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Last week we saw John introduce the concept of anti-Christs. Not the anti-Christ that will be revealed prior to Christ’s return, but concept of being against Christ. John is talking about the false teaching from the Gnostics, but the idea takes many forms today.
This morning we’ll look at how this idea took shape in John’s day and how it affects us today.
1 John 2:20-23 says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”
There is another reason John writes. John begins v. 20 with that contrast word. What’s the contrast? John just described the anti-Christs saying they were never really part of the body of Christ; were never part of the church. That’s why they walked away. “You have an anointing from the Holy One” but the anti-Christs don’t. That word of encouragement is great, but John’s phrase raises a couple of questions. What does John mean by anointing? John uses the words antichristos, christos, and chrisma to describe the difference between true believers and those that walked away. Anointing is the Greek word chrisma and is used only by John. In the O.T., anointing meant a setting apart, or a consecration of someone for a particularly special purpose. In Ex. 40:15 for example, we see Moses anoint Aaron for the priesthood. Anointing later came to indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit in order to prophesy or rule as in 1 Sam. 16:13 and Is. 61:1. This connection with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit gives us a little background to understand anointing in the N.T. This term means the gift of the Spirit to the one that believes. Anointing is what Paul calls baptism, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13) But this isn’t the act of baptism. There isn’t anything in the text that gives us the idea that the physical act of baptism or anointing is what allows the Holy Spirit to indwell the believer. John tells the church, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” In the context of this letter, anointing not only gives us the idea of the indwelling Spirit, but also is the idea of a spiritual understanding given the fact that John tells them he writes because they do know the truth.
Who is the Holy One? 25 times in the O.T., God is called the Holy One of Israel. Four times He is called the Holy One. In the N.T. God is described as holy just three times. (Jo. 17:11; 1 Pet. 1:16; Rev. 6:10) No where in the N.T. is God called the Holy One. Five times however, Jesus is called the Holy One of God or the Holy One so this points to Jesus as the Holy One John mentions. But for John, there is such a oneness or a sameness so as the distinction is slight. So why go the all the trouble to figure it out? That’s what being a student of God’s Word means. The more you dig, the more you come to appreciate the treasure you have in your hand. This verse finishes with the phrase, “And you all know.” What do they know? V. 21. They are the ones that know the truth and that truth allows them to recognize the false teaching of those that oppose Christ. Jer. 31:31-34 says, “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
This mirrors what John is saying. “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it.”The people in the church, these true believers do know the truth because God is the One that wrote it on their hearts. That’s why you can recognize false teaching. That’s why the hairs on your neck stand up when you hear something that just doesn’t sound quite right. Even if you don’t have a verse as a point of reference, you know it’s not right. That’s the power of God at work. Paul indicates these events are preparing us for what is to come when he said, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” (2 Thes. 2:3) Some would argue, well it’s just a difference of opinion on what the Scriptures means.
What are they teaching? A false teacher might say, “We worship the Father. We believe in God the Father, even though we disagree with you about Jesus Christ.” John counters that with, “No lie is of the truth.” The lie is in who they say Jesus is. John is emphatic in v. 22. He’s talking specifically about those that left the community of believers. The Gnostics were teaching that Jesus never came in a physical body; therefore Jesus cannot be the Christ – the Messiah that was promised in Gen. 3:15 and throughout the O.T. The one that says Jesus is not God; that says Jesus did not physically come to earth, didn’t live a sinless life since He didn’t come, didn’t shed his blood and die for the forgiveness of sin, and therefore did not rise from the dead and ascend to heaven. This person is the anti-Christ. Again, John is not talking about THE person that will come on the scene before Jesus returns. He’s talking about the idea of being contrary or against Christ. He’s talking about a denial of who Jesus really is. In 1 John 4:3, he identifies this person as having, “The spirit of anti-Christ.”
If it weren’t bad enough, John goes on to say, “This is the anti-Christ, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” In my discussions with people that deny the incarnation or deity of Christ have never said they don’t believe in or worship God. One problem that results from this denial is that if you deny Christ, you deny God. In John 14:6-7 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.” Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” So you see the denial of who Jesus is carries significant consequences; both here on earth and in eternity. John states it clearly in v. 23 with a contrast. No Jesus – no God. Know Jesus – know God. Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32-32) The one that confesses or agrees with who Jesus is gets a two for one. Not only do you get Jesus, you get a relationship with God the Father.
This denial of Christ goes back to the Jews. John’s Gospel records the story of a boy who was born blind. He was born blind, but received his sight at the hands of Jesus (on the Sabbath no less) and when questioned by the Jews, the parents denied knowing how or who did this to their son. John 9:22, “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.” See that’s one of the signs of false teaching. If you don’t agree, you’re the enemy; you’re the one that doesn’t know what you’re talking about; you’re the one that is cast out.
The simple fact in this passage is that if you deny who Jesus is, you deny God the Father because there is no other way to God. If you agree and believe who Jesus is and accept that free gift of salvation, you are guaranteed a relationship with God.