Christ Covenant Church
Text – 1 John 2:18-27
Joy for the World: Life, Light, Love
Scroll to Read
May God fill you with the joy of his life, light, and love in Jesus Christ.
As you know our new series Joy for the World is based on 1 John. John says he wrote these things so that our joy may be complete (1:4). And we are preaching these things for the same reason.
We want your joy to be filled up and finished out as you walk in the light, life, and love of God. But we know that many of the world want to fill you with sorrows, and so they work hard to destroy your joy.
As we saw last week, John warned his little children about the world and things in the world.
By world, we mean any sphere of evil, spirit of evil, and strategy of evil that works against the children of God. By things in the world we mean any desires, sights, sounds, ideas, images, philosophies, ideologies, or stories that are anti-Christ. The devil uses the world and the things in the world to drive wedges between you and God your father, you and Jesus your brother, and you and one another.
By contrast, we also saw that the one who does the will of God lives forever.
So there is tension between the world and the will of God.
Today we will see that there is tension between antichrists and the anointing. Antichrists promote the world and its desires. The anointing promotes the Word and his desires.
Our sermon text for today is 1 John 2:18-27. If you are able, please stand for the reading of God’s Holy Word. I will be reading my translation of the text because I want you to hear all the y’alls. John is writing to individuals in community with one another, not to individuals by themselves. Now hear what the Spirit says to the church:
Children, it is a last hour. And as y’all heard that antichrist is coming even now there are many antichrists. Therefore we know that it is a last hour. They went away from us, but they were not from us, for if they were from us they would have remained with us. But, in order that it might be revealed that they are not all from us [they went away from us]. But y’all have an anointing from the Holy One and all y’all know [the truth]. I have not written y’all because y’all do not know the truth, but because y’all know [the truth] and [y’all know] that no lie is from the truth. Who is the liar except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist — the one who denies the Father and the Son. None who deny the Son has the Father either. The one who confesses the Son also has the Father. Let what y’all heard from the beginning remain in y’all. If what y’all heard from the beginning remains in y’all, then y’all will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise which he promised us — the life eternal. I have written these things about the ones who are seducing* y’all and [about] the anointing which y’all received from him. It remains in y’all and y’all have no need that any [antichrist / liar / deceiver] should teach y’all. But as the anointing from him teaches y’all about all — and it is true and it is not false. And as it has taught y’all, y’all remain in him. (1 John 2:18-27 JMT)
May God add his blessing to the reading, preaching, and hearing of his word, and give us the grace to trust and obey him. And all the church says: Amen!
There is a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where Calvin goes to take a test at school.
He sits at his desk, looks over the test, and says: “O good! A true or false test! At last some clarity. Every sentence is either pure sweet truth or a vile contemptible lie! One or the other. Nothing in between.” When the test begins, he reads a few sentences but does not answer any. He just stares at the page. Finally, he takes out a coin and flips it in the air.
Calvin learned the hard way that a “true or false test” only provides clarity if you know the truth.
Sadly, far too many professing Christians take Calvin’s approach when it comes to deciding between truth and error. Instead of doing the hard work of praying, studying and learning the truth — and/or trusting pastors and teachers who do — they take their chances, flip a coin, and hope for the best.
So, how do they know if something is true or false? By how it makes them feel; or by how well it fits in with their life-style and values.
As we enter the text today, remember, my purpose and goal is the same as John’s: I am preaching these things because I want your joy to be complete. So, I will talk about the dangers of the antichrists, but I will also talk about the delights of the anointing.
Here’s the whole sermon in a nutshell: Antichrists promote the world and its desires. The anointing promotes the Word and his desires.
Who are are the antichrists and what is the anointing?
Many people imagine antichrists as devilish creatures with sharp fangs, curled horns, and long claws. Some people imagine the antichrist is either a political ruler (like Hitler or Obama) or a religious leader (like the Pope) that will show up in the future and wreak havoc on the church an the world. But John de-mythologizes the antichrist by telling the truth.
John tells us that there are many antichrists — not just one. They have been around since the first century (at least). They are imposters who linger around the Christian church for a time, but eventually go away because they are not truly part of the church.
Antichrists are actually religious human beings who teach false things about Jesus. They are liars and deceivers who deny that Jesus is the Christ, and thus deny the Father and the Son. To deny means to reject, repudiate, and renounce.
They are heretics who promote false teachings about Jesus in hopes of derailing orthodox Christians, by throwing off their groove and knocking them out of orbit.
What is a heretic?
According to Justin Holcomb, “Traditionally a heretic is someone who has compromised an essential doctrine, usually by oversimplification, and has thus lost sight of who God truly is or what he has done for us. While most heretics throughout history were asking legitimate questions, they weren’t called heretics simply for asking questions. Their answers were the problem, as was their unwillingness to accept clear and detailed correction.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/october/truth-about-heresy.html
Heretics made a deliberate and conscious choice to deviate from apostolic teaching in favor of their own insights and opinions. And they made every effort to gather a following around their “school of thought” in direct opposition to the apostles’ teaching.
John was writing to help the church defend and protect herself against antichrists. So let’s think of 1 John as a defense against the dark arts manual.
There were many antichrists that bothered the church at the end of John’s life and beyond — well into the second century. They believed flesh was evil and spirit was good, so they rejected the apostles’ teaching that Jesus Christ came into the world as God-man. They refused to believe that Jesus Christ existed as God before he came in the flesh as man.
For the antichrists, the apostles’ testimony was not enough, and it was not good enough. So they came up with all kinds of extraordinary stories and spiritualized philosophies and mystical experiences to fill in the gaps.
One antichrist in particular (Cerinthus) taught that Jesus was the “Christ” but only from the time right after his baptism when the Spirit came on him until right before his death when the Spirit left him. But the apostle John testifies that Jesus was the Word made flesh, who passed through the water of baptism and the blood of the cross as the God-man (5:6).
Antichrists can be found anywhere — inside and outside the church. Antichrists outside the church are easy to spot because they openly reject and ridicule Jesus. Antichrists inside the church are harder to spot. Why? They openly claim to receive Jesus, yet they secretly reject and renounce him. They resemble true Christians. They do works in Jesus’ name. They promote a similar gospel. They participate in the life of the church. They use gospel-based words, language, and ideas. They perform acts of worship.
Yet they deny Jesus Christ.
They are against Jesus in their hearts. They are opposed to Christ in their minds. They contradict, reject, or disown the truth of Jesus with their doctrine and with their life.
They are anti-Christs.
One thing we have learned from our study of church history is that the more things change the more they remain the same.
Here at the start of the 21st century many antichrists are still at work. In our day, most religions believe Jesus came in the flesh in space-time history, but not all believe Jesus existed as God from all eternity before he became man.
In other words, lots and lots of religious people — even people who profess to be Christians — believe heresies about Jesus. They believe lies, falsehoods, and half-truths about Jesus.
Now, the church has always been pestered and plagued by people who want something more than what the Holy Spirit has revealed through the apostles and prophets.
And the devil promises to give such people exactly what they want.
Here’s what some antichrists look like in our time.
They look like nicely-dressed, well-groomed young missionaries who knock on your door and tell you that Jesus was a good man, a good teacher, and a good example, but he was not the God-man. Rather, he was the spirit-brother of Lucifer, the first creature God ever made. (LDS)
They look like devout men and women who walk through your neighborhoods and talk about a future world peace and tell you that Jesus was not God and not really man. Rather, he was an Archangel posing as a man. (JW)
They look like charismatic mega-church bishops who preach that Jesus is just one mode of God, one manifestation of Godhead, not the second person of the Trinity. (OP)
Like the serpent, these antichrists are crafty and clever.
They use slick marketing, clever stories, and sensational experiences to sneak in and spread their false opinions about Jesus among the church. Think so-called “Christian” fiction like The Shack, 90 Minutes in Heaven, Jesus Calling, or Heaven is Real. All cleverly invented stories that allow heresies to spread to the church and seduce folks who are not well-grounded in the Word of Life.
What makes all these stories so compelling and convincing? There is just enough truth in a heresy to make it seem safe and real; but there is more than enough falsehood in it to make it dangerous and deadly. They are so close, yet so far away.
Charles Spurgeon once said that “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”
There is no substitute for the Word of Life — there is no supplement to make him truer — there is no short cut to get to him quicker — there is no story to make him better.
The world is full of dangers and sorrows, so if you want your joy to be complete, you must come to know and believe the truth of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is he Word of Life — someone you could hear with your ears, see with your eyes, touch with hands, and contemplate with your heart and mind.
The Word of Life is totally sensational — audible, visual, tactile. Jesus is the Real Thing.
It takes more than a casual knowledge of Jesus Christ and a few personal experiences to defend yourselves against the dark arts of the heretics. That is why John warns us about the dangers of the antichrists and why John reminds us of the delights of the anointing.
+ THE ANOINTING
Many people imagine the anointing is an extra-special gift of knowledge that God grants to extra-spiritual Christians. Some folks imagine the anointing is code for charismatic gifts.
But John de-mythologizes the anointing by telling the plain truth.
