Summary: It is increasingly apparent that we are living in the end times. The return of our Lord is drawing closer with each passing day. As we move through these last days, it is good to have biblical instruction regarding them. John provides needed insight.
The End Time in Our Time
1 John 2: 18-23
In our previous study John gave direction concerning spiritual victory for the believer. Regardless of our maturity level, all need to grow in the Lord. Continued growth is essential in overcoming the difficulties we face. John knew the struggles present and he sought to inform us of specific pitfalls that are common to all: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We found that all sin ultimately falls into one of these three categories.
Our text this evening continues to deal with particular difficulties common to all believers in every generation. John reveals the presence and dangers associated with the spirit of antichrist. They were only a few decades removed from the ascension of Christ and the spirit of antichrist was already prevalent among them. Now we stand some 2,000 years removed and the spirit of opposition to Christ and His church grows stronger.
As we look at the verses before us, I want to examine the distinctions John shares concerning our day as we consider: The End Time in Our Time. We discover it is:
I. A Definitive Time (18) – Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. Such a time as this can be clearly defined. Notice:
A. The Proclamation (18a) – Little children, it is the last time: It is evident John is writing to the church, the children of God. He declares that they were living in the last time. How could that be? Was John mistaken? If they were living in the last time 2,000 years ago, then why are we still here? Why hasn’t Jesus already returned? We must understand the realm in which John speaks. He is not speaking of the specific time when the Lord returns, but the span of time between His ascension and His second coming. John lived in the last time and we remain in that time.
B. The Degradation (18b) – Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; John confirms what they had been taught. In the last time, the spirit of antichrist would be prevalent upon the earth. We know just prior to our Lord’s return, Antichrist will establish world-wide rule and domination. He will come and deceive many. We don’t know exactly when that will occur, but clearly it hasn’t happened yet. However the spirit of antichrist, standing in opposition to all that is godly and righteous, is present today.
Believers in John’s day faced opposition and that opposition is growing stronger with each passing day. We live in an age when the majority of society resists the Christian agenda. Other religions are being promoted in America while Christians are being restricted from practicing their faith publicly. Our world continues to embrace the spirit of antichrist.
C. The Confirmation (18c) – whereby we know that it is the last time. John reveals the presence of this spirit of antichrist confirms the existence of the last time. No man knows when the Lord will return, but we can know and understand that we are definitely living in the last time. 2 Tim.3:1 – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 Tim.4:3-4 – For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
II. A Disruptive Time (19) – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. Here we see the disruption these cause among the church. Consider:
A. Their Deception (19a) – They went out from us, but they were not of us; John experienced those who had been perceived as part of the church, departing because they were not genuinely born again. Some may have stayed for years, others just a short while, but eventually they left.
We have all experienced this in our Christian journey. I know many who made professions of faith and attended church regularly. By all outward appearances they were saved, but they have since left the church and have no desire for the things of God any more. I am convinced our churches are filled with professors who lack a genuine possession. How else do you explain the turmoil and division many churches face?