Lesson Five – Flaws in the Doctrine of the Antichrist

Flaws in the Doctrine of the Antichrist

Introduction

The aim of this lesson is to explore John’s technique for accomplishing the purpose of his first letter.  His main purpose was to convince the church they had the full truth and the antichrists were liars (I John 1:10; 2:4).  After exposing the flaws in the antichrist doctrine in Chapters One and Two, he turned to the task of restoring the recipients’ confidence in their present and future fellowship with God (I John 2:28; 3:21; 4:17; 5:14).

What John presented to restore the recipients’ confidence is the gospel of Jesus Christ for Christians today.  It is what the scriptures mean to us – hermeneutics.  Scriptures mean to us what they meant to the recipients in the original letter.  Please review the Introduction to Part III for historical analysis about the antichrist.  A good exegetical approach will control Bible students’ understanding about what scriptures mean.  John chose to methodically expose the flaws in the doctrine of the antichrist before he introduced them in the letter (I John 2:18-27).  The antichrists were expected to attack the church in the last days of time on earth and they did.  Along with this introduction, he made the point he had already proved in the preceding portion of his letter: “They did not really belong.”  I John 2:19.  Although they had claimed to be in fellowship with God, they had not been begotten by God.

“Am I in fellowship with God?” is a question all “called” and “so-called” Christians should contemplate (I John 2:9; I Cor. 5:11, 12; 10:12; II Cor. 10:17, 18).  When it comes to spiritual things, “what is, is what God says is.”  By the wisdom of man we cannot speak about spiritual things.  John offered a list for our own examination of our individual standing with God (I John 2:3-6, 29; 3:14, 24; 4:6, 13; 5:2, 18).  All religious groups that have not been developed with “Jesus as the cornerstone and the teachings of the apostles as their foundation,” will want to study John’s “check list.”   See Rom. 9:33; I Cor. 3:10, 11; Gal. 1:6-9.  Failing to do good exegesis to control what we determine the scriptures mean has produced a multitude of “so-called” churches.  And this has happened in spite of Jesus’ prayer; “that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”  John 17:21.

John taught the doctrines we have studied in detail in Lessons 2, 3 & 4.  He embedded these great truths and graces while exposing the flaws in Docetism, a doctrine of the antichrist.  We will follow his style or “chain of thought” in this lesson to understand the context in which he presented the doctrines about life, grace and love.  Please note the “transitional words” presented in the Introduction to help us stay connected to the movement in the letter.  They are tools to help us move from thought to thought with John.  An important principle for reading a letter is to make sure we keep “in step” with the writer’s style.

Lesson

John had a task to accomplish.  His message was straightforward to my little children:  “You have the full truth and you are in fellowship with God.”  See I John 2:1, 20, 24.  His task was to restore confidence in God’s children in what they had been taught by men like himself (I John 5:14).  His message came from Jesus via the Holy Spirit.  Thus, he explained; “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all truth.”  Anointing has been translated from the Greek work “chrisma.”  A similar Hebrew word was used in Daniel 9:25, 26 in reference to “Christ’s coming.”  John did not say the Holy Spirit opened their minds and gave them a special power to understand the truth about and their role in the kingdom of God.  The Holy Spirit did open the mind of John and the other disciples Jesus trained to be apostles (Luke 24:45).  If this had happened to the brethren they would have surely been able to identify the antichrist; therefore, John’s letter would not have been necessary.  However, they had been taught by those who had the assistance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15; Heb. 2:3, 4).

John used the conditional particle “if” in his strategy to uncover the flaws in the antichrists’ doctrine.  They claimed it only “seemed” the Christ came in the flesh (I John 4:2, 3).  Please read I John 1:5 through 2:6 and replace “if” with a clause like; “in the event that,” or “on the condition that.”  This is the way John used “if” in his task of exposing the antichrists’ flaws.  John began his strategy with the declaration; “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5.  He then moved the recipients to the subject of “fellowship.”  Christians must understand the significance of the Greek word koinonia – translated fellowship in this letter.  It has the same meaning in all the endeavors of Christians.  Please see my book entitled, “The Letters to the Corinthians,” Part IV, Lesson Five.  The book can be found in English and Telugu on my website. www.whydidgodcreateyou.com

We will return to the antichrist issue after we consider the conditions and blessings of “fellowship in the light” with God.  John’s recipients and present day faithful Christians enjoy this same blessedness because of Jesus Christ’s willingness to do God’s will (Mark 14:36).

I John 1:7.            “We have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1:9.                       “If we confess our sins.”  In order for us to see by faith how the foregoing is happening, John explained the Priesthood of Jesus Christ as it is actively functioning for faithful Christians at this very moment.  See 2:1, 2.

