This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 27th, 2019.
There are many teachings, beliefs and religions claiming to possess “the way” to God in this world today. All or most of them either claim to have the key eternal life, nirvana or happiness or they mix and match different theological and philosophical beliefs together to make up a personal religion custom designed for every person. We live in a pluralist society where the idea of one truth, one means of salvation and one God are considered narrow minded and ridiculous teaching. Religious tolerance is proclaimed across the globe and if you even think about exposing a certain teaching as false you are judged as hateful, judgmental person and is intolerant.
Christians are often looked upon as people who are stuck in the dark ages because we have committed to living our lives believing Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life and without him you cannot have the eternal life. We live in a consumer-minded culture where the consumer can pick and choose wherever he/she desires (restaurants, department stores, electronics etc.). People in the world cannot grasp the concept of there being only one way when it comes to faith.
Many years ago, Oprah Winfrey was confronted by a member of her television studio audience in relation to her views about God. The person mentioned the words of Jesus being the way, the truth and the life and she responded, “There couldn’t possibly be only one way… there are millions of ways that lead a person to the Light or what others call god!” In Oprah’s mind there are millions of ways to finding your way to what one thinks is God.
With the millions of philosophical thoughts, ideas, and teachings how is one ever able to discern the truth? How can you and I ever find the truth in this plethora of religious thought that the world is so lovingly embracing and pushing on us and our children? Is there a litmus test, if I may, in discerning the truth? If so, how can you and I know that our way is the only way? I will address some of those questions today.
Today we are picking up in our study of 1 John in chapter 4. We are God’s children and we live righteous lives by pursuing holiness or right living through loving one another. We have learned and established that world will know we are God’s children by how we live and how we treat one another. In 3:24 John reminds us to keep the commands of God (Love God and love others) and we can do this because His Spirit abides in us. The Spirit of God dwells in every believer and only through His Spirit we can love and live the way God intended.
At the conclusion of chapter 3 John references the Spirit of God that abides in us and in chapter 4 John reminds his readers the warning against false teachers/prophets who were out in the world teaching under the inspiration and authority of other spirits that are not from God. Apparently with this church division there were individuals who had come in and divided the church over bad doctrine and false teaching and John continues to remind them to be on guard of people claiming to proclaim a different Gospel.
“In the 1st century it was common for people to claim special inspiration for their teachings, as the apostles claimed the Holy Spirit as the source of their teaching. Now John warns the church to test teachers who claim to give inspired teaching for that teaching’s source.”
During the early Church most communities met in homes. Being a young church, they didn’t have many formalities, no creeds or doctrines to unify (or divide) the body. There certainly wasn’t a New Testament because it hadn’t been written or established yet. All these home churches had were the letters from the Apostles, commissioned teachers from the apostles and accounts from eye witnesses of Jesus Christ. Oral communication was necessary because these churches relied on representatives of the Gospel who would come and teach. Paul had sent out letters and Timothy and Silas as representatives. John did the same and sent out His elders. Unlike today sometimes these churches didn’t know who was going to preach when they met. Problems arose in the church when certain teachers would come to town (called Pneumatics – Teachers claiming their message was divine) claiming to have the authority of God and teaching a different Gospel. Many churches were susceptible to false teachings because they didn’t understand what was true and what was false. The churches simply trusted the person claiming authority had authority. John was telling this church to not trust every teaching that comes into the church. John reminds the recipients of this letter that they have the TRUE Spirit of God, so it is their job to be able to discern between the truth and false teaching.
1 John 4:1-6
Vs 1 – Beloved – esteemed, dear, dearly beloved. John continues to speak to this church as people who he loves and holds close to his heart. He is assuring them that he is not being a harsh dictator but as one who has a great love and affection for this body of believers.
“do not believe every spirit” – He warns his readers to not commit to, be persuaded by or have confidence in every doctrine of teaching that comes through the church doors. The word “spirit” is from the Greek word “Pneuma” and it means breath or a movement of air, a simple essence. It also refers to an immaterial being who is higher than man but lower than God (i.e. angels, demons etc). So, John is referring to spiritual beings, but I think he is also referring to those who represent these spiritual beings; false prophets. He warns the church to test any breath that breathes words spoken in the name of God. So, John is saying, “do not be quick to commit yourself to any old teaching that sounds spiritual, religious or even enticing.”
