The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: 1 John 2:18-27, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: 1 John 2:18-27. for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
1 John 2:18-27, The Assurance of Anti-Christ’s:
- Thus far throughout John’s Epistle, we’ve seen encouragement, exhortation and warning! This trend continues this morning as we look at the warning against antichrist’s and the encouragement to cling to the truth of the Gospel!
- You see, there have always been those, and more will come, who actively oppose Christ and the Gospel. John insists that these enemies must be exposed for what they are. And believers must be encouraged to understand the dangers they present in order to defeat them with the spiritual equipment God has provided.
- Therefore, Christians must resist such error and cling to the truth of God as revealed by the Spirit in the Scriptures. Surprisingly, these antichrists are identified as people who were once members of John’s own Christian community.
- And so our protection against being deceived by such people is threefold: 1) we are to remember the truth that we heard from the beginning. 2) we are to recognize the deceivers for what they are. 3) we are to remember that we have an anointing from the Holy One to remain in Christ. So let’s get into it.
1. Remember the Truth:
- Text – 1 John 2:18-21
- Explanation – The last hour is identified twice. Now we can know it’s the last hour because of the increase of antichrists. It isn’t the last hour until you have antichrists. It isn’t the last hour until you have opposition to Christ.
- When that happens, you know it’s the last hour. And you know that finally the antichrist is coming. We know it’s the last hour because we’ve heard that the final antichrist is coming. We know it’s the last hour because already many antichrists have arisen. That’s why we also have the singular, antichrist is coming.
- Many antichrists have already arisen – that is to say they were already there in opposition to Jesus Christ in John’s day. Yet John addressed the church saying you don’t have to wait to run into Antichrist, there are many antichrists right now.
- Illustration – They are everywhere. Maybe here with us, maybe in your home, definitely in your schools and work place. They’re everywhere. And therefore it is important to identify them. One of the first things John says about them is, they will leave. Eventually…
- They were not born of God’s Spirit (Jn 3:3-5). They said the right things, like speaking “Christianeze”, maybe even pray the right words, but their heart are unregenerate. Their spirits are dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-3). They have never been born again.
- Application – Listen, ChurchMembership no guarantee that a man belongs to Christ and not to Antichrist. Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. But those genuinely born again endure in faith and fellowship and the truth. The departure of people from the truth and the church is their unmasking, it is the revealing of counterfeit faith.
- Therefore John says, those who hold fast, it is because they have an anointing. He says this anointing was one they had received from God and abides in them and is something that teaches them. While John does not clearly identify the anointing, the premise of the anointing represents the Holy Spirit.
- John 16:13 says that Jesus sent Him to abide in believers and to teach us and lead us into truth declaring “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.“
- Furthermore, Acts 10:38 says that Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit. And 1 John 4:13 says that God has given us of his Spirit. So the anointing refers to the pouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts when we are born again. So we can go back and rephrase verse 20 like this: “You have the Holy Spirit from God in you and so you know the truth.”
- Conclusion – That is the greatest Christian defence, to simply remember what we know – the truth. John wasn’t telling or pointing them to the truth specifically, he was reminding them that they already know what’s true.
- We don’t need a new truth, but we need the truth which we already know to become active and effective in our lives. Now the truth John refers to is the objective reality of Jesus as the long promised Messiah, God incarnate in human flesh. This is the truth the antichrists were seeking to distort with their lying doctrine.
- These deceivers who had gone out from the church as they were distorting the truth about the Deity and Humanity of Jesus, the very thing virtually every modern antichrist cult seeks to do! The truth and the lie are in opposition.
- In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Paul says, “For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?”
- Bridge – Therefore, not only should we be mindful of the truth, Scripture commands us to be intolerant of any idea that denies the truth. All the truth that is necessary for our salvation can be easily understood in a true way by anyone who applies common sense and due diligence in seeking to understand what the Bible teaches.
