Anti-Christ(s) and False Teachers
“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. 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.” 1 John 2:18-19 NASB
Years ago, pre-Christian me would hear about the Anti-Christ and laugh. He sounded like a video game boss to be beaten in a climatic showdown. Beat the Anti-Christ and go on to face off with the False Prophet and then the Devil himself. There might even be a market for that come to think of it. However, it never occurred to me that the antichrist was not necessarily a singular person wielding evil like a superpower. Rather, the antichrist could also be the spirit or nature of those who come against Jesus Christ. It is easy to focus solely on the individual that Revelation conjures in our minds, but it is difficult sometimes for us to see the antichrists in our midst.
Today, we can turn on the news and see that there are scores of people unreceptive and antagonistic toward Jesus’ message and the Bible. Yet, before we go labeling people as antichrists, understand I am merely pointing out the spirit of today's new norm and the mainstream secular trends. This just means that they are against Jesus. Literally, anti. Not necessarily what we picture as evil incarnate. I know. I know. Against and anti are still such strong words. However, consider that Jesus Himself said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matt. 12:30 NASB). In this light, we have to be really careful about where we stand and how we show ourselves approved to the Lord.
What we sometimes forget is that the Last Hour John is speaking about is the one that we are still in. We are living in it. We may not know how long this last hour will go on, but we know how it ends. It ends with all those against Christ and God being cast into the Lake of Fire. It ends with Jesus telling us which of us were real servants and which of us talked a good game. It ends with God’s judgment and our giving an account of all our junk where we are either cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb or we are not.
Further, 1 John 2:18-19 is directly connected to several warnings that we have received in the Scripture. 1 Timothy 4:1 warns us that some will fall away and devote themselves to the teachings of deceitful spirits and demons. Jesus warns us in Matthew 24 that many will come in His name and lead people astray! Mark 13:22 echoes the same warning that there will be those that lead folks astray and adds even if possible God’s own elect! Is it any wonder that John tells us to the test the spirits in 1 John 4:1? We are to test them to know that they are of God.
How do we do that? How do we test the spirits? How do we know who are False Teachers? We study the Word of God to know what God says! In fact, 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” The Bible is that word of truth. If we are not spending time studying the Bible, how will we even know what we are hearing is true? This does not mean to argue over Scripture, nor argue theology for hours on end via a keyboard on social media. Let’s not forget that we are also told not have anything to do with foolish arguments and that the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind (1 Timothy 2:23-24). But we must study the Word of God to know what it says!
We can know what is of the spirit of God and what is not by cultivating sound study habits with our Bibles. If you are not sure where to start, you can check out Precept Bible Study Tools, they have downloadable content that can help show you how to study inductively. Additionally, I highly recommend the book that we used in my Hermeneutics class, Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck. It is a great way to get into a deeper understanding of how to approach studying your Bible.
Lastly, understand that while this may seem like common sense to some, and a bit alarming to others, men like Felix Manz were drowned for their belief in not baptizing infants and rebaptizing those that were, once they were of an age to understood what accepting Jesus as Lord meant. Today, this would be similarly akin to believing that a man must be rebaptized once an adult if he was sprinkled as a child. In 1526, magisterial Protestants drowned such people. Today we call them Baptist. Thus, showing ourselves approved by studying the Bible is necessary because whether you agree in or disagree with full immersion baptism, Jesus said to love another as He loved us. He laid His life down for us, He did not smite those who disagreed with Him, rather He prayed for them—including the ones that nailed Him to the cross. Thus, let's be an encouragement to one another to study so we may show we are approved. Because, in order to be considered among them--the disciples--we have to know what they believed.
Until Next Time