November 7, 2011

Revolution: The Anointing 1 John 2:18-27

What a fun topic we have to cover...the AntiChrist! Actually, we are only going to look briefly at this idea of the antichrist, and then move into the other parts of the passage. Why would we only spend a brief amount of time on this concept? Because John doesn’t flesh it out fact, the antichrist is only an introductory element to the topic and part of a bigger discussion for John.

So let’s get started...

1 John 2:18-27
Dear 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. They 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.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I 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. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

As for you, see 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. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As 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.

The Antichrist

 John starts by bringing up a common belief among the people about an Antichrist figure who would come to lead people astray. This figure of the Antichrist has dominated modern discussions of the End Times in the church for many years. Too often we skip over sections like this because there are so many End Time controversies, and we don’t want to get embroiled in another one. We hear the word Antichrist and kind of shut down.

I remember as a kid sitting through several evangelists and preachers who had fool-proof explanations of how Ronald Reagan or Gorbachev or Bill Clinton or insert any name want...was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the Antichrist. It seems to crop up among some fringe groups every time there is an election. So it really stinks for people when their predictions turned out wrong.

The idea of the Antichrist has a long and interesting past within the church...too long for us to even briefly mention. Let’s just say that explanations and finger pointing are nothing new.

Through the years many have taken this concept of an Antichrist and combined it with other concepts found in the Bible. In the book of Daniel, there is an apocalyptic prophecy about a “little horn” that some equate with the Antichrist. In 2 Thessalonians Paul mentions a “man of lawlessness” or “man of sin” that some equate with the Antichrist. And in the book of Revelation the writer mentions a “beast” that some believe to be the Antichrist.

As a biblical term, however, the word “antichrist” is only used in the Epistles of John. The term “Antichrist” appears no where else in the Bible. Five times the word is used and all five are in 1 & 2 John. And each time John redirects the from the idea of 1 Antichrist to a group of people who are functioning in the spirit of Antichrist.   the term “antichrist” is used only here in the Letters of John and no where else.

The problem is there is just isn’t enough information to make a definitive statement. The last part of Daniel and the book of Revelation are both part of a genre called Jewish Apocalyptic literature which uses highly metaphoric language to describe both present-day (to the writer) and future events. Paul doesn’t use the word Antichrist and John doesn’t give us any more information that to say that the Antichrist is someone who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ.

So we are left to look at what John is doing with it here, and trying to separate it in our heads from all the baggage it has collected through the years...It is not is not Gorbachev.

The word we translate as Antichrist is a combination of two Greek words: Anti and Christos...The word anti has several different meanings. It can be understood as anti-or against-Christ. This leads to understanding that the AntiChrist is something that opposes Christ or comes against Him. The word anti would also carry the meaning “in the place of.” An Antichrist seeks to stand in the place of Christ.

In verse 18, John starts by reminding the people about the “Antichrist” but then, in the matter of a few verses, moves from the idea of one anticrhist to many antichrists. These are persons who deny Jesus Christ, and are working in the spirit of the Antichrist. 1 John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.” John does the same thing in 2 John 7, “I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” He is talking about the same group of people here and in 1 John 2. They are leaders who are leading people astray, causing them to doubt their salvation, denying Jesus Christ, and attempting to place something in the place of Christ in these people’s lives.

False Teachers

For John, recognizing false teachers is so important because we are living in “the last hour.” In the Early Church, the time between Jesus’ first coming and His second coming is referred to as “the last days” or “the last hour.” Christ had come, John saw him, he watched Jesus ascend into heaven, and now, we are in the last hour waiting for Christ to return. So for John it is extremely important for those of us in the Church to not get remain in Christ...because Jesus is returning!

The proof that we are in the last hour is that these antichrists, not just one Antichrist, but these false teachers have come. They don’t belong to Christ, and the proof they don’t belong is that they have separated themselves from the message of Christ, and are trying to lead others away from the truth.

For John the important thing is not describing the Antichrist. The Antichrist only serves as a backdrop for what John really wants to address. How do these followers know and hold on to the Truth and how do they learn to recognize false teaching?

What was true in John’s day continues to be true in our day. We live in a world of false teachers and prophets...a world of antichrists. The primary falsehood John deals with is a group of teachers who deny Jesus, but we too must learn to guard against the spirit of there are many teachings that seek to lead us astray.

There are people and ideas that want to stand in the place of Christ in our lives. There are millions of different ideologies and competing thoughts along with some talented teachers and leaders that want to say here is the next messiah! Here is Truth and freedom and salvation! Here is what the central focus of your life should be!

And just as John wrote to warn the church in Ephesus about their false teachers, he reminds us that we need to beware of those who attempt to put something other than Christ at the center of our lives.

The Anointing and Our Search for Truth

The answer, according to John, lays within every true believer. 1 John 2:20 says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” They know the Truth because of this anointing.