“test the spirits” – Instead John calls the church to test, examine or conclude after examination to see if this spirit is from God or not. The applies today as there are a plethora of spiritual teachings in this world and honestly some of them sound appealing and in some cases could be much easier to accept than the truth of the true biblical Gospel. John writes that we are to examine the teachings we hold dear, what we believe and why we believe it. Just because something sounds nice, positive or spiritual does not necessarily mean it is from God.
“for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” There are people in the world who are spreading false teachings. There are men and women who say Jesus is not and cannot be the only way. They may claim to have an enlightening experience where God showed them something more, had a dream or vision, or are just plain devious and desire to lure you from the truth.
Vs. 2 – 3: These two verses serve as a litmus test for genuine Christian faith. As Christians you and I have devoted our lives to Jesus Christ and we have surrendered our will, life and very being to Him. We purpose to live with Christ as the head of our lives and have committed to living in obedience, love and in a manner glorifying to the Father. Christians are to love God with our whole being. We are completely and utterly in love with Jesus and we are committed to living in obedience to His commands. We are committed to love one another, to live our lives sacrificially for one another, and live life together as brothers and sisters in Christ for the glory of God. Since we are followers of Jesus Christ any teaching that pushes us away from Him is not of God.
If anything, or anyone comes proclaiming a message that takes away from the Lordship of Jesus Christ in your life is not from God. Anyone who says Jesus did not come in the flesh, did not die on the cross, was not raised from the dead and did not ascend to heaven and sits at the Father’s right hand is not of God. Maybe you have heard someone say, “I believe Jesus was a good moral teacher but he is certainly not the ONLY way to God” or you may have heard someone say, “I like some of the things Jesus says, but I like some teachings of Buddha, Confucius, and Vishnu. I like some of the words of the Bhagavad Gita, and the Koran… all religions have some good components to them and I like to pick and choose what I believe.” One that is becoming more and more common, “I don’t believe in any kind of God and I certainly don’t believe the myth of Jesus Christ.” These are not God inspired statements. John says, “If a spirit confesses Jesus as God incarnate it is from God. If it doesn’t it is not.” It is a simple test, yet it is effective for the Christian.
If a spirit does not confess Jesus is it not from God, and it is from the evil one… the antichrist; the adversary of the messiah. These teachings are dangerous and as believers we are not to concede to or embrace them.
Vs 4 – We are children of God… Take moment and let that sink in. We possess the Spirit of truth in us; thus, we have overcome the false teachings of the world. The Spirit of God resides in you (if you are a believer) and is more powerful, it is greater than any power, being or spiritual force that is out there. Romans 8:38 – 39 says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are victorious as believers and the ways of the world cannot and will not overtake you or separate you from the love of God.
Vs 5 – False teachers and teachings are rooted in the world. If you recall the world is synonymous to the godless world system. The philosophies, theology and teachings of the world are anti-God. They are opposed to God so they will not point to God being the ONLY way. People will love these false teachers because of their false teachings. The world will embrace the idea of living your life however you want, you do not need accountability, God cannot be the only way, you don’t need to commit to only one God, don’t worry about sin, don’t bother with pursuing holiness or right living. Live for yourself and you will find happiness and heaven. This is what the world loves and embraces.
Vs 6 – We are from God and not of the world, so the way we live our lives should look VERY different from the way the world lives. The way we live our lives should distinguish us from the world. We are called to live separate from the world. While we do abide in the world, we are not to embrace the ways of the world. Devotion to God will separate us from the world and it will cause tension in our lives.
How to protect ourselves from spiritual deception
Richards, L. O. (1991; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996). The Bible readers companion (electronic ed.) (895). Wheaton: Victor Books.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 20th, 2019.
First John is a letter that was written by the Apostle John to a struggling church in Asia Minor. He is also the author of the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. We are currently in an ongoing series in 1 John entitled, “Love Letter”. We have been going through this book verse by verse as we see the context in which John was writing (Who was he writing to and for what purpose), and how this epistle is applicable to us today as well (What is it saying to us today). As you all should know from previous sermons, the main topic of this book is love. The love spoken in this context is the kind of love that leads to a transformational life and gives us a picture as to what our lives should look like. In addition to the message of love John gives warnings to the believers of this church to not be deceived by false teachers and doctrines that were in this church and he also warns them to keep their affections for the world at bay.
