1 John 2:18-23: The Anointing
November 11, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
In John’s spiral staircase method of writing, he has now reached another turn where he approaches one of his main themes again – namely doctrinal orthodoxy. This time, though, he brings into view the much-discussed “antichrist” and how Christians can avoid being taken in by such false teaching.
First, the antichrist is the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ, verse 22. For, as John clarifies, no one who denies the Son has the Father, and whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. This is an important clarification he brings in. Look at it like this. If we are truly worshipping God, then when Jesus is explained to us we will say “that is God.” But if we are not really worshipping God, then when Jesus is explained to us, we will deny that he is the Christ – for we will have neither the Father nor the Son. The antichrist, then, is a replacement Christ, a pseudo-Christ, and therefore an antichrist. He or it is whatever is taking the place of Christ and so denying that Jesus is the Christ, and therefore having neither the Son nor the Father. There are, John says, “many antichrists,” verse 18. Our task is not so much to decide which antichrist we are facing right now or to try to discern whether a certain historical figure is “the” antichrist, as to realize that there are many antichrists – that is, there are many individuals, movements, and ideas that set themselves up as counterfeit saviors: money, certain anti-Christians ideologies, alternative salvation theories that are not Christian or Christ-centered. All this is denying that Jesus is the Christ.
But then second, in this section we are looking at today, John also provides us with tools to avoid being taken in by these antichrists. In particular, he talks about the “anointing” that all true Christians have, verse 20, and which allows us to know the truth, verse 21. This “anointing” (another phrase akin to the core meaning of “Christ,” which itself means anointed one) is the work of the Spirit of Christ within us. All true Christians have the Spirit of Christ within them. They have an “anointing,” the Spirit of Christ, who opens up the Scriptures, the Sword of the Spirit, to be able to understand them and apply them to the situations we are facing. It is somewhat mysterious, but if you are a real Christian you have the Spirit of Christ within you who enables you to understand the Word of God and leads you into the truth. Therefore, you can have discernment about false teaching. There’s something about it that doesn’t seem quite right and you sense it. You have the Spirit of Christ within you pointing you to what is right and true in God’s Word.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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