Let me just read a section from 1 John chapter 2 starting in verse 18. Children, it is the last hour and as you have heard that Antichrist is coming, so now many Antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us.
For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
Who is a liar, but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist. He denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has a Father. Whoever confesses a Son has a Father also. Let what you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you have heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
And this is a promise that he made to us eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you abide in him.
Father, we are gathered as children of God, and we desperately want to hear from You. We pray, Lord Jesus, that You would bind any unclean spirit in this place. Any unclean spirit, deceiving spirit, lying tongue that is tormenting us, deceiving us, leading us astray, we bind and rebuke all of you and cast you into the Abyss.
We pray, Lord Jesus, that You would send the Holy Spirit to teach us who is the real Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Well, we covered last week chapter one and part of chapter two of 1 John, and chapter one, it gives an explanation of many of us in the body of Christ. We want to walk in the light, we want a fellowship with God who is in the light, and yet we stumble on occasion. And there’s grace for us. And so chapter one, many Christians might end there and say, okay, I can stumble, I can be addicted, I can have these patterns of sin, it’s okay, there’s grace.
And then he goes to chapter two, verse one, my little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.
So it’s a little confusing because in chapter one, he says, we’re all sinners, we all fall into sin. God is light and how can you fellowship with Him if you walk in darkness. We should walk in the light, but if you don’t, don’t worry, there’s grace for you. And so it ends with that kind of a sentiment.
And then shockingly, he says in chapter two, I’m writing these things so that you do not sin. So there’s a level of victory, of freedom in Christ that we can experience once we fellowship consistently with the real Jesus.
And that’s why he’s writing this letter. And then chapter two, he has a different reason. It says in verse 28, it says, I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.
And so the first section he’s writing so that we can understand that we will and we should overcome all patterns of sinning. We stumble on occasion, but if you fellowship with Jesus, there is a victory and a freedom that we should expect, a fruit like the woman caught in adultery. In that moment, she’s set free. Jesus says, you’re forgiven. He also says, and sin no more. And so there’s a freedom that this woman experiences that all of us should experience as we grow in our relationship with Jesus.
And then chapter two, the purpose shifts. Now he’s saying, I’m writing to you so that you are not deceived. In verse 18 of first John chapter two, there’s the word “antichrist.” And the word antichrist sounds like it means somebody with horns and a pitchfork, someone who’s obviously satanic. Of course, that is the antichrist, the spirit of the antichrist.
But another translation, in addition to opposing Christ overtly, is somebody who kind of slips in and takes the place of Christ. That too is an antichrist. And there are many such antichrists in this world in our world today.
If John said, back in the first century, there are many antichrists, how many more do you think there are in the year 2023? Many. And especially if you and I are discerning correctly that we are approaching the return of Jesus Christ, what the Christians experienced in the first century, if it is the last century, then there’s going to be a sudden explosion of antichrists in this world again.
So how many Jesuses are there in the world based on first John chapter two? there are many, many counterfeit Christs.
I think we would be able to tell if Satan showed up and he revealed his true nature. We would obviously not be deceived by Satan. But if Satan masquerades as an angel of light, as it says in 2 Cor 11.
And there are many such people. And so if somebody says they are a pastor, somebody who says they’re a Christian, somebody who’s preaching about Jesus, automatically I think if you’re a Christian, you just give them your ear. You just assume, oh, we’re on the same side. We’re preaching the same thing. We’re actually fellowshiping with the same Jesus.
But it’s simply not true. Satan, he is disguised. There are many Jesuses. There is a doctrinal Jesus out there and pastors are accurately explaining about Jesus, they are very theologically sound. And yet the person who’s preaching doesn’t actually love Jesus. There’s no love. There’s no peace. There’s no joy. There’s no fruit. You know, a tree by its fruit. So as you fellowship with that person longer and longer, what they’re preaching about, which is accurate, it seems disconnected with their personal life.
There’s also the personalized Jesus. And I think this is just a Jesus of one’s own imagination. It says in the last day, 2 Timothy 4, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.
