1st John 1:18
“Little children...” The apostle John is writing to Christians. He is writing to those he cares about. He describes them as spiritual children, people that he loves. “...it is the last time...” Or, we are living in the last days, or this is the last period. “...and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come...” Prophetically speaking, John says there is an antichrist coming. “...even now...” So in the first century John is writing, “...even now are there many antichrists.”
So there is one proper antichrist. We might capitalize that with an upper case A. Then John says there are many antichrists currently alive even as he is writing. “...even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
“Pastor, how do we know that we are living in the last times?”
Let the multiplication of the antichrists or the spirit of the antichrist or the message that is antichrist increase, and you can be more assured we are in the end times.
Notice now verse 22. “Who is a liar?” Who is lying? “Who is a liar but he that denieth [or denies] that Jesus is the Christ?” So anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is a liar. Furthermore, he says, “He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.” He is speaking here of the unique Father-Son relationship that God the Son and God the Father have.
Now look at Chapter 4, and let us look most especially at verse 3. “And every spirit...” So there are many spirits in the world. “Every spirit that confesseth not [or that does not confess] that Jesus Christ [Jesus the Messiah] is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
The reality is for 2,000 years the spirit of antichrist has been in this world. For 2,000 years there have been many antichrists on this planet. That is what we are going to focus on today.
First, notice especially verse 18. Initially, in the first part of 1 John 2:18, he writes about a specific person, a unique individual, someone that he refers to as the antichrist. Daniel calls him the little horn. The book of Revelation refers to him as the beast. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul calls him the man of sin. These are all different names describing the same individual. This individual may be alive today. He could currently be walking and talking on this planet. He breathes the same air that you breathe. He drinks the same water you drink. And some day he will rise up as a world leader. Initially he will present himself as favorable to Christianity. But the Bible seems to indicate after 42 months of a tribulation, there is a significant turning and he exalts himself. This is the antichrist.
Fortunately, it is my belief that the Church is raptured before the tribulation. I am excited about that. That means I probably will not have to spend a lot of attention on the antichrist. But the reality is that if you look at the rest of the verse he speaks of antichrists. The word anti- is opposed to or against.
Paul calls these many antichrists false teachers. In fact, he calls them wolves in sheep’s clothing. That means they look like sheep. They smell like sheep. They have four legs like sheep. They make sheep sounds. They eat what sheep eat. But wait a minute. They are not really sheep.
“What are they then, Pastor?”
Please notice that last comment. They are opposed to any attribute of Jesus that indicates that He is the Christ, anything about Jesus that declares He is the Christ. So when you talk about Jesus of Nazareth, when you talk about the historical Jesus, they are ok with that. When you talk about him as a great teacher, they are ok with that. When you make reference to him as a prophet, that is still acceptable. But when you make that transition and when you move from Jesus of Nazareth to Jesus the Christ, that is the dividing line. That is when they stand opposed to that.
This will be our focus this morning. We want to know about the person, the work and the message of antichrists.
Those who are responsible for identifying counterfeit money do not spend all day looking at counterfeits. They are trained to look at the real thing. They look at the real thing over and over and over again. And the purpose of studying currency and looking at the real thing is to be able to identify a counterfeit.
Let me see if I can give you another analogy that might help you. When I was in the army a few years ago—and it has been more than I would like to say now—I went through jump master school. For those of you in the army that was when it was hard. You know how that is, right? As a jump master you are the one who is responsible for inspecting the parachute, the rigging, the reserve, the harnessing, everything so that hopefully the jumper has a safe exit.
Well, in school you look at the real thing. You look at it done right over and over and over again. You look at it done right, done right, done right, done right. You look at it over and over, done right, rigged right, rigged right. You look at rights. You look at rights. And the purpose for that is that the wrong jumps out at you because you have seen the right so much.
“Pastor, where are you going with this? Where is this military analogy coming in?”
My goal is to teach and preach so much about Christ, the Christ, so much about the Son of God, so much about who He is, His person, His work, that you can immediately recognize when somebody is telling you something unbiblical because you have heard it so much. You have been taught. You have been instructed. You know what the truth is. You know the Word of God. You have been educated. You have internalized it. You know what it means that Jesus is the Christ.