Last week, I talked about the incredible privilege we believers have in being named children of God. Since we are children of God, we have a responsibility as to how we conduct our lives. The concluding thought for the message was this…the life you live reveals who you serve. This means that how you conduct your daily lives speaks volumes about the God (or god) whom you serve. The person who continually lives in willful sin and disobedience to God, serves the devil. However, the one who lives in obedience to God’s Word and His commands serves Jesus.
Today we are going to continue in this series as we look at 1 John Chapter 3:11 -24. This portion of scripture is what commentator Stephen S. Smalley writes, “The second condition for living as God’s children: obedience.” This passage bridges the former topic what it looks to be a child of God (you are a child of God so remain in Him) to how to live as a child of God (since you are a child of God you must live in obedient love).
Verse ten is the connecting verse to this new condition. The concluding thought is that the life you live reveals the God you serve, but in the same sense it sets up the introduction of the new condition of obedience, which basically means that if you are a believer you will live your life in obedience to the commands of God.
Verse 11: The message of loving one another is something believers have heard from the beginning. The command of Jesus Christ was to love one another, in John 13:34, 35 He said, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This new command, love one another, is the message that they have heard since the establishing of the Christian faith. We will soon see that love is the foundation of the Christian life because not only are we commanded to love, but we are commanded to love as Jesus loved. The love you have for one another will be evidence of your faith in Jesus Christ… It will identify you as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
John has talked about loving and hating your brothers and sisters. In the previous verse John says that someone who is not doing right in God’s eyes is the one who does not love his brother or sister, so it is imperative to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Verse 12: Interestingly John shows the direct opposite example of what love is not through the story of Cain and Able. I assume you are all familiar with the story of Cain and Abel. Even if you are not familiar with the Bible it is more than likely that you know this murderous story found in Genesis 4:3 - 7. (Go to passage).
Here are some things we know about the story of Cain and Abel…
The reason Cain murdered his brother was because his deeds (actions) were evil and his brother’s deeds were righteous. Cain was not right with God and this led to him choosing the path of evil over the ways of God.
Verse 13: If Cain hated his brother because his deeds were righteous, then we should not be surprised when the world, who does not know God, hates us when we do what is right or stand up for righteousness sake. I do not think it is wrong to speculate that Cain was jealous of his brother’s righteous deeds and this was the early seed to his hatred. His jealousy led to hatred and his hatred led to murder and this is not uncommon in the world today. In the world today, people are often criticized or even punished for doing what is right, and this is simply because the world does not know God. Evil, hatred and murder all begin in the heart
Verse 14: When we choose to live in obedience to God’s command to love, we choose life. But the one who does not, chooses disobedience to God’s command and has chosen the pathway of death and he/she will remain in the clutches of death. Choosing the former pathway often leads to bitterness, anger, hatred, etc.
Verse 15: John now gets to the root of hated and he calls it what it really is… murder. John recollects the words and teaching of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount.in Matthew 5:21 – 22 (Read). It is in the sermon Jesus shows that sin is not only a physical act, but it is also and primarily a matter of the heart.
Jesus teaches these three truths about hate and murder
Verse 16: We are now shown the true act of love. We love because Jesus showed us how to love properly. Jesus gave us an example of love through his sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. But Jesus’ love wasn’t just an example of love, it was love displayed and given. Jesus gave his life on the cross because of his love for us and he displayed this love through his sacrifice
John opens our eyes to the truth of love as an act of sacrifice. We show true love to others by sacrificing. Sadly, our society has cheapened the act of love by defining love as an intense emotional attraction and feeling you have towards someone that just happens naturally. An example is a man saying, “My girlfriend and I fell in love…” This insinuates that the act of love was stumbled upon or tripped into, like a random act rooted in an intense emotional connection and feeling. Many also define love as the act of sex. Many people who believe they are in love because they have shared the physical act of sex, when in fact the physical act of sex is not what makes people love one another. In both instances love is cheapened because these worldly definitions are temporary. I have heard married couples say, “We have fallen out of love.” True biblical love does not have an end to it.
