The Epistle of first John
Lesson Number 3
PROVISION FOR PROTECTION
"15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love
of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the
lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the
world. 17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will
of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that
antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it
is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had
been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might
be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing (unction, KJV) from the
Holy One, and you all know. 21 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. 22 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. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who
confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, 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. 25 And this is the promise which He Himself made
to us: eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying
to deceive you. 27 And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you,
and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about
all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence
and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is
righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." (1
John 2:15-20, NASB)
It is possible to imagine that the church was at its most ideal state in its beginning. In fact, there is an approach to
theology that assumes this to be the case. This line of reasoning imagines that if we can get back to what occurred at the
beginning, we will be more free from corruption. It all sounds plausible enough-at least on the surface. And, it is not to be
denied that there is an element of truth to this view. When God created Adam and Eve, they were at their best state, to be sure.
But that did not last for long. Sin entered almost immediately. Cain, although born first, was not the
"pattern" son. The same
was true of Ishmael and Esau. Too, when the Law was given, the people embraced corruption in an unprecedented manner
at the very base of Sinai (Ex 32:1-7). The defiling effects of Aachan's sin occurred when the people were first entering Canaan
(Josh 7:1-24). Israel's first king, Saul, did not prove to be their best one. The transgression of Ananias and Saphirra surfaced
at the threshold of church history (Acts 5:1-10). Beginning periods, while significant, are not always characterized by purity.
During Paul's Ministry
During the ministry of the Apostle Paul, he spoke of deplorable conditions that existed on a significant scale. "For I have
no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's" (Phil
2:20-21). Another time he wrote, "At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me" (1 Tim 4:16). Once he lamented
to the churches of Galatia, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth," and I am afraid of
you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain" (Gal 3:1; 4:11). Things were not ideal then.
The Churches In Asia
Who can forget the conditions of most of the seven churches of Asia, to whom the glorified Christ spoke with revealing
frankness. " . . . thou hast left thy first love . . . thou art fallen . . . thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam . . . thou
also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate . . . thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself
a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols . . . that thou hast a
name that thou livest, and art dead . . . I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev 2:4,14,20; 3:1,16). These conditions occurred in
the first century, when one of the chief Apostles was yet alive. That reality makes our text highly relevant.
We Are In A Warfare
All of this confirms that salvation is being accomplished in an intensely competitive arena. This has been the condition
from the very first. In First John, the Spirit addresses the matter of corruption, both on a personal and collective level. He
warns us of the environment itself-"the world" (2:15-17). He also tells us of the aggression of the devil-"the wicked one"-- and
the flood of "false prophets" he has sent into the world (2:13-14; 5:18-19; 4:1). With great sobriety we are reminded, "the whole
world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (5:19). At no point are we encouraged to think of spiritual beginnings as free from
danger or corruption.
We will find that false doctrines must not be approached in the energy of human logic alone. There are powerful evil
spiritual personalities behind false doctrines. Although, from the standpoint of appearance, men propagate them, they are
actually "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim 4:1). For this reason, Divine assistance must be provided to us, for human abilities are
not adequate for confronting "the power of darkness." Should men doubt this to be the case, the Spirit will tell us emphatically
that our protection against delusion is provided through Divine resources. He will also confirm that God alone can enable
us to continue to abide in Christ Jesus. At no point are we left to live in our own strength.
THE BELIEVER AND THE WORLD
"15Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the
Father, but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God
This is one of the strongest exhortations of Scripture, and has been a hallmark text among the godly throughout the
centuries. The church was always been strengthened when it took hold of this word. It has always been weakened when it
was ignored. A deteriorating church has never taken this text seriously, and a strong one has never ignored it. It is a text where,
if embraced, we can adjust our focus. There is no ambiguity in the passage whatsoever.
I believe it was john Newton who said, "You can tell how close a man is to God by how he shudders at the word
'world'." Faith does bring sensitivity to the heart concerning this word. We will see it is not only a danger- zone, but an order
that is dominated by the devil. It behooves every child of God to have a good understanding of "the world."
By "the world," the Spirit means everything belonging to the cursed order-everything that is temporal. From another
perspective, it is everything disassociated from eternal life, to which we have been "called" (1 Tim 6:12). "The world" is like
a bottomless pit, in which everything that corrupts resides. It, together with "the things of the world," will not allow God or
the things of God to be maintained while it remains preeminent. In order to "love" the world, the heart must be turned away
from God, and salvation must be neglected. That is how corrupt the world is. John Calvin once said that when the love of
the world possesses a person, it "so holds him entangled that he thinks not of the heavenly life, [but] he is possessed by a
This is why the Spirit refers to "this present evil world," affirming that Jesus gave Himself for our sins in order to "deliver
us" from it (Gal 1:4). Its cares "choke" the Word of God (Matt 13:22), Satan is its "prince" (John 12:31), and Christ's Kingdom
is not of its order (John 18:36). The wisdom that comes from the world has been made "foolish" by God (1 Cor 1:20), and
its "princes" brought to nothing (1 Cor 2:6).
In salvation, we "escape the corruption that is in THE WORLD through lust" (2 Pet 1:4). We are also said to have escaped
"the pollutions of THE WORLD through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 2:20). This matter is so
fundamental that it is written, "friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world
makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).
It is no wonder, therefore, that we are admonished "love not the world." As the "sons of God," we have been delivered
from the world, and are no longer of that order. To have an affection for the world and its "things," the Spirit must be
quenched, and our attention diverted from the Lord Jesus. Loving the world will conform us to its ways-something strictly
forbidden by the command and nature of our Lord (Rom 12:1-2). The ways of the world must be kept away from our way
of thinking, our preferences, and our manners. Let it not characterize our speaking, our music, or our fashions. While men
may not legislate in this area, the Lord will, if heeded, make us more and more unlike the world. That is the secret to NOT
The Spirit is utterly intolerant of any affinity with "this present evil world." He makes no allowance for the smallest
degree of harmony with it, nor does he permit one to profess allegiance to God while loving the world. "If anyone loves the
world, the love of the Father is not in him." It is not possible to have a preference for God and one for the world at the same
time. In order to embrace one, the other must be forfeited.
Mind you, believers are being addressed in this text. They are warned that God will not recognize them if they continue
to look longingly toward the world like Lot's wife did toward Sodom-profession notwithstanding.
The love of God cannot remain in a heart that is attracted to the world. As soon as the individual loves the world, the
love of God, once shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit, leaves him. Our text will now confirm to us the reason for this
circumstance. The world, and everything in it, is at variance-sharp variance-with God.
Desires are what knit us to the world. The Spirit will now categorize these for us. These are basic classifications of
unlawful desires, or lusts. All other sinful desires spring from these basic ones. Further, these are the areas in which Satan
is active, and the means through which he allures dull souls into the condemned realm.
"The lust of the flesh" is the desire to satisfy the condemned part of us-the natural part of our persons. This is the part
in which dwells "no good thing" (Rom 7:18). Jesus said of it, "the flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63), and "is weak" (Matt 26:41).
Without any variation whatsoever, the flesh "serves the law of sin" (Rom 7:25). It is so utterly corrupt that those who walk in
the flesh "cannot please God" (Rom 8:8). If anyone lives "after the flesh," or according to its desires, they will "die," being
severed from Divine life (Rom 8:12,13). The Spirit, therefore, works with the people of God to mortify, or put to death, the
inclinations springing from the flesh (Rom 8:13b).
Eve and Jesus
This is the lust that captivated Eve when she "saw that the tree was good for food" (Gen 3:6). It is also the lust with which
Satan tempted Jesus when he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread" (Matt 4:3). Eve
confirms to us what happens when we entertain such lusts. Jesus confirms the victory related with refusing their entrance into
Even though we have been delivered from the world and its lusts, "the flesh" remains with us. It is appropriately called
"MY flesh" (Rom 7:25). While not confined to our bodies, it is primarily associated with that part of our persons. The flesh
does have a "mind" of its own, and we must contend with it. Ephesians 2:3 refers to "the desires of the flesh and of the mind"
To us, the flesh is like the wayward Israelites who longed for the fleshpots of Egypt AFTER they had been delivered
from that "iron furnace" (Ex 16:3; Num 11:5; Deut 4:20). The "lust of the flesh" is the desire to return to the cursed realm.
It is the strong craving to make the satisfaction of our temporal part the primary quest. Satan knows that he cannot lure us
into sin without making us WANT to do so. Thus he uses the desires of our fallen nature to appeal to us. He knows that to
satisfy our flesh, we must forget our God.
The "lusts of the flesh" are the prelude to the "works of the flesh" mentioned in the fifth chapter of Galatians. You may
remember that dreadful catalog of transgressions. "Adultery (marital infidelity), fornication (all forms of sexual impurity),
uncleanness (impurity), lasciviousness (unrestrained sensuality or lewdness), idolatry, witchcraft (sorcery), hatred, variance,
emulations (jealousies), wrath (outbursts of anger), strife (selfish ambitions), seditions (dissensions, quarreling), heresies (party
spirit, factions), envyings (ill-will), murders, drunkenness (intoxication in any form), revellings (carousing, rioting, unrestrianed
madness)" (Gal 5:19-20).
Simply put, the "lust of the flesh" is the desire to participate in such things. It should be apparent that every child of God
will have struggles with such desires. That is what it means to be tempted. However, when such assaults are hurled at us by
the wicked one, we are to refuse to entertain them, knowing they are of the world. That is the meaning of the exhortation,
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Pet 2:9).
I cannot leave this section without mentioning the danger of false religion in this regard. There are approaches to
religion that allow for immortality and the indulgence of the flesh. These are chiefly manifested in the cults, and those
religions that are more obviously sinful. However, there is an approach to Christianity that also is laden with lusts. These lusts
do not appear as sinful as gross immorality, but are nevertheless classed with such sins. "Works of the flesh" that address this
matter are "contentions," "dissensions," and "party spirit." When ones religion produces results like this, the lust of the flesh
has become dominant. We are to "abstain" from these.
"The lust of the eyes."
This is a particularly seductive desire. It places an emphasis upon appearance, concentrating
on "the things which are seen" (2 Cor 4:18). This appetite causes one to "glory in appearance, and not in heart" (2 Cor 5:12).
The More Obvious
There are two categories of "appearance." One provokes licentiousness, or the total lack of moral restraint. Such
appearances move one to indulge in iniquity, as occurred when David saw Uriah's wife washing herself (2 Sam 11:2). There
are appearances, whether immodest clothing, pictures, or various forms of entertainment, that arouse such desires. The
patriarch Job knew of this type of lust, and dealt with it in his heart. Here is what he said in a sort of self-exhortation. "I have
made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?" (Job 31:1). This is the sin to which Jesus referred
when he said, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart"
The Less Obvious
There is another category of appearance, however, that is more subtle, and is especially leveled at those identified with
Christ. It is religious appearance, a sort of external show that is attractive, yet lures the heart away from Christ. That is the
sin to which the Paul referred when he wrote of those who "those who take pride in appearance, and not in heart" (2 Cor
5:12NASB). The Galatians were also warned of this tool of Satan. "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain
you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised
keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal 6:12-14).
This latter list is far more seductive than the former one. It is the desire upon which a staggering percentage of
contemporary religion is built. While it is painful to acknowledge the existence of such a condition, nearly all modern religion
has little more to offer than appearance. From the pomp and splendor of the Romish ceremonies, to the impressions of a
contemporary praise gathering, there are religious "lusts of the eye" that offer nothing whatsoever to the heart. They are
actually worldly presentations, orchestrated to impress the outward man, but having nothing to offer to the inward man.
As a matter of observation, those who claim the "eye-gate" is the primary way of real learning, and that "seeing a sermon
is better than hearing one," have unwittingly entered into the arena of "the lust of the eye." If that postulate were true, which
it emphatically is NOT, then the manifestation of God in the flesh should have sufficed to provoke true faith. However, it
did not. Jesus had to leave the realm of sight before the world could believe.
Eve and Jesus
This is the lust that entered Eve's heart when she "saw that the tree . . . was pleasant to the eyes" (Gen 3:6). It is also the
lust with which Satan tempted Jesus when he "showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the
devil said unto Him, All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will
I give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine" (Luke 4:5-7). Again, Eve confirms to us what happens when
we entertain such lusts. Jesus confirms the victory related with refusing their entrance into the heart.
"The pride of life." This is a sin that strongly urges the individual to boast in himself, rather than in the Lord. The word
"pride" means "vain-glory of life." It includes the idea of gaining prestige and distinction that really does not belong to us. In
this sin there is a powerful desire to be better than the other person, and to draw undue attention to self.
Eve and Jesus The is the lust to which Eve yielded when she viewed the forbidden tree "a tree to be desired to make one wise" (Gen 3:6).
The desire for such wisdom was nothing less than a display of pride, something strictly forbidden by God. This was also the
sin Satan tempted Jesus to commit when he said, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall
give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone'" (Matt 4:6).
Again, Eve confirms to us what happens when we entertain such lusts. Jesus confirms the victory related with refusing their
entrance into the heart.
All That Is in the World
All that the world has to offer is wrapped in these three things: (1) The lust of the flesh, (2) The lust of the eyes, and
(3) The pride of life. These are the three wells from which all temptations are drawn. They are the repositories from which
Satan draws his "fiery darts," or "flaming arrows." Eve succumbed to Satan's wiles in all three, and Jesus overcame him in all
All three of these are described as "NOT of the Father." That is, at no time does God provoke people to indulge these
appetites. When we are tempted to satisfy the flesh, we may be sure, it did not come from God. When what we see provokes
the flesh to awaken and dominate us, the inclination did not come from God. If we are tempted to think more of ourselves
than we ought to think, or to appropriate for ourselves things that do not belong to us, we are not being influenced by God.
In all three cases, the "prince of this world" is courting our favor, and luring us away from the Savior.
It is Passing Away
Whatever we may think of the world, it "is passing away, and the lust of it" NKJV. Elsewhere, the Spirit affirms, "the fashion
(or present form) of this world passeth away" (1 Cor 7:31). There is nothing in this world that is not fading and momentary.
Therefore, to develop an appetite for what it has to offer shuts one up to frustration and sorrow, not to mention condemnation
in the end.
Because we have been given "eternal life," and are coming into an "eternal inheritance," it is wrong to become attached
to temporal things. What is more, faith cannot flourish when our attention is placed on the passing order. That is why the
command to NOT love the world or the things in it is fortified by the affirmation that it is passing away. The perception of
that fact makes its lusts unreasonable.
And the Lust of It
When the Spirit says not only the world, but "the lusts of it" are passing away, He is speaking of the object of lust, and
not the desire itself. From the standpoint of language, this is called a metonym. Frequently the Spirit uses words in this
For example, the word "hope" is used in this way. In one usage, it describes our personal anticipation of glory and being
forever with the Lord (Rom 4:18; 5:2; 8:24; 1 Cor 15:19; 1 Pet 1:3). On other occasions, the Lord Jesus Himself, in Whom
our hope resides, is referred to as the hope. "Christ in you, THE HOPE OF GLORY . . . the Lord Jesus Christ, which is OUR
HOPE" (Col 1:27; 1 Tim 1:1).
Thus, in this text, the "lusts" of the world are the very things for which men long. The meaning is that the best the world
has to offer is but a fleeting fancy, and will not endure. When the world passes away, everything that it has offered will also
be removed. Everything for which the flesh longs will be removed when the world passes away. Because they are part of the
world, they can no longer remain when the heavens and earth pass away.
The desire for those things, however, will remain with those who are condemned. While believers will receive all for
which they have longed, unbelievers will forever be deprived of that for which they have longed. This is a staggering
consideration, and should provoke within us strong longings for the things that are eternal.
Notice that a contrast is made between the THINGS for which the unbeliever longs and the believers themselves. While
everything Satan offers to us will "pass away," those who "do the will of God" will themselves abide forever. That is another
way of saying they will be forever blessed. The point of contrast is this: when we yield to the allurements of this world, we
will ultimately have what we desire taken from us. However, when we "do the will of God," we will not only keep our desires,
but the things for which they long.
In this case, doing the will of God has primarily to do with fervently desiring what the Lord provides in Christ Jesus.
All obedience springs from spiritual desire, just as surely as all sin springs from corrupt and illicit cravings. You will recall
Jesus addressed this matter in the sermon on the Mount. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom
of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matt 7:21). If you know what the Lord desires, then you
had best be about desiring and doing it. There is no possible way for this word of our Lord to fail of fulfillment. Eternal life,
in this case, is united with doing God's will. Those who imagine they can be personally uninvolved with God, and yet be
saved, have been deceived. In the strictest sense, eternal life does not exclude doing, but causes doing.
IT IS THE LAST HOUR
"18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have
arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had
been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of
us." Here is a text that unveils life in Jesus is not all pleasant.
As we enter into a consideration of this passage, we must labor to free ourselves from the grip of religious tradition. Too,
we must vigorously avoid any temptation to ignore the passage because it is not popular, or conflicts with certain theological
views. Words like "antichrist," "antichrists," and "last hour" are to be allowed entrance into our thoughts and meditations. The
very spirit of this text cries out of importance. We dare not ignore it.
The Last Hour
Twice in the eighteenth verse the Spirit affirms, "it is the last hour," or "last time" (KJV). The word "last" comes from
the Greek word evsca,th (es-cha-tos), from which the word "eschatology" is derived. Theologically speaking, eschatology is
the study of "last things." The word literally means the end, the farthest point, and the last state Thayers. This is the final period
By this expression, the Spirit means to awaken us to the realization that time is running out. We do not have time to
become involved with the world. This is the time to "to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we
believed" (Rom 13:11). He will show us that the very things that cause some to fear should cause us to awake.
Crucify the temptation to view "last hour," or "last time" as a mere description of the time from Jesus' ascension until
the end of the world. That is far too simplistic, and brings no honor to God. It has done more to justify the lethargy of
professed believers than to awaken sensitivity in the elect. It is generally understood that this expression, "last days" views the
closing period of time in which the saints of God are assaulted with unparalleled Satanic energy. I concur with this view.
This is language addressed to faith, and shows us the utter unreasonableness of culturing an appetite for the passing
things of this world. He has just told us that the world and its lusts are passing away. Now He reminds us that we are even
in the last stage of that demise. Remember, these words came from John, but, strictly speaking, they were not his words. These
are the words of the Holy Spirit, Who moved John to write them. They are spoken to the heart, not the intellect. They teach
us that the next significant thing is the coming of the Lord and the passing of this world and its lusts. We are to adjust our
hearts and minds to this fact, remembering we have received "a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb 12:27).