It is a crying shame; it is an indictment against all Baptist preachers that Baptists of several years ago were the number one convert to the Church of Latter Day Saints. More Baptists were moving from Baptist Churches to the Church of Latter Day Saints. And these Baptists were not able to immediately identify the spirit of antichrist that permeates the Mormon Church. They weren’t able to identify it. The reason they were not able to identify it is that their preachers were not showing them right, right, right, right, right. Their preachers were not preaching on Christ, who He is, what He is, His person, His work; their preachers were not emphasizing His virgin birth. They weren’t emphasizing His Second Coming. They weren’t emphasizing these very, very important things.
So then when they slipped away from a fundamental Bible-believing church and began to read something or hear something, they did not immediately recognize it as heresy. They did not immediately recognize it as antichrist because they were not well grounded. In other words, they didn’t know what the real thing looked like well enough to be able to identify the counterfeit thing.
This morning our whole focus is going to be in the real thing, like the old Coca-Cola commercials. You remember that. It’s the real thing. Our whole focus this morning is on the real thing.
“Why are we doing that, pastor?”
So that you will immediately be able to recognize the spirit of antichrist. You will be immediately able to recognize what we are talking about. The key to being able to recognize a person or the spirit or the message that is antichrist is to know Christ, to know Christ, to know Him intimately, to know Him personally, to know His attributes, to know how He thinks, to know how He would react, to know what makes Him who He is.
The word Christos is anointed one. This is the Greek word for Christ. It clearly implies that He is sent from God. It is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. Daniel 9 makes specific reference to the coming of the Messiah and predicts it down to the year, some even suggest down to the day. And this is the word for that. It is an official title.
Christ is not Jesus’ last name. That is incorrect. It is not like Sean Harris. It is a title. It describes His office. It describes His person. It describes who He is like the title prime minister. It is Christ. It is only one person in the entire universe has this title, Him and Him alone. That is why the Bible says—whether you like it or not or whether you choose to or not—every knee is going to bow. Every knee is going to bow to the Christ. You can choose to do it this morning in this worship service or you can choose to do it in eternity. But the reality is there isn’t anyone who has breath who isn’t going to bow the knee to Christ. The word is used 514 times in your New Testament.
The Jews were anticipating Christ coming. Matthew 2:4 says, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together [this is Herod], he demanded of them where Christ should be born.” This is because the prophetic references in the Old Testament to the coming of Christ. They knew that the Messiah was coming. They could anticipate the Messiah.
People who believe, according to 1 John 5:1, that Jesus is the Christ are born of God or born again. Likewise people who deny that Jesus is the Christ go to hell. That’s harsh. Or is it truth? It is both, isn’t it? It is true. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that there is no name given under heaven, no name other than Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12, no name whereby you can be saved--no other name. Christ, Christ alone. There is no plan B out there.
Let’s turn to Matthew 16 and look at Peter’s great confession.
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples [this question].” There it is. “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Jesus uses His name that refers more to His humanity, His service to humanity, Son of man, a favorite title that He referred to Himself as. And He asked this simple question. Who do you say that I am? What are the people saying? What is being said abroad? What is being noised around? What is the rumor? What is the consensus?
Who do you say that Jesus is?
Verse 14: “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” That is a common thing today. He is a prophet. He is a great teacher. He was a good man. Those are all common references to Jesus.
Verse 15: Now He gets real personal. Imagine, today, that Jesus is asking you this question. He is looking you right in the face. You are having a private dialogue with the Son of man and He is sitting there and he says, “But...but who do you say that I am?” He looks you right in the face. He looks at you, makes eye contact with you and He says, “Who do you, individually and personally, who do you say that I am? How do you communicate to the world who I am? What testimony do you give?” He asks you individually. He asks you personally.
“And Simon Peter answered and said [unto him], Thou art the Christ. [You are the Christ! You are!] the Son of the living God,” is what he says to him. You are the Christ.
Do you understand all that word communicates? Do you understand all the awesomeness of that word, “Thou art the Christ?”
Notice verse 17. “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Peter, you didn’t come up with this on your own. You couldn’t think of this on your own. Your mind is not capable of producing this. This is a spiritual work. This is a confession of a heart that has been born again. This is the outpouring of a mind that has been radically changed by the power of the gospel. This is the confession of a man who has repented of his sin. This is a confession of somebody who has placed his faith in Christ as his Savior. This is what people who are born again say. People who are born again say, “You are the Christ.”
Please note that it is possible to believe that Jesus is of Nazareth and not believe in him as the Christ. Please know that. There are millions of people across the planet that would say, “Yes, I believe that Jesus lived. Yes, I believe that he was from Nazareth. Yes, I believe he was a human being.”
