1 John 2:18-21 | You Have An Anointing


You Have An Anointing


1 John 2:18-21

Key Verse 2:20


“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.”


If we remember from the last passages 2:12, John first addresses the general assembly of Christians at the church calling everyone “children” expressing his tender regard for all the church members as his own children in the faith.  Then he addresses the three different classes of people in the church according to seniority. In verses 12-14 he first addresses the “fathers”, then the “young” people, and lastly he addresses the “children” again. The “children” he addresses here are indeed the youngest people in the faith, the young converts to the Christian faith, the newly born again members who have newly made the confession that Christ is Lord of their lives. He again attempts to address the group of “fathers” and “young people” taking a pause in verses 15-17 to give a solemn warning to the young people and to caution them against loving the world. He tells them: “Do not love the world or anything in the world” … because … “the world and its desires pass away, but the man (or woman) who does the will of God lives forever.” (15,17) In other words, the world and its desires are a pitfall for the growing Christians. Its magnetisms are alluring and causes Christians to fall out of faith. He encourages them to keep their hearts fixed on doing the will of God, because only in obeying the will of God will a growing Christian find true satisfaction, and eternal life.


Finally John turns his attention to the “children” again. The “children” in verse 18 are none other than the third group of members in the church who are truly children in the faith. young babes who have recently been converted and have found their place in the Christian family of believers. We can say in a sense that verses 18-27 is the exhortation for these youngest Christian in the faith which is left out in verse 14 where he ends with the young men and takes a pause to exhort them further about the world. Verses 18-27 speak to the young born Christians about a Christian issue of extreme importance, but not only to them, but would be well heeded by the whole church, young and old alike. It deals with the issues of the Antichrist, the anitchrists, and the person of our Lord Jesus. Every Christian who fears God ought to listen carefully to what John says in these verses so that he or she might not fall from the faith and shipwreck their lives. We all stand in danger of the consequences of ignoring the warnings found in these verses. It is better to humble our hearts and listen carefully to what the saint is tells his little children.


Read verse 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.”  First of all, why does John expressly target the “children”, the youngest Christians in the faith, the new converts? Because just as the young and growing Christian men and women are in the most danger of being deceived and drawn in by the sinful magnetism of “the world”, so also the youngest of Christians and newly converted are in most danger of being deceived and drawn in by the poisons of the “antichrists”. John wanted to put these youngest Christians on the guard because they are the most inexperienced and less established in the Christian faith. They are the ones who would most likely give an ear to those who would corrupt their faith and guide them into a different path than the one set forth for them by the Lord Jesus Christ, just as the word of God warns: “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14)


“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.”  What is the last hour he is talking about? The “last hour” is the time between the first coming of the Lord Jesus and the time he will return to judge mankind. The “last hour” is the time we are living in at the moment, the time when the Christ has come ushering in a time of God’s grace, a time when any man or woman who repents and believes in him shall not perish but be forgiven and rescued from God’s coming judgment on the human race. We are now living in the “last hour”, in the last times before the promised coming of the Lord of glory. John tells us that as it is the last hour, we have heard that the antichrist is coming. He mentions one Antichrist who is coming. He also tells us as it is the last hour, also many antichrists have already come, and no doubt will keep on coming till the end comes. There is no need to get into the theology of the antichrist or of the plural antichrists. But let us say that “antichrist” means an antagonist of Christ and a corrupter of his doctrine. Apparently the Christians of John’s time, even the youngest of Christians and newly born ones, whom he addressed in his letter were taught that to expect such things, that is, the coming of the Antichrist as well as the prevalence of plural antichrists in the world. They had been taught that before the great and wondrous day of our Lord’s final conquest, there will be fierce opposition to the Lord. They had been also taught that just as the Master himself had been rejected by the world, so also his children will be equally despised and rejected. So the very name “antichrist” should awaken horror and concern in their hearts and ours because clearly they are hostile to Christ and to all who belong to him.