And so if you have a certain inclination that you want a certain kind of a Jesus, I guarantee you will be able to find a teacher that fits what you’re looking for. There is no shortage of teachers who will actually suit your desires. And so if your desires are off and you go around looking for a teacher, chances are you’re going to find the wrong teacher. In fact, when we read scripture and we fellowship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit is there, aren’t we convicted of our sins all the time? So we can’t base good teaching on our desires. But we have a lot of people in this world. They just want to fit Jesus into their lives. And so this is a very personalized Jesus of one’s imagination.
A close cousin of a personalized Jesus is ethnic Jesus. My Jesus is Asian because I’m Asian. And so Jesus is an austere stoic. He is strict. He’s no fun. But he fits with my ethnicity because I’m an Asian. If you are a different ethnicity, maybe you want Jesus to be your best friend, maybe you want Jesus to be your BFF, somebody who likes all of the things that you put on social media, you think Jesus is that person for you. It’s just a personalized Jesus or maybe an ethnic Jesus.
There’s also the idolatrous Jesus. Jesus is just the one who gives me what I want. And so if I have an idolatry, you just baptize all of your idols in Jesus’ name and say, okay, Jesus must want me to be happy. And so he will give me all of the idols that I’m looking for.
There’s a workaholic Jesus that many full-time ministers fall into.
There’s interesting accounts in the book of Acts. There’s one in Acts 19. These Jewish itinerant exorcists took it upon themselves to exorcize demons in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches. And so it’s interesting that even while not knowing Jesus personally, they can exorcize demons. So there’s some kind of power and authority in this dark world which is outside of light, it’s not part of the Christian community, and these people are able to exorcize demons.
And now on top of it, they’re calling upon the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches and it’s probably even more effective than it was before for these Jewish itinerant exorcists. And the sons of Sceva. Sceva was this Jewish chief priest. And his 7 sons also wanted to get in on this game. And so they also tried to exorcize demons in the name of Jesus. And unfortunately for them, this demon that they came across was too strong. It overpowered the seven of them and they were beaten up.
There’s another account in Acts chapter 8. Simon, he was a sorcerer. And through darkness and dark magic or sorcery or witchcraft or whatever you want to call it, the whole people of Samaria were fooled. And they said this is a powerful man of God, not knowing that he was empowered by darkness. And this sorcerer came across Philip who preached the true gospel and Simon came to faith. He believed and he was even baptized. And he started following along with Philip. He witnessed miracles, signs and wonders. And he also met Peter and John.
And Peter and John laid hands on people and the people were baptized by the Holy Spirit. And Simon saw that and because of his past, he used to be a powerful man, he wanted that power. He said, I want to be able to lay hands and also baptize people with the Holy Spirit. So how much does it cost? Can I pay for this power? And that was Simon the sorcerer.
And interestingly, we see this even in the Gospels, Matthew chapter 7, verse 15. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?
Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name, and then I will declare to you, I never knew you, depart from me, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.
And so the first verses that I read were about false prophets. And I never connected the fact that when Jesus talks about not knowing these so-called supernaturally gifted ministers who prophesy in the name of Jesus and cast out demons in the name of Jesus and do mighty wonders in the name of Jesus, I never knew that Jesus was talking by the same group of people.
I used to think these are charismatic, gifted people who kind of got lost in their gift and they lost their way. But if you read it more carefully, these are supernaturally gifted people who are gifted by evil powers and they are practicing evil and maybe did not even know it. And they were deceiving a lot of people, including themselves. And in the end, Jesus says, I never knew you. It’s not like I knew you in the beginning and you got lost. No, he says, I never knew you.
How is it possible that you can cast out demons, prophesy, and do it with satanic power? It says it in 2 Thessalonians 2, verse 7, for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders. And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this reason, God will send them a strong delusion that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
And so what I see both in Matthew 7 and 2 Thessalonians 2 is despite what you see on the surface, deep down inside, there is a love for lawlessness, unrighteousness. The Holy Spirit can empower with true power from the God who is in light and this is a power that sets someone free. It’s a wonder that attracts you to the real Jesus. There is that kind of a power.
Also, there is satanic power, which the goal is deception. And these are lying wonders. These are trying to woo you, seduce you away from the true Jesus because you listened to this “gifted” person who is gifted through darkness.
