18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 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.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 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. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 As for you, 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. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. 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.
John now directs our attention from love to hate. The word antichrist can be broken into two parts: anti, meaning against or desiring to replace, and Christ. So an antichrist is anyone who is against, denies or tries to replace Christ. To impersonate Him is to try to replace Him. John expounds on this because he wants us to know we are living in the ‘last hour’. It isn’t the last hour until there is opposition to Christ (through all the antichrists). It is not just one person but any person who attacks or is hostile to Christ and what He has done. Antichrist = nonbeliever. We know it’s the last hour because Messiah has come. It has been the last hour of this age since Christ died. There will be a final antichrist (such as is mentioned in Daniel, 2 Thessalonians 2, Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Revelation) however, according to those scriptures we will know it is the final antichrist because he will set himself up as ruler over the world and all nations will be subject to him, and then Christ Himself will destroy him.
John’s purpose in this letter is to help us determine who is a believer and who is not. This is one part of the test. Do they have a true view of sin? Of Christ? He will ask this over and over again. John contrasts the truth verses non-truth in Christ. If you are truly in Christ, then there will never be a time when you go out from the body of believers. God delivers a ‘once for all’ saving grace to you the moment you are His. Christ died once, not over and over to save those who are wishy-washy. By someone ‘leaving’ the faith, we know they were never actually a part of it to begin with.
He’s not writing to make us doubt, but to make it clear to us who can be trusted. Thus continuing in verse 20 he reminds us that we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, who makes all truth known to us. A person outside of Christ does not have that truth, and therefore cannot remain in truth. Satan masquerades as an angel of light, mixing truth with lies to try and deceive. If there is someone in your life that seems to know the truth, yet says things that are contradictory to scriptures description of Christ’s death and resurrection, the truth is not in them. If they deny the deity of Christ, then they are not in fellowship with God. They are a kind of antichrist.
In verses 24 & 25 John exhorts us to make efforts towards being sure of our salvation. There are lots of other places in scripture that tell us the same thing. The bible says people who seek the Lord through the reading of His word are noble, wise, and discerning. Over and over again the scripture exhorts itself as the only tool for instruction. Jesus says on many occasions; “Have you never read the Scriptures?” and “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures”.
Just as John was writing to the Christians of his day, he also writes to Christians of all times. We all need to be aware that many will come and try to lead us astray. This epistle gives us a kind of proof test for knowing who we can trust with our precious Savior. The most important thing to remember is that we have been given the ultimate teacher: the Holy Spirit. Inside each of God’s children is His Spirit, ready to guide us into all truth. We must be willing to study, not just take for truth the words of our pastor, professor or friend. In His word lies the answer, and we are called to be people who seek His wisdom.
“A wrong view of Christ is the fastest path to damnation.” – John MacArthur
Lord’s Day 3, Questions 7 & 8
From where, then, did man’s depraved nature come?
From the fall and disobedience of our first parents,
Adam and Eve, in Paradise, 1
for there our nature became so corrupt 2
that we are all conceived and born in sin. 3
But are we so corrupt
that we are totally unable to do any good
and inclined to all evil?
unless we are regenerated
by the Spirit of God. 2