20070318 Standing Firm In God Truth 1 John 2 15-27
Sunday 18th of March 2007
Standing Firm in God’s Truth
1 John 2:15-27
When something you love is not what you thought it was.
I heard about a gang of women a few months ago that were knocking on the doors of elderly people and asking to use the phone and while one mother with a baby used the phone the other women took money from the unsuspecting older victim. They thought they were helping people in need, but they were being robbed.
I’ll never forget seeing an image from a shopping mall in England showing a young boy was being led out the doors of the mall by two older boys. They were holding hands the three of them. But soon the two older boys had beaten to death the younger boy in a crime that shocked the nation. An unsuspecting boy was holding hands with two who were leading him to his death.
Do you know how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The account is grisly.
First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his OWN warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more—until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!
Don’t Love the World
15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or anything in the world.
The meaning of this phrase as its written is in the present tense so it means not go love the world in an ongoing action. In other words keep on not loving the world.
The kind of love is different to the love mentioned by John earlier in 2:10 where he wrote, “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” There love is focussed on the well being of another, where as here it is focused on the pleasure and gratification one hopes to receive. Do not love the world – do not desire or take delight in the world.
But didn’t Jesus say, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” If God loves the world shouldn’t we. Yes, the people, God loves the people and His creation and we should love them too. But the way John uses the word world here is referring to the worldly attitudes or values that are opposed to God. Viewed as people the world must be loved. Viewed as an evil system, organised under the dominion of Satan and not God, it is not to be loved.
Why? Because “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
John is saying that if we love the world in an ongoing way, then the love for God our Father is not in us. Love for the world and love for the Father are mutually exclusive. If a person is engrossed in the outlook and pursuits of the world which rejects Christ, it is evident that he has no love for the world. James 4:4 shows that the two don’t go together, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God.” And Jesus in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”
Then John clearly explains to his readers why love for the world and love for Christ are incompatible. He does this by explaining to us the things which make up the world…
16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
There’s three elements that John mentions that make up everything in the world…
- the cravings of sinful man… This phrase literally reads “the desires of the flesh” Sinful things our bodies desire. You can think about what these might be. Sexual acts outside of marriage or selfishly demanded in marriage. Drunkenness. Drug abuse. Eating too much food, scoffing, and on they go.
- the lust of his eyes… that is those sinful cravings which are activated by what people see, and lead to us wanting something desiring something that’s not our to have. TV puts images and things in front of us to temp us, to entice us. “You need this!” They scream!
- and the boasting of what he has and does… a persons pride and possessions, about the property they own, the things that they have in their possession.
And all these things come not from the Father but from the world. Clearly the logic goes so if you love those things they are completely opposed to the Father and the two don’t ever meet.
This is a call from John to you an I today to live a holy life! The kind of life that is confessing our sin, walking in obedience and loving others – as Phil shared last week – and not loving the world.
Besides there’s no point in loving the world because…
17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. The world is passing away. The evil desires, the sinfulness of people, are already decaying. This world is slowly passing away but here’s a new kind of kingdom at work in this world, the Kingdom of God, and those who put their trust in Jesus Christ and do the will of God live forever. Only those who are part of the Kingdom of God are those who will not pass away.
I don’t know about you but I am answering “Yes!” to John’s reasoning. I’ll be quicker to obey the command to “Not love the world” if I remember that the while the world and its desires are temporary and fading like a vapour, God’s will and those who do it are eternal. That’s why Paul called us in 2 Corinthians 4:18 to “Fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” When the wealthy flaunt their possessions, when those who are sexually immoral seek to entice us, when out eyes tell us that what we don’t have we need, remember that those who do God’s will live forever!
Look Out For Liars! There’s A Big Difference Between them and Believers
18Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
In this passage John now wants to show us the difference between those who are people who are deceivers, heretics, liars, antichrists and those who are genuine believers.
John love the people that he’s writing to, he writes affectionately, “Dear Children”. Then he reminds them of the time in which they live. “this is the last hour.” This is the only place in the NT that the term is used but in other places different phrases are used like “in the last days” and “in the last times.”
Now, there is no doubt that the Biblical writers believed that they were living in the last days. Paul, for instance, writes in Romans 13:11: And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." Paul believed that he was living in the last time and that the return of Jesus Christ could come at any moment. Other Biblical writers felt the same way. And because of that many people have come to the conclusion that the Biblical writers were wrong. Since Jesus has not yet returned, some have assumed that we are not really living in the last time.
This betrays, however, an incorrect understanding of the last times. You see, the correct view is that the last days began with Jesus. Jesus’ first coming inaugurated a phase of history which will culminate in His Second Coming. This age is known as the last days. During this time things will move progressively toward that point in history when Jesus will call all things to a close. Events will accelerate toward that point. And there are signs or markers along the way to indicate that we are proceeding on course toward the ultimate end of things as we know them.
Jesus Himself gave us certain signs of the times. Jesus told His disciples about the end times in what is known as the Olivet Discourse, found recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Listen to some of the things he says. Jesus mentions wars and rumors of wars (Mark 13:7). He indicates that nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom — there will be earthquakes in various places, and famines (Mark 13:8). But even though there will be this global turmoil, these things do not signal that the end has arrived yet. They are signs, but signs of the sick and decaying society in which we live. Jesus says that these are the beginning of birth pains (Mark 13:8). Like a woman in labor, the first pains only signal the beginning of the process. So when we see the events described by Jesus beginning to take place with increasing frequency, we know the countdown has started. We just do not know how long it will be before the end. We should always be alert and ready.