True biblical marriage is an example of sacrificial love. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church…” How did he love the church? He loved the church by giving his life for her. Men, we ought to love our wives this way. Men/husbands we have a responsibility to love our wives sacrificially. We must be willing to die for our wives. We must not only say we love; we must show we love.
Fortunately for us Jesus never “falls out of love with us.” True biblical love defined could be summed up in one word…sacrifice. Jesus gave his life for us, and this was the ultimate example and action of love by God. So, John says that since Jesus showed His love to us in this way, then we ought to do the same for one another. How do you do that practically?
Verse 17: John gives us one example of this love in action and it is still true today. He is speaking to believers who have material possessions and responding to needs. He says if one has worldly or material possessions and can share and refuses to show compassion by helping those in need, this person does not truly have the love of God in them. John is not speaking just to the wealthy; he is speaking to all Christians who are able to help, and they should do so as well. You see, sometimes we expect the wealthy to care for the poor and needy, but those of us who have what we need to live have the responsibility to share with the needy as well.
What this looks like practically varies from believer to believer. Christians should be generous givers. Now, I believe John is speaking to those within the church and really there should be no person in the body of Christ who is destitute and in need of the essentials of life. Since John is speaking to the believers of this church, on the other hand we know that Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:38 – 48 to love our neighbors as well. (Read)
Verse 18: John takes this thought one step further by saying that we must not only love in word or speech, but through our actions and in truth. This means that love must be active and not hypothetical. We are not called to just speak love, but we are to show love through our actions which are divinely inspired works from God, through the Holy Spirit. Christians are called and commanded to love actively and genuinely.
Verses 19 – 24: Once again John tells us and his readers that our words and actions show that we belong to Him and gives us assurance in knowing that we are not condemned. Our hearts and emotions may try and condemn us, but God is bigger than our hearts and emotions. We must allow God to be the one who give us assurance and not our emotions and feelings. In fact, everything is grounded in God and faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, as John concludes this chapter, he ties everything together by reminding us that love alone is not all that we as Christians are required to do. First and foremost, if we are to truly love the way God intends for us to love it must be rooted in Jesus Christ. Gary Burge writes in his commentary of 1 John, “We are to believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another. Verse 24 make explicit that the success of such love only comes when we are living in intimacy with the Son, an intimacy that takes place when the Son is genuinely living in us and we in Him…The virtues of the Christian life cannot be lived apart from a relationship with God, a relationship defined and sustained by Jesus Christ.”
In this passage we have seen the importance of obedient love. Jesus commands us to love and He has shown us what love it through His actions. Jesus did not merely tell about His love, He modeled it and displayed it on the cross of Calvary. Since he has shown us love through sacrifice, we should love sacrificially as well. What does that look like for you?
We also see that speaking love is not enough. Our words must be through our deeds. If we say we love and do not care for our brothers and sisters in need, then the love of God is not is us. How can you make these changes in your life?
Our love in action means nothing in a spiritual sense if it is not all based in Jesus Christ. So, let everything you do be done in the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 145
 Wenham, G. J. (1987). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 104). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 165
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 13th, 2019.
For the past five weeks we have been going through the epistle 1 John. Today continue our study as we dig into chapter 2:28 – 3:10. If you recall, this short letter was written to a church in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) who was going through a hard time as they had recently faced a church split or a division that was caused by false teaching and bad doctrine. Up to this point in the letter the apostle John has written to warn this church to stay away from these false teachers and their heretical doctrine. He also wrote to exhort his readers to stay faithful and grounded in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. He spends some time writing about the conduct of a believer in order to show who he/she belongs to by living in obedience to God, thus he should live a God-honoring life. The faithfulness and obedience of the believer to God is foundational because according to the Apostle they were living in the last hour, and this would result in people being deceived.
Last week we I talked about the four pathways to deception which were apathy, deceit, confusion, and temptation. I then talked about the two ways we can safeguard ourselves so that we do not fall into the deception of the last hour. We are to be rooted in the Word of God by reading, studying and even memorizing it and by also allowing the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide.
Now John changes course in his letter as he directs his readers to know the privilege they have in being children of God and this should bring them confidence in God and His promises.
