By Greg Steele
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jasper
Building off of what we talked about last week. John has been teaching “his children” how to tell truth from a lie and how to tell if a person is really a Christian or not. It doesn’t depend on just what a person says, but also what they do.
He begins by saying, “it is in the last hour.” This message was delivered over 2,000 years ago. How do we know it’s the “last hour?” According to the text many antichrists have come. Antichrists are the enemies of the Messiah.
Antichrists are both in a sense the “opposite” of Jesus Christ, and someone who comes “in the place of” Jesus Christ. They come trying to take His place in our lives. This is where we find ourselves today. There are many “antichrists,” many who are opposed to Jesus, many who would try to take His place.
John goes on to say that there are some who have left the church. Be careful not to take this as if everyone who leaves the church is some kind of heretic. People leave churches for lots of reasons. The idea here is that these people had believed and even taught heresies in the church.
If we look at the history of cults in today’s world, we will find that a lot of their founders started out in a local church! They were “with us” but not “of us,” so they went out “from us”and started their own groups. Their departing made it obvious that they were not a part of us.
Notice in verse 20, he says we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit so we can know the truth. Us knowing the truth depends on the Holy Spirit.
I believe the anointing John refers to here and in verse 27 is us receiving the Holy Spirit when we are saved (I John 4:13). So, without the Holy Spirit we would not know the truth.
In verse 21 he talks more about this truth. He’s not telling them they don’t know the truth because they don’t understand the truth.
Instead, it seems he’s trying to correct the belief that some people thought that these teachers were okay despite the fact that they were speaking an outrageous lie about who Jesus was.
When you are talking with a person and trying to find out if they really know the Lord or not, simply ask them, who is Jesus? If they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they don’t have the truth.
To make it even clearer, if they do not believe that Jesus is God, then they don’t have the truth. Jesus being our Savior depends on Him also being God. Jesus is our Savior because He saves us from the penalty of our sins by having died in our place.
He finishes in verses 24-27, encouraging us to “remain in Him.” When we remain in Him, He does all kinds of wonderful things in our life (John 15:4-5). But when we aren’t walking with Him, not much good happens (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
Guard yourselves from the deceiver and the antichrist. Love the Word and live the Word. Then obey whatever the Spirit wants to do with you by the Word.