1 John 2:18-29
The Word and the Spirit
We sometimes wonder how a person knows. I mean, what if a person who claims to have the Spirit says something that the rest of us just aren’t sure about. John deals with just this matter in this part of his letter.
He first refers to the coming of the antichrist, but then moves to the fact that many antichrists are already in the world. They may even have been a part of the Church at one time, but their going out from us is proof that they were never really of us. He encourages us that we should not despair when this happens. Why? Because we have an anointing. What is this anointing? The Holy Spirit, no doubt. He is the Holy Spirit who guides Christians into the truth, so that we may know truth from error.
But that leads to the question of how we know if someone possesses the Spirit or not. Or to put it another way: What is our standard for knowing whether or not what someone says is Spirit-led? And here John gives us the answer. He tells us that anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is of the antichrist. Now you might say, “Well, that’s pretty broad. I mean there are plenty of people who claim to believe that Jesus is the Christ. Is that the only test we have as to whether or not what someone says is of the truth?” No, we have further tests, and here John points the way. What John is referring to is that teaching which the Church has always taught, “What you heard from the beginning.” And when we speak of what the Church has taught from the beginning, we mean the everlasting gospel expounded in the Holy Scriptures. It is this that is supposed to abide within us. Armed with the Sacred Scriptures and the Church’s historic understanding of their meaning, we can confidently discern truth from error.
I do wish to point out one thing more of great importance. John writes, “No one who denies the Son has the Father” and “Whoever confesses the Son has the Father, also.” It is through the Son that we have and know the Father. There is no saving knowledge of the Father without the Son. One may know that there is a God from beholding the order in the universe, but one will not know who that God is. That requires saving faith, which by definition is reserved for the believer only. It is also obvious that we are not worshiping the same God as that of any other religion, political correctness notwithstanding. We are Christians because we have been called into a saving relationship with God through Christ Jesus our Lord, who is the only way to the Father (John 14:6).