1 John 2:28 – 3:10
Vs 28: “So now little children…” John continues this train of thought… He writes specifically to the Christians (little children) in the church “since we are living in the last hour it is important for you to remain, continue, or abide in Jesus. John is referencing the second coming of Jesus Christ. He is encouraging believers to continue living in obedience and love to Jesus. Remaining faithful and obedient will give confidence to the believer when Jesus does come back.
In regards to the second-coming of Jesus The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 14:10b – 11, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” There will be a day when we stand before the throne of God and those who have believed on the name of Jesus and remained in Him will stand in confidence before the throne. However, we will not stand in our own confidence (proud or boastful because we were able to live a disciplined and holy life), we will stand in the confidence of what Jesus has done for us. Believers can and will have confidence at his second coming. We are not in danger of losing our salvation (they/we are his children; we belong to Jesus Christ already.) This will be a glorious day for us who believe and a horrible day for those who do not.
There will be two reactions at Christ’s appearance
Justification means that we are declared innocent before God. This is grace in action. Romans 8:30 says, “And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.” Now, keep your attention on this passage as I will be talking about glorification a little later. If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ you can have confidence in the truth that God has predestined (chose) you to be his, thus he has called you to himself, and since he called you to be his child, you have been justified. When you responded to God’s call in your life through faith in Jesus Christ you were justified in the presence of God. Through him you are declared innocent (you are no longer declared guilty because of your sins) because through the shed blood of Jesus Christ you are justified. So, your righteousness (doing what is right, obedient, following Jesus, justification) is evidence of your rebirth. Note, your righteousness is not why you have been given new life, it is the evidence of new life.
Vs 3:1: Do you understand how much God loves you? Since you have been justified, you are not only declared innocent, you are now declared a child of God. This is a privilege we all have through grace. We do not deserve to be sons and daughters of God, but because of God’s great love and grace for us he has adopted us as his children. The idea of being adopted sons and daughters is spoken of by the Apostle Paul who paints a beautiful picture of what it means to be adopted, listen and let this truth sink in as I read Ephesians 1:4 – 6, “For He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy, blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.” Through God’s grace we have become adopted sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. We belong to him and since we belong to him we have the right and privilege to be called his children.
“See what great love the Father has given to us that we should be called God’s children – and we are!” I love this final declaration… “And we are!” We can see John’s excitement in his declaration, and this should excite us as well. Commentator I. Howard Marshall says that this (exclamation) is an act of “legitimation” and Gary Burge says, “This is an act of legitimation in which the father names his child and thereby makes a permanent claim to identity and ownership. Hence it is not in the child’s hands! Rather, this identity is entirely in the Father’s hands, so that the child’s security is assured.”
Now, as Christians or children of God we are commanded to not love or be influenced by the world. Since we do not love the world, the world does not and cannot know us because we are God’s children and the world does not know our Father.
Verse 2: We are God’s children and we know our Father; however, we do not fully know everything about the Father, and about what we will be like at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Stephen S. Smalley writes in his commentary of 1 John, “The Christians knowledge of heaven, and indeed of God himself, is bound to be incomplete during our earthly pilgrimage. We shall only ‘know fully as we are fully known’ when we see the Lord ‘face to face’, Meanwhile a humble confession of our ignorance about the ultimate truth of God, and the salvation in Christ which makes possible, is a desirable attitude for the Christian to take.” Even though we do not have the specific details and full knowledge of God, we do know that when we stand before the Lord at the end we will be like Him.
Glorification: The end of this chapter describes a theological term that is the final step in the soteriological process. Now, this is a big way of saying that glorification is the final step in the act of God redeeming us. Glorification is what we become when die and stand in the presence of God. The doctrine of glorification describes what the Christian will become once he has died and is resurrected in the presence of the Father. It is the state where we will be given new bodies, all our unrighteous deeds and acts will be burned away like chaff, and we will be made fully holy and righteous.
Verse 3: This gives us hope. We have hope because we have been purified and one day we will be glorified. Our hope lies in the truth that we are currently children of God, and one day we will be glorified in the presence of God. This hope is both present and future. We have hope today because Jesus died for our sins and we have been justified before God and our hope is future because one day we will stand before the Lord and receive new bodies and made holy and righteous.
