Bible Studies for Life for February 24, 2019

Bible Studies for Life for February 24, 2019

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Bible Studies for Life
By Jim Barnette, Ph.D. Samford University and Brookwood Baptist Church, Mountain Brook

When False Religions Deceive

1 John 2:18–29

A false religion will have nothing to do with the fellowship of the church. (18–20)

Various understandings exist about what John means by “last hour.” Some note that there is no article preceding the word “hour.” John is not saying “it is the last hour” but rather “it is a last hour.”  This view sees history as proceeding by slow periods of relative calm until a crisis is reached, an age is ended and a new age begins. This new age signals that things can never be the same again. John is affirming such a last hour has come. 

Others suggest that in spite of the nearly two millennia between John’s day and ours, we are a part of the same “last hour” in which the early Christians found themselves. Given the reality of time from God’s perspective and not our own, it is quite easy to conceive of ourselves living in the last days since the time of John’s letter.

“Antichrist” is a term peculiar to 1 John and 2 John. John confirms that the antichrist challengers “went out from us.” It is possible there are teachers within the Christian community who were once a part of the fellowship, or at least appeared to be so. But though they claim a connection with the church John warns that “they were not of us.” 

John is confident that his readers know this and are standing by the real truth of the gospel’s teachings, as his readers have an “anointing from the Holy One.” The word “anointing” is a reference to the imparting of the Holy Spirit to followers of Jesus.

A false religion denies Jesus is the Christ. (21–25)

Here John reveals the central tenet of the heresy he is opposing. The false teachers are denying the reality of the Incarnation — that God was in Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:19). They are denying that “Jesus is the Christ,” that is, God in the flesh. 

John sees this as the fundamental lie. The consequence of such a view is utterly tragic: Without a right view of the Son, one cannot possess a right view of the Father. If Jesus is not the Son of God and one with the Father, then it is not the love of God we see revealed in His life, death and resurrection. It is only when we receive Christ that we become sons of God (see John 1:12). 

“What you heard from the beginning” points back to the simple gospel John’s readers received. The word “abide” or “remain” appears 24 times in 1 John alone. If John’s friends will immerse themselves in the good news then they will “abide in the Son and the Father.” To this day, just as the best protection against a cold is to stay healthy, the best protection against heresy is a robust and healthy relationship with God and His people. 

We avoid deception by remaining in Christ and relying on His Holy Spirit. (26–29)

Having confirmed their special anointing by the Spirit, John turns to the future coming of Christ. Those who abide in Christ now will welcome Christ’s coming with “confidence,” (boldness) and without shame. “Born” is an important word here. 

Christians are not simply worldly people who are trying to live a little better. Christians are a people who have been radically renewed. They have been born all over again. The day in and day out practice of righteousness is evidence of Jesus having transformed us into new people. At our best as God’s children we bear resemblance to the Father.