“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” 1 John 2:18-19
In my last post we looked at the first part of today’s focus text and concentrated on the reality that God leads his children, in every generation, to believe that Christ’s second coming is near. In this post we’ll consider the evidence that John gave that led to this conviction. The Antichrist.
It wasn’t very long after Jesus had ascended into the clouds that the first antichrist leaders began attacking the church. By the time John writes his first letter to the church he can say that many antichrists have come and it’s the presence of these antichrists that John points to when he sites evidence for the nearness of Christ’s return.
What is an antichrist? Literally the word means “against or opposed to Christ”. It can also mean “the opposite of Christ”. Understood simply the word refers to some agent or agency that opposes Christ and his work. They accomplish this work of undermining the Gospel of Jesus Christ by undermining his teachings and by substituting an alternative gospel, and possibly an alternative savior, in place of Christ and his teachings.
The devil will use any means at his disposal to rob people of the salvation Jesus died to provide. It’s Satan’s purpose, now that his ultimate defeat and destruction are determined, to take as many as he can down with him. He can’t attack heaven directly but he knows that God loves us with an everlasting love and he attacks us because through us he can make God’s heart bleed.
Notice where these antichrist agents began their relationship with the church. John writes, “They went out from us…” The antichrists began their association with the church by being part of its community. They’d been part of us. Notice also, that when the antichrists left, John states that they were no longer “of us”.
Many use this text as a reason to be on a perpetual witch hunt to weed out any possible agents operating inside the church. These hunters justify their hunting by saying that they’re protecting God’s church. But Jesus warned us that this kind of activity posed a danger to the harvest. Some of the true believers might be harmed in our efforts to remove the insincere.
Instead Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit and scripture as our defense. Through the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Bible we learn what we need to know to develop a secure relationship with God and in his name we find our true defense. Proverbs 18:10 tells us that, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Until Christ returns there may always be those that fight against us but, to paraphrase another scripture, He that fights for us is greater that they that fight against us.