That Your Joy May Be Complete #05a
1 John 2:18-29
The Spirit of the Anti-Christ part 1
Freedom seems to be the Great American Concept. It is the gospel we preach. It is the American Song we love to sing to the World and try and get them to sing along.
America was founded by people looking for a place that they could worship Jesus Christ in the way they believed.
The freedom on which we were founded was a freedom to honor and worship Jesus Christ.
It is that freedom which is most under attack today. Listen, I believe in religious freedom. It is a foundational principle. I have no problem with anyone having the right to worship a tree if they want to, as long as I have the freedom to worship Jesus Christ, who I believe to be the only true God.
Jesus Christ is the Creator of Heaven and earth
Jesus Christ is the Son of God
Jesus Christ is our perfect sacrifice given at the cross for the sins of the world.
Jesus Christ is our perfect high priest who has offered his sacrifice before God in Heaven’s Holy Place.
We can be at peace with God because of Jesus Christ, who made a way for the grace of God to come into our lives by means of faith exercised.
But on THIS weekend of freedom’s celebration, we must consider the world and in specific the America in which we live. And then we must ask ourselves what we will do and how we will continue in this world in which we live
This week, in the news, U.S. Congressman from Missouri, Todd Akin has gotten a lot of press. What stirred his beans this week was that 2 weeks ago, in the introduction to the Men’s U.S. Open Golf coverage on NBC, they showed children saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Twice they cut away before the children said “under God”. Now I probably wouldn’t have noticed if someone didn’t point it out. Once, they did, I wondered if that were accidental or on purpose and if on purpose, I didn’t like it.
Well, Congressman Akin certainly didn’t like it. He was asked about it and he said “NBC has a long record of being liberals and at the heart of liberalism is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.”
Now I’m just repeating what he said. But this caused quite a debate, quite an uproar.
Let me say this, we certainly have room for discussions between liberals and conservatives, as well as moderates. But who is going to define the labels for us first? I know many liberals that say they love God. And I know many conservatives that are as ungodly as anything.
I will not define liberalism as being God haters. But, I will say that at the heart of the entire world system today is a hatred for the idea of one true God and that his Son Jesus Christ is the only mediator between us and thus the only way to eternal life.
The world we live in would like to create their own salvation, their own Savior, their own way of living, their own rules, their own definition of righteousness, and their own ideas about Heaven and Hell.
I love this country and pray that we would truly be “ONE Nation UNDER God”, but the reality is we are NOT.
We should be MORE offended and concerned that we have a country that is NOT under God than that someone doesn’t say it with their hand over their heart.
Now, in the 1st Century, the Apostle John wrote about the Spirit that was already evident in his day and continues to flourish in our world today.
Read with me 1 John 2:18-29
Now I want to take a few minutes to define some of these terms and then my real point that I hoped to get to is to answer the question that in light of these things, what should I do, how should I live?
That was to be my primary point. However, let me tell you now, we aren’t going to make it that far.
So we are going to divide this into two parts this week and next.
We need to know how to recognize the Spirit of the Antichrist, more than The Antichrist himself, because this spirit is much more subtle and is definitely alive and well
So, from our text, a few questions arise, first
1. What is the Last Hour?
“Last Hour” is from two words which of course man “last hour” or “final occasion” or “critical hour”.
Acts 2:17 … Peter speaking quotes the prophet Joel and says “in the last days, God declares … I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh …”
James 5:3 finds James warning about the last days being a time when what we have planted will come to fruition and be harvested
1 Peter 1:20 – Peter speaking of Jesus says he was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
John wasn’t saying that it was the final 60 minutes or the final 60 years for that matter.
He was saying that in God’s economy, in God’s story, history, we find ourselves in the final chapter. We are in the final occasion of God’s working
All of the Old Testament Period, roughly 4,000 years, was a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ.
All of history pointed to and prepared for his coming
From the moment Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God promised that from among their offspring would come one who would crush the head of the serpent and defeat sin’s power.
Jesus came in time, at just the right time, and fulfilled that promise defeating the power of sin.
So, since his coming, we are now in the Age of Grace.
Everything SINCE the coming of Jesus is the “final occasion” of Jesus and the beginning of the Eternal Age. That’s what John means.
No matter how long it may be in years, we are IN the “last hour”
2. Who or What is Antichrist?
John is the only one in scripture to use this Greek word “antichristos”
Paul refers to the person of the Antichrist as “The man of lawlessness”, or “the man of perdition”
John here distinguishes between 3 things, Antichrist, a proper name, antichrists plural, and the spirit of antichrist.
So, Antichrist is
A. A Spirit that opposes Christ
This spirit, can be an attitude that denies the very existence of Jesus Christ
It can be a Spirit that opposes or fights the right of Jesus Christ to rule in the world but also in the hearts of men.
It can be a spirit that opposes the advancement of the cause of Christ and those who bear his name.
But Antichrist is also
B. False Teachers who personify that Spirit
John says that there are “many antichrists”, “even now” or “at the present”. And “antichristos” here is in the present tense.
These false teachers had already risen in his day
John said that they had been among the church but had left because they weren’t truly part of them or they would have stayed.
Don’t be fooled by intelligence, seeming sincerity, or even miracles, signs and wonders.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:24 that “many false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
But while there will be many in the spirit of the antichrist and many false teachers that are opposed to Christ, and finally with certainty, there will come
C. A Future Person
This will be a human who will lead a final rebellion against Jesus Christ and all who hold to him. He will be a real flesh and blood person.
Vincent defines him as one who opposes Christ while taking the guise of Jesus Christ claiming to be him.
John says the antichrist IS coming. While the spirit is in the world today and would oppose and deny Christ, one will come someday who will say “certainly there is a Christ but I am he.”
Daniel spoke of the coming of this person.
Paul did too
John saw him too. There is much in The Revelation of Jesus Christ about this person. You can read that or study my Bible Studies from that book online in my sermon manuscripts.
But for today and for now, we are MORE concerned with the Spirit of the antichrist and these false teachers bringing us to another question
3. How Can We Identify The Spirit of Antichrist?
Now, I won’t go with the Honorable Mr. Akin and just define these who oppose God’s anointed along political lines. John, however gets more specific and tells us how to identify a false teacher who comes in the Spirit of the Antichrist, first they
A. Depart From the Church
Well, they might have their own church. We tend to think of them as some crackpot with a little group of deceived, disillusioned, disenchanted, or disenfranchised followers. But some of them have big churches and lots of followers.
There are some like Rob Bell, who preaches to 10,000 each Sunday and 10’s of thousands more who watch his podcasts and read his blogs each week.
They may have A church but they have left THE church.
They have departed from Biblical Truth, the Overall truth of the core fundamental doctrines of scripture.
When John says they left “us” he doesn’t mean they left the 1st Baptist Church of Ephesus, he means they left the fellowship of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and fellowship with us who are his.
Nearly every cult leader has started in a true church somewhere.
Leaving the fellowship, losing love for the body of Christ, is against the very nature of a true child of God
We are family, we share a faith, Father, Spirit, Son, Savior and Salvation.
Oh they certainly seemed to be Saved, seemed to be committed …
False teachers may even seem to teach salvation through faith in Jesus even teach that he is coming again
But in truth and ultimately, they
B. Deny Jesus
John says that the Antichrist as well as those who foreshadow him living according to the spirit in him are liars … v22 says they deny Jesus is the Christ or the anointed one
Who do these false teachers say that Jesus is? That is the place to start in identifying them.
You may have to look very closely, pay attention to what they say about Jesus Christ and compare it to scripture.
Is he God? or just one of many gods?
Is he the Only One, Only Way, Only Truth?
Is he God who came in the flesh?
Is he eternally God or did he become God at some point along the way?
Has he always existed or did he have a beginning
Is he truth?
Can we believe what he taught and was faithfully recorded in his word, or does this “special teacher need to explain it to us?
If we cannot believe that Jesus meant what he said, then Jesus is not truth but a liar.
And that IS NOT JESUS, not the Jesus I KNOW, love, preach, and serve.
That is what the Gnostic false teachers, false Christians in John’s day did. They said they had a special anointing or unction. They also claimed that they had a special understanding / knowledge of Jesus that the average person didn’t have.
False teachers are evidenced by needing to set the rest of orthodox Christianity straight.
John writes in verse 20 “YOU have been anointed by the Holy One and YOU have Knowledge …”
Why do you need that anointing and knowledge?
You need it 1) as reassurance that you belong to God
And 2) because there ARE false teachers and they
V26 says they are “trying to lead you astray”
Deception comes in many forms and fashions
“oh we believe in God, but not in Jesus”
“Jesus is a good teacher, but not the only one”
“Jesus didn’t really die or was not really raised from the dead in his flesh”
“Oh Jesus didn’t mean what he said to be taken as truth and binding on our lives”
John said to “stay with what you have heard from the beginning”
The liar will try to take you down a new path, a new truth, a new way.
Satan loves to get us chasing spiritual rabbits, running after new understandings new ways. If he can do that, he can keep us from actually learning and applying the plain truth of the word of God
The Christian faith doesn’t change, it just goes deeper and closer, but it doesn’t change
Let me tell you something about false teachers and preachers …
If all you ever hear from a preacher is what you like to hear, you better be careful!
A false teacher will always give you what you want to hear
If you are NEVER UNCOMFORTABLE by the truth preached, you may be hearing lies instead
Truth will make you uncomfortable
if the teacher always tells you … YOU can … YOU are able … or that want to teach YOU HOW you can DO THIS on your own … you better be careful because it is not you but CHRIST IN YOU that CAN do all things … and that Christ in you and the Christ preached must be consistent with the Christ revealed in scripture or it is a different Jesus.
Now, I’m going to have to save the final part of this message for next week.
But let me try to close today with this …
You do not need to worry about the truth though there ARE deceivers in the world and even infiltrating our churches.
It has, does, is, and will happen … but you can
Trust the Holy Spirit.
You have been anointed, with him in your life.
The word for “anointing” is “chrisma” … It means “anything smeared, ointment, anointing” … It is from root of a similar word, which we have adapted the word Charismatic.
But the word isn’t reserved for one expression of the body of Christ who place emphasis on certain gifts or aspects of ministry or working of the Holy Spirit.
EVERY person who believes that Jesus is the Son, Creator of all, Giver of Life, Savior of those who receive his grace is at the moment of salvation anointed, smeared all over in and out with the Holy Spirit.
You HAVE him. You KNOW God through him within because of Jesus Christ and the work on the cross on your sinful life to make you acceptable to God.
Because you have the Gifting of the Holy Spirit, you can TRUST him
He will show you the deceivers when they come.
It might be nothing more than a feeling in the pit of your spirit that says this teacher isn’t right. You might not know why, you might send me a text or an email or call and say “Pastor, I just heard this, it didn’t feel right, what’s up?”
You might be up late watching TV or driving listening to the radio and you hear falsehood. You feel it, you sense it
Recognize the voice and direction of the Spirit of God at work in your life
TURN it OFF
Run from the falsehood
If in the church, correct and if necessary put them out
Keep your kids from them
Keep your ears from them
Keep your eyes from them
Give no room for them in your spiritual life
God’s Spirit will point out the Liars
Then don’t listen to them any longer
When Calvin Coolidge was President, some of his Vermont neighbors decided to recognize his devotion to the old family farm by giving him a handmade rake. The orator who presented the rake dwelt at length on the qualities of the hickory wood from which he believed it was made. “Hickory,” he said, “like the President, is sturdy, strong, resilient, unbroken.” Then he handed the rake to Coolidge, and the audience settled back for his speech of acknowledgment. Coolidge turned the rake over, looked at it carefully, and uttered one word, “Ash.”
