Remain In The Son And In The Father
1 John 2:21-24
Key Verse 24
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.”
In the last section John drew a clear line between those who were in Christ and those who were not. He drew a line between the apostates (defectors, deserters, heretics) and the true believers in the church. He said of the apostates in 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.” These were the ones who heard the gospel, seemed to have received it, remained in the church for a while, and then went out and betrayed the faith and denied the very basic foundations of the Christian faith. On the other hand, John made a distinction between these who had abandoned the church, with those who were truly called to be the children of God, the true believers. John spoke to them directly saying: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth (or, all things).” The true believers were anointed by the Holy One of God, and had the knowledge of the truth written upon their souls. They had the Holy Spirit through whom they had the indelible truth etched upon their hearts. They cannot be fooled by the apostates. They shouldn’t be fooled by the apostates. They have an anointing through which they could sift the truth from the lie, the right from the wrong, the evil from the good. If we have a straight line to measure by, then we can tell what line is crooked. To them John writes with the full assurance that they would listen to every word he tells them through which they would be encouraged and strengthened and matured in the faith until they can grow from little children to men and women of God and pillars of the church.
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.” John tells them that he is writing them not because they do not know the truth— and that they might come to know the truth. But he is asserting that they do know the truth. They had the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And they already have the truth written on their hearts. He also tells them that he is writing them because as they know the truth, they also know that no lie comes from the truth. In other words, what he means is that the truth is not deceptive, nor enigmatic, nor relative, nor difficult to comprehend, such that it can easily be easily changed or manipulated. There is no lie in it. It is firm and solid and no deception can arise or grow out of it. It is perfect, unadulterated, transparent and simple. Whatever lie comes to their ears, especially through these apostates, it is definitely not from the truth itself nor is it a product of the truth, but the lie comes from somewhere else entirely. The gospel of our Lord Jesus is the truth. There is no deceit in the gospel. There is no trickery in it either. No lie comes from it. The Christian should know this about the truth, and hold it more dearly than life itself.
So John begins to expose the lie that comes not from the truth, but from the evil one. Read verse 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.” So who is the liar of liars? John tells us who! It is anyone who renounces the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. He is absolutely the deceiver of all people. He is the false prophet— the imposter. When John said: “No lie comes from the truth” he had in mind none other than the antichrists, the seducers of souls, who were preaching a different gospel which contradicts the true Gospel. John tells us that the liar is the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. And this is not the first time he calls such people liars. He has called those who denied that Jesus has come in the flesh. He has called liars those who claim that they have not sinned. He has called liars those who say that they know Christ but do not obey his commands. He called liars those who claim to love God but hate their brothers. Now he calls liars those who want to rob Jesus of his Majesty as the Christ. It is hard for us to imagine that a saint like John would use such harsh language to identify people with. But his love for the Lord Jesus and his faithfulness towards true Christian believers compels him to declare such people liars, for they were enemies of our Christ.
This is one of the most serious issues of life, even though most people have no clue as to the seriousness of making a lie out of the truth! Why? Because of the nature of truth itself. Who is the truth? Christ himself is the Truth. And therefore, anyone who disowns him is a false prophet, a deceiver who deceives others. To deny Christ Jesus is the greatest of all sins. Jesus once said: “When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin… because men do not believe in me.” (John 16:8-9) There is no sin of the human race greater than denying Jesus as the Christ of God. To deny him is not just a matter of turning away from some bit of truth, but a matter of completely forsaking of the whole truth of God. And if we change the center of life, we change everything related to our lives. In other words, if Christ Jesus is not the center of your life, no part of your life can ever be right. Everything in your life and all that is around you changes to a lie and a deception. That is the devil’s most powerful strategy to shift what should be at the center of our lives so that our lives cannot float but capsize and sink. If we break away from Christ Jesus as the center of our life, we break away from Truth itself. In truth, then, of all lies, that one which denies that Jesus is the Christ is indeed the greatest of lies, and the greatest of sins. That was the fatal sin of the Jewish nation. They rejected Jesus’ claim as the Messiah who was promised to all from the beginning of time, especially to them through prophets, prophesies and promises. That was one of the first things John wrote about in his gospel when he said: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11) They sinned against the most precious light that had ever shone on them. They were blinded by their own sense of pride and of self-righteousness. Their hearts were calloused to God’s greatest of gifts. (Matthew 13:15) We should never forget who Jesus is. He is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. He is the One whom God appointed for us to be Prophet, Priest and King. His disciples put their faith in him, and passed that sacred Truth to all who would believe and have life.
Read verse 22 again. “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.” There has been countless worthless rubbish written about the “antichrist” especially since it appeals to those who have a hankering for the bizarre and the sensational. It’s a subject for many conceited beginners who love to pretend to be deep students of prophesy and such. And there has been endless opinions about the person of the antichrist. In history, even Hitler or the Pope have been labeled and identified as “the antichrist.” But listen carefully. As much as there will be an Antichrist at the end of days, John here uses the prefix “anti” as something like “contrary to”, “against” or a “substitute for”. So, antichrist might be referring to someone who pretends to be the Messiah or to someone who openly opposes the Messiah, a fake Christ or a rival to him. And we have a sense to believe that most of these have emerged in the first century. But here John talks about the antichrist or antichrists as liars against the Truth and deniers of the Christ of God. John tells us clearly in this letter that: “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.” (4:3) Paul tells us that that the antichrist is “the spirit of the world.” John in his second letter to the church insists that: “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.” (2 John 1:7) It is evident then that accordingly the antichrist is all those who deny that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ of God. And we are emphasizing this because of the seriousness of this sin.
Let’s think about what denying Christ is all about. And this is to deny him directly or indirectly. To deny that he is the Christ is to say that he is not the Messiah— that he is not the One announces and promised by the prophets of old in the Scriptures. To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to disclaim, to renounce, to reject him as the one whom God appointed to be the only and absolute Savior of all sinners. To deny him is to reject his Person— as the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity of God, and to reject and to deny his Work— as the Incarnate Savior who came to this world to offer his life as a ransom for the sins of the world. And this in itself is a sin of the greatest proportions. According to the word of God, the one who denies Christ is not only a liar but the greatest of liars because this is the perfect lie as it opposes the perfect Truth.
This sin of denying Jesus as the Christ is a sin not only committed by outright liars who are completely opposed to the truth, but it is committed in many different ways as well. There are religions— man made— that outright deny the Christ. There are philosophies that outright deny the Christ. Even within the Christian scene, there are so many deniers of the Christ. Those who do not believe the Trinity, others who reduce Jesus to a man, others who deify men at the cost of the reducing the glory of Christ, making mere men equal to the Christ in honor and worship. There are those who directly or indirectly deny the Christ of God by making up false christs from their perverted and twisted imagination. When you make up your own loving Christ and imagine that this is the way he is, or should be, you are making a false Christ who is not the Christ of Scripture. And these days there are countless congregations who have devised for themselves a christ of their own making, using bits and pieces of Scripture mixed with their own understanding to create a christ of their own liking. So many are guilty of this crime against the Christ, perverting the truth about Christ to their own benefit. How great is the wrath of God against those who do so! It is indeed a terrible crime to take away the honor of the Christ of Scripture and transfer it to the creature who is nothing but a lowly creation. Men and women who steal the glory from the Christ, even in subtle ways have no idea of the crime they are committing against the Glory of God and his Christ. Deforming the image of the Christ with human inventions of a christ is not a small thing.
To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to also deny the mysterious and inexpressible union that exists between the members of the Godhead. This too is no small matter. The Bible tells us of this mysterious and precious union between the Father and the Son. God loves his Son and would ever hold him in honor. Jesus himself tells us of this: “That all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:23) Jesus himself declared: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) The Father and the Son share in all things, they are co-eternal and co-glorious. This Father did something wondrous when he sent his Son into the world. The Bible says: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.” (Romans 8:32) That’s what God the Father had done. Now listen carefully! Unless Christ is recognized and accepted in all his glory, as One with the Father, and the apple of His eye, worthy of honor and glory just as the Father, then we can say that he is practically denied in all things. The Bible proclaims the glory of Christ in so many ways. He is appointed by God as heir of all things. He is the Creator of all things and all creation is his work. He came to us on behalf of the Father to do the Father’s work of salvation. He offered his own life to purchase our souls back from the kingdom of darkness and to bring us to the kingdom of light. He is the Christ, the one who died and rose again from the dead and who ascended to the highest heaven to be the Mediator between God and men. There is no Mediator for men neither in heaven nor on earth but the One Christ, the Lord who was appointed by the Father. Therefore, unless we acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, we cannot really receive him as the Son of God. It is only when you recognize him as the One anointed by God to do his Father’s will in sacrificing himself, that you really own him as the Son. Anyone who opposes the person of Christ, his doctrine, his gospel and his kingdom are liars and antichrists. Those who stand up against him, and hold to teachings that are contrary to his Word, as the Bible declares, are hostile to his Godhead for he is One with the Father. They are his enemies. Why do men hate Jesus so much and stand opposed to his person and work? Because from the beginning of time, the devil has hated the Christ and his gospel, and has inspired this hatred in the hearts of all men. Jesus said: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30 )
Read verse 23. “No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” In other words, we don’t know God if we don’t know his Son. It is impossible to know God without knowing his Son. How little this truth is spoken of or realized in our day and age. We cannot know the Father at all, if we are not sure about his son, if we are mistaken about who his Son is, if we deny anything in the relation of the Father to the Son. Jesus tells us: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27) We cannot know the Father apart from his Son. Nothing in this world can ever bring the Father God to our hearts and souls if it does not include his Son. Jesus said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father….. I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (John 14:9-11) If we want to know God the Father, he can only be approached (John 14:6), Worshiped (1 Peter 2:5) and glorified (Colossians 3:17) in and through his Incarnate Son. Yes there are religions and philosophies that pretend to know God, even some Christian religions. But the truth about all of them is this: If they are Christ-less, then they are God-less! When we refuse the Mediator whom the Father has sent, we believe in a God who does not exist, a god of our own making. But Jesus promised us: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) When we receive him as our Lord, the Son of God, we come to know him and in knowing him we come to know the Father as well. More than that, we come to be children of God. Sometimes in the Christian scene there is a misconception that God is the Father of all mankind. But the Scripture tells us clearly that if there is no faith in Christ Jesus, there is also no spiritual sonship either. God cannot be considered Father of all, except for those whose faith is in the Son. One cannot love God and not love his Son. How can we reject the Son and have God for a Father. It cannot be! We cannot have the One without the Other. So John said: “No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (23) Only when we receive Christ as Savior, do we also receive God as our Father, and are brought into the fatherhood and family of God.
Read verse 24. “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” John has been talking about the lies, and the consequences of the lies that people believe. He has exhorted the young Christians and counseled them against believing the lies. He was pretty sure that they are protected from the lies because of their anointing. But he did not stop there. Now, he counsels them in the truth. This verse therefore, was John’s exhortation for the Lord’s people to preserve the faith, to not part with the truth. “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” The exhortation is to remain true to what they heard, it is the way to remain in the Son and in the Father. It is not enough to listen to the word of God and become acquainted with God’s word. That which we hear must become lodged and firmly established in our hearts. Why does John exhort us like this? Because human nature is weak and unstable, and there is a real danger of letting the truth slip away under the pressures and cares of the world around us. (Luke 8:14) The author of Hebrews tells us the same thing when he says: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1) The original word “drift away” has the meaning of “leaky vessel”. In other words, there is a danger for what we have heard to leak away form our hearts. Paul emphasizes the necessity of remaining or abiding in the word of God when he says: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2) “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.”
What must remain in us? Namely the gospel which you have embraced and confessed— the gospel of God’s grace and truth. The gospel which tells us time and again about the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, his justifying righteousness, his eternal word which is the nourishment and blessing of our souls. How precious is John to counsel us to remain in the word of God. We must remain in the word of God. Treat the word of God in your heart with care. Cherish it. Examine it often. Seal up the leaky places in your heat where it can slip out and become so common to you that you no longer view it with reverence and awe. Why? Because Every privilege we have from God carries with it responsibility. And therefore those who treat what they hear with lightly bring about disaster in their own lives. Jesus clearly tells us: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) This is serious! It is terrible for us if we hear the word of God time and again exhorting us, warning us, calling us to repentance and to faith, when we know of God’s character and his eternal judgment, to listen with dull ears and treat the word of God like we do worldly news! God wants us to listen and when we listen he wants what we hear to remain in us because it is our salvation and blessing. Here’s what the Lord tells those who listen to God’s warning as if it were a post on Facebook about cute kittens and dancing dogs: “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?” (Hebrews 12:25)
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” It is not deliberately that so many Christians depart from the faith and end up wavering in the world. But it is the slow inattention to what they hear that makes them drift away, sometimes laziness and other times not taking the word of God seriously enough. Let nothing distract you from the word of God. Let no enemy of Christ rob you of the gospel which has blessed you and given you life. You and I need to make this gospel dwell in our hearts above all else, giving Christ the throne of our hearts. Make it your deep concern that the word of God remain in your heart, regulate your thoughts, examine your conscience, convict you of sin and restrain it, lead you to repentance and to greater faith. Most of all let the word of God be studied diligently, retained in the heart, that it might make you see Christ for who he is, that you might esteem him, love him, honor him, obey him, and worship him as your daily walk in life. There is the promise that if the word of God we have heard and we hear remains in us, then we remain in the Son and in the Father.