When we keep in mind that we have come into the realm of eternal things, the fact that centuries have passed since these
words were written will be of little consequence to us. The passing of time must not erode the power of these words. The
saints of God are to conduct their lives as though today were their last day on the earth. To live any other way puts one into
This word is found only in First John-and it is found there no less than five times (2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7). It is not
difficult to identify the meaning of the word. It means against Christ, an opponent of Christ. In particular, it means one who
opposes Christ in the guise of Christ Vincent's Word Studies. In this sense, the word differs from the expression "false Christs" (Matt 24:24;
Mark 13:22). "False Christs" emphasizes those in question are primarily pretenders of deceivers. The word "antichrist"
highlights their opposition to Christ.
You have Heard
From the very beginning, the saints of God were told of a coming apostasy, and of aggression against the saints that
would come in the very name of Christ. If one were to view the current state of things, it would appear as though not a word
had been said about this matter. That condition itself reveals the fulfillment of these very words. Those who would be faithful
to their Lord must warn His people of coming evil as well as blessing.
Men have taken upon themselves to build an enormous body of teaching around the word "antichrist." But they cannot
find their teachings in First John, which is the ONLY place the word is used. Remember, this is the same Apostle who wrote
the book of the Revelation. Whether you take the position that First John was written before or after the book of Revelation,
you are faced with a certain dilemma. If First John was written first, why did not John mention this "antichrist" when speaking
of the beast and the false prophet. If it was written after Revelation, why did not the Apostle refer us back to the beast and false
prophet? I will deal more particularly with this term when we come to the twenty-second verse.
But all of this is no problem at all if we take hold of what the Spirit is saying, ceasing to try and fit it into a preconceived
theology. In this text, the Spirit does not say this is a specific individual. In fact, later He speaks of a "spirit" that does not
confess Jesus (1 John 4:3). And, in this text, the Spirit says that "many antichrists have come." I gather from this that "antichrist"
speaks more of a spirit than of a person, although we are not to imagine that this spirit cannot be embodied in a particular
More than warning us of a specific individual, this text is alerting us to a tactic of the wicked one. He uses those who
say they are aligned with Jesus to oppose and deceive those who are really joined to Him. This particular passage probably
includes two perspectives. First, the "spirit of antichrist" is already among us. Second, "many antichrists" are paving the way
for a champion of delusion and opposition. In my opinion, the former is the thrust of this passage, and does not necessarily
exclude the latter. However you view this text, it is one of great sobriety, calling us away from every form of spiritual
casualness and slumber.
They Went Out from Us
John will now tell us of a most tragic circumstance. It is true that every child of God desires to be always separate from
every deceiver and pretender. Yet, this has never been the lot of the faithful. Abel had to contend with Cain, Isaac with
Ishmael, and Jacob with Esau. Moses had to deal with Korah and his motley bunch. Jesus was grieved by the presence of
Judas. Now John mentions some that left their company, yet were never really a part of it.
"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." Who can measure the heartbreak woven into this
statement? Here were "antichrists" who were in company with the very Apostles of Christ. He does not say these opponents
of Jesus were once good and faithful, but fell away. He says they never were part of the faithful. This became evident when
they "went out" from them.
I assume that some form of conflict existed while they were among the real messengers of Jesus. If this were not the case,
they would have had no compunctions about remaining with them. These were like bad fish among good fish (Matt 13:48-49), chaff mingled with wheat on the threshing floor (Matt 3:12), and tares among wheat (Matt 13:25-40). In this instance,
it was not necessary to wait until "the end of this world" (Matt 13:40). Unable to remain among the faithful proclaimers of the
Gospel, "they went out" from them. They were misfits in that holy assemblage.
That They might Be Made Manifest
Notice the reasoning of the Apostle, as he was moved along by the Spirit of God. He does not say these "antichrists" left
the faithful because they could no longer tolerate the truth. Nor, indeed, does he say they left because they were asked to do
so. Either or both of these conditions may very well have existed, but a higher view of the matter is necessary. This was God's
way of making known to His children that these were really misfits in the body of Christ.
A similar statement is made by Paul concerning heresies, or departures from the truth, that arise within the church.
"Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine" (1 Cor 11:19NRSV). As
long as we are in this world, a way must be provided for us to distinguish opponents of the Gospel from those who embrace
and declare it. Heresies, or factions, are one way of accomplishing that objective. Those with corrupt hearts gravitate to corrupt
teaching, while those with pure hearts are drawn to the truth of the Gospel. This is not easy to bear, but is necessary.
How glorious the announcement. "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth
them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim 2:19). In this case, those
engulfed in iniquity departed from the saints, thereby unveiling their true spiritual status. The unrighteous and righteous
cannot perpetually dwell together. They are locked in conflict.
John makes no apology for these opponents of Jesus. " . . . for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued
with us." A great deal, therefore, can be seen by who remains faithful to the Lord, talking hold on the truth and refusing to
let it go. That would not sound loving enough to some people. Indeed, others would have launched an investigation to
determine if the departure could have been averted by tender loving care. But all such speculations are a waste of time. They
left because they did not belong. Their departure was a Divine confirmation of that fact. They left like Demas, who "loved
this present world" (2 Tim 4:10). Further, there appeared to be no effort to resolve the situation, or retrieve these pretenders.
For some, this is too difficult to receive. However, God has consistently dealt harshly with those who misrepresented
Him, or claimed to be sent by Him when they were not. Moses, the Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles were
consistent in their denunciation of such men. Their pretensions were never treated lightly, and they also provoked Divine
judgment. As a matter of general observation, to my knowledge there is no example in Scripture of a recovery program for
false prophets who come in the name of Christ Jesus. We are not to draw unwarranted conclusions from this. It should,
however, provoke in us an utter hatred for corrupt doctrine. Departures from, and misrepresentations of, the Gospel are never
taken lightly by the Lord.
THE UNCTION, OR ANOINTING
"20But you have an anointing (unction KJV) from the Holy One, and you all know (you know all things, KJV). 21 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."
Although a flood of false christs and antichrists have dispersed among men, a way has been provided for our protection. The
saints of God are NOT at the mercy of Satan's most crafty and seemingly effective teachers. Nor, indeed, have they been
provided with a manual that enables them to detect wolves in sheep's clothing. They have received an "unction," or
"anointing."-something intensely personal and effective. This word is not addressed to the Apostles, most of whom had died
at the time this Epistle was written. Nor do we have any indication that it was written to especially gifted believers who
possessed peculiar benefits not given to all believers. Just as the danger of false teachers was not confined to the first century,
so the provision for protection from their devices is not restricted to that time.
The "unction," or "anointing" to which he refers is the Holy Spirit of God. The word used here is a significant one. It
is the very word from which the word "Christ" ("anointed One") comes. For those who are interested, it comes from the Greek
word cri/sma (kris-ma). John uses this word three times in this Epistle: once in this verse, and twice in verse twenty-seven.
The same word is used one other time in Second Corinthians 1:21. There, it is in the verb form. "Now He who
establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God" NKJV. That passage has a great deal of relevance in this discussion.
There, the ones "anointed" include both the Apostles and those who believed on Christ through their word.
This is NOT the word used for the majority of references to anointing. When Jesus read from the sixty-first chapter of
Isaiah, it was announced that He had been "anointed" to preach the Gospel to the poor, etc. (Lk 4:18). The word used there
was a different one. It does come from the same root word, but there it means to dedicate or set apart. It is used in the same
way in Acts 10:38 and Hebrews 1:9. These three texts pertain to the Lord Jesus Himself, speaking of His uniqueness as the
Savior of men.
In our text "anointing," or "unction" is a noun, and not a verb. It speaks of what we have been anointed with, as
distinguished from the act of anointing itself. This is confirmed by the elaboration of the Spirit in Second Corinthians. "Now
He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts
as a guarantee" (2 Cor 1:21-22). Everywhere this particular form of "anointing" is used, it is an anointing accomplished by
Deity, and does not refer to an external action (Lk 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; 2 Cor 1:21; Heb 1:9).
Other uses of the English term "anointing" are taken from different words, and apply to outward activities. These
include anointing the sick (Mark 6:13; James 5:14), the woman who anointed Jesus (Lk 7:38,46; John 11:6), and Jesus
anointing the eyes of the blind man (John 9:6,11). In each of those cases, "anointing" was a physical action.
But this is not the case with our text, which is the same as the previous stated text (2 Cor 1:21-22). That rules out the
idea that what is referenced occurred by the laying on of Apostolic hands. The anointing the believers received was the same
one the Apostles received. It is something common to al believers, although it is given in differing measures. It is the Holy
What Distinguishes God's Children?
One might ask, "Just what is it that distinguishes the children of God from the children of the wicked one?" Just as there
are two different progenitors, so there are two differing progeny. Later, John will speak of the manifestation, or revelation,
of "the children of God" and the "children of the devil" (3:10). Jesus spoke of "the children of the Kingdom," and the "children
of the wicked one" (Matt 13:38). Obviously, there is something that distinguishes the two.
You might be surprised at the answers given to such a question. Some would affirm the distinction is found in the
religious habits of the people, or the way they worship God, or their morality, or the creed to which they subscribe. While
many such distinctions do have a place, it is not \the primary place.