The problem with many false teachers is that they sound good, flattering, tell you what you want to hear, but at the heart of the teaching it is built on false information and false assumptions, resulting in false conclusions and at the heart of their intention is their pleasure and ultimately your destruction
But the Holy Spirit is always true is always focused on Jesus and his glory
There once lived a great nobleman with a beautiful young daughter of marrying age. The father invited all the young noblemen in the country to come for a whole week of entertainment at his castle in hopes of finding an acceptable mate for his daughter.
A great feast and celebration was prepared to attract the best suitors.
Early on the morning of the day of their arrival a loud knocking was heard at the rear gate of the castle, and an apparently deformed man on crutches was there. A few crusts were thrown at him and the gate slammed shut in his face. He refused the crusts but he continued to knock.
“Give him some coins and get rid of him.” Was the command, but he refused and continued to knock.
“Go away, or we will unleash the dogs on you.” But he continued to knock and beat upon the oaken panel with his crutches.
“What is it you want?”
“Is not this the day for the guests to come to seek for the nobleman’s daughter? This is why I have come, to beg for her hand,” and he edged his way into the cobbled courtyard.
“You?” “Look everyone, come and hear this deluded beggar.” Peals of laughter echoed as everyone deserted their duties and gathered round to laugh and mock at the poor fool.
The daughter was being adorned for the guests and she asked what all the noise in the courtyard was about. The maid said, “It’s a poor beggar who wants to marry you.”
“I’ll go and see him.”
Down the winding stairs she went, and the crowd opened to let her pass.
“What is it you want?” she asked the beggar. He looked earnestly at her.
“I have seen you though I was unnoticed, and I love you and have come to ask if you will marry me?”
Groans and laughter from the crowd.
She paused and gave a long searching look, matching eye with eye.
Then she answered, “Yes, I will marry you.”
More shrieks of merriment from the crowd.
“When?” he asked.
“In a year and a day.” Was her reply
“Very well, I will return,” and he hobbled off.
“You are a clever girl, you knew what to say to get rid of him.”
“I meant what I said.” Answered the girl
“No you didn’t. you are hilarious!” they laughed
The invited guests arrived in due course but she gave them no encouragement.
The nobleman tried everything, flattery, feats of strength, shows of wealth and intelligence, but no response. Eventually they were cruel to her and finally leaving her alone.
Then ensued an unhappy year for the girl, though she tried to please her father, he was not happy. “You want to marry a beggar?” he said. “He will never come back.”
She would smile gently, but even this would only infuriate him. A year passed and only one day remained. The morning passed uneventfully, and then noon.
Then distant peals of music and the rumbling of drums was heard, and the sun flashed on spears and polished armor. A courier came with the astonishing news that the king’s son, the royal prince, was arriving at once. There was no time for preparation.
The nobleman, accompanied by his daughter, had barely time to reach the castle gate where he saw, riding between two rows of knights and squires that reached to the far horizon, the king’s son. He was mounted on a magnificent white charger and was clad in golden armor while his face shone as the sun.
Swinging gracefully from his steed he stood in front of the nobleman to whom he gave no recognition. He took the girl by the hand and in a most endearing fashion said, “My love, I have come back for you, even as I promised.” Her eyes filled with tears as she murmured, “I knew you would come.”
So he took her, his bride, to his royal kingdom far away.
Before she left one of the maids asked, “How did you know that the beggar was the prince in disguise?”
“I looked into his eyes and something I saw there, I listened to his voice and something I heard there, made me know that he was indeed the son of the king.”
People … many pretenders will try and take your attention away, but if you belong to Jesus, you are HIS promised bride and you have heard his voice and seen him through his word … wait for him, look to him … you will recognize the pretenders and those who would steal you away … if you are not yet his bride, hear him today, don’t judge him by his servant appearance, he is the King’s Son and will sit on the throne one day … will you be by his side?