And if we are not careful we say, “Well, you are probably born again, then.”
But we are not asking them whether they believe that Jesus walked on this planet. We are not asking them whether they believe that He was a man. We are not asking them whether they think that He had good teachings. That is not our question. That is not a saving question. Faith in Jesus as a historical being doesn’t save anyone from his sins.
“What is it, then, pastor? What is it that saves people from their sins? What is it that makes them a new creature in Christ? What is it that shows that they have been born again?”
It is when they believe that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one sent from God. This is what saves a soul. This is what moves someone from a hell-bound sinner to a heaven-bound sinner saved by grace. This, this saving faith, believing that Jesus is the Christ that brings someone into the kingdom of God, this is the faith that forgives sins and cleanses someone from all unrighteousness. This is the gospel message that you can be born again, that you can be no longer under condemnation because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Now in the Old Testament there are three specific offices that are always referred to as anointed: prophet, priest and king. These are offices of the Old Testament in which each time, oil was taken and someone was anointed to move into this office. Before you became a prophet, you were anointed from a messenger of God, and you officially became a prophet. Before you became a priest, you might have been born a child of Levi or of Aaron or in that family, but before you became a serving priest, you were anointed. You were anointed with oil. And then, finally king. For example, King Saul was anointed with oil before he moved into that office.
In the New Testament, Jesus comes as the Anointed One sent from God the Father as our prophet, our priest and king. Any message, person or thing that implies that Jesus is not the Christ is antichrist. The more we understand about these three roles the easier it will be for us to recognize antichrist. The more you understand Jesus as a prophet, the more you understand Him as a priest, the more you understand Him as king, any time you see something—a message, a statement that is opposed to Christ as a priest or opposed to Christ as a prophet or opposed to Christ as a king—you will recognize that as antichrist. That is the spirit of antichrist.
If you knew that someone in this city was going to become the antichrist after the Church was raptured, if you knew beyond a doubt, if you had inside knowledge, you alone knew that person is going to become the antichrist, would you barbecue with him? Would you have him over for dinner? Would you watch a football game with him?
Do you understand that you have a hard time justifying having a best friend who is a Mormon? Do you have a hard time bringing Jehovah Witnesses into your house and having a Bible study with them? Do you understand that they are little antichrists? They are opposed to Christ. Do you understand you have a hard time having a Muslim as a best friend? Do you understand a Muslim is about as antichrist as it gets? Everything about the Muslim religion is antichrist. I could show you that. We could spend hours talking about every facet of its that is antichrist. Do you understand that your closest friends need to be Christians? Do you understand that those who you spend quality time with, those that you let your hair down with should be Christians. You don’t want to be hanging around with someone that is antichrist. Now you are going to influence them. You are going to work with them. You are going to share the gospel with them. I appreciate all of that. I am not talking about that. I am talking about barbecuing. I am talking about hanging out. I am talking about just relaxing and shooting the breeze together and being able to relax as a Christian. We don’t do that. If you knew that so-and-so was the antichrist, you wouldn’t say, “When are you coming over again?”
Do you understand he is not going to have a big t-shirt on that says, “Antichrist. I am the antichrist. Follow me.”
He is not going to look like that. From the outside he is going to look pretty well. He is going to wear a white shirt and a bright red tie, dress shoes. He is going to talk about his love for Christ initially. He is going to be clever, subtle, small messages. You have to listen closely. You have to know what you are listening for.
Please notice right here this is an important statement. The denial of the existence or the attributes of the unique, divine, only begotten Son of God who is ontologically identical to God the Father is at the heart of Antichristism. The denial—the denial of Jesus as the only begotten Son, the denial of who He is (divine in nature) the denial of anything that takes away from His unique and individual relationship with God the Father.
So when I read Mormon doctrine and I find out that Jesus has a half-brother I say, “Antichrist.”
This is what I don’t say, “That is a difference of opinion.”
Let me see if I can illustrate this for everyone in here. This is a Baptist Church and as a Baptist Church we believe in credo baptism. Credo baptism is believers’ baptism. That means you get baptized as a believer, right?
Now our Presbyterian brothers in Christ—and they are brothers in Christ—they have a different mode of baptism. They baptize infants. They don’t put an emphasis on believer’s baptism.