Jesus goes on to speak of many more signs in the Olivet Discourse, but I would like for us to focus on just one more. It is the sign that John speaks of in our passage tonight. Jesus indicates that in the last days many will come in my name, claiming, "I am he," and will deceive many (Mark 13:6). He goes on to say that false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect — if that were possible (Mark 13:22). What Jesus refers to is what John is referring to – antichrists. One of the signs of the end times is the appearance of antichrists.
John writes that and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. V18. He points to the fact that so many anti-Christs are around that this is the last hour. These anti-christ’s seem to have as their prime function to deceive people. The term anti-christ is used in the Bible to refer to an actual figure who will appear at the very end and also to lesser anti-christ figures whose influence was already being felt. And it also seems that the anti-christ’s in 1 John and 2 John are those that are unique in that they came from out of the church. All the other anti-christ figures come and attack the church from without.
These people were divisive and disruptive and were trying to deceive. Now we’ve got be a little bit careful here that we don’t go around naming people who might be a little bit difficult and naming them as anti-christs. There needs to be a great deal of humility in areas where people differ. Just because someone thinks differently in a number of non-essential areas is no reason to call a person an anti-christ. I’ve heard people try to explain to me that this well known church or this best selling book or this widely affirmed Christian course are part of a great deception. Frankly I think that’s bizarre. Each of those may have an element that you don’t like but be careful.
The Anti-christ John writes in verses 22-23 is easily identifiable…
22Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
And it seems that in the churches John was writing to there were people who were denying that Jesus was the son of God. They seem to have been suggesting that as well as the gospel there was some extra secret knowledge that people needed as well that only those enlightened could give them. They also denied that Jesus was fully man and fully God. They claimed that the divine Christ had joined the human man at Jesus’ baptism and had left him before his death. They had been trying to cause division and confusion in the churches and John wants the believers to be able to recognise them.
John explains that these anti-christs… 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. They were once members of their own community but they left For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. John explains that the fact that they left shows that they had never really been true members of his Christian community.
Here John looks at their lives and says that the fact that they didn’t continue on shows that they weren’t true believers in the first place. This is one of the enduring tests of a true follower of Christ, they persevere. And the second thing this verse teaches us is that not all of us are necessarily true followers of Christ. There is the church invisible, and the church visible. We are gathered here tonight and we can see each other, but some of us may not actually persevere, some may not be those who belong to Christ.
So how do you know that you really do belong to Christ?
20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
John writes to arm them against the deception of those causing division by reminding them that they have an outstanding resource, you have an anointing from the Holy One. This anointing is done by God and he does it through the Holy Spirit. He is reminding the believers that they were anointed with the Holy Spirit. God had given them his Holy Spirit when they first believed, and He confirms to them the truth of the message that they heard at that time. The Holy One is Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus leads God to give us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit we are told in John 15:26, 16:7, 12-15 will teach us all truth.
21I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
John says that they have the truth. They received the true gospel when it was preached to them. They responded to it and put their faith in God through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit was given to them when they believed and now there was no need for them to listen to anything else that others like the anti-christs would want to tell them that they needed.
24See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.
26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
What they heard from the beginning was the gospel – the good news that Jesus Christ had died on the cross and rose again and that through faith in Him the could receive forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God and eternal life. The moment they believed God’s Spirit would anoint them and confirm that what they believed was true. Remain in that. Don’t fall for the lie that you don’t have enough, that you need to believe something more! If you remain trust in these truths not being sucked in by liars or anti-christs, you will remain in the Son and the Father and you’ll persevere and endure and receive eternal life! At any moment, if your life ends, you’ll go to be with Him. Death is not the end for followers of Jesus, it’s just a doorway to eternal life. And Paul when he’s trying to find words to express how incredible eternal life is going be for us he writes, “No eye has seen, no ear has head, no mind conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
John writes in verse 26 explaining clearly why he’s writing to them, 26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. There were people who were trying to lead them astray and John is saying you received the gospel you received the Spirit, don’t be deceived – hang on to these truths.
Because you have been anointed with God’s Spirit you don’t need anyone to teach you John writes…
27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
Now some of you might think “Great! I don’t need to listen to anymore sermons or read the Bible, I’ve got the Spirit to teach me.” I just want you to notice that John is actually teaching them right at this point so if he was saying that he’d be going against his own advice. Rather he’s saying, “You don’t need anyone to teach you any new things about the gospel, you already know it, and the Holy Spirit in you confirms that what you have been taught already is real and not fake.”
I’ve got to tell you there was a time when what I knew about God was a head knowledge, but when I put my trust in Jesus, God’s presence through His Spirit sealed it beyond doubt for me. I have experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence, promptings, conviction, guiding. For me it’s beyond question, I received the gospel and the Holy Spirit lives in me!
- Don’t Love the World
- Remember the anointing presence of the Holy Spirit in your life
- And remain in the gospel that you heard and understood and responded to in the beginning.