Summary: The antichrists are around all the time and many of them are very nice. If they are going to be saved our radically calling is not to be nice Christians, but sacrificially loving Christians. John teaches us how to do this.
You listen to the full message here:-
“The Nice Antichrists”
We can’t put an exact picture together of the historical situation which John is addressing, but it is very obvious that there has been some sort of breakup within the church.
One group has stayed with the church and John continues to write to them to encourage them to stick with the faith, and to look at their relationship with Jesus, and to hold firm – that they may know that they have eternal life.
Another group has gone away from the church and this group is causing problems. They are trying to persuade others to join them. They are causing the faithful to doubt and to question. John is warning against them because they are a problem.
It comes to a collision point in our text today.
1 John 2:18-29 (read)
What is it about that word which makes our ears pick up and increases our interest?
Watch out for the Antichrist! That is what we do as Christians, don’t we. We are on the look-out for some individual that embodies everything that is against Christ … against Jesus.
Over the centuries there have been a number of individuals who were identified as the “antichrist”
Emperor Nero – who ruled Rome from 37-68AD was a popular choice. Not without reason. Nero persecuted Christians so ruthlessly that even people who were against Christianity sided with Christians against Nero’s barbarity.
The Pope … or should I say … multiple numbers of Popes are the all-time most popular contender for the title of Antichrist. The accusation is always made by a protestant who has assumed the office of the papacy is the office of the Antichrist.
Hitler, for many obvious reasons, was called the antichrist.
Indeed, even during COVID-19, the identification “anti-Christ” has regularly been used.
But here is where we need to be a little careful and look closely at Scripture. We do this because there are only four verses in Scripture which mention the antichrist. All of them are in John’s epistles. We have read two of them today.
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.
Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist – denying the Father and the Son.
The other two:-
3 (E)very 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.
7 (M)any 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.
These are the verses – that is it.
Paul talks about the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2 – but not the antichrist.
In the book of Revelation there are beasts, dragons, demons, satanic legions and a false prophet … but no mention of antichrists.
The Antichrist … is not one specific individual who appears a one specific point in time. Antichrist is a collective. It refers to a group of people … who have come in the past, and who are still coming … who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh.
Which means that the main criteria for “antichrist identification” is not a moral one.
You are not the anti-Christ just because you persecute the church and put Christians to death. Paul did that, but he was not the antichrist.
You are not the anti-Christ just because you have behaviour which morally breaks the laws of Scripture. If that was the case all of us could be identified as “antichrist” at some point in our lives.
Moral deficiency is not the main criteria for antichrist identification. The main criteria for antichrist identification is a theological one.
They deny that Jesus is the Christ.
They do not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.
Which is what makes antichrist identification so difficult. Because, in many cases, those who fit the scripture criteria of being identified as “anti-Christ” – well they actually don’t seem to be such terrible people. John draws our attention to this reality in 1 John 2:18-19
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. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.