Verse 4: John now turns his discussion from justification and glorification to the tension or pull between sin and righteousness. John writes, “Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness.” In this passage we have a clear and concise definition of sin… sin is lawlessness. He is declaring that sinners break the law. The law is considered the rule or word given by God and when one has disregard for the law and pays no heed to it and does as they please, they commit sin. Christians are called to live lives of obedience to God’s Word and commands, and antichrists live lives of disobedience and rebellion to His Word and commands.
Verse 5: Jesus came and died so that sin may be defeated. He gave his life so that anyone who believes in Him is called, justified and ultimately glorified. He was the perfect sacrifice because Jesus is sinless.
Verse 6: If we go back 1 John 2:28 we know that we are called to abide or remain in Jesus. Those who abide in Jesus do not live in sin (we do not run to sin, allow sin to rule in their lives… willful, ongoing sin). We need to be careful that we do not misunderstand what John is saying. He is not saying that the Christian can aspire to live a holy and sin free life here on earth. He is speaking specifically to those who live in willful sin and they are not from God. We must also be careful to not misunderstand that since we are Christians, we do sin and since God is in the forgiving business it is ok to remain in sin. The Apostle Paul confronted people who tried to justify sinful living and being a Christian. In Romans 6:1 – 3a he writes, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” John and Paul both agree that those who belong to Jesus cannot live in willful disobedience and sin. Truth be told, we are sinners saved by grace and we all struggle with sin in some capacity in our lives. Sometimes we give in to our sins and often, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can refrain from sin. I do not believe that this is the sin Paul and John are talking about… I believe they are confronting those who are living openly and unashamedly in sin, all the while calling themselves Christians.
Even though this passage can be a bit confusing I do not believe John is indicating that one can reach a state of sinless perfection, nor does God require it from his children. We are, however, to pursue holiness in our lives, but we will not be perfected until the day we stand before the Father in glorification.
Verses 8 – 10: If one remains in sin and continues living in sin is from the devil. The devil has been in the sin business since he was kicked out of heaven. The sole purpose in Jesus coming to the earth was to destroy the devils work and to glorify God.
So, if you are born of God (a true believer in Jesus Christ) then you will not live in sin. But the one who continues and abides in sin is of the devil. If you only hear one thing today I want you to hear this… The life you live reveals who you serve. How you conduct your daily lives speaks volumes about who you serve. If you continually live in willful sin and disobedience, then you serve the devil. However, if you live in obedience to God’s Word and His commands then you serve your Jesus. So, if you consider yourself a born-again believer in Jesus Christ then know you are an ambassador of Christ. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ and since we are ambassadors, we represent our Father, so we must live our lives to honor and glorify his name.
 Marshall, I Howard. The Epistles of John, Eerdmans Books, Grand Rapids. 19978 Page 170 - 171
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 146
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 145
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 6th, 2019.
We are continuing our series through John’s first Epistle. Last week I talked about loving God, and not the world. I talked about how the world has nothing for you that is of eternal value. The world may offer what falsely looks to be a promise of fun, excitement, and freedom but the end results in the shackles of evil, emptiness, and estrangement from God.
Today we will be looking at 1 John 1:18 – 27 and we will see how we are living in the last hour and in this last hour we are susceptible to being deceived by those who oppose Jesus. In our time together we will look at ways we can be deceived and look at the safeguards we can take to protect us from deception.
Verse 18: Once again, John is talking specifically to the believers in this church and he is informing them that it is the last (final, lowest) hour (season or specific time).The last hour refers specifically to the time between Jesus’ ascension and his imminent second coming. John is talking about an undetermined time for all of God’s promises to be fulfilled. According to Gary Burge in his commentary on 1 John, “Sometimes the ‘last hour’ refers to a short period; sometimes its length is longer. Peter warns that God’s measuring of time is not like ours, for to the Lord a thousand years is like a day. God is above time. But when the end does come – and here the New Testament writers are in one accord – it will surprise everyone, including Christians. It will be seen by unbelievers as an unexpected catastrophe.” Since Jesus’ Second Coming has not happened yet, it is safe to say that we are still living in the last hour, so this warning also applies to us today.
Apparently, the teaching of Antichrist was common knowledge among the people. Antichrist(s) are those who are adversary/opponent of the Messiah. Broadly, the term antichrist is anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ. However, John speaks of a person (who has been spoken of as coming) who will be a representative of “the evil one” of whom Jesus spoke of in his prayer, plus he speaks of the many antichrists or adversaries of Jesus who had already come during this time and these antichrist’s have continued throughout history and these are who John refers to as antichrists. With the rise of the opposition to Jesus (antichrists) this is evidence that they/we are in fact living in the last hour.