Who is attacking? The answer is Ephesians chapter 6. We know that it’s not a battle of flesh and blood, but we are attacked by Satan and his minions, principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age against spiritual hosts of wickedness.
We are attacked constantly by Satan, unclean spirits, deceiving spirits, Satan and his minions.
When do they attack? We know from Luke chapter 4 after Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Jesus resisted, fought him with the truth, the word of God, and Satan left him. He departed until an opportune time. So Satan is looking for that opportune time to strike.
We also know from 1 Timothy 5, Satan also attacks – verses 11 to 15 – when we are idle. It’s not a good thing to be idle. Read the verses for yourself. It is good to have a job. It’s good to have structure. It’s good to be busy and to do honest work with your hands. It’s not good, brothers and sisters, especially if you’re young, to have too many hours of free time.
It is good to be busy. Satan attacks us when we are idle.
Where are Satan and his minions attacking? And who are they attacking? And how are they attacking? It says in 2 Corinthians 11, verse 13, For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
And it says in 2 John 1 verse 7, For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.
This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves that we do not lose those things we work for, but we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house, nor greet him for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
These antichrists have been released into this world, but where are they concentrating their attacks? It is the church. So who are they attacking? It’s us. Satan doesn’t have to attack a non-Christian, a Buddhist, a Satan worshiper, a secular person in Hollywood, a non-believer. Satan doesn’t have to attack them because they’re already his. They’re already slaves. They’re already in darkness. He doesn’t have to work hard with these groups of people.
So where is Satan concentrating his attacks and who is he attacking? It is in the church and it is you and me.
And how are they attacking? It is through deception. You cannot tell just by looking at somebody, whether they are a true disciple of Jesus or not. You cannot tell by one sermon. You have to listen for a season and even better, you have to get to know that person. A stranger on YouTube, you don’t know how they live. You don’t know if they’re righteous at home. You don’t know if they’re addicted to things. You don’t know that person. And so why do you give them your ear so easily just because they sound nice on and look good on the surface?
You have to discern. You have to test the spirits. You have to get to know the person. Is this person trustworthy? Are they consistent? Do they practice something on a Sunday which looks good, but they don’t practice it at home? It’s unrighteous at home. You have to get to know a person in order to get to know them before you give them your ear because Satan is attacking through “pastors.”
He’s attacking through pastors, missionaries, ministry leaders, small group leaders. He’s attacking through deceiving workers in the church. Second Timothy 3, verse 6 describes how he attacks. He creeps into households. He doesn’t barge through the front door. It’s somebody familiar. He’s creeping in through somebody you let in. It’s not an overt attack. It’s not a thief in the night. It’s somebody that you trust. Somebody you let into your house. They’ve crept in.
Second Timothy 3, verse 13 says, these are evil men. They’re imposters. They’re just playing the part. They want your hearts. They want you to trust them. And they’re leading you in the opposite direction to a counterfeit Jesus Christ. \
What is their end game?
Galatians 2, verse 3, yet not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because a false brethren secretly brought in who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they may bring us into bondage.
Even Titus, one of Paul’s co-labors, fell into a counterfeit gospel. And for a season, he even allowed himself to be circumcised because he was pressured by these Jewish so-called Christians who added something to the gospel, saying, you can’t be a Christian unless you go through this ritual. You must get circumcised. Even Titus fell into it. And these were so-called brothers and sisters whose teachings were accepted.
They crept in. It was unnoticeable. It was so gradual. Eventually, it was something added to the gospel. And in the end, a counterfeit Jesus Christ slipped in and they were brought into bondage.
So what is the ministry of the Holy Spirit? It says in 1 John 2.20, the ministry of the Spirit is the “anointing.” It is the anointing.
When I hear the word “anointing” thrown around, it’s like, he’s anointed, I think right away we assume it’s a gift. That person is anointed singer. He’s an anointed preacher. He’s anointed whatever. We think it’s a gift. This anointing is not primarily a gift. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. And the main teaching of the Holy Spirit is to point you to the true Jesus and to keep you abiding in the true Jesus and to expose all the counterfeit Jesuses.
