1 John 4:4-6
Testing the spirit of ANTICHRIST
Testing the spirit of ANTICHRIST
Pastor Jason Stewart
We live in a day and age where the Christian faith is being attacked on almost every street corner of every city on every continent in the world. We have seen over the past couple of weeks that we have been given an incredible responsibility from God in the midst of all of this opposition, to be men and women who preserve the truth of His Word throughout the ages. In essence, we are the custodians of truth.
And though you may be in agreement with this statement, saying “yes and amen”, I can’t stress to you enough how I want to encourage you to be men and women, who join forces with the Spirit of God and become devoted to Protecting the truth, as God has called each of us to do. This week we will be turning our attentions to the final area of “Testing the spirits”, which is the real reason for the test.
II. Revelation/Application: Testing the Spirit
Let’s open our Bibles to 1 John 4 again and read this mornings’ text together in (vv.3-6). In verse three we read that “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh... is the spirit of the Antichrist.” The Bible tells us here that those who do not teach that Jesus is the Christ, are influenced by “the spirit of the Antichrist” (4:3b). This is our Reason for testing the spirits, because of the spirit of Antichrist.
This is the Point behind this mornings' message, “We test the spirits because of the spirit of Antichrist” What is the spirit of Antichrist? The spirit of the Antichrist, are those who are influenced to deny, and oppose the true Person of Jesus Christ. Throughout the history of the church there have been individuals who have epitomized the nature and person of the antichrist, full of evil, and completely against everything that Jesus stands for. They have lived in every generation, from the days of the apostles, and will continue to work their deceptive evil until the end of the world.
However, just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us in (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), “The son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped” will appear. This infamous person will be Satan’s most influential puppet, equipped with satanic power (2 Thess. 2:9). Throughout world history he has been identified with many different individuals, including:
- Antiochus Epiphanes (Greek tyrant – 2nd Century B.C.)
- Caligula & Nero (Roman Emperors)
- The Papacy (throughout the middle ages)
- And in the last century Hitler, Stalin, and others
But the timing of the appearance of the man of lawlessness, with the Second Coming of Christ rules out any and all historical figures up to this point. The reason we know this is because the Second Coming hasn’t taken place yet. This doesn’t mean that he is not currently alive, because there is a great possibility that he could be alive, or will soon be born, which of course would be when we would start looking for the Coming of the Lord.
In Scripture, this individual is known as the Antichrist. The Antichrist is the one who opposes and counterfeits Christ primarily through deception. He is not only in opposition to Christ but also seeks to usurp His position and authority. The Antichrist is a wooer and will with great deception lure people away from a relationship with Christ. The approach of the Antichrist can be felt daily in the news reports across the world, as well as throughout the history of the world. You can look at your Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other hand and discover that there is something very prophetic, a bit frightening, but most of all exciting because it all Points to the Return of Jesus Christ.
The specific term “antichrist” occurs only in John’s letters. Antichrist can be found in (1 John 2:18 (2x), 22, 4:3; 2 John 7). The reality of this person’s existence and coming appears in both the Old and New Testaments.
In the Old Testament this individual is referred to as:
- The “little horn” (Daniel 7:8)
- The “prince who is to come” (Daniel 9:26)
- The “king who exalts himself above God” (Daniel 11:36)
- The “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 12:11)
Jesus affirms to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew that Daniel is referring to the person we know as the Antichrist. In Matthew 24:15, Jesus says, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place...” Jesus says to RUN! The reason we are to RUN is because in (v.21) He says, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” We see that when the Antichrist comes the world is going to be turned upside down for a period of time. So we see that there are quite a few references in the Old Testament about the Antichrist, and primarily in the Book of Daniel.