Verse 19: These present and past antichrists or adversaries of Jesus Christ or more specifically the false teachers had left the church and they did not continue in the ways of Jesus. They continued to teach and spread a false gospel and caused many to stray from the true faith of Jesus Christ. John tells the readers that these adversaries were not of God for if they had been true to the Gospel then they would have stayed in the Church. Their departure was evidence of their evil ways and anti-Christian teachings, and they were never part of the church in the first place.
Verse 20: However, those who have remained in the church are faithful and they have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. These are the true believers and those who have true faith in Jesus Christ. I will speak more directly on this in verse 27.
Verse 21: John is writing to this church because they know the truth, since they know the truth, they should not be susceptible the deceit and lies of those who teach them. This congregation has been equipped through the anointing of the Holy Spirit and thus have the Spirit of truth in them
Verse 22: Antichrist defined – The antichrist is a liar and he is one who denies or rejects God and Jesus Christ. One who is unregenerate and has refused the Gospel in their life. They are liars and there is no truth in them. If you look ahead to 1 John 4:2 – 3 it says, “This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus in not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.”
Verse 23: John now shows the oneness of Jesus Christ and God. He states if you deny one then you deny the other. On the other hand, if you confess the Son then the Father is present in your life.
Verse 24: John encourages his readers to stay true (and not stray from the false teachings) to what they heard from the beginning because this is the true authentic Gospel Message of Jesus Christ (life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus). If they hold to the truth of the Gospel, then Jesus Christ will abide in God the Father and Jesus the Son. What happens when we stray from the truth of the Gospel? We are deceived by those who oppose Jesus Christ.
Verse 25: The Gospel message contains a promise… “Those who believe in Jesus, confess their sins and abide in Jesus Christ will have eternal life (which begins here on earth).
Verse 26: The letter is written so that the believers would not be deceived. Unfortunately, there are some in the church who are trying to deceive the believers and John is telling them to be on guard. Deception comes in various forms and it is very subtle, and I believe it is important to identify how we can be led down the pat of deception. Here are four ways… These are by no means the only four pathways to deception.
Four Pathways to Deception
Verse 27: The anointing – anything smeared or poured on. The Holy Spirit has been smeared or poured out on us (unction) and is continually present in us. John tells his readers since the Holy Spirit dwells in them then the Holy Spirit is their teacher and they have no need for other teachers who claim to have the Spirit in them and teach them. This is true for us. Ultimately the Holy Spirit is our guide and teacher in this life.
John is not saying that biblical teachers are unnecessary; he is saying that teachers who come claiming a new Gospel are not from God. One author wrote, “It is no contradiction that we should listen receptively to other believers, especially when they admonish and instruct us. They also have the same Spirit, and the confusion generated by false teaching is a real danger.” The Holy Spirit is our teacher and He will reveal the truth to us when we abide in Him (Christ), however, God does empower and use men and women who are anointed by the Spirit to teach us the truths of God and Scripture.
We are living in the last/final hour, so we need to be ready, prepared and on guard because there are people in the world who are teaching false Gospels. These people are working against Jesus. They promote a false message that is deceptive and give a false sense of security. There are teachers teaching a false messages of prosperity Gospel, or one that tells you that God’s main concern is your health, wealth and happiness. They teach that you are the center of God’s universe and if you are faithful to Him (and the pastor preaching the message) you will be blessed with an abundance of wealth, a life free from sickness, and a happiness that is rooted in possessions. To the unfaithful they will not receive God’s blessing thus being unhealthy, poor, and miserable. We know this is to untrue. The Gospel is not based on you and your happiness. It is grounded in Jesus and what He has done and the promise he made to all who believe. These false teachers are working against Jesus and the Kingdom and therefore they are called antichrists.
Unfortunately, a plethora of people are beings deceived on regular basis. They are deceived primarily by the four pathways that I spoke of earlier. So, how do safeguard ourselves from deception? Well, I believe the answer is found in this passage. Here are
2 safeguards from deception found in vss. 24 – 28
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 127
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.