That is the primary anointing of the Holy Spirit. He’s there to keep you connected to the real Jesus. He will teach you who Jesus is and what He taught and how to stay connected to Him and who all these counterfeit Jesuses are. This anointing is the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.
It says in verse 26, these things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. And then it goes on to verse 27. But the anointing which you have received from him Jesus, this anointing, this teaching, the Holy Spirit Himself abides in you. The Holy Spirit abides in you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
And you do not need anyone. You do not need anyone to teach you. But as the same anointing, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the spirit that lives in you teaches you concerning all things and is true and is not a lie. And just as it has taught you, you will abide in him, Jesus Christ.
I think these verses are crystal clear. In prayer, we invite the Holy Spirit to come into our lives so that the Holy Spirit can teach us about Jesus, the true Jesus, and expose all the counterfeit Jesuses. It says, now with this anointing, now abide in Jesus. He is the Helper. He helps you abide in the true Jesus.
Verse 28, now little children abide in him. And when he, Jesus appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him that is coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of him.
So there are people in the body of Christ who are deceitful workers who may even do impressive signs and lying wonders. But when you see them at home, they do not practice righteousness. Their gifting is from a dark source. It is even from Satan himself. But you can tell who the true disciple of Jesus, preacher, teacher is because what he preaches on a Sunday, he lives it out at home. There is righteousness.
He practices righteousness. He is not lawless. He is not random. He is not, I will preach this on a Sunday even though I don’t live it. No, there is an order. His life is ordered, he is consistent. There is integrity.
You have to get to know the preacher you listen to. You have to get to know them. And may all of us, when we see Jesus, the true Jesus, when He appears, it is the same Jesus that you have been fellowshiping with all of your days. And right away, you run toward him because you say, I’ve been waiting for you. You’ve been the one I’ve been after all of my life. Finally, you’re here. That’s the reaction, hopefully, for all of us here.
There’s another reaction. Oh, who is this? This is not the Jesus that I was following. My Jesus doesn’t look like this. Talk like this. Act like this. Who is this stranger? And in that moment, you’re so ashamed. You’re so afraid. This Jesus doesn’t know me. I don’t know this Jesus. And you shrink back.
So either confidence to run toward Jesus. It’s the Jesus I’ve been fellowshiping with all of these years. Or this is a stranger to me. And I must be a stranger to him. And you shrink back in shame, lacking confidence.
I pray that all of us, with that anointing of the Holy Spirit, would fellowship with the true Jesus so that when He shows up, there’s such joy, such confidence you run toward him. This is the Jesus I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been fellowshiping with. Now I get to see him with my own eyes in the flesh. What a glorious day that will be.
Father, we ask for the anointing. Lord Jesus, You’re the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. Jesus, we pray that you come. And we pray that You would baptize and anoint all of us here.
With our own discernment, with our own eyes, we cannot tell a true teacher from a false teacher. They all look good to us. They all look like they’re doing the same thing. We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, help us. Holy Spirit, come and dwell within us. Abide in us. This teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, we need it. We need Your help, Holy Spirit. Show us Jesus. Show us the true Jesus.
There are many antichrists. There are many false teachers, many false workers. They’ve crept in unnoticed. Some of us, we’ve let them in through the front door. We watch their videos on YouTube. We don’t know who they are, how they live.
Thank you for showing us that the true teachers of God not only preach and teach and talk, but they walk the walk. There’s a freedom from sinning. There’s a victory in Christ. They know Jesus who has set them free.
Forgive us for weak faith, for small faith. And most importantly, on this Sunday, forgive us for counterfeit faith. If any of us has been fellowshiping with the wrong Jesus, a doctrinal Jesus, an ethnic Jesus, a Jesus of our own imagination, I pray that today we repent of having a counterfeit faith and start fellowshiping with the true Jesus that we read about in Scripture, who is King of kings, Lord of lords, the Son of God.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying on a cross for our sins. Thank you for allowing Your body to be broken and Your blood shed. We pray that You minister to us as we remember your death, burial and your resurrection, and we proclaim your coming until we see you face to face.
Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen