************ Sermon on 1 John 2:18 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on November 17, 2019

1 John 2:18-27
1 John 2:18,22
"Warning Against Antichrists (1)"

"Dear children," writes John in our text. John is talking to children of the heavenly Father. They know God. But they are babies in the faith, spiritual babies. Children don't know much about the faith, but they do know the basics, they do know the Lord.

John wants his spiritual children to grow in the faith, to become young men and women of faith, and eventually to become fathers and mothers of the faith (1 Jn 2:12-14); he wants them to grow up in the faith, to become mature in the faith. He wants them to be sure of their faith and their salvation. So they can be sure of this, in his first letter John tells them various tests to determine who is a believer and who is not. He says true believers confess Jesus is the eternal Son of God in the flesh. True believers repent of their sin. True believers strive to be obedient to God's law. True believers love one another with the love of Christ. True believers grow in the faith. True believers do not love the world. Today, he warns that true believers do not deny the Father and the Son -- like the antichrists.

I The Last Hour
A "Dear children, this is the last hour." That's why John wants to warn his audience -- because it is the last hour. The word order in the Greek emphasizes that word hour; and, twice John mentions "last hour." This is important to John and should be important to us.

"This is the last hour." John wrote this around AD 90 -- almost 2000 years ago! So how can he speak of the last hour? We all realize John is not speaking of an actual hour of 60 minutes, but to speak of 2000 years as the last hour seems a bit of a stretch. Other books of the Bible teach the same idea but they call it the "last days." The last days, the last hour.

To better understand John let me say the Bible knows two ages: the present age and the age to come. According to the Apostle Paul the present age is an evil age (Gal 1:4). It is the whole time from the fall into sin until the end of all evil. We are in the present evil age -- the age dominated by evil, the age in which the Devil bends the present evil world to his will. We are in that age and we have been in it since Eve ate the forbidden fruit. But there is also the age to come. The age to come is a time of righteousness, not evil. It is an age under the control of Christ when He rules with an iron scepter and all the nations are His inheritance (Ps 2:8-9).

Between these two ages, what do we have? We have the last days, the last hour. The last days of the age of evil. The last hour just before the age to come. That's the time we live in right now. The last days, the last hour.

B How do we know we are living in the last days, the last hour? Because the Messiah has come. The last days, the last hour, are a technical term in the New Testament. It is the whole period of time between the first and second comings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to what is said by Hebrews:
(Heb 1:1-2) In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son ...
Did you hear that? In these last days God has spoken to us by His Son. We are in the last days, the last hour. The present evil age is about to end. The coming age of righteousness is almost upon us. Other passages saying the same thing:
(1 Pet 1:20) He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

(1 Pet 4:7) The end of all things is near.

How do we know we are living in the last days, the last hour? Not only has the Messiah come but He has also sent His Spirit.
(Acts 2:17) In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
This is what Peter says to explain Pentecost.

Paul uses the word "fullness" to describe the start of the last days, the last hour.
(Gal 4:4) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,

(1 Cor 10:11) These things ... were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
The exact moment in history when God sent forth His Son was in the fullness of time. At the exact right moment. According to God's perfect timing. We are living in the fullness of time, the end of the age. Now that Christ has already come we can expect the present evil age to end and the age of righteousness to begin.

C "This is the last hour." My brothers and sisters, we are in the last days, the last hour. The fullness of time has come. We don't know how much time we still have. We don't know when the present evil age will end. We don't know when the age of righteousness will begin. Though when we watch the news and read the newspaper and see the direction the world is taking, we want it to happen now. But rest assured of this: we are in the last days and the last hour is upon us.

Therefore, says the Bible, be warned. Be ready. Be attentive. Be watching. Stand guard. Be careful. Why? Why does the Bible say this?
(2 Tim 3:1) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.

(2 Pet 3:3) First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

(1 Pet 4:7) The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
Terrible times. Scoffers. And, antichrists. Which brings us to our second point.

II Antichrist and Antichrists
A How do we know we are living in the last days, the last hour? Here is another answer:
(1 Jn 2:18) Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
We know we are living in the last days, the last hour, because antichrists have come. It isn't the last hour until you have antichrists.

