Be Encouraged and Stand on Truth

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; 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, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing 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 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 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. (1 John 2:18-27)

During the course of preaching through 1 John, several people have commented on how John’s writing is so direct and convicting. Remember, John was an apostle, a pastor, and someone who desperately wanted all believers to stand firm on the gospel and not be swayed in their faith. John also considered himself a loving father to all who had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior under his teaching so he has a very fond affection and love for his ‘little children.’

We also need to remember that John wrote this epistle to highlight the need for believers to stand firm on the foundations of our faith. As you may recall, in 1 John 2:15-17 John charges us to love neither the world in general nor the things of the world in particular because our faithfulness must be undivided. Our love must be singularly and totally focused on God – total commitment to Him and Him alone. To pledge allegiance to the world is to declare our opposition to God. Therefore, our response as Christians should be to confront and destroy the world’s spiritual lies and false worldviews with the truth of God’s Word.

Make no mistake, our contemporary culture and civilization is anti-God, and believers and followers of Jesus Christ should not love it. We are to be in the world, but we are not to be of the world. You are either going to obey the world system, live in it and enjoy its temporal pleasures, or you are going to obey God and enjoy the blessings He provides, including eternal life.

Now, that was the lead-in for verses 18-23 that we covered last time. John was very concerned about the deception that the false teachers brought forth through radical new teaching based on their “secret” knowledge.

Last time, John provided us with a proper understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ and His equality with the Father. He also helped us to see that there is a very powerful antichrist who will rise up in the last hour and that the antichrists who are here now are those who have and will continue to reject Jesus Christ. He gave us two principles in this section of Scripture to recognize the antichrists. First, they “went out from us,” highlighted in verse 19. In other words, the antichrists come into a local fellowship of believers and subtly spread their lies and deceit and sow general discord among the body. They gain the trust of some who are not firmly committed to the truth of the gospel, and at some point, they leave the body and try to get others to follow with them. John warns us to watch out for those who would divide and separate Christ’s people through lies and deceit.

John confirmed for us that these antichrists go out from us because “they did not really belong to us” – they don’t belong to God’s family. The believers who have remained in the family of God through the local church can take heart that God cleanses the body by removing the antichrists. Those who leave the faith take with them their heretical views so that the church will be purified.

Secondly, John also clarified that the basis for the antichrist’s lies is that they deny Jesus is the Christ. By rejecting the Son, they reject the Father also. Sooner or later, the antichrists will distort the Bible’s teaching on who Jesus is. As John MacArthur said, “Any denial, deviation, or distortion of the scriptural view of Jesus Christ—His incarnation; that He is both Son of God and Son of Man, the promised Prophet, Priest, King, and Redeemer —constitutes the spirit of antichrist.”

And that brings us to verses 24-27, which is the latter part of chapter 2 where John now provides great encouragement regarding the truth of the gospel. He starts by reminding us that the gospel is unchangeable. It is the story that never changes. It is the story of how the one true God loved us so much that He provided a plan of salvation to save us from our sins; how He sent His own Son from heaven to earth to be born from a virgin, to live a perfectly sinless life, and ultimately to die on a cross for all who would believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is the unchangeable gospel!

John then provides us with the third characteristic of the antichrists: they will try to deceive the faithful. The antichrists are relentless at attacking God’s children with one thing in mind: take them down, but do it very cleverly and patiently so they will not recognize the slippery slope.

Lastly, John reminds us that all believers in Jesus Christ have been anointed and the Holy Spirit guards and guides the true believer into the truth. John is reminding us all of the power of the Holy Spirit. So let’s dive into today’s message to see what God has for us today.

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 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. (1 John 2:24-25)

John begins with a short introduction: ‘As for you.’ John is talking to you! He is talking to those who are part of God’s family. He is talking to those who have professed belief and who desire to follow Jesus Christ, those who profess Him as Lord and Savior. Believers in Jesus Christ have acknowledged Jesus as God’s Son because that truth was part of the original message we all heard when we first believed. That is who John has been addressing this entire letter: believers and followers of Jesus Christ.

