1 John 2.18-27
beHAVING AS God’s anointed
1 John 2:18-27
We have recently moved into the season of advent. Advent comes from the Latin adventus meaning arrival or coming. Traditionally, advent is a time to reflect upon God’s arrival or coming in Jesus. From adventus, we have the word adventure. In this sense, Christmas can be seen as an exciting adventure into the future. Some of us may remember the excitement of opening the little windows on an advent calendar? Today our advent window opens to 1 John 2:18-27. Here we see what it means to behave as God’s anointed. To behave as God’s anointed, we need to first…
1 BELONGING TO GOD’S ANOINTED (vs.18-19)
1.1 Listen carefully my children
In v18, John opens with a familiar expression. With apostolic authority, maturity, and wisdom, he says: “My little children.” He says my little children; you are special to me and to God. Listen carefully: “This is the last hour; and as you have heard: antichrist is coming, and even now many antichrists have appeared.”
1.2 Detecting those who belong
The expression last hour is similar to other New Testament expressions like the last days or the last times. It is a period of grace in which the gospel is preached until Jesus returns in what we call the Second Advent. John says that during this time, many antichrists will appear.
The word antichrist occurs only in John’s epistles, and two of them are in our passage today. The idea of antichrist was developing in AD90 when John was writing. It is not something the Jews needed to hear because they did not accept Jesus as the Christ, and were therefore not antichrist in that sense. The warning was directed to those in the church who taught a false Christ. Verse 19 says they went out from us, but did not really belong to us. If they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us, but their going showed that they did not belong to us. John says, “Beware the antichrist—they are not in the world, but in the church. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
1.3 Get to know the real Christ
Jesus said In Matthew 24:24 that false christs and false prophets would appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, God’s elect.” If this is true, we should be alert to a spirit of antichrist in the church. To do this, we need to know the real Christ. We know the real Christ from the Old Testament prophecies. We know the real Christ from the gospels. We know the real Christ from the Book of Acts where he is the ascended Lord in a growing church. We know the real Christ by reading about his influence in the letters written to the church. We know the real Christ by seeing him as a exalted King in the Book of Revelation. When we know the real Christ, we belong to God’s anointed. This leads to a further point…
2 BECOMING GOD’S ANOINTED (vs.20-23)
2.1 We have an anointing
Advent is a preparation for the arrival of God’s Messiah as promised in the Old Testament. The name Messiah or Christ means Anointed One and in him, we too can be anointed. 1 John 2:20 says, “We have an anointing from the Holy One.” This is in contrast to those who had left the church. John says, “They went out from us to show that they did not belong to us, but you have an anointing from the Holy One.”
2.2 The idea of anointing
The word anoint in v20 is chrisma, which is from the same root as Christos or Christ. It means to pour oil on someone to symbolise a setting aside by the Holy Spirit. As the Christ, Jesus was anointed for a sacred purpose. Acts 10:38 says, “God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power.” In the same way, we too are anointed. We are set aside for a sacred purpose. 2 Corinthians 1:22 says, “God anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
1 John 2:20 says that as God’s anointed, we all know. Verses 21-22 explain what this means when John says, I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist.” In other words, when we are anointed, we know all we need to know about the Christ. It is like being told about a blockage on the Motorway. If we come off at a certain junction and follow the directions, we know all we need to know to avoid the blockage.
2.3 Anointed into a living relationship
1 John 2:23 explains further when it says: “No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” If like the antichrist, we deny the Son then we have no connection with the Father. In John 14:6, Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The way to know God is to accept Jesus, believe in Jesus, and confess Jesus as Lord. The word confess in v23 means to acknowledge someone as important in your life. This is how we become God’s anointed and it should then lead to…
3 BEING GOD’S ANOINTED (vs.24-27)
3.1 Preparing for a spiritual Christmas
Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to 30 November and lasts until midnight on Christmas Eve. With this in mind, today’s message could help us prepare for a spiritual Christmas and take us into a new year in the power of the Spirit. This brings us to 1 John 2:24 and a dramatic contrast to what we have heard so far. He says, “As for you… see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.” This is one of John’s favourite expressions, and it appears four times in vs.24-27. As for you… remain in the Son and in the Father… Remain in him.
3.2 Staying on the rock
In John 15:4, Jesus said: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself—it has to remain in the vine.” With this in mind, v24 says, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.” If the word of life in Jesus remains in us, we will remain in him and in the Father. To do this, v26 says we should avoid those who would lead us astray.
The word abide or remain means to stay in a settled place, and we need to stay in Christ. If we remain in him, we will know God and experience the blessing of eternal life (v25). It is like a child stranded on a rock in a river. In panic, she tries to move towards the bank on a loose stone. Her father calls out: “Stay where you are—don’t move!” We are in a swirling river called life, and though we may feel like jumping to where it seems safer, it is better to stay where we are. Stay on the rock!
3.3 Remaining in Christ today
When we stay on the rock, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. This is what John meant in v27 when he said: “The anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.” He didn’t mean they had no need of any teaching at all, otherwise he wouldn’t have written his letter. He says when we remain in him; we are anointed of God and can discern the antichrist and oppose it. This is why Ephesians 1:17 says we should keep asking God to give us a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know him better.”
With all that is going on in the world today, we need to remain in Christ. We dare not; we should not; we must not budge from our safe position in Christ. The second part of v27 says, “As his anointing teaches us about all things and as that anointing is true and not false—just as he has taught you: remain in him.” To do this, we need to remain in the living word of God. We need to remain in constant prayer. We need to remain in fellowship with other Christians or anointed ones.
For the church, advent is the beginning of the liturgical year. Strictly speaking, therefore, advent is not a preparation for Christmas, but a preparation for a new year. It is a preparation for a new beginning. In this context, we should pray that our advent is the beginning of a new life as God’s anointed. To this end, we sing…
The Lord’s my shepherd