New Testament passage for Sunday, December 1, 2012: I John 2:18-3:6
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. I John 2:18 (NKJV)
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I John 2:20 (NKJV)
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. I John 2:27 (NKJV)
There is a growing spirit in our world today that could best be characterized as False Christianity. It boasts a false Christ and in fact is set in opposition to the real thing. John speaks to us of one of the greatest needs of our day. It is the need for DISCERNMENT. We need the ability to see through the obvious outward veneer and recognize the huge spiritual tug-of-war that is taking place.
John uses a term in this first letter and uses it again in the second (I John 2:18, 2:22, and 4:3; then II John 1:7). That term is ANTICHRIST. Immediately we conjure up apocalyptic images of a devil-man who uses the mark 666. This is really dramatic end-time teaching, but it is not really what John is addressing in this passage. I do believe that the Bible indicates that before the end of this age an individual will rise up that will embody all that opposes Jesus Christ and His kingdom. John warns us about this. But, John’s point in this passage is a present day battle against “many antichrists.” He says that they are ALREADY AT WORK in the world. Therefore, we need spiritual discernment.
John gives us a few guidelines in this spiritual battle. When a teaching or movement comes along, HOW DOES IT SPEAK OF JESUS? In vs. 23, he tells us that anything that speaks about God but leaves out or denies Jesus is not really connected to the Father at all. So, there is what I would call the JESUS TEST.
Then, John speaks to us about the “anointing from the Holy One” (vs. 20). This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. John encourages us to BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (see Eph. 5:18). This is the HOLY SPIRIT TEST. What does this mean? He says that our greatest weapon of discernment is being close to God through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is like a love relationship. The more deeply in love with Jesus we are, the more we will recognize anything that is NOT in love with Jesus.
This presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives will teach us (vs. 27). It is like a small inner voice – a geiger counter – that tells you when something is legitimate and when something is off kilter. This is so important.
Nothing takes the place of being close to God, immersed in His Word, filled with His Spirit, and enjoying fellowship with Him. There is a deception at loose in our world that can pull even the best of people away from their first love. This is one of the reasons your daily time of prayer and study are so important. This is the STAY CLOSE TO JESUS TEST. If we do this, the pull of false faith will not affect us. That’s why John can say, “abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (vs. 28).