2:3.                         We know God because we obey His commands.

2:5.                         God’s love is made complete in us.

2:6.                         We walk as Jesus walked.

With faith in the Son, Christians have fellowship with the Father (I John 2:23).  Our faith began to develop in our hearts from whence it led us to repentance before our baptism for the forgiveness of all our past sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:12).  These are the sequential processes of a Christian’s new birth.  We arise from the waters of baptism into fellowship with God while still dripping wet (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:8-11).  Christians’ faith includes our status as children of God.  People heard this message from Jesus, Paul and other Spirit filled men, as they preached the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; Acts 19:8).  Our faith was also in the new covenant God offered through the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:10-12).  Our faith in the new covenant led us in our repentant attitude of accepting the new covenant.  We turned from the life of a covenant breaker to the life of a covenant keeper.  Thus, via our new birth, we have been begotten by God “in Christ.”  I Cor. 15:22.

There is no darkness in this “in Christ” realm of fellowship of Christians with God, our Father, because of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  We need to do a thorough study of Hebrews to appreciate the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  God activated this priesthood after Jesus returned to heaven.  Jesus Christ is there today, just as Stephen saw Him:  “Look, he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’”  Acts 7:56.  John was given this same vision of Jesus functioning as our king and high priest and he recorded it in the book of Revelation (Rev. 5:1-14).  By our faith in this scene and our repentant hearts toward God’s new covenant, we enjoy the blessings John stated in the foregoing list of scriptures.

Our faith gives substance to Jesus as our loving High Priest.  The mercy seat in the temple stood behind the curtain that split the moment Jesus died on the cross (Matt. 27:51; Heb. 6:19, 20).  The temple service was a shadow of what Christians have in Jesus’ spiritual priesthood today (Heb. 9:3-9, 23-28).  Jesus is both our High Priest and sacrifice.  His own blood has been offered to God for our sins once and for all (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11).  In this guilt free environment we can freely examine the cause of our unloving behavior.  If we will confess our sins to ourselves and to our Father, He will continually forgive us while we practicing “walking as Jesus walked.”  Jesus is there in the presence of God as our advocate.  He qualified Himself for this service “because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”  Heb. 2:18.

The purpose of God’s new covenant is to give sinners in the world a new birth.  Those who are born again enjoy a guilt free environment “in Christ” by the doctrine of justification by faith (Rom. 4:25).  This environment has been provided so we can obey God’s commands and thereby conform to the image of Jesus (Eph. 1:3-14; Col. 1:27).  Please review the previous lessons.  Christians continue to grow in faith and maintain a repentant attitude while enjoying fellowship with God, our Father.  Faith and repentance was our part of our new birth.  The grace of baptism gave us God’s forgiveness of our past sins.  Christians’ faith and repentant attitude is our part in God’s grace of justification through Jesus – our atoning sacrifice (Rom. 3:23-26).  God views us as saints and counts us as righteous (Rom. 5:18).

God’s love is being made perfect in us.  Developing love, agape, is the highest goal of a son of God (Luke 6:32-36; Rom. 6:22; II Cor. 3:18).  Jesus, our king, is our law of life; therefore, our walk with Him as both our “Prince and Savior” is how we “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word implanted, which can save you.”  Jas. 1:21.  By grace, we have been given the status of sons of God with full rights while we work on becoming holy in character and thereby, righteous in our behavior (Gal. 4:4-6; I Pet. 2:24).  Christians’ grow into our sons of God identification.  This identification is ours by the grace and love of God (I John 3:1).

Now we can easily understand how the antichrist could not enjoy fellowship with God.  Let us consider John’s strategy for branding them as liars:

I John 1:6.  “If we claim fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”  John did not believe people who develop doctrines by the “wisdom of man” are ignorantly professing these doctrines of men.  He believed, like Paul, they had suppressed the truth about God in order to develop their particular doctrines (Rom. 1:18-20).  John believed, like Peter, “in their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.”  II Pet. 2:3.  Satan is a lair by nature (John 8:44).  Satan “masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions deserve.”  II Cor. 11:14, 15.  Jesus believed most of the Jewish leaders were in the religious business for glory and money (Luke 20:45-47).

Politician and national leaders may need to reserve their judgment about religions developed by the wisdom of men, but these religions still do not serve God’s purpose for His creation of mankind (Heb. 12:5-7,28, 29).  John closed his first letter with: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”  I John 5:21.  He warned “the chosen lady” who was a recipient of his second letter:

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.  Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teachings of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.  Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.  II John 7-11

I John 1:8.  “If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  John has now revealed a flaw in the antichrist doctrine.  Every mature person “in Adam” has the capacity to “distinguish good from evil.”  Heb. 5:14.  “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements are written on their hearts and minds, and their thoughts now accusing, now defending them.” Rom. 2:14, 15.  In this scripture Paul explained the inter-working of the mind and conscience of an individual about their own behavior.  People have the capacity to examine themselves.  Some people have hardened their hearts about their guilt about their own sins to the point that they have actually deceived themselves.  They claim they are without sin.  They have both corrupted minds and consciences (Titus 1:15, 16).  They believe their own lies about themselves.