John tells us that the anointing is a gift we received from the Holy One. The Holy One is Jesus Christ. The anointing teaches us the truth about all things pertaining to Jesus. The anointing abides and dwells in us. The anointing is true not false.
The concept of anointing has roots in the OT. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed. (1 Kings 19:16; Exodus 40:13; 1 Samuel 16:3,13). Prophets were anointed to proclaim God’s Word to his people. Priests were anointed to mediate between God and man. Kings were anointed to shepherd God’s people. They were anointed with oil which served as a sign and seal of the holy Spirit in their life and ministry.
The concept of anointing also has roots in the the Gospel of John. The word anointing is not found there, but the Holy Spirit is.
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to his followers to comfort and counsel them in the midst of a caustic and corrupt world. Jesus said to his followers:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)
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. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:23-26)
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:8-14)
According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit resides in his followers, reveals the truth to his followers, and reforms his followers. The anointing of the Holy One is the Holy Spirit. Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on us, and the Holy Spirit pushes, and pulls, and points us back to Jesus. The Spirit is radically Jesus-centered and that helps us to be Jesus-centered as well.
According to John, we have received the anointing from the Holy One. It abides and dwells in us and we have no need that any antichrist, liar, or deceiver should teach us anything about Jesus Christ or the gospel.
The anointing we received from the Holy One teaches us all we need to know about Jesus — what is true and what is not false, what is real and what is fake — and it teaches us to remain in Christ.
The fact that we have received the anointing does not mean that we know everything about everything. The anointing does not make you a genius or a know-it-all. The fact that we have received the anointing doesn’t even mean that we know everything about Jesus. It means that the Holy Spirit teaches us and continues to teach us about Jesus and that he continues to guide us into all the truth about Jesus and that he continues to make Jesus bigger and brighter in our eyes.
As Sinclair Ferguson explains in his book The Holy Spirit, No longer is an anointed human mediator (like a prophet, priest, or king) required to teach us to know the Lord; now all who receive the Spirit of Jesus share the anointing of the Christ. In Christ, they have immediate personal knowledge of God. (p63)
All of us who are born of the Spirit, who have received the anointing, are brought into a community where we serve as prophets, priests, and kings.
We have received the Holy Spirit, that we might know the truth about Jesus Christ, and that we might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that we might proclaim the truth about Jesus to the world; that we might worship God in spirit and truth, and serve the world with the gospel; that we might lead the nations to trust and obey Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
+ NICENE CREED
John warned us about the dangers of the antichrists and reminded us of the delights of the anointing.
Antichrists perverted the gospel and pestered the church long after John went to be with the Lord. In 325 AD, over 300 church leaders gathered to tackle heresies that had festered since John’s time. After a year or so of careful study, thought, debate, and prayer, this is what they wrote:
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
One scholar comments on the contemporary relevance of the Nicene Creed in this way:
While significant as an historical document, the Nicene Creed encapsulates the entire good news of the gospel into a short and rich summary. It describes the Triune God, who turns toward humanity in the person of Jesus, the God-man who suffered, died, rose again, and ascended. Additonally, the Creed goes on to express our future hope, which is a motivating factor in the Christian life. http://justinholcomb.com/2011/07/03/the-nicene-creed/
I realize that such doctrinal precision seem tedious, passé, and boring to some people in our time. But it is a crucial aspect of the Christian life. As one Reformed theologian (John Murray) stated, “the difference between truth and error is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.”
O brothers and sisters, we really do need to take the doctrine and theology of the apostles far more seriously than we do—as if our lives depended on it—lest we wake up and find ourselves lost on a road to destruction along with the rest of the antichrists.
Not only do we have the Holy Spirit, we also have the Word of God. And we have one another, and vast Christian community.
Taken together that means we have an incredible advantage and privilege over those who came before us. And we have an incredible responsibility towards those who will come after us. To whom much is given, much is required.
Let’s make the most of the gifts entrusted to us, and of the time we have been given.
+ A B C
Antichrists promote the world and its desires. The anointing promotes the Word and his desires.
Antichrists come to kill, and steal, and destroy, but the anointing comes that you may have the Word of Life, and have him to the full.
Antichrists steal your joy and fill you with sorrow by turning you away from Christ, but the anointing turns your sorrow into joy by turning your heart to Christ.
These things I have spoken to you, that Christ’s joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete in Christ.
In order for your joy to be complete you must do three things:
Abide in Jesus. Dwell in him. Live in him. Remain in him.
Believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.
Confess your sins and confess Jesus Christ came in the flesh to save you.
If you do these things, you will have eternal life in his name. If that does not make your joy complete, nothing will.