Message Title: ‘Holding on… to TRUTH’
Text: 1 John 2:18-29
Introduction: There was a time in our country when truth meant something. In the 1950’s the ‘Superman’ TV series coined the phrase
- a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.
Today, we live in a culture that not only questions if truth really exists but if it does, there certainly is no such thing as ‘absolute’ truth.
- And if there is no such thing as ‘absolute’ truth, does truth then… even matter?
And from all that I see in the world around me, sadly the answer seems to be NO.
- There is no such thing as ‘absolute’ truth and any truth we might believe to be true is only relative… meaning you might believe it’s true but that doesn’t mean it’s true for me.
And this invading the Church as well: In a Barna poll 71% of American people say there is no such thing as absolute truth. In that same poll, George Barna surveyed evangelical, born-again Christians; those who go to church regularly, who pray regularly, who believe in Jesus Christ, and 40% of evangelical Christians responded the same way: There is no such thing as absolute truth! (Buchannan)
It’s called relativism and it means truth is whatever you feel it is. And it’s different for different people. And that’s why it’s so easy to deceive people. For example. I received these two emails just last week:
From: Aubrey Soundy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: lifeatcalvary.com NOTICE.
Message Body: ATT: lifeatcalvary.com / Calvary Baptist Church WEB SITE SERVICES This notice RUNS OUT ON: Sep 24, 2020 We have actually not obtained a settlement from you. We have actually attempted to contact you but were not able to contact you. Kindly See: https://bit.ly/3mLYAJ2 .
For info and also to process a discretionary payment.
Amazon Prime email@example.com Dear Customer : 000-90-016-ID#912745 You must confirm your identity to confirm that you own the credit card. and Happy Shoping..!
Email fraud is rampant… why? Because evil people have their way with the truth and try to take advantage of us. They think:
- If we make it look official, if we make it look serious, if we even threaten a bit, they’ll fall for our deception.
But, it doesn’t stop in the world around us. It’s found in churches.
- Joel Osteens wife, in the largest church in the US once said to the congregation: ‘Realize that when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…we’re doing it for ourselves.’ As her proud husband nodded approvingly, she continued: ‘Do good for your own self. Do it because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God, really, you’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?’
That is so wrong on so many points.
- This is the largest church in the US.
- It’s leaders are deliberately deceiving their people.
And… the people are buying it, they believe it.
Why? Because as Christians, as followers of Jesus we no longer give the Bible, God’s Word any real authority in and over our lives:
- We don’t read it regularly, we don’t study it regularly, we don’t go to church regularly enough to hear it preached on Sundays.
So rather than passionately holding on to God’s Word, we comfortably hold on to the worlds concept of relative truth. All because we’ve given in to the world’s pressure to want something more, something better, something more exciting than what we have… even when what we have is God’s Word.. the Bible.
In other words, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the church, fellowship of Believers, has just become……… too ordinary.
Christian author David Wells wrote:
- The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, His grace is too ordinary, His judgment is too benign, His gospel is too easy, and His Christ is too common.
Transition: But friends, this is nothing new. Playing fast and loose with the truth even in the church, has been around since the Apostle Johns day. And we’ll see in our text this morning that John is certain that right belief is essential to right living. So he’ll teach us about the necessity of holding on to … Truth.
1. 1 John 2:18-19 The setting
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 all are not of us.
John is setting the scene for us. He’s giving us, and those first century Christians, a look at the big picture of what’s going on in the church at that time.
So, he tells his readers, Christians, that it is the last hour. Just so we don’t dismiss this text as irrelevant or just not true, John is not saying he was living in the end times (so far as Jesus coming back in his lifetime)
- John and other Biblical writers use this term to define the period of time between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and His return for His Church (the second coming)
Hebrews 1:1-2 says
- Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.
So, John is telling, them and us, that this time period, will find many antichrists trying to lead Christians away from the truth of God’s Word.
- As an aside, he says, yes, there will be one specific antichrist that’ll come (the antichrist of the Great Tribulation) but John doesn’t go into that now. Why? That’s not the current problem. The current problem is the many antichrists who are around doing harm right now.
So, then antichrists here does not refer to the one who will come during the Great tribulation. So, who then are these other antichrists?
The word Antichrist means
- In lieu of or against … Christ.
The idea is they are people, religious people who will appear to be for Jesus and His teachings but in reality, they’re against Him, in opposition to Him and His teachings.
John describes the antichrists this way: 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 all are not of us.
John wants us to know that these false teachers, antichrists, did not come attacking us from outside the church, no they attended and were a part of the local church. But… because of what they taught, because of the division they caused, because they left us… they were never truly one of us… they were never saved.
John warns the Christians in local churches, us included, to be on alert, to be mindful that there are some who want to move us beyond the teachings of the Bible, to change our beliefs on who Jesus is and what it means to be His follower.
In the world around us there’s an ongoing conflict between good and evil, between all that is of God and all that is not of God. And every moment of every day, we’re faced with a decision:
- Do we follow God, do we hold on to His Truth?
- Or, do we let go and let the world move us along in its stream of relativism?
Listen, this conflict never ends…
- Our daily choice of good or evil
- of following truth or giving in to deception,
- never ends.
That’s why the Apostle John can say that every hour we live in the last hour. (adapted from Barclay)
John is encouraging us to develop a sense of urgency… We can’t say we’ll take the Bible more seriously… later, when our heart for God and His Truth, is being stolen by the world today.
Transition: Next we come to vss. 20-23. Remember I said that John does a lot of contrasts in this letter. The one we find here, is between Christians and the antichrists/false teachers. John begins with a description of the Christians.
2. 1 John 2:20-23 The Contrast
A. vss. 20-21 The Christian
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.
Pastor Brian Bill tells the following true story:
- …I watched a TV church service that showed people bringing their cash up front and throwing it on the stage while the preacher marched on the money shouting, “I’m putting some anointing on this money…prosper I said…your bills are paid!”
Trust me…that’s NOT the anointing we see in verse 20. In my opinion, it’s not of God at all.
Let’s remember that John is writing to all Christians in all churches.
- He’s writing to all who are saved by the grace of God, through faith in the death of Jesus on the cross.
So, speaking to every saved follower of Jesus Christ, John tells them you have been anointed by the Holy One
In this text we’re told that this anointing comes by the Holy One. From Acts 10:38a we can add that it’s quite probable the Holy Spirit Himself is the anointing since God, the Holy One, anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit.
In 1 John 2:27 we read:
- 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,
Let’s add one more text to help clarify that the anointing every saved Christian receives is the Holy Spirit. It’s from John 14:25-26, the same John who wrote 1 John 2:20, 27:
- These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
So, John says that because you have been anointed by the Holy One, because you have the Holy Spirit in you, 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
John’s not saying that Christians have all knowledge… he very clearly said you all have knowledge.
- Every Christian has knowledge within them (through the anointing, through the indwelling Holy Spirit.)
- We have what we need to be discerning, to recognize truth from a lie.
John’s purpose here was not to teach them something new about truth and lies, about how to recognize false teaching when it comes. No, he’s reminding them that
- They already know the difference between truth and a lie, between that which is good and that which is evil, between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do.
It’s all here, inside you, in the person of the Holy Spirit. John is pleading with us to Trust Him.
Let me give you an example of how this works: Dr. Wayne Barber writes: A guys wife called him and said, “Something’s wrong with the car.” And he said, “What’s wrong with it?” She said, “There is water in the carburetor.” He said, “Honey, you don’t have a clue what a carburetor is.” She said, “Trust me. There is water in the carburetor.” He said, “Tell me where it is on the car?” She said, “Trust me. There is water in the carburetor.” “Where is the car?” She said, “It is in the swimming pool.”
Guys, this illustration teaches us to listen to our wives… Ok, that’s not what it’s about, but it’s still true.
The idea is this, we might not have all the details of why this or that teaching is wrong, but we just know it is. That’s because we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit inside us.
Transition: Next John will contrast Christians with the antichrists, the false teachers.
B. vss. 22-23 The False Teachers
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
Even though these antichrists, these false teachers may look like and talk like other Christians, there are some HUGE differences, eternal destination kind of differences.
First, they deny Jesus is the Christ/Messiah.
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?
Understand that the word deny is in the perfect tense, that means they continually and consistently deny/reject Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, to be God.
This is not a momentary lapse of judgment of the Christian. This is a pattern of behavior.
- They never believe the truth that Jesus is Messiah; God in the flesh.
Listen, this is where all cults go out of bounds theologically. It’s always an issue of who Jesus is.
Second, they deny/reject all that’s true in God’s Word about God the Father and Jesus the Son, specifically that they are … one!
This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. Listen God’s Word is clear.
- Jesus said in John 10:30 I and the Father are one.
- And in John 14:9 Jesus added Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
You see the argument from the false teachers is this: We might have some difference of opinion about Jesus, but we still believe the same things about God. For John, that’s an impossibility. Jesus and the Father are one.
- You must hold to the truths in the Bible concerning Jesus
- or you cannot hold to the truths in the Bible about God the Father.
Third, the result of denying Jesus is that you truly do not have God in your life. Because you MUST confess Jesus as Lord, if you want to have God as your Father.
No one who denies the Son has the Father. What John is saying is that they’re not saved, they are not going to heaven when they die. They are lost in their sin.
The Apostle Paul wrote this is Romans 10:9
- …if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Deny/reject Jesus and you’re not saved, you do not have God the Father in your life. It’s that’s serious!
Transition: So, how can we fight against the antichrists/false teachers who try to deceive us? Well, John will tell us in verses 24-29 that we have some mighty powerful resources.
3. 1 John 2:24-29 Our Resources
A. vs. 24 God’s Truth Abiding in You
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in
you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
We’re both naturally attracted and influenced by culture,
- to the new, the novel, to the ‘I know the bible doesn’t say this but…
- Some of that comes from well known religious speakers and some from people we’ve never heard.
The internet is FULL of varied and diverse thoughts
- on Christianity, on Jesus, on the Christian life, who God loves, how people were created, on the church, is there life on other planets and did Jesus die for them too….
Most are opinion, some are intentionally deceptive, others are out to get their 15 mins of fame.
You see, there is truth that’s above our commonly accepted wisdom.
- Truth is not merely a social construct.
- It’s transcendent, beyond human design.
And the Apostle John is telling us that… it’s God’s Word. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, Twice in this verse John stresses that the truth that should remain in them is truth that came to them when they first began their Christian walk
- For them it was the preaching of the apostles.
- For us it was the Bible, the good news of Jesus, that is God’s Word… all of it.
So, don’t go after some new thing that’s opposed to God’s Word, no matter how interesting it might sound.
John says let the truth of God’s Word, abide; dwell, take up residence, be at home… in your heart, in your mind, in your life, an in the choices you make.
Transition: Another resource we have to fight the lies of false teachers, is God’s promise of eternal life.
B. vs. 25 God’s Promise of Eternal Life
And this is the promise that He made to us, eternal life.
Look, this is great. The Truth of God’s Word and the anointing of the Holy Spirit living in us, work together, to give us the assurance of eternal life in heaven.
And that assurance of eternal life, helps keep us
- From choosing the lie over the Truth.
- From choosing to follow false teacher rather then those pastors and leaders who hold on to God’s Word.
Understand this: holding on to the Truth of God’s Word, is eternally significant.
- A wrong view of Jesus Christ, based on letting go of the truth of God’s Word,
- will not bring the gift of eternal life.
What you believe, is eternally important!
C. vss. 26-29 God’s Anointing in You
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.
The final resource John mentions, is God’s anointing in us. He goes back to what he said in verse 20 because here in verse 27 he’s stressing the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
John isn’t saying that because you have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, you don’t ever need to be taught about the Christian life or what’s found in the Bible.
In fact, the Bible clearly states that God has given gifted teachers to the Church to instruct us in Christian doctrine and ethics as they are found in the Bible.
- Romans 12:7; Galatians 6:6; Colossians 1:28; 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:11, to name a few.
What’s he’s saying is you have all that you need to discern the lie when presented to you.
- It’s called the Spirit’s leading.
But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in Him.
John reminds us that everything that the Holy Spirit will teach us, everything in God’s Word is absolutely true and is Absolute Truth.
- There is no lie, no mistake, no error,
John says: And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.
Remember, John started off by reminding us that we are in the last days. Jesus may come at any moment. And when He does, we’ll stand before Him to give account of our works on earth.
John’s telling us that when we choose to live a life of obedience to God’s Word and choose to have it abide/make a home in our lives, we can be assured that we won’t be ashamed of our lives as we face Jesus.
- That’s hard. I struggle with the thought that if Jesus came back today, would I stand before Him in peace?
- But, it’s also what motivates me to strive to live more consistently with my faith.
So, John adds: If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.
John ends this passage with the idea that right beliefs lead to right behavior.
- Holding on to the truth of God’s Word will yield a life of living rightly before God.
- And that new kind of life, a life of holding on to God’s Word, will give you the confidence that you are a child of God.
Conclusion: Christian, consider your walk with God this week.
- Are you abiding in the anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit?
- Are you abiding in the absolute truth of God’s Word, the Bible?
In this very difficult, confusing and stressful time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we don’t need to figure everything out.
- Our job as followers of Jesus is to show the world that we believe the truth of God’s Word
- enough, to allow it to impact how we choose to live.
That’s why it’s necessary to hold on to…truth!