Friday, August 23, 2013
The Antichrist Might Be Closer Than You Think
1John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
1John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.
1John 4:4 Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
John continues this beautiful letter to the followers of Jesus Christ but now touches on a delicate subject. There have been lengthy discussions among the people regarding the incarnation of Jesus Christ. There were many in the world who found it difficult to accept that God could exist in human flesh, for their view of the flesh was that it was somehow sinful. How in the world could Jesus have lived in human form? For John, these people were denying Jesus' very nature and his resultant work of reclaiming humanity. Those who denied this activity of Christ were living under the influence of the spirit of the antichrist. That is, a spirit that was completely and totally opposed to the Spirit of God and God's activity in the world.
Again John uses the diminutive phrase "little children." Those who have been adopted into God's family are now God's dear children and these are not opposed to Christ. These are God's children and as such it is Christ living in the them -- and they have overcome the spirit of the antichrist.
I remember as a teenager there was great speculation regarding the return of Jesus Christ. There were preachers and evangelists who even ventured to guess a date when he would return. We read books that painted images of a person who would soon appear on this earth before Christ's return -- an antichrist -- who would do all kinds of evil. People would theorize as to where the antichrist would arise. Because of the birthmark on his head (and other reasons as well) there were those who assumed that Michael Gorbachev was the Antichrist and we lived in fear of what just might be behind the Iron Curtain. I have to admit the irony of this when years later we lived in Russia and there we saw Mr. Gorbachev at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, just he and his wife, walking as ordinary citizens awaiting a flight. This was after he had retired and he had no entourage, no security. He was just a man.
And therein lies the problem of our seeking out the person whom we believe is going to be The Antichrist. I'm not so sure that John is talking about one particular individual but is instead talking about an attitude or spirit which is anti to Christ. And let's be honest, that spirit is prevalent in our world today and is growing at a rapid pace. In the United States we see large movements of people who are anti to Christ and to God. But then, look around the world -- who are the people being persecuted? If it's persecution for the sake of faith, it's Christianity that is currently on the ropes! All across the globe we find a spirit that is anti to Christ.
John made it clear that any spirit "that does not confess Jesus is not from God." That's why I think we must be aware that the antichrist may just be closer than we think. We may actually be distracted looking for "the one" when we don't realize that maybe it's the spirit of the antichrist that has moved in next door -- or maybe is even living within our own home. I'm not so sure that The Antichrist will be one individual whom we recognize -- but instead will be, and is, a spirit anti to Christ that is infiltrating every part of our lives. Think about it -- even good things might be anti to Christ! Any spirit that draws our attention away from Christ truly is anti to Christ. This could even be family gatherings, sports, school events, and time for relaxation -- because, if that thing becomes more important to us than a personal relationship with the Lord, then it could be anti to Christ.
What is the solution for you and for me? It's not trying to spot the next Antichrist! The solution is to remain in a relationship with God, in a place where we are connected to him and that Christ lives in us. That way we are ruled and controlled by the spirit which is for Christ. Our desires and our motivations are directed by him -- and we act and react as members of God's family. It is in this way that we conquer the spirit of the antichrist. We don't need to be afraid of that spirit as long as we are connected to the true life-giving Spirit in Christ. Jesus, the one in us, is more powerful than the spirit lurking out there in the world.
Lord, thank you of the gift of your Spirit within me. Amen.