John points out a little later that these false prophets and antichrists “Are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” (1 John 4:5) Such fakers and charlatans quote and misquote enough of the Bible to deceive those who are unwary and not alert when it comes to the true faith. How is it that so many of the early church as well as the church in history were so easily corrupted by these antichristis and false teachers? The answer is simple enough it seems. The Lord himself tells us in Revelation 2:4 “You have forsaken your first love.” When a man or woman or even a church family and congregation does that, they leave a wide open door for any kind of abomination to enter into their hearts and midst. John was careful to warn us all against antichrists all around us. But the greater warning is indeed in forsaking our first love who is Jesus. When that happens, anything can draw us out of our faith into the lies and deceptions of the devil and his antichrists. We should be careful never ever to forsake our first and true Love— Jesus— but hold on to this love above all else.


Read verse 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.” John here is talking about those antichrists and where they had come from. They come from within the church itself. They are not necessarily outsiders who oppose our Lord and Christ. They are ones who have been reared in the church, who have once been part of the church. Once confessing and repenting, and studying and teaching, but now clearly have abandoned the church and its fundamental teaching and have created a teaching similar but opposed to the true gospel. That is why is it hard to distinguish them from true believers. But how could this be? As the Bible tells us there are many in the Christian and un-Christian world who: “Having a form of godliness but denying its power ….. Always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:5,7) They had been in John’s day in the church as they are here in our day as well. The Spirit of God warns us saying: “In later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) These are imposters and heretics rising in the world and eager to corrupt the gospel we have received from the Lord. As John says in verse 18, they are already here in the world, seducing the world, and paving the way for the Antichrist— who is the opposer of Christ, the pretender to be Christ— to finally come into the world.


John says: “They went out from us”. These antichrists were not always open enemies to the truth. But they had once been professing Christians. They were not those who had openly opposed and rejected the gospel when it was preached to them. Rather they were those who had declared their fait and accepted the gospel. They had walked with the Lord’s people and then had deserted them. But it was far more than those who simply forsook a particular church for a while, or those who had erred in their walk in Christ. These had become leaders of heretical sects against the glory of the Lord Jesus and the doctrine of his grace. They had denied that the Son of God had come in the flesh. They were as we would say “apostates” from the faith, deniers disclaimers and rejecters of the gospel, although most of them still claim to be Christians. They would even consider themselves enlightened Christians and highly renowned and important ones in the Christian world, so to say!


It is always distressing for God’s true people of the faith to see those who they had once regarded as their fellow Christians abandoning the true faith for another reformed and restructured sort of faith that is no faith at all, similar in some ways, but opposed to the truth. it is most disheartening especially for the recently converted to witness such a thing. In the glow of their first love and beaming joy to see some of those whom they had communion with forsake the church. For this reasons John speaks particularly to the little children, the youngest of all Christians who have witnessed such things in the church. But in leaving the fellowship of believers, these people have renounced all things pertaining to Christ, especially his suffering on behalf of his church. In doing so, these people have emptied themselves of all love for Christ and his word, even though they would swear that they are still very much Christians who belong to the church— but they are not!


John says: “They went out from us.” And there have always been such people in the church of our Lord. In the old testament and in the new, there had always been such people who have abandoned their faith and the calling to which they had been called. We cannot be but vigilant against such things in our day and time either. At the beginning of his ministry our Lord said to us: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) Peter also tells us: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them— bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” (2 Peter 2:1-2) Yet John clearly tells us in verse 19, “But they did not really belong to us.” John tells us that they never really belonged to us. Yes they had professed the faith and even some have been baptized, and received into the fellowship of believers. They had sat down at the Lord’s table, and some have risen in the church to become prominent members well loved and received. But as John says, they were never ever living branches in the Lord’s Divine Vine. He says: “But they did not really belong to us.” It was necessary for him to make this clear since the church had clearly itself produced these vipers and nurtured them in her heart. Yet John denies that they had ever belonged to Christ. Why? Because they had not obeyed from the heart the faith which had been delivered to them through the word of God. So when they did not obey from the heart the teaching of the gospel, they were nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing. We know that this happened even to our Lord Jesus when many of his own disciples walked out on him. (John 6:66) They were no more than nominal “disciples”, who had never really believed the word of the Lord. (John 6:64) How often has the Scriptures warned us against such people! (Acts 20:30; 2 Timothy 4:10)


