Before we start reading today, I want to mention a couple of things that will make the reading easier. In verse 18, John writes, “You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared.” What is he talking about when he says antichrist, and why is one capitalized and the other not? Various scriptures talk about an individual who lives shortly before Christ’s return – someone who wields a lot of power and does not believe in God or Jesus nor the Holy Spirit. That person is called the Antichrist. However, throughout the time between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and his second coming, there will be people who don’t believe in the truth of scripture who will deny that Jesus is God. These people are called antichrists, because of what they say.
1 John 2: 18 – 27 NLT
Warning about Antichrists
“Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. 19 These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
20 But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. 21 So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. 22 And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. 23 Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. 25 And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.
26 I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”
John is warning us about people who will deny that Jesus is God. There are various religions that may agree that Jesus was a special prophet, but don’t agree that he is God in the flesh. For example, Islam agrees that Jesus was a prophet, but that Mohammed was the most recent prophet from God and therefore should be listened to most. Mormons also believe that Jesus was just a prophet with many good things to say. Many New Agers don’t believe the Bible is truth, but it may have some good advice. Our emphasis on science today often steers us away from anything spiritual. I know many scientists who are Christ followers, my husband included. They see science as more proof of a super intelligent being who created our world and space. But many other scientists need to have repeated physical proof that something is true. As well, much of science fiction paints a universe of eerie beings with power; they would likely say that God is only one of those extra-terrestrial beings.
So, John warns the church not to be influenced by those who deny Christ’s deity. It was the early church, and they did not have the complete Bible text we have today. I’m sure he was worried about people being influenced by false teachers. But John also writes a positive note and one that we can be assured about today.
“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”
As a Christ follower – one who agrees that Jesus was God in human form, who died to take our punishment for sin, and rose again to declare God’s victory over sin and death, and who ascended to heaven and will return again someday – we have the Holy Spirit within us to help us discern truth from falsehood. Jesus, himself, talked about that in John’s Gospel.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” (14: 16 – 18)
“But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.” (14: 26 – 27)
Paul also talks about the Holy Spirit helping us in Romans.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. “(8: 11)
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (8: 14 – 16)
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (8: 26 – 27)
In practical ways, how do we keep ourselves from getting influenced by people who are feeding us lies? We need to read our Bibles, something we are doing in these devotions – and that includes me. We can pray. The Holy Spirit guides us in our prayers, and he also reveals truth to us. We can stand strong with God’s help.
Our song for today is Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli