Each New Testament writer has a concern to bring before the believers -- church order, Christian living, and sound doctrine. Others write of specifics not found in detail anywhere else, such as the sanctuary in Hebrews. Their message is from the heart, and in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.
The apostle John has a very important subject to present before his readers that other writers do not bring out in such clarity. Paul mentions it a number of times as the fulfilment of “the mystery that was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest…” Romans 16:26 and 1 Corinthians 2:7.
To the Ephesians he speaks of “the mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, but it is now revealed… that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs… and partakers of his promise in Christ…” Ephesians 3:6.8.9. He then reveals the promise, “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith… that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16.17.19.
When writing to the Colossians, Paul again speaks of the mystery, “even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.” Colossians 1:26. He then makes it clear to the believers. “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. 2:2. 4:3.
John has the same message, but presents it in a different way. He begins by saying God is light, and all who confess their sins, walk in that light, together with others who walk in the light. 1 John 1:7. Some walk in darkness because they “lie and do not the truth.” 1 John 1:6.
He speaks of a new commandment, which is really the old command to love. “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light….”, but “he that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness...” 1 John 2:10.9. Thus the apostle shows that the distance between the two is as far apart as night and day. 1 John 1:5. 3:11.
After speaking more on love, John announces that the “antichrist shall come”, and that “even now there (are) many antichrists…” 1 John 2:18. He makes it clear that these people, who had once walked with the apostolic church, were “not all of us”, for “if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us…” 1 John 2:19.
He compares the experience of believers with these people, who he later calls seducers. “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” 1 John 2:20. This is a very important verse, especially the words “an unction”. The dictionary meaning of unction is ‘anointing’, and it refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. When new believers are baptised, they receive this ‘unction’ from Jesus, the Holy One.
After giving this vital information, John brings up antichrist again. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist.” 1 John 2:22. Obviously the belief of these local antichrists was in opposition to the ‘unction’, for John says, “… the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” 1 John 2:27. The false teachers did not just have a different belief; they were teaching a lie that was a denial of Christ.
The apostle makes it clear that the anointing the believers have received from Christ was abiding in them, and it had taught them all things. This is the fulfilment of Jesus’ words in John’s gospel, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26. When this was originally given by Jesus, none of the disciples understood, including John. Now he can speak from experience.
After speaking of love, John discusses sin. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” 1 John 3:6. The apostle is making it clear to his church that those who have been anointed with the Spirit of Christ do not sin.
His message becomes even stronger, “He that committeth sin is of the devil…. Whosoever is born of God doeth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:8.9.
All who have been born again and anointed by the Spirit of Christ do not sin. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil…” 1 John 3:10. These words remind us of Paul in Romans. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16.
John says the Son of God came to this world to “destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8. Paul agrees and says of Jesus, “…he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:10.
This does not mean there is no choice, but being born again of the Spirit, surrendered believers live an obedient life. Mistakes are sometimes made, but there is forgiveness, for “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…” 1 John 2:1.2.
All who surrender, receive the “unction” or “the anointing” of the Spirit from Christ. “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth
that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist…” 1 John 4.2.3.
The words “is come” in the above text are perfect tense in the Greek, meaning that they did take place, but are continuing. We understand the same with “judgment is come…” from the first angel’s message. Revelation 14:12. It began in 1844, and continues today. So Christ poured out His Spirit at Pentecost and He continues to do so upon all surrendered believers.
Jesus came into humanity’s human flesh 2000 years ago, but He now “is come” into your human flesh and mine, so long as we are surrendered. Romans 8:9.10.
Men and women who refuse to believe these truths are called antichrists by the apostle. Our usual under-standing of the word antichrist is that it means ‘to put oneself in the place of Christ’. This is true, but according to John’s epistle, an antichrist is one who denies that Christ came in human flesh, and that He also “is come in the flesh.” 1 John 4:2.3. To refuse these truths is to deny the Father and the Son.
This is also the teaching of the papal Antichrist. A Trinitarian belief in an “eternally begotten” Son makes it impossible for Catholic dogma to accept that Christ is truly begotten of God at a point in eternity, or that He dwells in believers by His Spirit.
John warns his flock to not believe every spirit because false prophets were trying to seduce the church. “Try the spirits”, he says, “whether they are of God.” 1 John 4:1. If men came to the believers with a teaching that another spirit indwelt them, they were to be regarded as antichrists.
“He that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4:4.6. The church was being warned that men not walking in the light would not want to hear that Jesus is come in the flesh. But this very denial distinguished them from the true believers.
The main thrust of John’s letter is three-fold:
God is love, and believers will love also.
God sent His Son into the world to be our Saviour.
God has given the Spirit of His Son to anoint those who accept Him as God’s Son.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God….In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:7.9.
God loved the world so much He sent His Son. Unless this is believed, the third truth will be denied, as both are revealed by the Spirit of God. When Peter gave his confession of Christ being the Son of the living God, he was told, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 16:17.
John’s experience made it clear to his church. “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20.
Only through Christ can we know the Father, and in Jesus’ words, “This is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3. Ephesians 2:18.
How can we have the victory over sin? “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4. We often quote this verse believing that faith is the victory. We even sing it!
However, faith is not our victory. John is very specific. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:5. If we do not believe God is a real Father who begat a real Son at some far distant point in eternity, we cannot overcome the world. When we receive Christ’s Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit will be in our lives, including faith, the “faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Galatians 5:22.23.
The devil will work in and through anyone who is willing to deny the Scriptures that are inspired by the Spirit of Christ. 1 Peter 1:10-12. To reinterpret the Bible to suit a private interpretation is the influence of another spirit and not the spirit that moved holy men in past ages. 2 Peter 1:20.21.
All who do not believe God sent His Son into the world are calling God “a liar”, and a denial of the Son is a denial of the Father. Anyone proclaiming the lie of Satan is speaking by another spirit and not the Spirit of Jesus, for He confessed under oath to being the Son of God. Do we call our Saviour a liar also?
Since Lucifer first opposed God’s Son in the heavenly realms, this apostate angel has worked hard to elevate himself. His denial of Christ includes the anointing of believers with Christ’s Spirit. In its place he uplifts his own spirit. Any glorifying of this spirit, although called the Holy Spirit, gives Satan his desired goal. Praying to this spirit and proclaiming love for this spirit is worship.
Brethren who believe in this false spirit may not know the truth, and in mercy God “winks at their ignorance.” Acts 17:30. A few moments after Peter had made his declaration, he denied Christ the goal of His ministry. Jesus made it clear that this thought was from Satan. Men and women may not be ‘of the devil’, but without a true understanding of the Word, the enemy can speak through them, and they are none the wiser.
Paul warned against another spirit when he said, “…if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” 1 Corinthians 12:9. His words to the Galatians about teachers of any other gospel were, “…let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8.
Those who have experienced the true “anointing” know that the Son of God is come. Their lives will reflect the character of the Saviour with the fruits of the Spirit, especially love for brethren who also have the Spirit of Jesus. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. Philippians 1:11.
There are trials, for John says, “Marvel not, my brethren” says John, “if the world hate you.” 1 John 3:13. Sadly, it is not only the world that hates the truth, but even members of our own church, some with obvious contempt. However, this very spirit of animosity is proof that the spirit is false.
At this point it is important to look at our own experience. If we do not love the brethren who believe, our testimony is false, we are walking in darkness. When we encounter those who do not believe and we become angry or aggressive, we reveal the same false spirit. The Spirit of Jesus will show respect and patience for all, especially to those who may not yet understand. The spirit we have received will be revealed in our attitude toward all, whether of Christ or of Satan.
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar: because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:10-12.
This is very serious. To believe that God sent His Son into the world, and to experience the Spirit of His Son in the believer is eternal life. “He that hath the Son hath life...” The denial of these two important teachings is clear, “…he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
When John writes to “the elder lady and her children” in his second epistle, he continues the same thought, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist… Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 7.9.10.
Other very strong counsel is given to this sister. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 1 John 10.11.
This counsel is also for our century, however, as our Adventist brethren are at this moment being presented the truth, we need to be gracious and patient with them. No one is condemned who does not know the truth, and many have never heard it. Whether the truth is accepted or rejected, our demeanour must remain Christlike.
But there will come a time when John’s counsel will apply to all who have consciously and deliberately rejected the doctrine of Christ. Then there must be a separation. It is to be clear, but with sadness and not anger. Until that day, let us share the truth of Jesus with all who will listen – in love.
John's Message - Christ in you
Article from magazine 'Give Him Glory' -- February 2017 edition