By Pastor Glenn Pease
Determining the superiority of either side in either conflict is difficult since the decisive factor in gaining a victory is often hidden. This was certainly the case when the Spanish Armada sailed against England. It was one of the greatest fleets ever assembled, and the Spanish ships dwarfed the English vessels. They towered above the sea, and the very sight of them threw fear into the English. It appeared to be no mystery where the superior power was, until an unforeseen factor entered the picture. A strong wind began to blow up the English Channel and it was discovered that this made the large Spanish ships unmanageable, whereas the smaller English vessels could still maneuver. The result was, the Spaniards were at the mercy of the wind, and were blown up the channel into the North Sea, and around the coast of Scotland, and finally on to the Hebrides where they were smashed to pieces.
The wind changed the whole picture, and gave the victory to the apparently inferior. The winning wind was the decisive factor. It is the wind that changed the whole picture in the battle of light against darkness also. Go back to Pentecost, and you find a small group of 120 people facing a Roman Empire, and an unfriendly Judaism. A picture of weakness facing a great strength. Yet, when the wind came upon the 120, they received the promised power of the Holy Spirit, and they went out and turned the world upside down. The wind was the decisive factor, and again, the apparently inferior gained the victory. Pentecost was the day of the anointing of the church, and from that time on all who enter in the body of Christ by faith in Christ are anointed with the Holy Spirit. John is saying to the Christians of his day that it is this anointing that is still the enabling power to be superior over evil forces, and it keeps the believer from being deceived by the antichrists.
In verse 20, John with one blow destroys the professed superiority of the Gnostics. They said they were unique and above all others, for they knew what only the initiated could know. Those who had not gone through their particular rites just were not capable of knowing the mysteries of God. John tells the Christians that this is nonsense, for he says to all of them, "You have been anointed by the Holy One-Jesus Christ Himself." He said, you know all things, or as the modern versions have it, you all know. John is contrasting the Christian position with that of the Gnostics. They say only the elite can know the deep truths of God, but John says all Christians know the deepest truths possible to know in knowing Christ. John did not make a distinction between the slave and the educated Roman convert, or the even more knowledgeable Jewish Christian. They all had the anointing of the Spirit, and they all knew the basic truth of Christ's deity, and the need for faith in Him alone for salvation.
Every Christian is equal when it comes to the knowledge of God's greatest truth. Educated Christians go deeper, but none can go higher, for knowing Christ is the pinnacle of Revelation. All of the true believers are one here, and this is why John knew that those who went out of the fellowship were not true believers, for had they been anointed of the Spirit, they too would have known Jesus to be the Christ, and could never have forsaken Him or His body.
The word here for anointed is chrism, and so all Christians have a chrism from Christ. As He is God's Anointed One, so we are His anointed ones. We are Christ's Christ, or as one has said, we are little christs-miniature messiahs seeking in Christ's stead to bring the world to be reconciled with the Father though Him. Every believer is protected by the Holy Spirit within from being lead astray by the folly and deception of the antichrists. This explains why, when the antichrist comes, that Paul speaks of in II Thess. 2, that though all the unsaved in the world will be deceived, there will be none of the elect deceived. They cannot be, for the Holy Spirit within makes it impossible for them to be deceived, for they know Christ, and can recognize any lie that would seek to deny this most fundamental of all truths.
This whole concept of the anointing takes us back to the Old Testament where priests and kings were anointed for God's service. It was a special thing for them only that set them apart to be used as instruments of God's Spirit. Now in the New Testament age all believers are anointed. We see in this another support for the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Every one of us are anointed by Christ, and not just pastors and missionaries. They have the additional distinction of being set apart by the church, and they must give an account to the church, but all are anointed by Christ, and equally accountable to Him. The layman is not obligated to prepare sermons, baptize, marry, etc., but he is just as responsible for witnessing to the lost as is the pastor.
John is not saying this here, but it is the logical result of what he is saying. He makes it clear that all Christians have this in common; that they are anointed, and have the most basic knowledge of salvation in Christ. This fact, plus all we know of the significance of anointing in Scripture leads to the conclusion that every believer is commissioned to be a servant and a witness in the world.
When David was selected out of his brothers to be king we read in I Sam. 16:13, "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward." When one was anointed of the Spirit he was used as an instrument to accomplish God's will on earth. This was for kings and priests, and the thought occurred to me that there should be a doctrine of the kingship of all believers, as well as the priesthood of all believers. Just as we are ministers to the world for Christ, so we also reign with Christ, and are called in Rev. 1:6 both kings and priests.
The significance of these Scriptural truths are just being rediscovered, and are the basis for the modern interest in the layman. The church became clergy centered, and the rest of the believers became spectators, and the result is that the church became Americanized to the point of everything centering around the performance of the clergy. With the development of so many more places to go to be entertained, and better entertained, the church has lost a great many spectators to the world, which gives them what they want. The result is the church is trying to figure out how to get the laymen more active. This is a good sign and should bring renewal to the church. It is not enough to have a gland active here and there. The whole body must be active if the church is going to fulfill its purpose. All are anointed, and all are responsible for proclaiming the good news.
In verse 21 John says he writes to them, not because they do not know the truth, but because they do. His purpose is not to address the unbeliever, and try to convince them of the deity of Christ, but to strengthen those who are already convinced. Knowing the truth made them able to detect the lies of the Gnostics, but the Gnostics were deceived by lies because they did not know the truth. In other words, truth is only of real value to those who already know the truth, for they alone can appreciate it and distinguish it from error. Those who are deceived cannot tell truth from error. They are victims of the lies of the antichrist.
This verse shows us what we often forget: That the Bible is for Christians, and not for the unbeliever. God's written revelation is for believers, while the preached word, and the word of testimony from believers, are God's instruments for reaching the unsaved. Some unsaved people are won by Bible reading, but it is rare. Most people are won through the spoken word. The Bible is not meant to be evangelistic, but is for the purpose of preparing the believer to be evangelistic. Paul gives us a list of the values of the Bible, and not a single one of them apply to the non-believer.
He says in II Tim. 3:16, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine," (this is the number one value, and only a believer cares about doctrine,) "reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The whole Bible then, and not just John's letters, is written to those who already know the truth, that they might grow in it, and recognize all of its implications, and not only avoid the lies of heretics, but be victorious over them. With the word and the wind, that is the Holy Spirit within, the believer will always be a winner in the conflict with evil ideas. May God help us to be more aware of our unique anointing, and to be more conscience of the winning wind within.