By Kenny Bruce
Pastor Emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Memphis
John is contrasting truth with falsehood by distinguishing a believer from an unbeliever. A believer is anchored in the truth that Jesus resides in Him and is coming again. An unbeliever denies the truth of Jesus and, therefore, is a “liar” (v. 22). He is described as an “antichrist” (vv. 18, 22).
I. BELIEVERS KNOW THE TRUTH (vv. 18-21) The truth is Jesus (John 14:6), and those who deny Jesus are antichrists. Because of the proliferation of antichrists, Christians know that they are living in the “last hour” (v. 18). The last hour refers to the final chapter in history. The antichrists are not just many people, but they represent an attitude in this world that opposes Jesus.
One day this way of thinking will personify itself in one person, the antichrist. Some antichrists have infiltrated the church, and many have become false teachers. Those who have left the church departed because they never belonged. They appeared faithful, but after a period of time, they drifted away. Some have led other so-called church members astray along with them (v. 26).
Two modern-day examples of such deceivers would be Jim Jones and David Koresh. Rev. Jones at one time was a student pastor at a Methodist church in Indianapolis. David Koresh claimed that he had once regularly attended a Southern Baptist church.
II. BELIEVERS LIVE THE TRUTH (vv. 22-26) John addresses Christians as “children” (v. 18) who “remain in the Son and the Father” (v. 24). The Holy Spirit teaches Christians how to remain in Christ by teaching them the truth of God’s Word. One result of remaining in Christ is bearing fruit (John 15:5a).
Another is practicing “righteousness” (v. 29). They will focus on doing what is right in the eyes of God. A third result is being able to distinguish the truth from false teaching. The Holy Spirit brings to mind Scriptures that encourage, comfort and direct.
He gives the believer a peace about what is right and an angst against what is wrong. If Christians choose not to abide, they will live their lives without God’s direction and power. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b).
III. BELIEVERS ANTICIPATE THE TRUTH (vv. 28-29) When Jesus returns, Christians are to be spiritually prepared, not participating in behavior they would regret, and not shrinking away from unfinished business. For example, if Jesus were to come and a Christian had been procrastinating in sharing Christ with an unbeliever or lost loved one, he would feel ashamed. John encourages Christians to meet Jesus with confidence by looking for His return (v. 28).
Paul instructed Titus to live a righteous and godly life, looking for the blessed hope which is the appearing of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-13). The application is that we should anticipate every day that Jesus may return any time. Since He will return like a thief in the night, we are to watch expectantly. We should anticipate His return by praying for it: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Are we ready to meet Jesus with confidence today? B&R