The First Letter of the Apostle John : Study No.7

Study No.7 (1 John 2:18-29)

Review (1 John 2:15-17)

To love the world and the things of this world is to set ones affections, dreams, desires and fleshly appetites and passions on acquiring status, self-gratification and to have an abundance of material possessions and money to the exclusion of God. This is the pagan way of life in the world.

For the believer in the Lord Jesus there must be a different way of living than that of those in the world who do not know God. While it is not wrong to have money and to own material possessions we must stringently guard against these things owning us.

The things of this world are temporal and fleeting and the reality is that we came into this world with nothing and when we depart this world we take nothing with us. As the Lord Jesus said; “A man’s life does not consist of the things he possesses.” While we often equate ‘worldliness’ with the pursuit of wealth, pleasure, fame and success by the standards of the world, and that is part and parcel of it, we must also be aware of that worldliness that can creep into our life through the gates of our physical senses. John tells us that worldliness exhibits itself in three ways.

Firstly he mentions; “the lust of the flesh.” This refers to the self-centred gratification of our fallen human nature with its appetites, passions and desires (Galatians 5:19-21). As Paul also writes; “To set the mind on the flesh is death but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). The idea of “setting the mind” is a continuous settled attitude of the mind, the emotions and especially the will on gratifying our lusts, passions and desires. Those who have been made new spiritual creations in the Messiah will not be living in this way (2 Corinthians 5:17) (Galatians 5:22-25).

Secondly John mentions; “the lust of the eyes.” This refers primarily to desiring the things others have, desiring fame and acknowledgement by men, desiring to be rich in this world and to have it good in this life. Now it is not wrong to own a house or a car or to seek becoming the best we can in our career but we must constantly be on guard against covetousness which can creep in by stealth if we are not spiritually diligent.

We are told in the Bible that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and that by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows (1Timothy 6:9-10). For the believer in the Lord Jesus “godliness with contentment is great gain!” (1Timothy 6:6). We need to be content with what we have because God has said He will never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5)

If we have the genuine opportunity to make our situation better then we should take advantage of that but keep in mind that it is temporary and that we must give an account to God for the motives of our heart in these matters. God gives us wealth to confirm the new covenant in that it can be used for the work of evangelism and missions (Deuteronomy 8:18).

Thirdly John mentions; “The pride of life.” This is having pride in what we own and in what we have achieved and looking down on others who do not have what we have or succeed as we have succeeded. It is to be preoccupied with building bigger and better houses, businesses or acquiring lands and property and possessions. Some in the pursuit of these goals have trodden on others on their way to the top.

Remember the singer Frank Sinatra who made the song popular; “I did it my way” now in hades he regrets he did it his way but it is too late for him as the dye was cast by himself during his brief sojourn on this earth.

All of these things come from the world and the god of this world being Satan. They do not come from God the Father, neither are they named among His children who have been spiritually reborn from above and are inheritors of His eternal kingdom.  Eventually the world and its desires will pass away but only the one who practices the will of God will live forever.

All of us will live for ever but the question is where will we live in eternity? There is no middle course; either we are heaven bound or hell bound, because if we have a love of the world then a love for God will be absent both in our mind and in our heart. Basically we cannot love God and money and all that it brings by way of accolades and accumulated wealth.

Exposition  (1 John 2:18-29)

(Vs.18)  “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.”

The first century believers always lived in the light of the second Coming of the Lord Jesus and recognized the signs that would precede it. One of the major signs would be the appearance of the Antichrist being the one who exults himself above all gods and craves to be worshipped as God in God’s temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4). John clearly tells us that he will come. However, John also tells us that many antichrists have already come and he associates them with having at one time been part of the fellowship. Of course John wrote this letter over 2,000 years ago and down through history we have seen many antichrists appear centre stage in world affairs and within wider Christendom. For example all of the Pagan Emperors of Rome were antichrists as they sought to be worshipped as divinity. Likewise, the Papacy itself is antichrist in that the Popes take upon themselves titles and receive accolades that should only be given to God. The Mahdi’s of Islam were all antichrists. All those within Christendom down through history who taught against the deity and pre-existence of Christ and the Triune nature of God (the Trinity) were also antichrists.

