HUMANISM AND ANTICHRIST [7/1/23]
A Study of 1 Jn.2:15-27
LOVE OF THE WORLD <2:15-17>
What does it mean to “love the world”? It is not a reference to the creation, nor does it mean the habitation of mankind; the reference here is the short-lived character of life’s riches and pleasures and the folly of making them of essential importance in life <see Matt.16:26>. Each disciple of Christ should also remember His teaching; “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” <Jn.15:18-19 (NIV); cf Jas.4:4>. The people of this world – unbelievers – are not the “friends” of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore should not be of principal importance to the child of God, or be allowed to influence us. Yes, Christ has taught us that we should show His love toward all people for the purpose of their salvation, but not for our fellowship in general, for if we bond with the enemy we will be influenced by the enemy. This then becomes a serious problem for the child of God – the believer in Christ. To whom do we show our loyalty? Paul, in his letter to the Roman believers says: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” <Rom.12:2 (NIV)>; our thoughts and our actions must be changed by the help of The Holy Spirit and the scriptures so that our relationship with Christ becomes stronger and stronger reflecting His life through our life causing us to love Him more than we love the things that this life has to offer.
SPIRIT OF THE ANTICHRIST <2:18-27>
John emphasises the stipulation for the believer: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” <1 Jn.2:15 (NIV)>; and this statement could not be any clearer; the love of the world and worldliness does not reflect the love of God, and clearly teaches that there is nothing that this life has to offer the believer; “For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.” <1 Jn.2:16 (NIV)>; which means that the desires and pleasures offered by humankind does not originate, nor is approved by God, for such desires will only cause us to drift away from Him; especially where these luxuries are the basis for keeping up, or being one step ahead of our neighbours. “The world”, then denotes our human society which is governed by selfishness, covetousness and boasting, and as believers in Christ we should not allow our affections to become attached <see Jas.4:4>.
Each of us as believers in Christ must understand that “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” <1 Jn.2:17 (NIV)>; we cannot take our worldly possessions with us when Christ returns to take us home to be with Him <Jn.14:1-3>, for earthly possession will be no use to us in our eternal home.
Who is the Antichrist? This question has been asked by many people in New Testament times. The biblical definition of the Antichrist is: “A false prophet and evil being who will set himself up against Christ and the people of God in the last days before the second coming [of Christ]. The term is used only in the writings of John in the New Testament. It refers to one who stands in opposition to all that Jesus Christ represents (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). John wrote that several antichrists existed already in his day – false teachers who denied the deity and the incarnation of Christ – but that the supreme Antichrist of history would appear at some future time”. (From Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers). So, here we see that the spirit of the Antichrist is one of opposition to everything that represents Christ, also denying the deity and incarnation of Christ.
Our Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples on this very subject and is recorded in three of the Gospels <see Matt.24:23-26; Mk.13:21; Lk.21:8; cf 2 Thess.2:3-12>; where we see the spirit of the Antichrist described. But we should note what John says here in this passage: “this is the last hour” <1 Jn.2:18 (NIV)>; a reference to the time that began at Christ’s first coming that will continue until His second coming, and we see from the previous scripture references that many antichrists will appear, and we have seen the evidence of this in the lives of a few prominent individuals in recent times; “even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” <1 Jn.2:18b (NIV)>.
John also identifies the antichrists: “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” <1 Jn.2:19 (NIV)>; indicating that they had left the Church because their teaching was not acceptable and they had nothing in common with the believers in Christ, suggesting that they were the early Gnostics of John’s period in time.
The spirit and philosophy of any antichrist can have a severe impact on the life of a believer in Christ, and John expresses that here: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.” <1 Jn.2:20-21 (NIV)>; he says that as a believer you know the truth, and as such we should not be influenced by the lies of antichrists. The Holy Spirit (the Holy One) reveals to us the truth of the WORD (the scriptures) <see Jn.16:13-14>, and in this statement we see the importance of individual Bible study, not just listening to the sermon on Sunday mornings. He also declares that “no lie comes from the truth”, signifying that the lie comes only from the antichrist: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist — he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” <1 Jn.2:22-23 (NIV)>: the liar (antichrist) is the person that rejects God and His Son, Jesus Christ. John then gives us the solution for the spirit of the antichrist: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us — even eternal life.” <1 Jn.2:24-25 (NIV)>; meaning that we must continue to live by the principles taught by the Scriptures, not by the false doctrines of the antichrists. Paul, in writing to the Church in Galatia referred to the false teachings as “another gospel” <see Gal.1:6-9>, and we should note his description of the end to the false teachers – “eternally condemned” as opposed to how John shows the result of believing the truth – “eternal life”.
He concludes this section by repeating “… But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.” <1 Jn.2:27 (NIV)>; this is our only defence against the spirit of antichrist – “remain in him.”
John writes to us here of what is obvious today, the spirit of antichrist has been evident since Christ came into this world on His first advent, for there have been many who have openly denied the Deity of Christ and have taught this false doctrine throughout our history. The Scriptures however teach that in the “end times” there will be “a man” who will set himself up as god and demand that all people worship him as god <see Rev.13:11-17>. This will be possible because of what Paul has taught in this regard <see 2 Thess.2:1-12>, noting what is said “And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed” <2 Thess.2:6-8 (NIV); cf Jn.16:5-15>. The “one who now holds back” is a reference to The Holy Spirit who is active in restricting the work of evil in our world today. One day, as we have been promised by Christ, all believers will be taken from this world to spend eternity with Him in heaven <see 1 Thess.4:16-17>; and at that time the work of The Holy Spirit in this world will no longer be necessary, “then the lawless one will be revealed”. The end result will be total chaos, a terrible time for all people left on this earth <see Matt.24:21-25; Dan.12:8-10>.