Now we are fundamentally opposed one to another on that issue. We disagree. But that disagreement has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. A fundamental Presbyterian would agree with this message whole heartedly about priest, prophet, king. They would jump and down on this message. Salvation by grace.
Now wait a minute. We have to be careful here. If you move over to Christian Church or Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ in which baptism is a requirement for salvation and you are adding to the work of Jesus Christ—in other words, what Christ did is not enough on the cross, He is not a sufficient priest; I still need to be baptized—that now becomes antichrist.
So it is very, very important. Sometimes we Christians, especially when we are sitting in the pews, we say, “Oh that...he is kind of haggling over the finer points.”
It is not a finer point whether Jesus has a half-brother or not. That is not a finer point. That is the spirit of antichrist. It is the message of antichrist. And it slips in ever so carefully.
A lot of chaplains have a hard time with having to preach next to a Mormon, having to preach next to a Jehovah Witness, and all of them are wearing crosses as if they are all part of Christianity. They are not part of Christianity in any way, shape, or form.
“Pastor, why are you so firm about this?”
I’ll tell you why. Monday through Friday the TV tells you that Mormons are Christians. It tells you all the time, “Mormons are Christians. Mormons are Christians. Mormons are Christians.” It is constantly telling you that.
Turn Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, all of it. It tells you the same thing. Why? That is the spirit of antichrist coming through the black cable ever so subtly, ever so deceptively. And so if you go to a church in which it is not taught and you hear it on Fox. And you think, “Fox is a good station. That’s conservative. They are kind of Republican a little bit. They’re fair and balanced and so they are calling them Christians...”
Do you see how easily that can happen? And before you know it we are not grounded in the faith.
So now anything that interferes with His virgin birth, His sinless life, His deity, His eternality, His resurrection or His Second Coming, anything that interferes with that is antichrist.
How about Jesus as a prophet? That is the one that speaks to us. He called himself a prophet in the gospels. In John 6:14 he says that, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” So anything that takes away Jesus’ authority to speak, anything that says, “Well, that is Jesus’ opinion” is antichrist.
No, Jesus doesn’t have an opinion. He is truth. So when He speaks, He speaks authoritatively for God the Father. And when you take, for example, Christ’s teachings put them on par with Mohammed’s teachings, what you are doing is denying that Jesus is the one and only prophet. You are saying there are multiple prophets, and one prophet is just as good as another.
And then we say, “Oh, that’s fine. That’s fine. That sounds educated. That is a good opinion to have. It is kind of multi-cultural, and it is politically correct.”
John 14:24 says, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” So there is one Father, one God who sent His Son as the one and only spokesman. And anyone who adds who that spokesmanship, like Joseph Smith, anyone that comes up with a new manuscript or an additional revelation is, in fact, the spirit of antichrist. Anything that denies the sole and supreme authority of the Word of God is the spirit of antichrist. Anything that says that there is another text that you can look at—that is not a difference of opinion. It is the spirit of antichrist. And if you see the spirit of antichrist, you ought to be able to recognize it.
In other words, I am not going to let it infiltrate my mind. I am not going to let it permeate into my character. I won’t let it in my home. I am not going to allow it to affect my thinking.
Christ the priest. He is called our high priest in Hebrews 3. He is called the one and only mediator in 1 Timothy 2:5 so the denial of His incarnation, His physical being or denial of Him as the sole mediator would be the spirit of antichrist. That is a great chapter. It is all about Jesus as the priest. Read Hebrews 5:1-11 and look for Christ as the priest in that.
Anything that adds to the cross, like confession is necessary, or there is a sacrament I must do, or any kind of good work or any kind of merited favor, anything that adds to grace is the Spirit of antichrist. Anything that adds to grace.
You say you have to be born into the church. If you say that you have to be a church member, if you say you have to have holy communion or holy confession, or you have to be married or not married, or anything that takes away from Jesus and Jesus alone is the spirit of antichrist.
It is not just a difference of opinion. It is not just two ways of looking at things.
Let me give you another example so that you begin to understand this distinction. There are some people who believe that Jesus is coming before the tribulation. There are some who believe that the Church is going to be raptured before the tribulation. There are some who believe this will happen during the midst of tribulation. There are some who believe that the Church is going to be raptured post-tribulation. Now those are three distinct ideas. I personally believe it is pre-. But the reality is—pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation has nothing to do with who Jesus is. All three of those—pre-, mid-, and post-tribulation—all can submit to Jesus as Lord. They can all see Him as their prophet, priest and king. It has nothing to do with the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The spirit of antichrist always will relate to Jesus as priest, prophet, or king. In other words, it takes away from him as being a priest. We believe Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. He is the high priest. He is the one atoning sacrifice that makes it possible for our sins to be forgiven.