The word Antichrist has two meanings in the Greek text. Firstly; it means “against Messiah” and secondly “in place of Messiah.” Satan must firstly turn men against the true Messiah and replace Him with a false one. Of course it has a much wider application that just referring to those who have made the claim to be Jesus Christ Himself. It includes these of course, but also includes all those who would seek to be worshipped by man or deified in some way.

The spirit of antichrist hates the Lord Jesus and despises Him and kills and persecutes all who follow Him. Whether it was the Roman Emperors persecuting Christians or the Spanish inquisition or the bloody massacres by Islam, it was all of the antichrist spirit. Today within Christendom the mystery of iniquity is already at work as we see the authority of God’s Word being undermined and even maligned by the opinions of men and replaced with the vain philosophies of this world.

While many antichrists were around in John’s time at the end of this age they will be numerous and ‘breeding like rabbits’ in wider Christendom like never before in past history. Today we see this conspicuously within wider Christendom and growing in leaps and bounds because the Day of the lord is near at hand “even at the very gates of the city” of this world! Now the antichrists John mentions were once professing Christians. The text tells us this specifically. And so he writes…

(Vs.19) “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

The main reason for the split in the fellowship was over the deity of the Lord Jesus being God in the flesh and the one who tabernacled among us (John 1:14). The ones who had left the fellowship were Gnostics from which we get the word knowledge. They claimed a higher and deeper and different mystical revelation of God than the one that the apostles themselves had concerning the nature and atoning work of the Lord Jesus.

The Gnostics could not accept that the eternal and invisible God could take upon himself a flesh and blood body. They taught that all flesh was inherently evil and that God being without sin could not possibly dwell in a flesh and blood body. Added to this, they had their own brand of ‘inner mystical revelations’ that they claimed to be from God that were not in line with the Old Testament scriptures and with the doctrine of the apostles. The Old Testament scriptures were the Bible of the first century Body of Messiah. The New Testament was still being written.

Today we have new age philosophies within wider Christendom where supernatural experiences and revelations and all kinds of ‘manifestations’ are being accepted by many as from God even if they do not line up with what the Bible teaches. You also have philosophies and doctrines of men such as Psychology, Psychotherapy, post-modernism, ecumenism, hyper faith prosperity, interfaith associations, mysticism and new age practices infiltrating the Body of the Messiah, just to name a few. Also today within much of Charismatic circles you have dreams, experiences, revelations, unbiblical manifestations and prophecies that are given more importance than the Word of God itself. You have grave soaking, tarot destiny cards, feathers or gold dust floating down, glory clouds, uncontrolled laughter, hysterics and twitching and writhing of the body, anointing ‘transfers’ and people being mesmerised, the same physical bodily manifestations  seen in Kundalini Yoga.

Every prophecy and utterance, every dream, every revelation and every doctrine must be tested by the Word of God. We are to “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Today we need the gifts of the Spirit more than ever within the wider Body of the Messiah and especially within the local fellowship because of the amount of spiritual deception that has infiltrated the Body of the Messiah. We need to distinguish between when a man or woman is speaking out of his or her fleshly nature being soul power, or by a demon spirit or by the Spirit of God. Much discernment is needed today concerning this matter within the wider Body of the Messiah. Those that are into giving out ‘personal prophecies’ will be held accountable to God for the things they have prophesied in His name. There is a place for personal prophecies such as we see in relation to the ordaining of Timothy by the apostle Paul (1 Timothy 1:18).

When false doctrine is being taught by leaders within a local fellowship and the truth of God’s Word is being opposed and those teaching falsely refuse correction, then those who know the truth have one of two options available to them, either they stand up and fight or stand up and leave. On the other hand when the truth is being taught in the power of the Holy Spirit there will be those who will leave the fellowship because they cannot stand ‘the heat in the kitchen.’

Sadly within wider Christendom the Bible is being watered down including the message of salvation. Such courses as Purpose Driven and Alpha contribute to this trend. There is no offence of the cross in most of the preaching today. Many no longer preach Christ crucified and that those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires and no more live for themselves but for Him who has bled and died for them. Without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth” and not error, the Body of the Messiah is prone to be deceived by false and heretical doctrines that have a mixture of truth and error.

