing. We have the mind of Christ living within us.
So, because we have God’s Spirit living within us teaching us and instructing us in the ways of God, and because we have the mind of Christ now living within us, we don’t need prophets (like in the OT) telling us what God is saying. Now Jesus speaks directly to us through his Spirit and his written word.
So, we have the truth of God and of his word planted within our minds and within our hearts, so we can’t say that we don’t know the truth. We may not understand all of it, but even non-believers in Jesus know enough to choose right from wrong (See Rom 1:18-32), so we are all without excuse.
Yet, this is not saying that we don’t need the gifts of teaching, encouragement, or prophecy within the church or that we don’t need to be instructed in the ways of the Lord from the written word of God and from people anointed of God to share the truths of God’s word with us.
This is just saying that we don’t have to hear from human prophets to tell us what God is saying because we now have the Spirit of God living within us teaching us the ways of the Lord. But we still need to be in the Scriptures, studying them, following them, and sharing them with others.
Discerning Truth from Lies
Thus, when others do share the word of God with us, we need to be discerning as to whether or not what they are sharing is indeed truth. So, what is one of the tests to see if it is truth? No lie is of the truth. If what they are sharing does not agree with Scripture (in context), then it is a lie.
Also, we have to watch out for lies mixed with truth, for this is one of the biggest ways the enemy deceives by disguising lies as truth and by mixing them together. So, if the Scriptures teach us that if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh that we don’t have eternal life with God, then we can’t say someone who walks according to the flesh is of God/of Christ.
The Scriptures teach us that if we are not obeying God (as a matter of practice) that we don’t know God, and that if we claim we do know God, but we do not make it our practice to keep God’s Word, that we are liars. Thus, we can’t turn around and claim that someone who habitually, willfully, and premeditatedly disobeys God’s word is a child of God.
Either the word of God is true, or it isn’t. We can’t change its meaning depending upon our own circumstances or to justify sinful practices. If to love God and to know God is to be obeying him, in practice, though not necessarily in perfection, if sin is what we practice, then we don’t know God.
If we live in sin we deny Christ by our lifestyles. And, tears are not necessarily a sign of repentance. True repentance involves forsaking our sinful practices, being transformed in mind of the Spirit of God, and walking by the Spirit in obedience to our Lord (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Tit 2:11-14; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
So, if someone tries to tell you differently, don’t believe them. If someone ends up rejecting you because you are telling the truth about what God’s word teaches, then praise the Lord! Stand on the truth! Do not compromise the truth for the sake of acceptance from other humans.
Know that the truth of God’s word is what is going to set people free from their slavery to sin so that they can now become slaves (bondservants) of his righteousness. So, keep telling the truth, even if you are hated for it in return.
God is With Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.