- So by associating with the truth, we are bound to see that every other view is not equally valid. In 2 John 1:9-11, John wrote “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” This brings us to…
2. Recognize the Deceivers:
- Text – 1 John 2:22-25
- Explanation – How are we to identify them? How do we know when we’ve run into an antichrist? Anybody is antichrist who denies that Jesus is the Messiah.
- See, bound up in the word Christ, is that He is the anointed of God, the anointed prophet, the anointed priest who intercedes for men before God, the anointed King, the sovereign Lord. Any denial of Jesus as Lord and Redeemer, Lord and Savior constitutes an antichrist attitude.
- Illustration – That’s why they left the church because they had left the truth about Christ. They didn’t believe what the apostles taught. They denied the incarnation and deity of Christ. You see, to deny the Son is to deny His Father who sent Him. This is a package deal, as verses 22–23 make crystal clear: “No one who denies the Son can have the Father. But He who confesses the Son has the Father as well.”
- Listen, to reduce Jesus to the status of a mere man, or to allow no more than a temporary indwelling of some divine power in Him is to strike at the root of Christianity. Therefore, John gives us a way to identify false believers. Yet, we must have the courage to expose them.
- Application – There are three marks of antichrists: They depart from the fellowship (v.19), they deny Jesus as the Messiah (v.22), and they draw the faithful away from Jesus (v.26). So John encouraged believers to protect themselves against the spirit of the antichrists by depending on the indwelling presence of the Spirit, knowing the truth, and remaining in fellowship with Jesus.
- How do we do that? John says you should abide in the Word you have received in Christ. In verse 24, John challenges the believer to simply remain in the teaching of Christ which you received at the beginning of your salvation.
- Conclusion – To abide or remain in this teaching is to abide and remain in both the Son and the Father. There is not any additional thing you need. Jesus plus nothing equals everything. But Jesus plus something extra equals heresy and the teachings of the antichrist.
- Bridge – All you need is Christ, and with Christ comes the Father too. It is only in the Son sent by the Father that the gift of eternal life is promised. This is a promise made by God, a promise that can never be broken. So let’s develop this before we close by looking at our third R…
3. Remain in Christ:
- Text – 1 John 2:26-27
- Explanation – In Matthew 24:4-5, we see Jesus’ words, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” That is the objective of the deceiver, to mislead the children of God, to bring about doubt, and to cause chaos.
- Yet, if we expound on verse 27, it could go like this: “The Holy Spirit which you received from God abides in you and so you have no need that any one should teach you. That is, you don’t need these progressive prophets who claim to add new information about Christ beyond the truth you heard at the beginning.”
- Illustration – Knowing the truth about Christ is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The antichrists will claim, as the previous ones did, to have direct revelations from the Spirit, but their teaching contradicts the Word. If you get some “insight” that you think came from God, but it does not line up with God’s Word, your “insight” is not from the Holy Spirit!
- Listen, be careful when someone says to you, “The Lord told me…” Sometimes they will even use a verse of Scripture, but it is always taken out of context. The Holy Spirit always leads us to the Word and to a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ.
- Application – So how does the anointing of the Spirit enable us to know the truth? In our portion today, twice John stresses that the truth that should remain in us is the truth that we “heard from the beginning…”
- So John is not saying that the anointing of the Spirit enables us to know the truth of Christ by giving additional information beyond Scripture. Instead his telling us that we have enough revelation in the presentation of the Gospel.
- Remember verse 7? “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.”
- Conclusion – let me jump the gun, 1 John 4:2 says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh is of God.” So the work of the Holy Spirit is not to take us beyond the teaching of the Scriptures, but to help us accept and abide in that teaching.
- He helps us grow in our understanding of God’s Word and He strengthens us to practice that teaching. He increases our confidence in the truth of that teaching. But He does not change the teaching.
- Bridge – Therefore, verse 27 stresses “As his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in Him.” So let the Word abide in you! Abide in the Spirit!
- Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you…sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
- Ephesians 5:18-19, “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks.”
- Therefore beloved, guard yourselves from the deceiver and the antichrist. Love the Word, by living in the Word & praying the Word. Because “if what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.”