He reminds us that what we have ‘heard from the beginning’ is what we should continue to abide or remain in. John is referring to the gospel message. It is the gospel that we should continue to abide in. Why? Because the gospel never changes. It cannot change. It is the message that originally drew each of us to Jesus. It is the message that provided us a new life. It is the message that has profoundly impacted the entire world. Let that message remain as the guide for your life. The gospel is fixed and unchangeable. It is truth!

Why is John stressing the need to remain steadfast in the true gospel? Remember the Gnostics, those false teachers that were perverting the gospel? John is warning us not to follow after them. John is exhorting believers to keep the gospel truth untouched, unaltered, and to remain in it.

In the book of 2 Timothy, we find a warning from Paul to the young pastor Timothy regarding the events of the last days when wickedness will be rampant and evil men and imposters, which includes false teachers, will be deceiving and be deceived. 2 Timothy 3 says…..

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:1-7, 13-15)

So, here we are in the end times when the truths of God’s Word continue to be displayed in a very real way by the very society we live in. False teachers are deceiving people to follow them by perverting the gospel in an effort to make it more palatable, more comfortable, and easier to swallow. Unfortunately, it is preparing those who follow these false teachers for an eternity in Hell. But John is encouraging believers to stand against the influence of these false teachers by standing firm on the true, unaltered, unchanging, rock-solid, gospel message. It the gospel message that we first heard. The message that so impacted our heart that we wanted to know and follow Jesus Christ. John challenges us to hold fast to the gospel – the Word of God delivered once and for all to the saints. This is the truth we need to stand on today! No foundation can be any more firm!

John is so concerned that what they heard from the beginning remains in them that he repeats himself here in verse 24. This repetition reinforces the importance of the teaching; do not move away from the truth you heard from the beginning. The apostolic teaching, the original message which had been preached. It had not changed and would not change. They must see that it remains in them. It would not do so automatically—they must take steps to ensure that it does. It takes diligence, perseverance, and even sacrifice, but most of all, total reliance on God.

It is essential, therefore, to have a living faith which rests in the one true God! In John 1:14, John says, “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” How marvelous, incredible, and mind-boggling that is for that is the only way you and I could have a right relationship with Jesus Christ the Son and to know God the Father.

John reminds us that there is an incredible promise: if we abide in the truth of the gospel, what we heard from the beginning, then we will remain in the Son and the Father. The great positive benefits of allowing the gospel message we have heard to remain in us, is that we will desire to remain in the Son and in the Father. We need to have that living faith that helps us to abide in the firm foundation of the gospel and to seek after Jesus.

John’s point is that if believers would resist the lies of the antichrists and let the truth we heard from the beginning “abide” in us, we must continue to “abide” in the fellowship of God.

If we stay faithful to the truth, we will continue to experience intimate communion with God and Christ and persevere to the end and ultimately to eternal life in Heaven.

11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 John 5:11-12)

We just heard that if we remain faithful to the truth of the gospel, God has promised all believers eternal life. The only kind of life that God offers is eternal life, and eternal life can only be found in Jesus Christ. In fact, He is eternal life.

The eternal life that Jesus Christ provides was with the Father from the beginning, as highlighted in John 1:2, and those who believe in the Son have eternal life. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says both that believers have already passed from death to life, and that they will hear his voice on the last day and rise out of their graves and live.

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:24-29)

Functionally, eternal life is a promise that comes to the believer from God through Jesus Christ. This interpretation makes sense given the mention of both the Father and the Son in verse 24 and the reciprocal relationship of the Father and the Son that John has stressed in the first two chapters of this epistle.

Those who commit evil deeds will be judged for their desire to commit evil. I think it is so critically important for all who desire and do commit evil, whether habitual lying, stealing, gossiping, thinking evil of other, hating, etc. Regardless of the evil deeds they will be judged.

