1 John 2:18-27
Stephen Caswell © 2001
Telling The Robbers
When the father of the great Emmanuel Kant was an old man he made a perilous journey through the forests of Poland to his native country of Silesia. On the way he encountered a band of robbers who demanded all his valuables, finally asking: Have you given us all? and only letting him go when he answered, All. When safely out of their sight his hand touched something hard in the hem of his robe. It was his gold, sewn there for safety and quite forgotten by him in his fear and confusion.
At once he hurried back to find the robbers, and having found them, he said meekly: I have told you what was not true; it was unintentional. I was too terrified to think. Here, take the gold in my robes. Then to the old man’s astonishment nobody offered to take his gold. Presently one went and brought back his purse. Another restored his book of prayer, while still another led his horse toward him and helped him to mount. They then unitedly entreated his blessing, and watched him slowly ride away. Goodness had triumphed over evil.
God has warned the church family about the conflict between light and darkness in 1 John 1:1–2:6, and between love and hatred 1 John 2:7–17. Now He warns them about a third conflict: the conflict between truth and error. It is not enough for a believer to walk in the light and to walk in love; he must also walk in truth. Tonight we will see two responses to the truth. Antichrist's Abandon The Truth & Christians Abide In the Truth.
Firstly Antichrist's Abandon The Truth
a. They Depart From The Fellowship
1 John 2:18-19: Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
Why does John call it the last hour? Because Jesus Christ has appeared and put away sin once and for all. All the time that has passed since Calvary is considered to be the last hour. Why didn't the antichrists appear before this time? Because Satan is only a counterfeiter. He simply imitates what God is doing. Now that Christ has appeared antichrists will also appear to counterfeit His work. The prefix anti has two meanings, instead of and against. Many antichrists have appeared to work against Christ. They attempt to get people to follow them instead of Jesus Christ. They substitute lies for the truth. Every antichrist that appears is just a fore runner of the final Antichrist who appears in the Tribulation to deceive the world.
The word us refers, of course, to the fellowship of believers, the church. Not everyone who is part of an assembly of believers, is necessarily a member of the family of God! True Christians desire to be with the people of God. They enjoy meeting together with their brethren. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. When people share the same divine nature and are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit, they want to enjoy fellowship and to share with one another. As we have seen, fellowship means to have in common. When people have spiritual realities in common, they want to be together.
But the counterfeit Christians mentioned in 1 John 2 don't remain in the fellowship. The word continue menw in verse 19 is the same word usually translated abide. They didn't abide with the fellowship because they didn't belong. This doesn’t imply that staying in the church keeps a person saved; rather, it indicates that remaining in the fellowship is one evidence that a person is truly a Christian. In His Parable of the Sower, Jesus makes it clear that only those who produce fruit are truly born again. It is possible to be close to an experience of salvation, and even to have some characteristics that would pass for Christian, and yet not be a child of God. Those spoken of in 1 John 2:19 left the fellowship because they didn't possess the true life and Christ's love wasn't in their hearts. They weren't part of the body of Christ so they left it. An old saying is appropriate, Birds of a feather flock together!
b. They Deny The Faith
1 John 2:22-23: Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
Is Sincerity As More Important As Truth?
It makes no difference what you believe, just as long as you are sincere! That statement expresses the personal philosophy of many people today. Yet it is doubtful whether most of those who make it have really thought it through. Is sincerity the magic ingredient that makes something true? If so, then you ought to be able to apply it to any area of life, and not only to religion. A nurse in a city hospital gives some medicine to a patient, and the patient becomes violently ill. The nurse is sincere but the medicine is wrong, and the patient dies.
In court witnesses are required to swear that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We can determine true teachers from false teachers by their response to the truth, Jesus Christ. The key question for a Christian is: Who is Jesus Christ? Is Christ merely an Example, a good Man, a wonderful Teacher; or is He God come in the flesh? What we believe about Jesus Christ is vital to our salvation. Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me. When the Philippian jailor asked Paul what he must do to be saved Paul said this; Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Paul's answer expressed both the deity and humanity of God's Son. Lord refers to His deity. Jesus refers to His work; it means Jehovah saves. Christ refers to God's Messiah.
