“Christ vs. AntiChrist” Pt. 1 (1 John 2:18-27)

“Christ vs. AntiChrist” Pt. 1 (1 John 2:18-27)


Christ vs. AntiChrist” Pt. 1

Pastor Ryan J. McKeen | 1 John 2:18-27


January 14 2024



Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he was asking his disciples, saying, who do people say that the Son of Man is? And they said, some say John the Baptist, and others, Elijah. And still others, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. But then he said to them, who do you say that I am?

Who do you say that I am? Who do you say that he is? Who do you believe that Jesus is? That is the central question of our faith. of Christianity. It is the question that determines whether or not you are in Christ, whether you are a Christian or not. That is the question that will determine where you spend eternity.

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 John, 1 John chapter 2. This passage we come to now in verse 18 of chapter 2 is where John begins to directly address the problems in this church. We’ve seen a lot of introductory information that he’s given, some encouragement and exhortation to these believers. And as we’ve seen, they are believers and he’s writing to encourage them. But here he begins to directly address the problem in that church. He begins to speak of them. They went out from us. We’ll see that in the text here.

And this is a longer section that all really flows together, and as I said, it’s really a central part of the letter. And as he says in this section, the problem is between true Christians and antichrists, discerning who are The true followers of Christ and who he calls antichrists, discerning who is really of God and who is not, who is a Christian and who is not. And that’s been a central part of John’s argument. And as I said, this section this morning, that is really the question. What marks the difference between Christians and antichrists? That will be the question we will be seeking to answer in this extended passage, which we won’t cover the whole thing this morning.

We really need to begin to introduce the passage and begin to understand what John is talking about here, but that will be the question we are seeking to answer. What is the difference between a Christian and what John calls antichrists? Which side are you on? And really the whole world as we see it boils down to this question. You are either for God and for Christ or you’re against Him. There is no middle ground. There is no being neutral about Christ. You are for Him or you’re against Him. This is what John spoke of a few weeks ago when we were in 1 John. where he says, do not love the world.

Do not love the world or the things of the world. And we spoke about what those things were, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, because those things are passing away along with the world. And John was making a clear distinction between those who are of the world and those who are of God. the evil power and influence of Satan. He calls it here Antichrist. We really need to understand what the Antichrist John is talking about is before we can understand where he’s going in this section.

So we really need to kind of dig in a little bit in our introduction here to what is the Antichrist? What is he talking about here? And from the very beginning of Scripture, we see that there is this power of the evil one. this power of Satan. Satan and everything he influences are opposed to God and opposed to God’s kingdom, the kingdom that he intended to set up through Adam. Satan came and opposed that kingdom and convinced Eve and then Adam to go against God’s wishes and fall into sin. Ephesians chapter 2 tells us that we were all dead in our sins. We walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. And Paul calls in Ephesians 2, those under his power are children of wrath. They’re children of wrath because that’s what’s coming for those who are under the power of the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. This is the very Antichrist spirit that John is talking about.

Later on, he will call it the spirit of Antichrist. And as I said, this influence goes all the way back to the beginning. It began in the garden in Genesis 3. Then as sin progressed, it got worse and worse until in Genesis 6 we see that God brought the flood and destroyed the world that was under the power of the evil influence. You see it in Job. Satan comes to God and asks if he can afflict Job. Satan’s the one behind it. Satan has always been the chief architect. of the agenda that seeks to go against everything God has created, the order that he has put in place, Satan has always been the anti-Christ ruler of this world. He is the primary influence behind all those who seek to overturn God’s design and rule in this world. We see this term here, Antichrist, and that’s a term that is unique to John’s writing.

John is the only one who uses the word Antichrist. Other writers use different words to speak of the same thing. But we need to understand what this word means. It’s really a combination of two different words. The first we know is Christ. It’s Christos in the Greek. It’s the word Christ. It comes from the word, in Hebrew, is Messiah. It’s the chosen one, the anointed one, the one who in the Old Testament the prophets spoke of, the one who would be coming, the one who right from the very first influence of the evil one was promised.

In Genesis 3.15 we see that the woman would have a seed who would be coming who would crush the serpent’s head. That is the Messiah, the chosen one. The one who one day would come and end the reign of this Antichrist spirit. We see that has happened at the cross. Christ has defeated Satan, sin, and death. While we have not yet seen that fully realized, when Christ returns, Satan will finally be done away with and there will no longer be a spirit of Antichrist. And the time we live in, that’s the reality we face. The spirit of Antichrist is in this world. That’s what John says in verse 18. It is the last hour, and how do we know this? Because we see many Antichrists have come.

So the word Christ means Messiah. It is a title given to Jesus. Jesus, the second member of the Trinity who came in human flesh to take our sin and die in our place on the cross. Sometimes we think of, because we call Jesus, Jesus Christ, as though that’s part of his name. Well, that’s not a correct way to think of Christ. Christ is a title. It is a role that Jesus fulfills. He is the Christ. He’s the Messiah. He’s the one, the one who was promised and the one who came. He is the seed of the woman. He is the one who defeats Satan.

The other part of this word is anti. This is another word that we probably know because it’s brought directly into English. Think of the word like antibiotic or antivirus. It means, it can really have a few meanings. First, it can mean against. It can, to go against something, it’s anti. So literally it could be against Christ, is what antichrist could mean. But it can also mean in the place of. So something that’s in the place of Christ is also antichrist.

So, to understand this term that John uses, antichrist can either mean someone who is against Christ or someone who puts themselves in place of Christ. Someone who is an adversary of Christ, who is a false representation of Christ. Both of those meanings apply to the Antichrist, the spirit of Antichrist. Now usually, when we see something that is directly against Christ, that’s quite obvious.

We see this in various religions in the world or various religious systems. that are outside of the Christian faith. It can be religions that deny who Jesus is, they can deny the work Jesus has done, or they can just deny what the Bible says about him. You think of different religions like Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses or even Muslims, they all have a wrong view of who Jesus is. They deny what the Bible says about Jesus, and they fall into this category of Johns of antichrists. Because as we see in verses 22 and 23, who is the liar but the one who denies Jesus is the Christ.

This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son, because everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father. So if you deny what the Bible says, about the Son, about Jesus, you fall into this category of antichrists. Some deny the deity of Christ, that Jesus was truly God. Some deny the humanity of Christ, that he was truly a man. Both of those things are true. He was truly God, he is truly God, and he is truly man. The Bible’s very clear about that. Many heresies have come about throughout the history of the church that sprang from different sects within what was thought to be the church, and yet they come up with false ideas of who Christ is, and you see them splinter off into their own false religions. And it all starts with a wrong view of Christ.

Actually, this was a major focus of my classes this week. We focused on Christology, which is the study of Christ. And we looked at the different heresies throughout history that have come about that either deny that he was fully God, he just maybe became God, or he was maybe just a man that was a prophet and maybe God adopted him as his son, or different ideas that have come about that deny the reality Scripture tells us about who Christ is. And so I just happen to be lucky to be in this text when I come back after Christology class, right? No, God is sovereign.

It is crucially important that we get Jesus right. We must get Jesus right. He is our savior. And if you have the wrong Jesus, you don’t have a Jesus that can save you. So all of these anti-Christ religions that get Jesus wrong, they are all in this spirit of anti-Christ. They are influenced by Satan. And you need to understand that. Any religion or any system that denies who Jesus is, that denies what the Bible says about Jesus. They are ultimately motivated by Satan. They are a satanic religion.

And another thing we need to realize is the religious nature of everything in our world. Everything in our world is religious by nature. We are religious people by nature. It was John Calvin who said that the heart is an idol factory. We are made to worship. You will either worship God, worship Christ, or you’ll worship another idol of your own making. Whether it’s a false idea of Christ, or yourself, or whatever the idol might be, you will worship something. And everyone in this world worships something. Even those who deny that there’s a God, who would say that they’re atheists, every system is a religious system. And it is built to teach you to worship something. And most systems are built to teach you to worship something other than God. all the way back to the introduction of the theory of evolution. What was the theory of evolution? It was an idea they came up with to get around the idea that there’s a creator. We can’t believe there’s a God, so we have to come up with another way.

And everything that flows out of the system that started with evolution. It’s really a secular system, it’s the worship of self. It’s that I am God and I will determine what’s good for me and what I want to do. And we see in our culture today, the sin that is so rampant is flowing out of this secular, self-worshiping, anti-Christ system. We see the fruits of that system, things like abortion, things like transgenderism, things that seek to overturn God’s good-created order, the way God made things, and says, no, that is not good. I want things my way. And I’m God, so I’m gonna do things my way. That is the spirit of Antichrist. And we need to realize that everything in our world is either for Christ or against him.

Again, when we think of things that are satanic, we often think of someone who worships Satan blatantly. And there are those in our world too. We just saw in one of our state legislatures an idol set up to Satan by Satan worshipers. So yeah, that’s in our world too. But every system that steers you away from the true God of the universe and his son whom he sent, Christ, they are all anti-Christ religions and systems. All religions or systems that deny Christ are satanic and are anti-Christ. In John 8, 44, Jesus says that the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and he does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. So a good way to tell whether or not someone is of Christ or of an anti-Christ system is do they speak the truth? That’s what our passage will say, too. Who is the liar but he who denies Christ? People who follow Satan and his different influences are liars, just like their father, the devil. That is what John is confronting in this church, this system of antichrist.

These religions are everywhere. just like Jesus said they would be. Jesus said many antichrists or false Christs would come. In Mark 13, starting in verse 19, he says, for those days will be a time of tribulation, speaking of the end times, the times that would be coming, such as has not occurred since the beginning of creation, which God created until now and never will. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, behold, here’s the Christ, or behold, he is there, do not believe him. Verse 22 of Mark 13, for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will show signs and wonders in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But as for you, see, I have told you everything in advance. Jesus told us this would happen. Jesus warned us. Many false Christs will come. False Christs are what John is talking about here in the letter of 1 John.

Another way to lead people astray is to convince them of another Christ. They may not use that language, but there’s another thing that’s worth worshiping in your life. There’s another Savior. There’s another place you’ll find fulfillment. Those are false Christs. And again, Matthew 12, verse 30, Jesus says, he who is not with me is against me. If you’re not with him, you’re against him. There’s no middle ground. There’s no neutrality. You’re with him or you’re against him. So that type of Antichrist is those who are directly against Christ. But as I said, there is another type of Antichrist that we see.

As I said, anti can also mean in the place of. This type of Antichrist sets themselves up in the place of Christ. This can be seen throughout different areas of our world, as I said, things that you might find fulfillment in, that might make you happy, that might give you everything you want, that might save you. Anything that Christ does, anything that sets itself up in place of that, that’s an antichrist.

A very obvious place we see this is in the Roman Catholic Church. The head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, is called the vicar of Christ, or in Latin, the alter Christus, which means other Christ. So the head of that church literally calls himself the other Christ. In the London Baptist Confession of Faith that we read from, in chapter 26, section It explains this, the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church. By the Father’s appointment, all authority is conferred upon him in a supreme and sovereign manner to call and institute order and govern the church. The Pope of Roman Catholicism cannot in any sense be the head of the church. Rather, he is the Antichrist. And that is directly what he is. He sets himself up in place of Christ. to do the things that only Christ can do. He is a type of antichrist.

You also have within the Catholic Church their beliefs about Mary, which they just made a part of their doctrine not that long ago, in the middle of the 1900s, the 1950s, I believe. And they call Mary a co-redemptrix or a co-mediatrix. or a co-redeemer, a co-mediator, that the mother of Jesus is also a mediator and also a redeemer? I Timothy 2.5, there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. There’s only one. So any system that tells you there’s any other mediator or any other redeemer is lying to you. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? But again, this is exactly what Jesus warned of and what John warns of, what he warns his churches of.

In John’s next letter to these same churches, John 2, verse 7, it says this, for many deceivers have gone out into the world. Those who do not confess Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. But then also in 1 John, in a couple chapters, we’ll come to here eventually, chapter 4, verse 3, he says, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” So, do not be surprised that the spirit of Antichrist is already in this world.

Now, 2,000 years later, after John has written what he wrote, There are and always have been and until Christ returns always will be antichrists in this world. That is a promise. Just as much as a promise of Christ’s return is a promise that there will be antichrists. And we need to be on guard against them. We need to understand this world is either for Christ or against Christ. This world is either for Christ or Antichrist. There are ones who directly oppose Him and are against Christ and attack Christ. And there are things that set themselves up in your life in the place that only Christ belongs. All of these things are the spirit of Antichrist. Anyone or anything that impersonates Christ is a direct attack on Christ. And that’s what we see in this text this morning.

1 John 2, 18-27. We really see that the central part of this passage is in verses 22 and 23, where John really lays out the difference between the Christ and the Antichrist. I’ll read the passage again this morning so we can kind of get an idea of the whole thing, and we’ll come back and get through verse 18 this morning. We’ll have to pick up later on, but this is, once again, this passage.

1 John 2, starting in verse 18. Children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many Antichrists have appeared. And from this we know that it’s the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us. For if they were of us, they would have remained with us. But they went out, so that it would be manifested, or so that it would be revealed that they are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know the truth. 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. 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. Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. And as for you. Let that which you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise which he himself made to us. Eternal life. These things I’ve written to you about those who are trying to deceive you. And as for you, the anointing whom 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 he has taught you, abide in him.”

You can see a progression in this passage. It starts with the Antichrist, then it talks about those who went out, then he talks about the liar is the one who denies the Christ. And then in the next verse, he almost reverses the order. If you deny the Christ, you deny the Father. And he talks about those who went out, and he tells them of the anointing they have, and that they are to remain and abide in the one who has anointed them.

So let’s look at verse 18 this morning. John really shifts the focus from the love of the world and his warning against loving the world, and he addresses them directly. He says children, or little children. It’s a term of care and love. He planted this church, he’s their pastor, and he says little children. He doesn’t want them to be led astray. He loves them. He wants them to remain in the truth. He says little children is the last hour. You can see an order in this verse too. It begins with this is the last hour. If you look, it ends with, this is the last hour. And he says, the Antichrist is coming, and many Antichrists have come. We can know that it’s the last hour because of the multiplying of Antichrists. It’s not the last hour until you’ve seen these Antichrists. Some believe that there will be less and less opposition to Christ as we progress towards the Lord’s return. Well, apparently that’s not John’s eschatology.

More and more antichrists will come. And here John says, we know it’s the last hour. If you remember earlier in the letter, he talked about these things you may know. I want you to know. And he says here, the way that you can know, not think, not suppose, not figure, the way that you know it’s the last hour is the antichrists. You know the antichrist is coming, and you know there’s antichrists now. Therefore, it’s the last hour. John speaks first of a singular antichrist. He says, you know, the Antichrist is coming, just as you heard. What’s he talking about there? Well, the Bible clearly speaks of one who will come in the end and set himself up as the ultimate Antichrist. We see it referred to, as I said, John is the only one that uses the word antichrist, but we see this individual referenced elsewhere.

Daniel speaks of him as the abomination of desolation. Jesus speaks of the same thing, the same one, this abomination of desolation, and then John picks that up in Revelation as well, as he speaks of this figure who will set himself up and deceive many. And many will believe that he is the true Messiah. He is the one that was coming to save. And he is the Antichrist, the one who is coming. And he says, just as you know, just as you have heard, that this one is coming.

Now, some have speculated in the past of different individuals who are the Antichrist, who has already come. Right from the beginning of the church, they thought it was Nero. But then, as the church went along, they thought maybe it was Mohammed who began the Muslim faith, or maybe Napoleon or Mussolini, or these different world leaders that come and conquer and lead many people. Even more recently, either Obama or Trump or Biden has been called the Antichrist. And really, it’s kind of foolish to try to speculate who that might be. That’s not what John’s talking about. We know that there’s one coming, but that’s not what John’s getting at here. His point is, you know He’s coming. There’s already many coming. There’s already many here. The spirit of Antichrist is already in the world.

In the first century, when John’s writing, the first century of the church, there were already many Antichrists. Really what he’s talking about is the Antichrist is more of a concept, an attitude toward Christ. And many things in this world pick up this spirit of Antichrist. And they flow directly against what God has set up. It’s a way of thinking. It’s not just a singular person, although there will be one in the end. It’s not even just many different people. It’s an attitude toward Christ. It’s a spirit. The spirit of Antichrist. Anyone who sets themselves up as a Christ or is completely against Christ goes along with this spirit.

Remember, Jesus said, he who is not with me is against me. And to John, anti-Christ is simply another way to describe non-believers. Non-believers, those who reject Christ. They are of this spirit of antichrist. Now there are those who come and lead people astray. They too are antichrists. But anyone who hears the truth and rejects it and goes in complete opposition to Christ, they too are antichrists. John says they went out from us. They went out from us and went against Christ so that it would be revealed just who they are. If they were truly of Christ, they wouldn’t have done this. They wouldn’t have gone out and led people astray. But to show who they are, God has allowed them to go out in the spirit of Antichrist, to show us that they are not of Christ.

As we’ve seen already in the book of John, he’s providing these tests. different tests to see whether or not they are truly Christians. And his purpose is not to make them doubt. His purpose is to reassure them. His purpose is to encourage them, despite what these false teachers have told you, you are Christians. Despite what they’re trying to lead you astray, the lies that they’re telling you, if you know Christ, you will be saved. You will be spared from eternal judgment. You will be brought finally to God to live eternally with Him.

In chapter 1 verse 8, it says, if anyone says he has no sin, he’s a liar. He does not walk in the light. That’s the test about what you believe about sin. You think you have no sin, you’re a liar. Then we saw a test of obedience in chapter two. Whoever says I’ve come to know him and does not keep his commandments is a liar. You can’t know him and walk completely in opposition to Christ. Even Jesus said, if you love me, keep my commandments. So the implication is, if you don’t keep his commandments, you don’t love him. Whoever says I’ve come to know Him and does not keep His commandments is a liar.