John also says: “For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us.” What this means that is those who have been called and personally changed by the Lord and given new life through their faith in him are also given a spirit of perseverance. They run the race that is marked out for them whatever the case. Therefore, those who quit and renegade and who apostatize could have never have been truly touched and renewed in their hearts by the work of the Spirit. On the other hand, those who have been divinely touched by the spirit of God will most certainly remain true to the faith and persevere in holiness to the end of their earthly life. Of course, these experience many falls and struggles, pains and troubles, falling and getting up, rebelling and repenting, but they will never ever leave the side of Christ nor ever leave the fellowship of his people because they are bound in his blood. John tells us in 19: “But their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” Why do these things need to happen in a church though? Paul tells:  “No doubt there have to be differences (in the original the word differences is heresies) among you to show which of you have God’s approval. (1 Corinthians 11:19) What this means is that when false prophets arise, God himself purges them to bring to light who are the ones who hold the truth in sincerity of heart and who does not. God is wise in this. He sifts the false so that the truth might rise above all else and shine through. God himself had raised these apostates and antichrists, for his own wise reason, so he also caused them to forsake the fellowship to separate his family from them for himself.


Read verse 20. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” Nominal Christians rejected the faith they had been taught. They had disturbed the peace and harmony of the church. They had turned many of the young Christians against their teachers, and had drawn them after themselves to follow false teachings that resemble the faith yet are doctrines of demons. But in verse 19 gives us the proof that these people were empty of truth and of God’s blessed touch in their lives. But John tells us: “But you have an anointing from the Holy Son, and all of you know the truth.” this is the contrast with what he had already said before. This is the provision the Lord God had made for his own people to preserve them from embracing the fatal errors of those who teach something else. The antichrist had been formerly part of the church but their leaving the church proved (like Judas before them) that they had been hypocrites from the beginning. They were not of God, but of the world, because truth did not reside in them. If they had been born of God they would have remained faithful to Christ and to his gospel. God permitted them to forsake the church to make it clear that they never received the anointing which comes from above. By their going away, they made it clear that the real people of God would never sell the truth at any price. So many appear to take the yoke of Christ upon them but fall away. Others persevere to the end because the Spirit has been given to them forever (John 14:16) and Christ’s intercession for them ensures their preservation. (Hebrews 7:25)


John tells us: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” What is this anointing? It is clearer in verse 27 who is the Holy Spirit given to those who have made the sincere confession of Christ in repentance of heart and in faith. The Holy One who gives us the anointing of the Spirit from above is none other than Jesus himself who is the Holy One of God. He himself is the “Anointed One” who completed his work on earth culminating in the cross, and in the resurrection and who returned to heaven. He became our Savior and again anointed by God above all his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 1:9) when he himself received the Holy Spirit and poured the Spirit first on his disciples and then on all who confess and believe his gospel form their hearts. Listen to what the Bible tells us about the one who anointed us with his Spirit. “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33) He himself has been given the power to dispense this most precious and important of gifts who comes on all believers. As John the Baptist promised us came true. “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)


“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” (20) If you are a believer, you have nothing but what you have received from Christ himself. The Bible tells us: “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9) But you have the Spirit of Christ, then you belong to him, and have the anointing that keeps you well advised in the truth, and the whole truth. This is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to all who believe promised by God at the moment of the new birth. The Spirit is the anointing John is talking about here, which separates from all unbelievers as well as false Christians who claim to have Christ and to known him, but who have no spirit in them. They have no Spirit because they have no true confession of faith in Christ and have not been sealed by the work of the Spirit who gives them spiritual birth and access to God.


“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” (20) And what are the benefits of having this anointing from the Lord, the Holy Spirit living in the believer and making us true children of God? John says to us that the first benefit is to illuminate their minds. That does not mean that the Spirit gives them any superior mental gift, or anything over and above what is written in the word of God and revealed in it. Instead, the Spirit enables them to understand what the ordinary natural man cannot discern or understand. (1 Cor. 2:14) The Spirit helps them understand all things spiritual by applying the truth to their hearts. This is very important for us to know. In order to see things from a spiritual perspective and to understand truly what the word of God means, we need two things. We need an organ of vision within us to see, and we also need a light from outside that can shine in and be perceived by the organ of sight within. That is what the Spirit of God does for us. He gives us that new organ, the spiritual sight and understanding to see the Scripture in the way God intended it. We understand the word of God because the light from the word of God comes into our hearts and we can see and understand all things, especially the truth that is found in the word of God. We see that by the Spirit, who enlightens our hearts. Neither man’s heart nor his intellect nor anything on earth will ever be sufficient enough to see what the Bible says, to understand what the word of God is telling us, to perceive the secrets that are of the Spirit. Only the Spirit and those given the gift of the Spirit can come to understand the truth and all things that are of God.


Read verse 21. “I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.” Not only are those who are born again of God separated from the world by this anointing that is the Holy Spirit in them, but they are also distinguished from those who are not born of God when it comes to essential knowledge— the truth that they have and hold on to. John says in verse 20: “You know the truth.” In verse 21 he tells us that he is writing us because “you know the truth and because no lie comes form the truth.” What he is saying is that those who have received the Spirit are given understanding regarding the gospel in all its glory, so that they are no longer in the dark but have come into the light of God and as such they are qualified or able to commune with God and obey him. It is that which makes us able to have communion with the Lord and it is that which enables us to obey him completely. We know all that we need to know to our everlasting well being. As Jesus had already told us, the best of all is what we know because in our knowledge we have life eternal. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)


We cannot have any saving and sound knowledge of the divine things of God if we have no anointing from the Holy Spirit. Without this anointing we cannot discern spiritual things around us and what is written in the word of God, and taught us through the gospel. God and God’s words and ways can never be understood with our intellect, because God is Spirit (John 4:24) and therefore can only be known by those who are made like him in Spirit, and made to become spiritual men and women. We who are born of God should not at all doubt that we have an anointing from the Lord, especially because we have his assurance and the word of God is the honey that sweetens our hearts and the light that guides our every walk of life. But it is necessary to talk a little about why John insisted that the children, the newly born ones, the new converts, the young Christians needed this particular assurance and teaching. Why? Because they often doubt their anointing because of their frequent weakness. John said that you know the truth. That is the mark of the one who is anointed by the Spirit.


What truth is this: Let us see how we can encourage them to know they are anointed of God and born of his Spirit. Those who are have received this anointing are firmly persuaded that the Bible is the very word of God. They never doubt its inspiration, nor do they question its authority. They have a spiritual conviction of judgment and reality of spiritual things. In other words, they are absolutely sure of the spiritual world that battles around them. They are assured of the truth of the gospel, so that they do not waver between two opinions on the issue of the gospel. To them the gospel is the gospel, it is that amazing thing that marks all things true. They are certain of the origin of the gospel, that it is not man made story but God’s revelation. They are also assured of God’s way of salvation, for the way of salvation is never a question in their hearts. They know that the way of salvation is as the gospel has stated it is to be. There is no doubt that only in Christ Jesus who died and rose from the dead, that one can be saved. Such things are firmly settled in their minds and beyond any dispute of doubt, and they value them above all else in this life. They know the Bible to be God’s word, because it has judged and searched them and had exposed them, the most secret parts of their hearts. They have the weight and power of the gospel residing in their souls.


Also those who are anointed have a humbling and personal knowledge of sin itself. Not merely from a skeptic conscience, but from the anointing they have received. They have a consciousness of sin in their hearts. They know they are sinners. the Holy Spirit is the great convictor of sin (John 16:8). It is an important part of his office work to remove the scales from the eyes of those in whom he is working so that they may behold Jesus to be the light and salvation of their soul from sin. As the work of Spirit works in them, the awful sinfulness of sin is really known to them. Its filth bothers them and its vileness causes them to consider it abomination before God. they hate it. They also know repentance. They know repentance not in theory but in practice. As a sinner they have learned to humble themselves and repent before God. They also know that Christ is the sinner’s Savior and no other. They know their weaknesses, and have looked to Christ as their only redeemer. this anointing gives him to see that Christ is everything to the soul. That in Christ their future is sealed, and in no other. That Christ is more precious to them that anything this world can offer. You have an anointing of the Spirit, if all these things are part of your daily faith and practice.


There are many today whom we can say of: they are ever hearing but never learning. They are not able to know the truth and embrace it. But we must come before God daily to learn form his word. If we have the anointing, we know what is from the antichrist and what is from the Spirit. And we live in the truth. The truth is humbling transforming drawing us to Christ Jesus our Lord. We believe in him, as the Son of God, our Christ our Savior. We must study the word daily and live in his truth and walk in it and so be aware of all the winds of falsehood that blow here and there whose aim is to separate us from the truth of the Lord and the gospel. You have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” Let’s hold to this truth, by the anointing we have from his Spirit. Amen.

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