John’s readers knew the truth about Christ, or else they would not have been saved. John said to them, You all know the truth, because you have the Spirit of God, an unction, and the Spirit teaches you all things. They had already confessed Christ as their Lord and Savior. The great assertion of the faith that sets a Christian apart from others is this: Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. Not all preachers and teachers who claim to be Christian are really Christian in their belief. If they confess that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh, then they belong to the true faith. If they deny Christ, then they belong to Antichrist. The word acknowledge in verse 23 is usually translated confess. The word o&mologew means to say the same thing as. It means that we believe the testimony that God has given about His Son. The Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons deny that Jesus Christ is God come in human form. They won't accept that He is God the Son. They deny the incarnation and are condemned.
Just say you drive down a highway when you encounter a sign that reads, dangerous curve ahead. Immediately you are confronted with making a choice. One, you can observe the warning and slow down. Two, you can ignore the warning and maintain your current speed. Or, three, you can defy the warning and speed up. Whatever response you exercise, you will not change the truth of the sign. The curve remains dangerous regardless of whether you acknowledge the fact or not. It doesn't matter whether people deny or confess that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh, the truth still remains. What we believe affects our eternal destiny, but it doesn't change the truth about God's Son. Acts 8:36-37: Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
c. They Try To Deceive The Faithful
1 John 2:26: These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.
It is interesting to observe that antichristian groups rarely try to lead lost sinners to their false faith. Instead, they spend much of their time trying to convert professing Christians to their own doctrines. They are out to seduce the faithful. The word seduce planaw carries the idea of being led astray, or being deceived. We have been warned that this would happen in 1 Timothy 4:1: Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons. When missionaries begin a new work on the field the false cults set up right next door. They prey on the new converts to Christianity. They seek these young ones because they are easier to deceive.
Hiding The Truth
The story is told of a woman who had acquired wealth and social prominence. She decided to have a book written about her family history. The well known author she engaged for the assignment discovered that one of her grandfathers was a murderer who had been electrocuted in Sing Sing. When he said this would have to be included in the book, the woman pleaded that he find a way of saying it that would hide the truth. When the book appeared, the incident read as follows: One of her grandfathers occupied the chair of applied electricity in one of America's best known institutions. He was very much attached to his position and literally died in the harness. Like this lady the false teachers pretend to be something they are not. They claim to preach the truth when in fact they are spreading lies.
How can believers know genuine Christians from antichrists? Firstly, they depart from the fellowship. Beware of people who leave the body of Christ. True believers enjoy Christian fellowship. They have all things in common with their brethren. When people go off on their own they usually aren't saved. Secondly, they deny the faith. True believers believe and confess that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. This is non negotiable. Thirdly, they try to deceive the saints with their erroneous teaching. Watch out for people who try to lead you away from the bible. Beware of false teachers who show these characteristics.
Secondly Christians Abide In the Truth
a. Christians Know The Truth
1 John 2:20-21, 27: But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
The Holy Spirit's anointing enables us to know the truth and share it confidently with the lost.
The anointing spoken of here is the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As you will remember the word abide menw means to remain in, to continue to dwell with. The Holy Spirit is the Christian's resident teacher. John 14:17 says: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth. He leads believers into all truth. He gives us an assurance, a peace in our heart that we have grasped the truth. The Holy Spirit works through God's Word to reveal the truth. The Holy Spirit leads us and teaches us from God's Word. Jesus told us that He would do this for us.
John 16:12-13: I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Wise believers seek the Holy Spirit's help to understand God's Word. We can ask the Lord to open our eyes to see wondrous new things from His Word. God graciously does this through the blessed Holy Spirit. God helps us to know the truth. Our responsibility is to read the truth. When we do this the Holy Spirit will teach us from the Word. Believers aren't at the mercy of false teachers. We can test what is taught with God's Word and the Holy Spirit will either confirm or reject the teaching we hear.
A missionary to the American Indians was in Los Angeles with an Indian friend who was a new Christian. As they walked down the street, they passed a man on the corner who was preaching with a Bible in his hand. The missionary knew the man represented a cult, but the Indian saw only the Bible. He stopped to listen to the sermon. I hope my friend doesn’t get confused, the missionary thought to himself, and he began to pray. In a few minutes the Indian turned away from the meeting and joined his missionary friend. What did you think of the preacher? the missionary asked. All the time he was talking, exclaimed the Indian, something in my heart kept saying, Liar! Liar!