The Bible calls these false and deceptive unbiblical doctrines “destructive heresies” which sees truth and error laid side by side (2 Peter 2:1). As it has been said “there is always cheese in the rattrap.” It is much like eating a beautiful gourmet sandwich filled with healthy and nutritious ingredients but laced with arsenic, a slow acting poison undetected but which eventually brings on death. Those who have the Spirit of God living down on the inside of them and fused with their human spirit and know their Bibles will know the truth when they hear it and be able to distinguish that truth from doctrinal error. And so John affirms this truth…

(Vs. 20-21) “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”

This anointing is the Holy Spirit Himself who has been given to us as believers by the Lord Jesus to lead and to guide us into all truth and into knowing all those things we need to know to successfully complete the will of God for our lives. Not that we know everything of course because we do not know everything there is to know, but what God intends us to know that we will know it and in abundance. Especially this applies to discerning the truth from doctrinal error and false teaching. The blessed Holy Spirit will never guide us into wrong teaching or false spiritual experiences. The instrument He uses in teaching us the truth as it is in the Lord Jesus is the Word of God, being the sword of the Spirit which is able to divide between that which is spiritual from that which is soulish and of the fallen fleshly nature. Now John specifically tells us who is a liar.

(Vs.22-23) “Who is a liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is Messiah. He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

Down through the history of Christendom there have always been those who have denied the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus, the deity of the Lord Jesus and His pre-existence from all of eternity being face to face with the Father (John 1:1-2). The word used for “denies” means to disregard, to repudiate, to reject or to refuse something offered. It is a deliberate action of the will to deny a factual truth even after having the evidence of it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. John specifically says that those who deny the doctrine of the Father and the Son’s eternal relationship having been revealed to John and to the apostles firstly by the Lord Jesus and then through the Holy Spirit, is a liar and of their father the devil who was a liar, the father of lies and a murderer from the very beginning and one who did not hold to the truth because there is no truth in him (John 8:44). The apostles understood this.

Those who deny the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son and teach it as well are of the spirit of antichrist which hates Christ and wants to replace Him with a false Christ. Many today acknowledge  a Jesus of their own understanding but deny His deity consequently the Jesus they have is not the Biblical Jesus. In other words they have the right Jesus historically but the wrong Jesus Biblically.

To deny the Son’s deity is to not only deny Him but also to deny His Father because He and the Father are one! Those who claim to know God but do not accept the Lord Jesus as God and equal to God and the one who dwelt face to face with God from all eternity, shows that they do not in reality know God as He is revealed in the Bible. Whatever they claim to have by an ‘inner’ revelation if that ‘revelation’ denies the deity of the Lord Jesus then it is a spirit of antichrist and a very powerful deceptive one at that.

Those who acknowledge the deity of the Lord Jesus also have the Father living in them through the indwelling Holy Spirit. They enjoy fellowship with the Father and with the Son and with the Holy Spirit who together are equal in divinity and are One God (John 14:23). Those who worship God in Spirit and in truth are those who enjoy a personal relationship with the Trinity. The truth must first be in us and then after that it must abide continuously with us being in our mind and in our heart and expressed in our daily life. And so John continues…

(Vs.24-25 “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.”

For the seed of God’s Word, sown into the soil of our hearts by the Holy Spirit to have its fullest effect in us and through us to others, it needs to be watered by the Holy Spirit, consequently, we must abide, rest, continuously and stay spiritually connected to the engrafted Word which is able to save our souls (James 1:21). As we remain open to the truth we will grow in our knowledge of the Trinity and enjoy their fellowship. God has promised us eternal life and that life is imparted to us when we repent and believe on Him who shed his atoning blood for us to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and from this present evil age according to the will of God our heavenly Father. As we read; “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4).

This eternal life is the very nature and divine life of God Himself and it must continuously abide or remain in us as we walk by faith and not by site. It must be constantly sustained in us as we seek to stay spiritually connected to the Trinity. God wants us to know Him, to know his Son and to know the Holy Spirit. We must allow the truth of God’s Word to abide or constantly remain in us as we walk in the obedience that comes from faith (John 3:36 NASB) (Romans 1:5; 16:26). The word salvation has three tenses. We were saved when justified by faith. We are being saved as we allow the Holy Spirit to continuously sanctify or set us apart to God. We will be saved from the presence of sin and completely redeemed out of this wicked and depraved world at the rapture and resurrection of all the saints. And so John continues…

(Vs.26) “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.”