Now if I say, “Yes, but you also have to be a church member,” I have just moved to where He is no longer the sufficient priest and I am, in fact, taking away from His work as the Christ in the form of priest. And that is the spirit of antichrist. And it doesn’t matter what it is, whether it be baptism, whether it be a sacrament, if it be seven sacraments, or three sacraments—anything that takes away from Jesus as the one priest, the high priest, the only atoning sacrifice is, in fact, the spirit of antichrist.
That is why when you read like guys like Matthew Henry, they are constantly going to the Roman Catholic church as the antichrist because they see so much of the doctrine in there that takes away from who Jesus is. They are not doing it because they despise Roman Catholics or because they have an agenda. They are looking at what they teach and how that line up with the spirit of antichrist. They are seeing parallels, and they are calling it the way they see it.
Christ as the king, as the king.
Sarah Palin was being interviewed by Charlie Gibbs this week. They got into discussion concerning whether God has a plan for the universe or not. Charlie was just shocked at the idea that God could have a plan for the universe. Do you know why he was shocked about that? Because he doesn’t see Jesus as the Christ, because if he saw Jesus as the Christ he would understand that the Christ means king, and king is in charge. And so whether he realizes it or not—and you don’t realize it—what you see on the mainstream media is the spirit of antichrist permeating into the newscasts because anything that takes away from Jesus as the sovereign king of the universe is, in fact, antichrist. Anything that denies that He is the Lord, anything that denies that He is the king, any thing that denies that He is in charge is the Spirit of Antichrist.
So could the spirit of antichrist creep into my own life? Sure, if I am not careful. What if King Jesus is telling me to do something and I am rebelling against it? What if King Jesus is telling you to do something? King Jesus is saying, “Stay married. Stay in that relationship. Stay faithful.” King Jesus is saying, “Go the distance.” King Jesus is saying, “Don’t you dare leave him.” King Jesus is saying, “You stay the distance.”
And you find yourself rebelling against him as king. Do you know what that is? That is the spirit of antichrist. You don’t even recognize it, but it is the rebellious spirit of antichrist creeping into you.
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” If you don’t see him as king you are not born of God. Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek who is the king of Salem and priest of the most high God.
If you will make yourself understand this, if you will begin to see Jesus as your priest, as your prophet and as your king, the Word of God and your relationship with Christ will come alive to you.
“Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.”
Paul calls Jesus the king eternal, immortal, invisible in 1 Timothy 1:7.
So let me show you how this works in the life of a believer and in the life of an unbeliever. In the life of a believer, I see Jesus Christ as my prophet. You are my prophet. You speak to me. I listen to you. I receive instructions from you. You are my prophet. You are the one who speaks to me either through the Word of God or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the best case scenario is a combination of both. You are reading the Word of God and the Spirit is speaking to you and you hear truth. That is Jesus as your prophet.
I love you as my prophet. I appreciate your speaking to me that way.
Now at that point you have to decide, will I submit to Jesus as my king.
See, the prophet would come with the message in the Old Testament. You still had a choice to make. So now is he your king? Is he your king? Is he your authority figure? Do you bow before him? Do you acknowledge the message as coming from king, prophet, priest and therefore you must submit to it as authoritative?
You say, “Pastor, I try to do that.”
Me, too. How many of you say that you do that 95%, 98% of the time? Ok, me neither. How about 50% on a good day? I am just being honest, because you could have a bad day. If you have to leave the house, it is all down hill at that point. I do my very best on Tuesdays in the morning. I chase everybody out of the house. I confess all my sin, turn the phone off, and I can go about 20 minutes. That is the reality. We struggle with sin, don’t we?
And so what do we do at that point? The prophet speaks to us. We submit to him as king. And then we fail the king. We didn’t listen to the prophet. So who do we run to? We run to the priest. We run to our priest. And we say, “I sure am glad you are my prophet and you spoke to me. I am going to submit to you as a king and I failed you as a priest, so please forgive me.”
And we fall before him as our priest. And we say, “Dear Jesus, thank you for going on the cross. Thank you for making it possible for my sins to be forgiven. I love you as my priest—my savior. I bow before you as a king. Please keep speaking to me as a prophet.”