I John 1:10.  “If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.”  The flaw has been revealed.  A mature person who claims fellowship with God must have a sin offering.  If he or she claims they have no sin they are either liars or they have deceived themselves.  Their other choice is worse yet!  When they say they have no sin, they call God a liar.  “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on all.” Rom. 11:32.  A person who claims they believe in the Christ but does not believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ does not have a sin offering (I John 5:6-12).  Jesus lived in a physical body for more than thirty three years.  He ate in so many different homes.  God has given us three witnesses: The Holy Spirit has witnessed to Jesus’ life and death in the scriptures (II Tim. 3:16, 17).  The other two witnesses that testify the Christ came in the flesh is the water and the blood that flowed from Jesus’ dead body as the soldier pierced His side (John 19:34, 35; I John 5:7).  The antichrist could not claim, as the Jews did, the animal sacrifices.  The antichrist “who went out” appeared to be claiming fellowship with God (I John 2:23).  They claimed fellowship with God but did not accept, “He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”  I John 2:2.  Evidently, the antichrist had some other problems with the “anointing from the Holy One.”  I John 2:20.

I John 2:4.  “The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  John used the string of thoughts he organized around “if” to embed the content he placed in this structure.  Literature has structure and content.  We are interested in the content.  He used the last “if” in this line of complex thoughts in I John 2:5 to introduce a discussion about those who do and do not love their brethren (I John 2:7-11).  The antichrists were still trying to lead the Christians who received this letter astray (I John 2:26).  Obviously, this is not the proper way to love ones’ brothers.  Christians obey God’s command to love one another.  If we accept this command and do it we develop love in our “selves.”  Christians walk as Jesus walked: “But, whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”  I John 2:11.

Evidently, John wanted to do more than classify those who went out as false prophets.  He helped the church understand why their doctrines were inconsistent with their claim to have fellowship with God.  What we need to note from John’s string of “ifs” is that Our Lord used this method to speak to us.  Doctrines about true theology, ethics and practices have been embedded in John’s task to recover the boldness of the church.  Again, we will want to examine ourselves according to John’s negative “check points” as we did in relation to the positive side.  The following are some questions we may want to ask ourselves:

  • Am I truthful with myself about all of my life endeavors?  Is my life as transparent to me as it is to God?
  • Am I open to challenge by others?  Do I become angry when they suggest I may have a flaw?
  • Do I specifically name and confess my sins to God when I ask Him for forgiveness?  Or do I generalize?
  • Do I ask God to help me examine myself for things that need to be fixed in my life as I study His word?
  • Do I study the scriptures to know God?  Or do I study to know about God?  Have I come to know Jesus so I can better know God?  Am I sure Jesus knows me as a member of His body now so He will know me on Judgment Day?  Matt. 7:23.
  • Do I walk as Jesus walked?   How closely do I walk as Jesus walked and taught me how to walk?
  • How do I feel about God’s commands?
  • And now John’s easy question:  Do I love my brethren in the church?  Do I know who are my brothers and sisters with whom I claim fellowship?

Please excuse me; the foregoing questions are the questions I want to ask myself.  You will need to make your own list after your study of John’s letters.  We have the God-given capability to examine our “selves.”  II Cor. 13:5.  However, we will not know the questions we need to ask about ourselves until we become a disciple, that is a learner of Christ.  Along with the foregoing personal questions, the following are for class discussion.  Of course, the personal questions would also be helpful.  We need to get it out in the open.  We need to confess our sins to other members of the church who understand I John 1:7.  It would be folly to discuss your sins with a member of the church who does not understand justification by faith.

Questions for Discussion

1.  After reading John’s first letter, as a letter several times, we will note chapter 1 and 2 are different from the remainder of the letter.  Which of these two parts best serve John’s purpose for writing the letter?  What was his main purpose?

2.  Please work through the scriptures with pencil and paper where John used “if” as a literary tool.  What was John’s motive for the use of “if.”  What is the message for present day Christians in the content John embedded in this extended discourse from the first “if” in 1:6 to the last one in 2:5?

3.  Please give “a word view” of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  What are the entities that make up His priesthood?  How does each part function to maintain Christians’ fellowship with God?

4.  What was the flaw in the antichrists’ doctrine?  What was their spiritual growth problem?

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