It is the possession of the Holy Spirit Himself that marks us as the children of God. He is the "Seal" that uniquely
identifies us (Eph 1:13; 4:30). The Word of God is very strong on this point. "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he
is none of His" (Rom 8:9). Elsewhere it is written, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your
hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Gal 4:6). The cry "Abba, Father," is the cry of a begotten Son. It was sanctified in Jesus
Himself, Who also cried out with these words (Mark 14:36). Romans 8:15 states the case with unusual clarity. "For you did
not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit
Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8:15-16).
The presence of the Holy Spirit is our proof that we belong to God. As it is written, "And by this we know that He abides
in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us . . . By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us
of His Spirit" (1 John 3:24; 4:13). The Holy Spirit, therefore, is "the anointing" to which our text refers. That "anointing" is
common to all believers, and is the appointed means or protecting us from the deluding influence of antichrists.
Not A Passive Spirit
The Holy Spirit does not dwell passively within the believer; i.e., His presence is not a mere formality. There is
considerable teaching in Scripture on His activities. He strengthens us with might (Eph 3:16), causes to "abound in hope "
(Rom 15:13), and brings forth Divine fruit within us (Gal 5:22). In our text, however, a most personal aspect of His indwelling
You Know All Things
Here different translations may seem to introduce confusion. The KJV, NKJV, ASV, Websters, Duoay-Rheims, Darby's,
and Young's Literal Translation all read "You know all things." The NASB, RSV, NIV, and BBE, read "And you all know,"
or "and you all have knowledge." The first emphasizes that the Spirit sheds light on every thing pertinent to the life of faith.
The latter emphasizes that this knowledge is accessible to everyone who is in Christ Jesus. Both of them are true, and both
underscore the Divine provision given to protect the people of God from being ravaged by false prophets. Here is a revelation
of God's great love.
Because this ministry of the Holy Spirit will be expounded more fully in verse twenty-seven, it will suffice to only
introduce the provision here. The point being made is that extremely crafty teachers have penetrated the society of the elect,
just as Paul warned they would (Acts 20:30). They would boast of association with the most elite in the body of Christ, and
be able to prove they once walked with the Apostles themselves. Those who trust in the arm of the flesh will not be able to
withstand these men. There must be a reliance upon the "anointing" which has been given to us, the Holy Spirit of God. God
gives nothing to his children that is not required.
This is a most marvelous thing to consider. It is not designed to produce a lot of questions, or to be the occasion of
division among the people of God. The fact that this has proved to be the case only emphasizes the dangerous subtlety of those
who come in Christ's name, yet are not really from Him.
THE LIAR IS THE ANTICHRIST
"22Who 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. 23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father
also." We must never permit the doctrines of men, however plausible they may appear, to define Scriptural words and
concepts for us. There are few texts that underscore this prohibition any more than the one before us. THE ANTICHRIST!
The very expression conjures up all manner of thought and opinion.
The teachings of men on the term "antichrist" have so impacted upon the English language, that even dictionaries and
encyclopedias reflect them. The latest Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "antichrist" as follows: "1. One who denies or
opposes Christ; 2. specifically: a great antagonist expected to fill the world with wickedness but be conquered forever by Christ
at his second coming." The American Hertitage Dictionary reads, "1. An enemy of Christ. 2. Antichrist. The epithet of the
great antagonist who was expected by the early church to set himself up against Christ in the last days before the Second
Coming." The Oxford English Dictionary, the most extensive and definitive English Dictionary of all time, reads, "1. An
enemy of opponent of Christ." 2.The title of a great personal opponent of Christ and His kingdom, expected by the early
church to appear before the end the world, and much referred to in the middle ages."
In each academic definition, the first meaning is the obvious and most important one. Summarized, it is one who denies
and opposes Christ. From the early centuries, devout men have pondered the term, used only by John, and only in First John.
While their opinions are not to be despised, neither are they to be revered, as though carrying the same weight as Scripture.
Nor, indeed, are they to be allowed a foundational place in our reasoning. It is true that men--godly men-have equated
"Antichrist," "man of sin" (2 Thess 2:3,) "Gog" (Ezek 38-39), and even "the beast" or "false prophet" of Revelation (Rev 13;
16:13; 19:20). But let it be clear, the Holy Spirit did not make these associations in Scripture. They are the result of human
reasoning. However valid that reasoning may appear to be, it must be held as coming FROM man, and not TO men from
The Spirit's approach to this matter contrasts rather sharply with common religious views of "the antichrist." Here, the
greatest significance is placed on what is done, NOT who does it. That is, the person who "denies that Jesus is the Christ"
becomes the focus of teaching. Thus, we are drawn to an activity instead of a historical person.
Jesus Is the Christ
The particular lie is most significant. Although denying that Jesus is the Son of God is also mentioned (verse 23), the
first point of denial is that "Jesus is the Christ." This is the first thing God revealed to Peter about Jesus-that he was "the Christ."
You may recall that marvelous occasion on the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, when Peter confessed, "Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). Jesus declared him to be especially blessed, because His Father which is in heaven
made this known to Peter (Matt 16:17). The fact that Peter confessed was the appointed foundation upon which the very
church of God would be built.
What does "THE Christ" mean? Linguistically, it means "the Anointed One," or the one upon Whom the favor of God
especially rests. He is the One of Whom the prophets prophesied-the One who would effectively address and resolve the
human dilemma. He would not meet SOME of God's requirements, but ALL of them. He would not deal PARTIALLY with
the matter of man's fall, but THOROUGHLY with it. The prophets referred to a single Individual upon Whom the hopes
of the world absolutely depended.
Jacob spoke of "Shiloh," unto Whom the people would be gathered (Gen 49:10). Job saw the faint outline of a
"Redeemer" that lived and would stand on the earth in the latter day (Job 19:25). Isaiah spoke of a budding "Rod" upon Whom
the Spirit of God would rest (Isa 11:1-2). He also spoke of this Person as a "Foundation Stone," and a "sure Foundation" (Isa
28:16). This Person would be God's "Servant" (Isa 42:1), a "Righteous Branch" (Jer 23:5), and "Messiah" (Dan 9:26).
Everything would be addressed in a single Individual-one solitary Man! How succinctly the Lord moved Isaiah to declare
it. "A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, And a cover from the tempest, As rivers of water in a dry place, As the shadow
of a great rock in a weary land" (Isa 32:2NKJV).
Confessing that "Jesus is the Christ" is acknowledging that He, and He alone, is God's answer to all sin has caused. There
simply is no resolution anywhere else! God has made everything dependent upon His Son, giving "all things" into His hand
(John 3:35). John reminds us that his Gospel was written "that ye might believe that JESUS IS THE CHRIST, the Son of God"
(John 20:31). After Saul of Tarsus was brought to faith, this is the very point he developed in the synagogues, "proving that
this is VERY CHRIST" (Acts 9:22). When Paul came to Corinth he "was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that
JESUS WAS CHRIST" (Acts 18:5). It was said of eloquent Apollos, "For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly,
showing by the scriptures that JESUS WAS CHRIST" (Acts 18:28). Later in First John, the Spirit even says, "Whosoever
believeth that JESUS IS THE CHRIST is born of God" (1 John 5:1).
The word "Christ," as applied to the Lord Jesus, occurs no less than sixty (60) times in the Gospels. It is found four
hundred and fifty three 453 times in Romans through Jude, and eleven (11) times in the book of Revelation. Five Hundred
and fifty-five times! Included are the phrases "Jesus Christ," "Jesus the Christ," "Lord Jesus Christ," "Christ t the Lord,"
"the Lord's Christ," "Christ the Savior," and "Lord and Christ." By way of comparison, the word "church" appears seventy-seven (77) times "Love" is found one hundred and seventy nine (179) times. "Commandments" is found thirty-two times.
If the blessing of God is sought, our attention must be drawn to God's "Christ"-the solitary Person whom He has
anointed to bring men to Himself. Our priorities cannot be turned from Him, else we will be lost. Should we allow any
person, institution, or thing to supercede Jesus, salvation will be forfeited, and we will find ourselves engaged in war against
the Son of God. There is no salvation anywhere else! No help, protection, or strength can be obtained apart from "the Lord's
But now comes "the liar" who denies this is the case. He offers hope in something other than Christ. It may be in
himself, his teaching, an institution, of even a discipline of life. But what is offered does not require the Lord Jesus Christ.
In His relations with mankind, God Himself cannot do without Christ. Yet, "the liar" offers a way to God that has little or
no room for God's Anointed One. He does not see or present "the Christ" as the ONLY way to the Father. He denies Christ
the place of prominence, which the Father has already given Him. He does not make things absolutely dependent upon
Christ. More significance is placed upon a theological position, a particular activity, a belief system, or liturgical routine-but
it is NOT placed upon "the Christ."
To "deny Jesus is the Christ" is not simply to make a statement to that effect. It is to refuse Christ the place of unbounded
prominence. It is to hold out to men, in the name of the Lord, something that actually overshadows Christ, pushing Him into
the background of human thought and purpose. O, the tragedy of such a thing! To offer resolutions to the sin problem that
ignore Jesus is to deny He is "the Christ." Surely, you must know there are impressive and dominating religious systems that
do not have Christ at their center-if, indeed, they have made provision for Him at all.
What May Be Said of The Liar?
What is said of "the liar"-the one denying that "Jesus is the Christ"?The strength of what is declared unveils the greatest
of the transgression.
He is the antichrist
"He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son."
I have scarcely heard or read a dialog on "the antichrist" that made
this point. Such a person is against Christ. He has taken up arms against the Lord's anointed, just as surely as Herod, Pilate,
the Gentiles, and the people of Israel (Acts 4:26-27). When the One God has appointed is not afforded the honor due to Him,
a war against Him is initiated.