We saw the test of love, chapter 2, verse 9. Whoever hates his brother, the darkness is in him until now. Those who love their brothers show that they’re of God, that they’re in Christ.

Then you see the test of worldliness in the passage we were in a few weeks ago, chapter two, verse 15. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. So all of these different tests John is showing them, these are how you know you are a true Christian.

You believe the right thing about sin. You obey Christ. You love your brothers. You don’t love the world. And here, as we get to this passage, the test is, do you confess that Jesus is the Christ? Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe in who he is? Do you believe in what he said about himself? That’s why John started the letter with, we have seen him, we know him, we’ve touched him. Believe me, I know who Jesus is. Do you believe who Jesus is? Do you believe He’s the Christ? Do you believe He’s the Son of God? Do you believe that He came in the flesh? Do you believe that He lived a perfect life? He never sinned, never once, and yet He was put to death on a cross.

He took the sin of all those who were deserving of God’s punishment and He hung there on a cross so that those who believe in Him would have eternal life. Their sins would be forgiven, that He would take their punishment in their place so that if you believe in Christ, believe in who He is, You repent of your life of sin and hating Christ, and you turn to him in faith that you too have your sins forgiven.

He says if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins. If we believe what God believes about sin, and we believe that Christ took our sin, he’ll forgive our sins. And John is trying to assure these believers that no matter what anyone else says, if you pass these tests, if you show that you truly believe, then it’s you who are saved. It’s you who know Christ. He wants them to stay strong in what they know to be true. They know the truth about Christ, they know what Scripture says, and that’s why it’s so important for us to know our doctrine, to know our Bible, to know the truth about Jesus.

We must know what the Bible says about all these things, about God, about Christ, about sin, about salvation. We need to know the truth so that we can remain faithful to it.

So who do you say that He is? Not what does the world say about Jesus, not who do they say that He is, who do you say that He is? If you are a believer and you’ve been growing in your walk with Christ, and you’ve been seeing the fruit of all these different things, your attitude towards sin, your attitude toward Christ, your attitude towards the worldly things, you’ve seen that you are in Christ. John’s writing so that you can be assured that he will bring you home to him.

Or maybe you’re a believer who is backsliding in sin right now. Maybe you’re living a life that you know you should not be living, that you’re looking at what this book says about sin, about confession, about forgiveness, about worldliness. You need to live your life for Christ. The way that we live for Him is our assurance. It is what assures us of who we truly are. If you believe in him, Christ has already defeated sin and you must keep fighting against sin in your life. You need to walk in the light as he is in the light. You need to keep striving to live for him and let go of those sins that you are holding tightly to.

Or maybe you’re indifferent. You hear this truth and you’re apathetic to it. You don’t really care. Yeah, that might be true, but what is it to you? Well, if you’re not in Christ, you’re of the Antichrist. If you do not come to Christ and confess your sin and believe in him, then you are destined for the same place that final Antichrist is, the lake of fire, hell, the place made for the devil and his angels, where all those who follow the spirit of Antichrist will be finally thrown for eternity, to live in eternal pain and torment, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, If you are not in Christ, you’re of the Antichrist, and that’s where the Antichrist is headed. So choose this day whom you will serve.

Are you going to give your life to Christ? Are you going to serve Christ? There is no middle ground. There is no third way out. It’s Christ or Antichrist. If you’ve not yet trusted Christ for your salvation, you need to do that today. Don’t leave without talking to somebody. You can come talk to me after. You need to know where you’re headed. You need to know Christ. You need to give your life to him.

We’ll pick up the rest of this passage next week as we look at the different marks of Christians and the antichrists.

Let’s stand and close in a word of prayer this morning. Our holy and righteous Heavenly Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the assurance that we find in your word, the encouragement, that if we believe the truth about Christ, what your word says about Christ and who he is and what he’s done for us, then we will have eternal life. But we also thank you for the warnings that we see, the warnings that John gives us in this letter to turn away from our sin, to turn away from worldliness, to turn away from the spirit of antichrist. We were all dead in our trespasses and sins. And yet Christ came and provided a way for us to be saved. I pray that if there’s anyone here this morning, that you’ve been speaking to their heart through your word, that you would bring them to their knees, that they would give their life to Christ and that they would repent of their sin and trust him for salvation. Lord, we thank you for your word. Christ is our only hope and we trust you in all of this. We thank you for this day that we’ve had to worship you and we pray all of this in Christ’s name, amen.

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