That something in his heart was Someone, the Holy Spirit of God! The Spirit guides us into the truth and helps us to recognize error. This anointing of God is no lie, because the Spirit is truth 1 John 5:6. Why are some Christians led astray to believe false teachings? Because they are not abiding in the truth.
b. Christians Abide In The Truth
1 John 2:24a: Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning.
Practice What You Preach
Practice What You Preach. The problem is that we tend to remember only the words in these little sayings and ignore the truth they are intended to communicate. Epictetus once gathered his students around and said, have you ever noticed that sheep don't vomit up the grass at the feet of the shepherd to impress him? Rather the sheep digests it to produce wool and milk. This is exactly what God requires of us. He doesn't want us to regurgitate the truth we have heard. Instead He wants us to apply the truth in our lives. The life that is real is a life of doing, not simply talking, or as John puts it, saying this or that. Time and again John says if we say one thing but live another we lie. Abiding in the truth is not giving mental assent that a doctrine is correct. Jesus said, not every one that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven.
Christians do not simply know the truth or believe it; they do it. To abide in the truth means to live in it. To continue in the teaching of God's Word. It is not just knowledge. A person who professes to be a Christian, but who does not practice obedience, love, and truth, is either deceived or a deceiver. A child bears the nature of his father, and a person who has been born of God will reveal the characteristics of the Father. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Sunday School Teacher
A Sunday School class seemed to be having constant problems. The pastor and the superintendent met with the teacher and officers, but made no apparent progress. Then, one Sunday morning, the teacher of the class came down the aisle during the closing hymn of the service. I suppose she wants to dedicate her life to the Lord, the pastor thought. Pastor, she said, I want to confess Christ as my Savior. All these years I thought I was saved, but I wasn’t. There was always something lacking in my life. The class problems were my problems, but now they’ve been solved. Now I know I’m saved.
Paul said, test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Does your life bear the marks of obedience, love, and truth? Is your Christian life something real — genuine — authentic? Or is it counterfeit? It is a question of truth — or consequences! And if you do not obey the truth, you must pay the consequences!
c. Christians Abide In God
1 John 2:24b-25: If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us — eternal life.
To abide means to remain in fellowship; and fellowship is the key idea in the first two chapters of this epistle. From chapters 3 to 5, the emphasis is on sonship, or being born of God. It is possible to be a child in a family and yet be out of fellowship with one’s father and with other members of the family.
When our Heavenly Father discovers that we are out of fellowship with Him, He deals with us to bring us back into the place of abiding. This process is called chastening or child-training. Hebrews 12:5–11 speaks about it.
We must recognize the importance of abiding in Christ. Abiding in Christ is the only way that we can receive power to live the Christian life. Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. The abiding life is allowing Jesus Christ to live His life through you. You abide in Christ by believing the truth, obeying the truth, and loving other Christians. Obedience, love, truth. It is a life of dependence on God. If you are a believer and find yourself out of fellowship with God, it is because you have disobeyed His Word, lacked love for a brother, or believed a lie. The solution is to confess your sin instantly and to claim God’s forgiveness.
Having Internal Life
Dr. Walter Wilson shared the following story. He was visiting in a home and the members of the family were asked to quote Bible verses. One little girl quoted John 3:16 as follows: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have INTERNAL LIFE. Needless to say, he did not correct her, for it is internal life, as well as eternal life. It is internal life because we draw power to live from the Holy Spirit abiding within us.
Contrary to what many people say, what we believe is important. Do you know the Truth? Has Christ set you free? Do you have the anointing of the Holy Spirit in your life? Does He give you the assurance that you are on the right path? Do you have peace in your heart that you have obeyed God's will? Do you abide in God's Word? Do you practice the Word each day? Or is your faith all knowledge and no action. Do you abide in Christ? Are you seeking His strength to practice the Word? Is the life you are living in fact Jesus Christ living in you?
Tonight we have seen two responses to the truth. Antichrist's Abandon The Truth & Christians Abide In the Truth. How have you responded to the truth? I trust that each person here is abiding in the truth and therefore glorifying God. If you aren't please talk to me after the service. I would love to share with you how you can know Christ and abide in Him!
Jude 24-25: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.