A most significant thing can be seen here. While the KJV and NKJV do not use the article "the" (i.e., THE antichrist),
that IS how the verse actually reads. The Greek reads o` avnti,cristoj, or "THE antichrist."Other versions do read "This is
the antichrist" (ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NIV, Darby's, Young's Literal, BBE). The omission of the article "the" by the
older versions is not wrong. The reading still indicates the same thing. It is similar to saying "he is Jonathan." That statement
would not mean the person was simply A Jonathan, but that he was THE Jonathan being considered.
This constrains us to think quite differently about the term "antichrist." Rather than associating it with a period of time,
it is seen in direct relationship to our Savior Himself. Try as one may, he cannot rid the Bible of this statement. It is a clear
definition of the word-an INSPIRED definition.
Also, we should learn from this not to limit the term to a single historical person. One might site 1 John 2:18 to confirm
that a the coming of a single individual is also chronicled in this Epistle. "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard
that antichrist shall come . . . " However, this text does not use the article "the," either in the Greek or most standard English
translations. The only exception to this rule are the NKJV, NIV and Young's. All other versions omit the definite article "the"
(ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, Websters, Darby's, Phillips, NEB). The difference is that the word "antichrist" is more descriptive
of an activity than of a person. It is a trait that characterized "many," as is categorically stated in verse 18.
He Denies the Father and the Son
Whether we are speaking of the Gnostic heresy of the first century, or the falling-away heresies of our day, you cannot
deny Christ without denying the Father also. You cannot refuse to give Jesus prominence without severing association with
the Father! Those who do not honor the Son do not honor the One who sent Him. As it is written, "That all men should
honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him" (John
5:23). You simply cannot refuse the One God sent without refusing God Himself.
Has Not the Father
The Spirit presses the point. Denying that "Jesus is the Christ" also involves denying, or refusing "the Son." Thus the text
reads, "Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either" (NKJV). Those, therefore, who refuse Jesus as the appointed
Resolution have, in that very act, denied He is the Son of God. This has alarming ramifications when one ponders the
dominance of carnality and division within the professed body of Christ. Such things reveal a refusal of the Divine remedy,
for you cannot embrace sin in any form without rejecting God's Remedy for sin. The soul only has one hand and one eye.
It can handle and see only one thing at a time.
What is more, God will have no affiliation with any Person who rejects His Son. Such an individual "has not the Father."
They do not have His blessing, His favor, His protection, or His promises. Jesus said such people are "condemned already,"
and are living their lives with the very wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:18,36).
"The antichrist," therefore, is a liar. He has denied, or rejected, the Lord's Christ. He is against Christ, denies both the
Father and the Son, and does not have the Father. Such is an imposter, a messenger from Satan, and one who brings the curse
of God. Jesus Christ is not at the heart of his message. He offers other remedies to men than "The Man Christ Jesus." His
religion does not require nor exalt Deity. Wherever such a person is found, you have found "the antichrist."
It thus appears clear that we are speaking more of a spirit than of a particular man. Thus, John later mentions "the spirit
of antichrist." It is not to be denied that such a spirit can find unusual expression in certain men, and during certain periods
of history. Indeed, there are prophetic indications that such an individual will rise. We do read of "that man of sin" (2 Thess
2:3), "a king of fierce countenance" (Dan 8:23), and "the false prophet" (Rev 19:20). Yet, there is a vagueness in all of these
descriptions that forbid the development of a highly structured theology around them. While there may be varying degrees
of spiritual insight granted to godly men on this matter, we must let our faith rest upon the more clear statements concerning
"the antichrist." Far better to think of such an one as the opponent of Christ and the enemy of the saints. Such a spirit may
be closer to us than many think. In fact, devout people will have a sense of alarm when they ponder these things.
WHEN WHAT IS HEARD ABIDES
"24As for you, 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." The expression "As for you," contrasts the readers with the apostates
that went out from John and company. It also identifies one of the marks of those possessing "the unction," or "anointing"-the
Holy Spirit. The word "heard from the beginning" is the consistent message given to all believers. It is encapsulated in the
Gospel, and amplified in the Apostles' doctrine-but it never changes. It's core remains the same, and the direction in which
it is pointed is fixed. Christ Jesus is always at its heart, and the presence of God is always its goal.
Jesus spoke of what is heard abiding, or remaining, in us. He defined it as a critical point, that will play a prominent
role in the determination of our eternal destiny. The person who gains no profit whatsoever from the Gospel is described as
one who "hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown
in his heart" (Matt 13:19). The condemned are described as those who "do not have His word abiding" in them (John 5:38).
The phrase "keep my words" refers to the same thing. Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father
will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23). Jesus promised our prayers would be
answered if His Word abode in us. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be
done for you" (John 15:7). When the Word of God, what we hear, remains in us, the work of God will be done within us also.
What Does It Mean?
What is involved in the Word abiding in us? Is there any hope for those in whom it does NOT abide, or remain? We
will see from this passage that remaining in Christ is contingent upon what we hear remaining in us. This is a most critical
When we begin our life in Christ, the laws of God are put into our hearts and written in our minds (Heb 10:16). We
begin with a sensitivity to what God declares, and a capacity to retain it. Our very persons are made harmonious with the laws
of God, so that we begin our new life in agreement with them. The new birth, or our identity with Christ, makes it possible
for what God declares to have a place in our hearts and minds-the most prominent place.
What we have heard is remaining in us when we think about it, meditate upon it, and shape our lives around it. The
godly person is thus described as one who meditates in God's law "night and day" (Psa 1:2). This is the person who "delights"
to DO God's will, Whose law is "found" within his "heart" (Psa 40:8). The "sweet Psalmist" said it this way: "Thy word have
I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psa 119:11). Faith moves us to speak this way, with our hearts as well
as our minds.
What is "heard from the beginning" can only "abide" in the person who regards God's Word "more than my necessary food"
(Job 23:12). This is the same as Christ's word dwelling in us "richly," or abundantly and copiously (Col 3:16).
The Word of God is "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and
spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb 4:12). When it "abides" in us,
it brings life to us: we become more sensitive to the Lord, more instant in our responses to Him, and more alert to our
surroundings. It exercises its power within us, enabling us to overcome the world, and conforming us to our Lord's image.
With cutting precision, it enables us to distinguish between the soulish and the spiritual. All of this is involved in the Word
of God, particularly the Gospel of Christ, being a "seed." As it remains in us, being held by faith, it grows, producing fruit in
the believer. The fruit does not come from our efforts alone, but from the powerful Word itself.
From the Beginning
What we have heard "from the beginning" is more the Gospel of Christ. When we first heard and believed the Gospel,
its distinctiveness from all other messages was apparent. As it abides in us, it maintains that distinctiveness, standing apart
from all other messages. This is the ultimate "good news." It dwarfs all other words especially those of "antichrists" who come
in the name of Christ, but are not from Him.
The Gospel itself is the message we have heard "from the beginning." It has "power" that is not afforded to any other
word from God. This does not diminish any other Word of Scripture, but rather brings all of it into focus. The "Gospel" is
mentioned over seventy times in the Epistles (Romans through Jude). It is always a point of focus, and is never tangential.
This is what makes "the Apostles' doctrine" distinctive. The core of their message was what God has accomplished in Christ
Jesus-"the Gospel." It was never human responsibility or conduct. While frequently mentioned, these were never the heart
of the Apostolic message. That does not make responsibility inconsequential. It does mean that responsibility can be properly
fulfilled only in the power of the Gospel.
Ye Will Also Abide
The greatness of the message is seen in the results it produces. "If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you
also will abide in the Son and in the Father" NKJV. The magnitude of this promise is staggering! Let your mind dwell upon
it: "you also will abide in the Son and in the Father." This is a required abiding.
The word "abide" or "remain" indicates we were put into the Son and the Father when we were saved, born again,
reconciled to God, or baptized into Christ-all views of the same transaction. At that time, the Father put us into the Son (1
Cor 1:30). Later, the Spirit will confirm real life involves being "in His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 5:20). During His ministry,
Jesus affirmed He was "in the Father" (John 14:10-11). Those who are in Christ are, by virtue of their union with Him, also
"in the Father." Later, John will proclaim, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in
God" (1 John 3:24).
Lest we become complacent, however, we are reminded that REMAINING or ABIDING in the Son and in the Father
is the point at issue. Further, we are apprized that this is not a process accomplished without our involvement. It is not
automatic, so to speak. Abiding in the Son and in the Father is conditional. It can only be accomplished if what we heard
"from the beginning"-the Gospel-remains in us. There is no place in the Son or the Father for anyone in whom the Gospel
does not remain. If our understanding of that Gospel ever becomes distorted due to the influence of false teachers, our position
in the Son and the Father is at once jeopardized.
The Galatian Departure
That is precisely the point developed to the Galatians, who were abandoning the Gospel in favor of a law-centered
message. In great solemnity, they were told, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ
unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ . . . I do not
frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain . . . Christ is become of no effect unto you,
whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Gal 1:6-7; 2:21; 5:4). They had allowed false teachers to
remove the Gospel from their thinking. In so doing, they themselves were "removed from" Christ. This emphasizes the
necessity of what we have heard from the beginning remaining in us.