Verse 25 concludes with the promise that if this condition is met, the believer will continue to remain in the Son and in the Father. Three times in this verse some form of the word “remain” or “abide” is used. This relationship in which the Christian remains in God is vital, intimate, and constant. The order of the Son and the Father places the emphasis on the person of Jesus Christ, through whom the believer has access to the Father.

Daniel Akin in this commentary on 1 John states, “The reference to eternal life is both that of the future promise of eternal life with the Father and the Son and the present experience of abiding in God the Father and in Jesus Christ. The eschatological perspective of both the Gospel of John and the epistle takes into account the present and future aspects of salvation unto eternal life, secured in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. In the present, the abiding presence of Jesus Christ and the Father give evidence that the power of sin and death has been defeated and that the believer has moved from the darkness into the light and now possesses eternal life. This defeat of sin and death on the cross and resurrection also secures a future eternal dwelling place with the Father and the Son in the kingdom of God.”

If we will remain or abide in the Son and in the Father, only then can we rest in the promise of eternal life. The issue here is not a concern about losing our salvation, for we know that is impossible for a true believer but instead, we can be certain that we possess eternal life. The point is that there can be a reassurance that we abide in Christ even in the face of the false teaching that was being preached at the time of John’s writing and the false teaching of today. False teaching brings questions and doubts about our salvation while true teaching based on God’s Word reassures us of our salvation.

Make no mistake, the awful consequence of the heretical denial of Jesus Christ is a loss of life. The life of an unbeliever will not be a life at all. It will more accurately be an eternal judgment of the wrath of God.

John now moves on to just how important the true, unchanged gospel is and how the antichrists will attack and try to deceive the faithful.

These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. (1 John 2:26)

The third characteristic of the antichrists highlighted by John is that the antichrists will try to deceive the faithful. John was concern that what the false teachers were saying would lead the new believers away from the truth. That is why John is writing this epistle. He is not going to allow the false teachers to wreck the lives of the new believers who mean so much to him.

John has already encouraged us to hold fast to our understanding of Christ which is meant to strengthen all believers in their quest to withstand the pressure to follow the false teachers away from the truth and down their pathway of destruction. These deceivers are the ones that John has previously called antichrists and liars. Here their motives have once again become very clear. They are not content, nor satisfied, to rush into error by themselves. Their goal is to bring as many as they can along with them.

John seems to be concerned about these false teachers and that the original teaching was not in itself enough to keep believers in the truth. Whatever the case, John is not going to underestimate the strength, persistence, or the subtlety of the deceivers. You may be asking yourself, “Is it possible for true believers to be deceived?” Yes, it is possible for Christians to be deceived. We can be deceived by false teachers, as is implied here in 1 Jn. 2:26, but also by others like 1 Jn. 3:7, and we can even deceive ourselves (1 Jn. 1:8). The focus by John here is the deception of the false teachers. After all, these deceivers are following after the ultimate deceiver himself, Satan, who is by his very nature a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

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, (1 John 2:27)

Here John returns to the topic initially highlighted back in verse 20—the anointing which believers have received. In light of the attempts by the false teachers to lead them astray, John reminds them that the Holy Spirit remains or abides in them. In response to such deceivers, the task of the genuine believer is to “walk in truth.” In other words we are to persevere in faithfulness and sound doctrine.

So, what is the anointing? It is a reference to the Holy Spirit and the fact that every believer has been enlightened with the knowledge of the truth. Upon a person accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and anoints them with the truth of the gospel.

John is highlighting two key characteristics that distinguish a genuine Christian from the antichrists. First, John explains that the Holy Spirit, which refers to “the anointing,” guards us from error. The Holy Spirit acts as our guardian, watching over believers to help us be discerning and wise regarding potential deception. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the believer’s most fundamental defense against deception. The second characteristic is that the Holy Spirit guides the believer into knowing “all things” and to remember the truths that we have learned from God’s Word. In other words, true believers have some level of discernment. John MacArthur says we have an “integrated lie detector” to help us distinguish lies from the truth. This helps us to persevere in the truth and dispel lies.