In His Olivet discourse in Matthew chapter 24 the Lord Jesus warned His disciples about spiritual deception at least four times. Likewise the writings of the apostles also speak much about spiritual deception especially in the last days as it increases in intensity and frequency. Satan is not worried about those in the world as he has them deceived already. The ones he is concerned about are you and me who no longer belong to the kingdom of darkness but belong to the kingdom of light, having been translated from spiritual darkness into God’s marvellous spiritual light. As the apostle Peter writes; “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). The ones we have to be aware of are those who secretly and by stealth infiltrate the Body of Messiah introducing destructive heresies by laying truth and error side by side (2 Peter 2:1).

Today we see this happening within wider Christendom. C.H. Spurgeon said something along these lines; “How do you tell if a stick is slightly bent even if it looks straight to the human eye? It is only by putting next to it a perfectly straight stick will you see the difference in the sticks.” That “straight stick” of course is the Word of God by which all things must be tested. Every dream, every prophecy, every utterance, every teaching, and every manifestation must all be tested by the Word of God. If it is not in the Word of God then it must be suspect. While God does use prophecy today it will never go beyond what God has already revealed in His Word the Bible. We are told not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).

As it is also written; “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). The simple is not referring to those who are congenitally backward or without proper mental faculties. The simple are those who know their need of a childlike dependence on God and that they need Him to reveal the deeper truths of his Word to them. They have childlike faith when approaching the Bible and by faith look to the blessed Holy Spirit to teach them. And so John continues…

(Vs.27)  “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.”

The blessed Holy Spirit will never lead a genuine child of God who is seeking the truth to be led into doctrinal error or sin. He is the Spirit of truth and not error and the one who will lead us into all truth (John 16:13). Now we can learn from others who teach the Bible and from good solid and sound Bible commentaries and by listening or watching those who are genuinely anointed to preach and to teach the Word of God.

Having said this, it is our privilege and spiritual birthright as a believer in the Lord Jesus to be taught personally by the blessed Holy Spirit. For it is written; “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). While the blessed Holy Spirit can and does use others to teach us there are some things only He can reveal and teach us personally. We can know truth objectively but only when it becomes a subjective reality and a revelation to be obeyed will we be empowered to understand it more deeply and apply it to our life.

There is no more scripture. The whole Bible is a completed Canon. There is only a deeper understanding of what God has already revealed in his Word. Those who take away from the Bible or add to it are on a very slippery path downwards and in danger of losing the very salvation they claim to have.

Now while we cannot know everything spiritually we can know everything we need to enable us to live the Christian life in this present age. As we walk progressively by faith the blessed Holy Spirit progressively reveals the truth of God’s Word to our inner spirit and we are changed spiritually from the inside to do all the will of God from the heart as it is revealed to us. This anointing received is the indwelling Holy Spirit and as long as we abide and constantly remain open to His voice we will not be led astray by false doctrines or by the wiles of Satan and by the cunning deceit of men who do not teach the Word of God as it should be taught. While prophecy and dreams and even visions have their place they will always line up with what the Word of God teaches.

(Vs.28-29) “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

To abide in the Lord Jesus is to remain one with Him in unbroken fellowship, to constantly lean upon Him in every area and circumstance of life. It is a willingness to obey every impulse that comes from the Holy Spirit and every commandment of God’s Word He reveals to our inner man or spirit. It is a place of strength not to leave or to depart from. It is to wait upon Him in expectancy to lead and to guide us into all truth, having absolute confidence in Him that He will never allow us to be led by Satan into the path of spiritual error.

When the Lord Jesus comes back the one thing He will be looking for is faithfulness. (Luke 18:8) We cannot please God apart from faith but we have the assurance that our faith accompanied by our faithfulness will please Him (Hebrews 11:6). The word for faith in both Testaments not only implies a belief of the truth but faithfulness to the truth believed. Not only will the Lord Jesus be looking for faithfulness but also for likeness to Himself. If we are seeking to be conformed daily to the His image then we will not be ashamed when He comes back.

While we are made and declared to be righteous by faith the proof that the work of salvation has occurred is that the righteousness of God, being the life of the Lord Jesus, will be reflected in what we say and do and think. We will practice righteousness, not sin. We will have integrity, virtue, purity of life in thought, word and deed and correctness in what we feel, in what we think, in what we say and in what we do.

As John also writes; “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (3:1-3).

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