Christ and the Gospel
At no point is Christ divorced from the Gospel, which is the sole means of affiliation with Him. We are made "partakers
of His (God's) promise in Christ BY THE GOSPEL" (Gal 3:6). This is not limited to our initial entrance into Him, but remains
true as we abide in Him. That Gospel contained a message of unparalleled hope. As it is written, " . . . the hope which is laid
up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel" (Col 1:5). If we allow ourselves to be "moved
away from the hope of the gospel which [we] heard" (Col 1:23), there will be no further place for us in the Son and in the Father.
If both life and immortality have been "brought to life through the Gospel" (2 Tim 1:10), both of them move beyond our
grasp if the Gospel is forgotten, or no longer abides in us. There is no point at which that Gospel ceases to be "the power of
God" (Rom 1:16). The Lord has even given us a table where this memory is effectively stirred within us. As it is written, "For
as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Cor 11:26). Spiritual stability is
realized in "the Gospel," wherein we "stand" (1 Cor 15:3). It is the means by which we "are saved," if we "keep it in memory,"
otherwise, we "have believed in vain" (1 Cor 15:3NIV). No one can afford to lose a grip on the Gospel they heard in the
"beginning" of their spiritual life. It remains God's appointed power "unto salvation." At no point can it be neglected with
impunity. The very nature of salvation demands that we give it constant and focused attention.
"25And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life." Here is the consummate promise-"eternal life!"
It is the ultimate objective of all Divine commitment, the heart of "eternal purpose," and the objective of faith. Everything prior
to Jesus was preparatory for the conferment of eternal life. In spite of this, before Christ, there was precious little said directly
about eternal life. The Law did not have a syllable about eternal life, either in the decalogue itself, or all of its ceremonial laws.
Moses never said anything about "eternal life." In all of his wisdom, Solomon never wrote a single word about it. Once, Daniel
spoke of a coming resurrection when "many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life"
(Dan 12:2). Once David spoke of God commanding the blessing, "even life for evermore" (Psa 133:3). If you want to
know about "eternal life," you will have to get beyond Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.
The Gospel and Jesus
We are expressly told that "life and immortality" have been brought to light, or illuminated, "through the Gospel" (2 Tim
1:10). The message of Christ shines like a heavenly beacon on the subject of "eternal life." While precious few spoke of this
subject before Jesus, when He came, men became intensely interested in it. A "certain ruler" once asked Jesus, "Master, what
shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Lk 18:18). Earlier, a young lawyer asked Jesus the very same question (Lk 10:25). No one
ever asked Moses that question! None of the Prophets were ever asked that question-at least there is no record of such an
interrogation. Not even John the Baptist was asked such a question.
However, when people got close to Jesus, and heard His gracious words, they became acutely aware of "eternal life."
Once, after a vast number of Jesus' followers had forsaken Him, being offended about His words on eternal life, He asked
His disciples if they were going to leave also. Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life"
(John 6:54-68). It is not possible to listen to Jesus and not begin to think about "eternal life!"
Jesus declared that is why God sent Him into the world, that whoever believed in Him might "have eternal life" (John
3:14-16). He affirmed that He gives His sheep "eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John 10:28). To those who left all
to follow Him, Jesus promised "eternal life" in "the world to come" (Mk 10:30). On the night of His betrayal, when He prayed
to His Father, He confessed He had been given "power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life" to all God had "given
Him" (John 17:2).
The Apostles continued this unmistakable emphasis. The Spirit moved them to declare "eternal life" would be given
to those seeking for "glory, and honor, and immortality" (Rom 2:7). Those who believed the Gospel are said to have been
"ordained unto eternal life" (Acts 13:48). The reign of the grace of God is said to be "through righteousness unto eternal life by
Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 5:21). "Eternal life" is God's ultimate gift to us (Rom 6:23). We are urged to fight the good fight
of faith and "lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6:12,19).
The objective of our hope, or confident expectation, is defined as "eternal life" (Tit 1:2; 3:7; Jude 21). When we were
baptized into Jesus Christ and His death, we were made "free from sin," and became "servants to God." But that was not the
end of the matter. The objective was "eternal life," not mere liberation and servitude. Thus, the Spirit continues, "ye have your
fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (Rom 6:22).
Its Centrality in the Kingdom
Because this is the consummate Divine promise, it is always central in God's Kingdom. There is no point in spiritual
life where eternal life becomes irrelevant, or is pushed into the background. Even as when Jesus "dwelt among us," the more
sensitive we are to Him, the more interest we have in "eternal life." Lest we forget, "eternal life" is not impersonal-something
that can be possessed apart from the involvement of our persons. It was Jesus Himself who defined "eternal life," and He did
so in an intensely personal prayer to His Father. "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus
Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3NASB). Experiential acquaintance with God and Christ is involved in Them dwelling
in us, and us in Them. It should be obvious that this can never be relegated to a secondary position.
Over nearly fifty years of conscious involvement with the church, I have become acutely aware of the near-total absence
of any emphasis on "eternal life." I know by experience of frequent gatherings in which there is never a reference to this
consummate promise-"eternal life." In such gatherings, there is rarely, if ever, any question about "eternal life," or how it may
be obtained. Some years ago, I was asked to write a book on the subject of "Eternal Life." After some dialog with the would-be
publishers, I was informed there was no interest on that theme among their constituency. No such apathy existed in those
who listened to Jesus-and it still cannot be found among true hearers.
This is THE Promise
By saying this is "THE promise," the Spirit emphasizes there is nothing to compare with this. When our attention is
drawn away from this promise to earthly considerations, we at once are standing on sinking sand. All of Christ's present
ministry is turned away from those who cease to engage in a quest to "lay hold on eternal life." This is God's ultimate
objective, and He will not depart from it. As soon as we leave this emphasis, we leave God's will.
The Focus of Antichrists
Regarding the teaching of this passage concerning antichrists, the Spirit is showing the error of their message by contrast.
Those who are against Christ do not offer "eternal life" as defined by Jesus. Their focus is the world, and therefore that is what
they talk about. Later the Spirit moves John to write, "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world
heareth them" (1 John 4:5). The phrase "of the world" is not limited to moral degeneracy. It includes any emphasis that is
limited to this world. As Jesus pointed out, it can be ones family (Matt 10:37), or the "care of this world" (Matt 13:22). Paul
spoke of a quest for riches (1 Tim 6:9). The Galatians were warned about reverting to a system of law for justification (Gal
5:4). The Colossians were admonished about allowing men to corrupt them through philosophy and vain deceit (Col 2:8).
In all of these cases, the PROMISE of "eternal life" was being pushed into the background. The emphasis was moved from
what God pledged to what men do. That is a common mark of false prophets-those who are at war with Jesus, yet pretend
to represent Him. They remove the emphasis from Christ. All such men are "the antichrist."
THE ANOINTING THAT TEACHES
"26These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27And as for you, the anointing
which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches
you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." Having declared the
ultimate promise, the Spirit now returns to the matter of our protection against those who would detract us from it. The very
people who "went out from" John and company were engaged in an energetic effort to "deceive" the people. John was moved
to write about this because that is NOT how it appeared. By saying these men were "trying to deceive you," the sufficiency of
Divine provision is emphasized. Without that provision, "the anointing," the false teachers could neither be detected nor
resisted. No man's intellectual abilities, however cultured and seemingly proficient, can protect the soul against the delusion
of "antichrists." This is because they are empowered by the devil himself, who has "deceived the whole world" (Rev 12:9).
Indeed, "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19NKJV). Our protection against the lie, therefore,
cannot come from the earthly realm. We must have Divine provision! Praise God, that is precisely the circumstance of those
in Christ Jesus. They "have an unction from the Holy One"-The Holy Spirit of God, given to them by God, because they are
the sons of God (Gal 4:6). Among other things, this is His provision for protection.
The Abiding Anointing
"27And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you." The "anointing" is of little consequence
if it does not remain! Samson could tell you that it is possible for the Spirit to depart from the very one He has endued (Judges
16:20). Therefore, the receiving of the anointing is not emphasized, but His abiding.
Because His ministry is realized only as He remains with us, we are admonished "quench not the Spirit," and "grieve
not the Spirit" (1 Thess 5:19; Eph 4:30). Those who make much of the free will of man do well to take heed to this matter.
Just as God does not force His will for good upon us, we cannot force the Spirit to act against His will. He is repulsed by
unwilling hearts, and will not conduct His ministry for those who grieve Him. If, however, we remain tender in heart, and
strong in faith, the Spirit will remain with us, imperfect though we may be. It is our willingness and tenderness that endear
us to the Spirit of God.
The Anointing that Teaches
" . . . you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and
is not a lie . . . " At this point, we make a dramatic departure from all that the world has to offer. We also come into sharp
conflict with much flawed doctrine. There is no question about what is actually stated. That is what makes it so arresting.
Other translations also draw our attention to the statement itself. "You do not need that anyone teach you" NKJV,NIV,NRSV, "you
have no need for anyone to teach you" NASB, "you have no need that any one should teach you" RSV. Remember, these are not
Apostles, nor is there the slightest suggestion they were, as members of Christ's body, endued with a power uncommon to
The teaching of reference is not ordinary teaching, like that which John himself is doing. There is no suggestion here
that believers can exclude themselves from all teaching, navigating through life on their own. There is, however, a kind of
teaching that can only be accomplished by God. In my understanding, this is what men refer to as application, or making the
We do NOT need HOW TO programs, something that has suddenly become a major thrust in Western world
Christianity. This ought to be evident to us by the almost total absence of such instruction in the New Covenant writings.