What about John’s comment about ‘we have no need of teachers?’ John is not denying the importance of gifted teachers in the church, particularly since the Holy Spirit has gifted some as teachers, but what John is explaining is that neither gifted teachers nor believers are dependent on human wisdom or the opinions of men for the truth of God’s Word. Therefore, John is not denying the importance and place of human teachers. In fact, John’s writing of this letter is proof that human teachers are needed.

Readers of John’s letter didn’t need anyone to teach them again the essentials of the faith that the false teachers were denying. They already had the truth and did not need anyone else to tell them what was true. Just like the original readers, we don’t need anyone to teach us the truth, but we do need to be exhorted to stand firm in the truth of the gospel which the Holy Spirit has taught us.

John is exhorting both the original reader and us today to continue to stand strong in the faith by drawing upon the strength that is ours through the Holy Spirit. The connection between the Holy Spirit’s anointing of the believer and the abiding nature of the message they had heard is really the whole focus of this discussion. We all need to understand that both of these abide in us and both will strengthen us in our battle against false teachers.

This claim by John that they have no need of someone to teach them echoes the promises that Jesus made in John’s Gospel in chapters 14 and 16 that the Paraclete would lead them into all truth. In John 14:16-17, 26, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in 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 said to you.” John 16:13: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

The Holy Spirit worked through the apostles to bring the truth of the message of salvation that is found only in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There was no additional revelation needed and in fact ‘new revelation’ can only pervert the purity of the gospel. The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit guards and guides true believers into the truth of the gospel.

John continues by saying that the Holy Spirit teaches us about all things. The ability and comprehensiveness of the Holy Spirit to teach is indicated in the phrase, ‘His anointing teaches you about all things, and it is true and is not a lie.’ If our God is ‘the true God’, which He is, and Jesus Christ is ‘the truth,’ which He is, then the Holy Spirit also ‘is true.’ In 1 John 5:6, John writes, “It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” And Jesus called him ‘the Spirit of truth’ in John 15:26 and again in 16:13 that we just read.

What an amazing series of verses. John has already distinguished the false teachers from the true believers, and having exposed the nature and consequences of the heretical teaching, John has now drawn our attention to the two safeguards which will protect us from being led astray. If we are to be guarded against error, two things must ‘remain’ in us, first the gospel message, the Word which ‘you have heard from the beginning’ and secondly ‘the anointing you received from the Holy Spirit’. It is these priceless and eternal possessions that will help us to remain in the truth.

Of all people, believers should be greatly encouraged to know that we have the truth. We have remained in the truth. We have thus far persevered as God removes the antichrists/deceivers/liars which hold to a heretical Christology. This is one way the church will be purified.

In preparation for this message, I was reading a commentary by J. Vernon McGee and he had this to say: “I’m going to make a confession to you, and I hope you won’t let it out but will just keep it in the family. In one sense it is a little disturbing to me that my study of the Word of God does not reveal how much I know, but rather it reveals how much I don’t know and how woefully ignorant I am. I am studying the Bible now as I never have in my entire life, but when I graduated from seminary, I practically knew it all; there was very little that I thought I needed to learn after that. There were certain things I thought I knew at that time, but very frankly, I’m coming now to find that I didn’t know them at all. I thought I did, but I didn’t know them at all. There is a vast field of knowledge today for the child of God. It behooves us to make this matter of coming to know Christ through His Word a serious business and to give it top priority in our lives. That is the thing that is all important, and all that John is really saying is, “I don’t want you to become a super-duper saint. I want you to rest upon the promise of God.”

It is my prayer that we all remain steadfast in the gospel message and fervently seek to have a living faith that relies upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance and guard to keep us abiding in the truth.

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; 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, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing 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 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 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. (1 John 2:18-27)