In the Old Testament, the word anointing was used to describe the pouring of oil over someone’s head to signify a special appointment. They anointed someone to be King or as a Priest. It also came to symbolize the reception of the Holy Spirit on someone’s life. That is the connection here. God is pouring the Holy Spirit over His people.

In his Gospel John refers to it this way, John 16:13, “...when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

That is really what we are search for isn’t it? Truth. A way to know Truth. When Jesus stood with Pilate and said, “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate responded with a question, “What is truth?”

A few months back I did a series of messages called 5 Marks of a Revived Church. In that series we talked about what God is looking for in His Church, and how we at Crossroads Vineyard will seek to function in a way that glorifies God in each of those areas.

The 5 Marks of a Revived Church were

  1. Truth
  2. Worship
  3. Community
  4. Growth
  5. Mission

The first mark needed in any community that ascribes to follow God is a ruthless search for Truth. When we start searching for truth we often have to wade through a large amount of half-truths and full-lies in order to find it. But if we search intently...We find truth in some unexpected places. We find that truth is honest; sometimes brutally so. We find that truth is not easy, simply, or black and white...especially in this fallen world.

In that series, as we looked at the mark of Truth, we said our pursuit of Truth means several things for us...

  • We are committed to seeking after Jesus Christ who said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Our search starts with Him.
  • We are committed to the Scriptures. Because in Scripture we have the written Word of God.
  • We are committed to right doctrine. We live in the tension of knowing that we will never be 100% correct, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep striving.

But under-girding all of this must be what John calls the anointing. In order for us to even hear the Truth when it is spoken the Holy Spirit must be at work in our lives. When Jesus is preparing for his crucifixion, he tells His disciples, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26)

The anointing is the inward reception of the Word of God, administered and confirmed by the work of the Spirit in our lives. Let me say it another way, it is the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God to lead us to Truth.

Have you ever been reading the have read that passage maybe a million times and then, all of a is like a light goes off and you are reading it in a different way? That is often the Holy Spirit enlivening that passage and applying it to your life. Or you have been listening to a pastor and God speaks through him or her and you are able to hear a passage in a different way that helps you take a step forward in your faith? That is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives!

There is this balance that takes place between the Holy Spirit and the Scripture. Scripture by itself are just words on a page. Listening to a voice, sometimes thought to be the Holy Spirit, is prone to so much error. But when we combine depth of study in God’s Word and waiting for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

God does this in our private times of reading and study. He does this through the preaching and teaching of His Word. He works through our conversations with friends, as we listen to a podcast, as we sit quietly reflecting on Scripture...God is constantly working to enliven His Word in our hearts through the Holy Spirit so we can be led into all truth. Where we often get into trouble is when we skip either one of these steps, either the Holy Spirit or the study of God’s Word, or we go beyond what they are saying.

For John’s readers and for us today, the key to knowing the truth is allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Scripture so that as we hear preaching, teaching, a new idea, another speaker...we are able to discern whether the idea is Truth or not.

Over the past few weeks this idea has come up over and over and over. In order for us to discern what is of God and what is starts with us spending time in God’s Word and that is empowered as we learn to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Replacing Christ

I am not really a mystical person, but I have found that God still speaks. And he does this most clearly through what His Holy Spirit brings about in our lives as we read the Scriptures. As we spend time in God’s Word and allow His Holy Spirit to work in our lives we are transformed.

In 1 Corinthians 2, the Apostle Paul give a rather drawn out explanation that I think is worth hearing. Let me explain it quickly and then I will read it. Sometimes I’m able to hear things better if the entire premise is stated before it is read to I hope this helps.

Paul begins by pointing out the wisdom of the message He preaches, a wisdom that really comes from God. That wisdom is only available because the Holy Spirit reveals it as Truth. He then tells how it really should be no surprise that the Spirit knows these things because He is, after all, the Spirit of God, and who knows what is going on in a person more than their spirit.

The thing is, though, this Spirit of God is willing to dwell inside of each one of us and teach us and lead us into Truth. The world around will not buy into our message many times because it doesn’t have the Holy they look at what we as Christians do as foolishness.

Let me read this passage to you...

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
   “What no eye has seen,
   what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
   the things God has prepared for those who love him—

 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,

   “Who has known the mind of the Lord
   so as to instruct him?”

   But we have the mind of Christ.

As a church, we must move in the authority of God’s Word as guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we must move in the authority of God’s Word as guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. John calls it an anointing. Paul calls it having the mind of Christ...both are a result of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us enabling and empowering us to do God’s work here in our world.

And what an amazing thing it is for both John and Paul to claim...that we can have this Spirit, this anointing, dwelling inside of us...leading us into Truth. Guiding our conscience and spurring us on to Christlikeness. He is, in theological language, the The Ever-Present Teacher. God’s Spirit working inside of us to teach us God’s Will.

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