A few examples of this will suffice. In all of these things, we are given no procedures or routines, as carnal men so strongly
Abstain from fleshly lusts-1 Pet 2:11
Make no place for the devil-Eph 4:27
Husbands, love your wives-Eph 5:25
Seek the things that are above-Col 3:1
Fight the good fight of faith-1 Tim 6:12
Put on the whole armor of God-Eph 6:11
Be strong-1 Cor 16:13
These are representative of an endless number of exhortations. There is rarely, if ever, a routine provided through which
these admonitions can be realized-at least not as men think. Of course, it should be evident from Israel that procedures do
not impart wisdom, make people willing, or induct them into the presence of God.
In the matter of crafty false teachers, a sort of spiritual intuition is required. This is what makes faith practical. The
"anointing" correlates the truth we know with the life we live. Thus believers who were having their goods plundered are
described as taking such injustice joyfully, "knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance"
(Heb 10:34). That was a knowledge that was not gained by earthly teachers. It came from "the anointing" who clarified what
was believed to the believer.
Elsewhere, this is called "opening the eyes of our understanding," or hearts (Eph 1:15-18). This is included in the wisdom
that "is from above" (James 3:17). It is the condition described by James who asked, "Who is a wise man and
knowledge among you?" (James 3:13). It is the "wisdom and spiritual understanding" Paul prayed the Colossians would receive
It is true that "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" and "hidden" in Christ Jesus. These are the treasures required
to avoid delusion and appropriate the blessing. Unless they are given to us, we cannot possess them. They are simply
inaccessible to the flesh and the natural man. Were it not for "the anointing," we would be unable to effectively bring the truth
to bear upon life's circumstances. Simply stated, no man can effectively teach us HOW to use the truth. That is a work
reserved for the Lord Himself, and is realized in our fellowship with the Son (1 Cor 1:9).
A classic example of this type of teaching is found in the love of the brethren. Frequently we are admonished to "love one
another" (1 Pet 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 3:23). Yet, it is the Lord Himself who effectively teaches us to do so. This is expressly stated
in the word of God. "But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by
God to love one another" (1 Thess 4:9). Thus the truth was effectively taught to the Thessalonians, not by precept, but by "God
Himself." The requirement to love is not the teaching described, but the effective means of accomplishing it.
The Nature of the Teaching
The "anointing" teaches us of things already revealed, yet which have not yet made a sufficient impact upon our spirits.
In this case, what God has revealed is like a large and beautiful garden, filled with all manner of plants and fruits. Yet, at first
we view it from a distance, unable to make out all of its intricate details. If, however, we are given a telescope, and focus it
upon the distant garden, we will see more clearly what is there, and see how its plentiful vegetation can be used. The telescope
did not add one thing to the garden, but only made it clearer.
So it is with the "anointing," or Holy Spirit. When He teaches us, He does not show us things that have not been revealed
already. Instead, He opens to our hearts what God has made known in such a way as to give it utility. We thus become able
to handle the truth with spiritual expertise.
In our text, this teaching enables us to decipher what is false. We can see its conflict with what has been revealed.
Remember, these believers were confronting false prophets that boasted of impressive credentials. They would not be able
to detect the falseness of their message with earthly, or natural, wisdom. There are, to be sure, some false teachers and
doctrines that are so blatantly false they can be identified by a cursory comparison with Scripture. However, all error is not
in this category.
The ability to see through these crafty teachers is primarily seen in the detection of their focus, rather than express
blasphemous statements. Actually, that is what application means. It is seeing the manner and direction of the truth of the
Gospel. That insight, coupled with the new nature, enables us to distinguish what is false, and to avoid it. On another note,
it also equips us to live in the power of the truth. This is what Jesus referred to when He said, "And you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32NKJV). This freedom involves liberation from Satan's devices.
The teaching of reference makes the believer dependent upon God, not men or human wisdom. This is not true of false
teachers. Those who embrace delusion become dependent upon those who perpetrate the delusion.
The Scope of the Teaching
Notice the scope of the Spirit's teaching: "the same anointing teaches you concerning all things." The phrase "all things"
refers to the things of God, not various strata of human, or earthly, knowledge. Elsewhere it is said of the Spirit, "For the Spirit
searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Cor 2:10). The "deep things of God" deal with eternal purpose, the will of God,
and the things God has prepared for those who love Him. These are the things He opens to our understanding, showing us
their interrelationships, and how they bear upon our lives. So far as God is concerned, there really are no other "things." If
a person has no appetite for these realities, the Spirit has nothing more to unveil to our understanding, nothing more to give
Contrary to the false prophets that Satan has sent out into the world, "the anointing" is "real, and not counterfeit" NIV. This
is something you have received from God, and carry with you by faith. How appropriately the Spirit is called "the Spirit of
truth" (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). He Himself is real, and He testifies to what is real. He does not deal in the realm of
philosophy or speculation, but in surety and Divine determination. Thus He stabilizes the soul, causing the believer to stand
in the most aggressive attacks of the wicked one. His role is to anchor you "within the veil," so that you are shaken by varied
"winds of doctrine."
The Effective Teaching
" . . . just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." Here we come to the heart of the issue:
abiding in Him. Let it be clear
that remaining in Christ requires your effort, and yet is not accomplished by your effort. There is a perfect correlation with
Philippians 2:12-13. "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my
absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good
pleasure." This is but another way of saying we are taught effectively by God. He accomplishes this teaching through the Holy
Spirit, "the anointing," and the Spirit works with the truth of the Gospel in teaching us. In this manner, we work out our own
salvation, yet God works within us as well, bringing glory to His great name.
The result of the Spirit's effectual teaching is simply, yet powerfully, stated.
"you will abide in Him." This is the way
the Lord keeps us from falling (Jude 24-25). It is a primary way in which Jesus cares for His sheep leading them to glory (Heb
2:10). All of this postulates sensitivity of heart in "the elect," as well as a hearty appetite for the truth, and a profound longing
for the return of the Lord. Where these qualities do not exist, there will be no teaching. Where there is no teaching, there will
be no abiding. Where there is no abiding, there is no hope.
Thus we again see there is no salvation that excludes Divine activity. While men haggle about whether or not God works
in the saved, the "anointing" continues to teach those who do not quench Him. As He teaches them, a spiritual consistency
is developed within them, and they remain in the Son. What a "great salvation" we have! It is no wonder that Satan extends
himself to take it from us. He is crafty, and his power is far greater than that of mortals. Yet, because of "the anointing," his
most subtle ministers and deceiving schemes can be detected and rejected. When he comes, transforming himself into an
"angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14), "the anointing" teaches us. When his deadly ministers come "transformed as ministers of
righteousness," "the anointing" teaches us.
God be praised, the influence of the Spirit of our God is greater than the influence of Satan. To those who receive it, it
penetrates deeper than Satan is able to reach, thereby stabilizing the soul and protecting our persons.
There is no valid reason
for any believer being deceived! Our Lord has made abundant provision for our protection. If we are deluded, it is only
because we have quenched the Spirit.
CONFIDENCE WHEN HE COMES
"28And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from
Him in shame at His coming." How clearly the nature of the heavenly Kingdom is seen in this passage! He has just finished
saying "just as it (the anointing) has taught you, you will abide in Him." Now John admonishes them to "abide in Him," just
as though it all depended upon them. Faith trusts in the Lord, but not with folded arms or in as state of spiritual stupor. The
anointing teaches us to abide in Christ, but not while we remain in a state of idleness. Those who are not working out their
salvation are not being "taught by God." That is why they are indolent.
The Grand Conclusion
The grand conclusion of our lives is to be found acceptable "when He appears." When we first turned to God, we did so
to "wait for His Son from heaven" (1 Thess 1:9-10). Even in our participation at the Lord's table, we "show (proclaim) the
Lord's death till He come" (1 Cor 11:26). There is absolutely no hope at all for those found unacceptable at that time!
The coming of the Lord is a central teaching in Christ Jesus. It is not a subject to be debated, or concerning which we are
to take sides against one another. Here is the climactic event of all time, when Jesus will come "in like manner" as He left:
with the clouds, attended by angels, bodily and visibly (Acts 1:9-11). He will bring His reward with Him at that time (Rev
22:12), and the heavens and earth will flee from before His place, with no place being found for them (Rev 20:11).
The ultimate purpose of the Holy Spirit is to prepare you for the return of Christ. It is then that the earth will be "reaped"
(Rev 14:16), and the saved will be "gathered together unto Him" (2 Thess 2:1). Those who have remained in Him will then
be "glorified" according to God's eternal purpose (Rom 8:29-30). As it is written, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear,
then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Col 3:4). "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their
Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt 13:43).
The love of the world and false teachings will make us unfit for that appearing. It will so dull our hearts that we will not
consider our Lord's return, and thus will bury our talents and become conformed to the world. Abiding in Him involves
keeping ourselves "unspotted from the world" (James 1:27), and purging ourselves from all false teachers-those who represent
themselves as coming from Him, yet are not sent by Him (2 Tim 2:20-21).
This matter is so critical, that God has given us an "unction" in order that we might abide in Him. He has not left it to
human ability, although it does require our response and sensitivity. I am persuaded that contemporary Christianity is robbing
men of the tenderness of heart required to be taught by the Spirit, or the "anointing." Jesus has already told us what results
from NOT abiding in Him. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and
throw them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:6). It is not possible for those words to be effectively contradicted. Thus
we must not view our text as a casual suggestion, but a solemn and urgent exhortation.
We May Have Confidence
If we do not see the sense of this verse, it will sound most peculiar. If we read it, "YOU abide in Him . . . that
WE may have
confidence," you might imagine the readiness of the readers will bring boldness to John in the day Christ returns. That is not,
however, the sense of the text.
Here John is identifying himself with the other believers. It is as though he said, By the grace of God, I am abiding in Him.
Now, you do the same so we all can have confidence before our Lord when He comes. Right here we see the power of faith and
the effectiveness of the Spirit's teaching. For those who were once sinners, deceived by Satan, and dead in trespasses and sins,
to be confident, assured, and unashamed when Jesus returns in all of His glory, is an exceedingly great accomplishment! You
will find it difficult to find someone who even acknowledges the possibility of such a thing. But it is true!
Over the years, I have noticed the frailty of confidence that is created by a sectarian spirit. Some poor souls are forward
and brash when they defend their doctrinal position, thinking nothing of denigrating those with whom they are at variance.
But when the subject is turned to the coming of the Lord and the judgment of all men, their boldness withers and falls away.
Nor, indeed, do religious routines and disciplines produce this kind of confidence. No motivational speech can make a person
confident before the glorified Christ! I know from experience that the aggressive adoption of sectarian creeds has no favorable
affect upon the heart when it reflects upon the return of Christ. That is because none of those things have anything to do with
abiding in Christ.
Notice the glory of this text. Confidence in the day of the Lord does not depend upon our accomplishments, but on our
abiding in Him. What is even more, while that abiding does require our effort, it is made possible by Divine tutelage. Such
considerations awaken hope in our hearts.
Not Shrink from Him in Shame
When Adam and Eve sinned, transgressing the commandment of God, they "hid themselves from the presence of the Lord"
when "they heard the voice of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen 3:8). That was only a very small token
of the reaction of those failing to abide in Him when our Lord returns.
When those once placed into Christ fail to abide in Him, a chasm begins to form between them and the Lord. This is so
because their union with Him is by faith, and is only as strong as that faith. However, not only does a chasm form between
the person and the Lord, a certain hostility against, and fear before, the Lord also begins to develop. But all of this remains
unnoticeable to the withdrawing person, because sin has anaesthetized the heart and conscience. But when the Lord
"appears," that dulness will suddenly be shattered, and the neglecting soul will become acutely aware of the enmity that exists
between him and the Lord. The word "ashamed" includes the idea of public disgrace, and an open acknowledgment of defeat.
Language is not capable of conveying the measure of shame and disgrace that will be found in those who did not "abide in
Him," when Jesus "appears." It will be something from which recovery will not be possible, for such will be consumed by
Christ's wrath. As it is written, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking
vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished
with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be
glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed" (2 Thess
1:7-10). All of the doctrines that taught men they could "neglect so great salvation," and still be saved in the end, will go up
like a puff of smoke. A stark realization of lostness will grip such souls as they confront the Lord they neglected.
Those who determine NOT to be ashamed in that day have done well. Those who do not make this determination have
NOT done well-in anything. God has provided "the anointing" to see to it they rejoice at the appearing of their Lord rather
than shrink from him in shame and disgrace. God is greatly to be praised for providing a daily way to "keep us from falling."
We carry about in us a well of living water that constantly refreshes and prepares us.
KNOWING AND PRACTICING
"29If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." One
might respond, "Who does not know Christ is righteous?" This is not theoretical knowledge, or mere intellectual
acquaintance with the facts. In fact, a unique word is used here. Coming from the Greek word
(i-da-te), it means to
recognize, be acquainted with, or know very well Friberg AGNT Lexicon. Simply put, it is something that has been effectively learned
through the intervention of another.
A Technical Point
This word is used in this form six times in Scripture, and speaks more of a persuasive type of knowledge. It is the word
used when Jesus raised paralytic man that was lowered through the ceiling to his feet. "'But
that you may know that the Son
of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'; then He said to the paralytic, 'Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house'" (Matt
9:6NKJV). It is also the word Paul used when he told the Ephesians he was sending Tychicus to them to inform them of his
affairs. "But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the
Lord, will make all things known to you" (Eph 6:21KNJV). In addition to its use in this verse, John also uses it in chapter five
of this book. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,
that you may know that you have
eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (5:13NKIV). You see, then, that the knowledge
of which he speaks is the result of a deliberate unveiling, or showing.
This is not the same word used in the second part of this verse; i.e., "If you know . . . you know." The second "know" comes
from gnwri,sei (gno-ri-sei), which means knowledge that has been revealed, or made known Barclay-Newman Greek Dictionary. It is as
though the Spirit says, If you are acquainted with the righteousness of the Savior, you have also been taught that the person
practicing righteousness is born of Him.
The Result of the Anointing
The knowledge of which he speaks has come from "the anointing." The Holy Spirit has shown the believer this aspect
of Jesus: He is righteous! This perfectly correlates with our Lord's affirmation of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. "Nevertheless
I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart,
I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world . . . of righteousness, because I go to My Father .
. . " (John 16:7-11). Our Lord left heaven as "the Word" (John 1:14). He returned as "the MAN Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5). The
fact that He was received back into heaven as the glorified "Man" confirms He IS righteous-righteous in what He
accomplished, and righteous in his Person. His righteousness is necessary for ours.
This verse forms a sort of bridge to the rest of the Epistle. It confirms to us that when Jesus comes again, He will come
as the "righteous Judge." Even now, He is our Advocate, "Jesus Christ THE RIGHTEOUS" (1 John 2:1). Knowing this is a
matter of personal persuasion or conviction. There is no doubt about this. This knowledge constrains the believer to himself
seek first "the kingdom of God AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Matt 6:33). How effectively the "anointing" teaches those who
have ears to hear!
Those Doing Righteousness The expression "doeth righteousness," or "practices righteousness" NASB, speaks of the manner of life, and not occasional acts,
i.e., doing something good. Righteousness can be lived out because it has been placed within those who are in Christ Jesus.
To put it another way, imputed righteousness results in holiness of life. That holiness, without which no man shall see the
Lord (Heb 12:14), is evidence that we have been "made righteous" (Rom 5:19). Just as surely as Christ Jesus was "made sin
for us," we have been "made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor 5:21).
The one "doing righteousness" manifests he is a "partaker of Christ" and participates in the "Divine nature" (Heb 3:14; 2
Pet 1:4). True righteousness is the revelation of the life of God. It is not the result of mere human discipline. Further, our
assessment of the person "doing righteousness" depends on our comprehension that "He (Christ) is righteous." The more vague
Christ's character is to us, the less accessible righteousness becomes to us.
The Spirit leaves us with a marvelous fact-something that can be known:
"everyone who practices righteousness is born
of Him" NKJV. The reality of this cannot be altered. The only question is whether of not we "know" it. Later, John will confirm
this by writing, "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous" (3:7).
Again, he will write, "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth
not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother" (1 John 3:10).
When those who "were by nature children of wrath" (Eph 2:3), begin to do righteousness, the work of God has been made
known. Well did the prophet Jeremiah say, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good
who are accustomed to do evil" (Jer 13:23). When, therefore, we know that He is righteous, we also know the one doing
righteousness "is born of Him." That individual was born, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but
of God" (John 1:13). God, by His own will, has begotten that person "by the word of truth" (James 1:18).
In First John, the EVIDENCE of being born of God is emphasized more than the fact of being born again. Equally true,
the EVIDENCE of being righteous accented rather the necessity of being righteous. This by no means diminishes the
necessity of the new birth and righteousness. However, it does teach us that there comes a time when our profession must
be supported by our lives. Salvation does not provide for a lack of harmony between our essential persons and the God who
delivered us through Christ.
Thus the Spirit has moved John to declare the marvelous nature of salvation, and the glorious character of the Gospel.
He has shined eternal verities, and clarified the passing fancies of this present evil world. In all of this, He fine-tunes the
spirits of those who have received the love of the truth.
In Christ, God has effectively dealt with our past, removing our sins. He sent the Savior into the very arena of defeat, and
commissioned Him to experience the conflict and defeat the enemy. Jesus is thus declared to be "the Propitiation for our sins."
No matter hor sordid our past, Jesus has effectively dealt with it.
God has, through Christ, also effectively dealt with our natures, making us a new creation. He has caused us to be born
again, becoming partakers of Christ. In that new birth, our preferences have been changed, and "all things have become new."
We now love God, His Word, and His people. Sin has become distasteful, and the Lord Himself is pleasant to us. He has
even given us tests whereby we can determine our present condition, such as the love of the brethren, and doing righteousness.
In Jesus, our future has also been secured, and hope now becomes dominant in our hearts. That hope provides us with
a reason to be godly, resist the devil, and run energetically toward the goal. It makes sin unreasonable and distasteful to us.
The future now has a brighter glow than the present, and we are attracted by "the powers of the world to come" (Heb 6:5).
As though this were not enough, salvation also equips us to face the jeopardies of life in this world. We have received an
"unction," or "anointing" that effectively teaches us. That teaching is of a spiritual nature, enabling us to distinguish between
what is true and what is false. It even convinces us of the righteousness of Christ, and the nature of those who are born of
Him. Truly, we are complete in Christ (Col 2:10)! Nothing that we need has been omitted. In no area of life are we left
deficient. Among other things, the knowledge of this will produce thanksgiving and consistency within us. Spiritual stability
is within your reach!