Most of us are very familiar with the word "antichrist." I was surprised to discover it occurs only in John's letters (1 Jn 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 Jn 1:7). The term is made up of two words: anti and Christ. The Greek word "anti" can mean "against, opposed." And it can mean "in the place of." John has both meanings in mind. Antichrist, then, means someone who is against Christ and someone who seeks to replace Christ, someone who is an opponent of Christ and someone who falsely represents Christ.

We know it is the last days, the last hour, because there are those who oppose Christ. And, we know it is the last days, the last hour, because there are false Messiahs.

In John 15 Jesus speaks about those who oppose Him and are against Him:
(Jn 15:18) If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

(Jn 15:20) Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
In Mark 13 Jesus speaks about those who falsely represent Him:
(Mk 13:6) Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many.

(Mk 13:22) For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible.

When antichrists oppose Christ, the opposition is clear and it is easy to identify them: hatred of Christ, persecution of His church, denial of what the Bible says about who Jesus is and what He does. When antichrists take the place of Christ, the opposition is cleverly disguised and it is hard to identify them: false teaching, false prophecy, the appearance of godliness. This means sometimes antichrists are easy to identify -- openly going against Christ and the Bible; and, this means sometimes antichrists are hard to identify -- looking and sounding like the real thing.

B Notice, antichrists are focused on Christ. They don't attack Buddha or Allah or Mohammed or Confucius -- because they all are on their side already. They attack, oppose, and impersonate Christ:
(1 Jn 2:22) Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.

(1 Jn 4:3) but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

(2 Jn 1:7) 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.
Notice, the antichrist has a false view, a heretical view, of the nature of Christ, the deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ.

With the coming of Christ we have the coming of the antichrist: those who oppose Christ, those who want to replace Christ. It didn't take long for this to happen. Jesus announced He was Messiah and three years later they crucified Him. This marked the beginning of the antichrist spirit which is part of this present evil age.

C "You have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come" (1 Jn 2:18). There are antichrists who are already here. And, there is an antichrist, the antichrist, who is still to come. The final antichrist is no solitary figure. He is just the final one in a long line of other antichrists. John doesn't say much about the antichrist so to learn more we have to look elsewhere in the Bible.

Paul talks about the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2. There his name is "Man of Lawlessness." This title tells us the antichrist cares nothing for the law of God. He openly defies God's law. He openly opposes God's rule. Paul also calls him "the man doomed to destruction" (2 Thess 2:3). Another translation calls him "son of perdition." The only other time we hear this title is with Judas. Do you know what this means? It means his doom is sure. It means he is destined to be destroyed. It means "Jesus will overthrow him with the breath of his mouth and destroy [him] by the splendor of his coming" (2 Thess 2:8). Another similarity with Judas is that like Judas he is controlled by Satan (cf Lk 22:3).

Listen to Paul's description of the work of the antichrist as he opposes and imitates Christ:
(2 Th 2:4, 9-10) He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God ... (9) The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, (10) and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Do you hear how he opposes Christ? How he imitates Christ?

Jesus refers to Daniel 9:27 and says the antichrist is responsible for the "abomination that causes desolation" (Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14). Abomination means an act of disgust, an act of revulsion, an act of abhorrence. It indicates an act that is gross and blasphemous. And when he does this,
(Mk 13:14-18) ... then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (15) Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. (16) Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. (17) How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! (18) Pray that this will not take place in winter ...

I also want to mention the description of the antichrist in Revelation 13. First, we are told he opposes God and Christ:
(Rev 13:6-7) He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. (7) He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.
He hates Christ and the church of Christ. Second, we are told he imitates Christ to lead the world astray:
(Rev 13:3) One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.
He does his own form of Easter's resurrection and turns the whole world into Satan worshipers. Horrible, evil, powerful.

(1 Jn 2:18) Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

So what? What does this mean for us today? We live in a world where we are under attack by Satan. We live in a world where it is becoming increasingly dangerous to be a Christian. Even in our own country and in our own state there are so many who attack us.

But we don't fear. In fact, we are confident. Why? I can hardly wait to preach on 1 John 4:4 but always keep in mind what it says:
(1 Jn 4:4) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
There you have it. The many antichrists hate us and never stop attaching us and Christ. The antichrist is powerful and scary. But Jesus is stronger.
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