Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Let us also beware of the spirit of anti-Christmas that prevails during this season and pursue to alienate ourselves from it. Just as the heavenly hosts, the shepherds in the fields of Judea and the magi’s from the East joined together to celebrate the bi

Opening illustration: When Secret Service agents train bank tellers to identify counterfeit bills, they show them both fake money and real money, and they study both. To detect a counterfeit problem, they must look for the differences in the genuine bill compared to the counterfeit—and not the similarities.

In 1 John 2, the apostle John helps to protect believers from heresy by showing them examples of counterfeit Christians and teachers. One of the signs of the last days is the coming of antichrists (1 John 2: 18). Antichrists are those who claim to have His power and authority but don’t, or those who reject and oppose Him and His teachings.

Are we looking for some common grounds in all faiths and denominations or the dividing crevasse that determines and establishes our foundation in Christ and only in Christ alone? What is it that separates us from the majority and aligns us to the one and only Triune God and His Word?

Let us turn to 1 John 2 and see how we can identify the spirit of antichrist …

Introduction: John gave three marks of false teachers who are controlled by the spirit of the antichrists: They depart from the fellowship (v. 19), they deny Jesus as the Messiah (v. 22), and they draw the faithful away from Jesus (v. 26). He encouraged believers to protect themselves against the spirit of the antichrists by depending on the indwelling presence of the Spirit, knowing the truth, and remaining in fellowship with Jesus.

There are possibly four subsections within this passage. In the first of these (2: 18-19) the author mentions the coming of Antichrist and connects it with the departure of the opponents. In the second (2: 20-23) he contrasts his readers – who have received an “anointing” of the Spirit – with the Liar, the Antichrist, and the opponents. In the third section (2: 24-26), he exhorts the readers to hold fast to the apostolic teaching they have heard “from the beginning” and to resist the opponents who are trying to deceive them. In the fourth (2: 27) the author concludes the section 2:18-27 with a final appeal to the readers to continue in the apostolic teaching they have heard from the beginning and not to be persuaded by the opponents. Thus in this section there is a lot of stress on the concept of “residing” (“remaining”), with the key verb (dwell) used no less than seven times (2: 19, 24 [3 times], 27 [twice], 28). This is also the section which spells out explicitly the departure of the opponents (2: 18-19), an event which is central to that is discussed in the letter.

Apparently we can protect ourselves from error and deception by knowing the false but relying on the Truth - Jesus Christ. He can only set us free!

How to identify/discern the ‘spirit of anti-Christmas?’

1. Depart from Godly fellowship (body of Christ) v. 19

They had once been professors of the religion of the Savior, though their apostasy showed that they never had any true piety. John refers to the fact that they had once been in the church, perhaps to remind those to whom he wrote that they knew them well, and could readily appreciate their character. It was a humiliating statement that those who showed themselves to be so utterly opposed to religion had once been members of the Christian church; but this is a statement which we are often compelled to make. They did not really belong to us, or were not true Christians. This passage proves that these persons, whatever their pretensions and professions may have been, were never sincere Christians. The same remark may be made of all who apostatize from the faith, and become teachers of error. They never were truly converted; never belonged really to the spiritual church of Christ.

It was suffered or permitted in the providence of God that this should occur, “in order” that it might be seen and known that they were not true Christians, or in order that their real character might be developed. It was desirable that this should be done:

(a) in order that the church might be purified from their influence

(b) in order that it might not be responsible for their conduct, or reproached on account of it;

(c) in order that their real character might be developed, and they might themselves see that they were not true Christians;

(d) in order that, being seen and known as apostates, their opinions and conduct might have less influence than if they were connected with the church;

(e) in order that they might themselves understand their own true character, and no longer live under the delusive opinion that they were Christians and were safe, but that, seeing themselves in their true light, they might be brought to repentance.

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