What does the New Testament have to say about this individual? In the New Testament the Antichrist is also known as the:
- Lawless one (2 Thess. 2:3)
- Son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
- Beast that rises out of the Sea (Rev. 13:1)
The Bible also tells us that the Antichrist will:
- Be Blasphemous towards God (Rev. 13:1-6; Dan. 7:8)
- Oppose God and His Son (Rev. 13:1-12; Dan. 7:25)
- Persecute the Saints (Rev. 13:7, 15; Dan. 7:21, 25;)
- Be Powered by Satan (2 Thess. 2:9-10)
What is the ultimate purpose of Antichrist? The ultimate purpose of the Antichrist is to serve Satan, by deceiving the world and ultimately making war with Jesus. The Bible tells us that through Satan’s influence, the Antichrist will:
- Deceive the world (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)
- Turn people away from Jesus (1 John 4:3)
- Seek universal worship (Revelation 13:4)
So we see that the Antichrist will be a great deceiver when he comes at the end, for the ultimate purpose of turning people away from Jesus, and seeking to be worshipped by everyone!
But right now the Bible says the spirit of Antichrist is already at work, deceiving people, with the spirit of error. How does he do it? When looking at 1 John 4:3-5 it appears that the way he will attempt to deceive people is by, attacking the identity of Christ (1 John 4:3), belittling the Christian faith and by preying upon the worldliness of people by appealing to their flesh. The Bible tells us in (v.5) that those who are influenced by the spirit of error, “... are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”
So we see that when these people speak they appeal to the worlds way of thinking, and therefore the world receives them and follows them. We know that in 1 John 5:19 the Bible tells us, “... the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” And if you remember in 1 John 2:15-17, the sway that the whole world is following is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. So we see here that “the world” is under the sway of the wicked one who lures them further away from God, by appealing to the, “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Satan knows that these pursuits are completely opposed to God’s will. That is Satan’s primary purpose, to deceive the whole world for the purpose of turning people further away from God. This has been Satan’s mode of operation since God cast him out of heaven. When reading Genesis 3:1-6 we see that even from the very beginning, it has been Satan’s plan to appeal to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, while at the same time undermine the Word of God.
Furthermore, as the Bible tells us in Genesis 3:15, because of this, God has declared war between Satan and Jesus, “And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your seed (Antichrist) and her Seed (Jesus)...”
And so ever since the Garden of Eden, where Satan suggests to Eve, “Has God really said this?” Satan has been raising up people to continue his work, for the purpose of deceiving others and leading them astray. And we know that when the Antichrist comes, the deception will be greater than ever, and impossible to resist, simply for the fact that God will give people over to their desires to deny the truth. That is Satan’s primary purpose, to deceive the whole world for the purpose of turning them away from Jesus Christ.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, where Satan suggests to Eve, “Has God really said this...” he has been raising up an army of deceitful workers to continue his work (as it says in 2 Cor. 11:13). And as we have seen in 1 John 4:5, “They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”
Who are some of the people we have to watch out for today?
I think of Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey has been described in the past by Christianity Today, “As one of the most influential spiritual leaders in America today – perhaps even all over the western world where her program is shown.” (Christianity Today, April 1, 2002). Oprah Winfrey has over 46 million viewers in 134 countries. She has over 2.65 million subscribers to O magazine, and her website has more than 6 million visitors a month. Oprah truly has the largest Mega-church in all the world. And with that responsibility, what does this incredibly influential spiritual leader teach? Oprah teaches that, “One of the biggest mistakes we make is to believe there is only one way. There are many diverse paths leading to God.”
Even though Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). All roads may lead to God, that is true. But only one road leads to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ.
What is so dangerous about Oprah is that she embodies the values of the new age & the world of course likes what she is saying. Oprah’s entire doctrine is; “Has God really said this?” Oprah has been a big supporter and promoter of such “New Age Gurus” as:
- Deepak Chopra – (who believes an enlightened human consciousness can heal the body; base on Hindu principles)
- Lyanla Vanzant – Priestess of the Yoruba Religion. (People should apply universal principles in order to activate the spiritual laws which support the evolution of humanity)
- Marianne Williamson – Leads the Church of Today (Reinterprets Christian doctrines within a New Age framework. For example, “Christ” refers to the common thread of divine love within every human mind.”)
- James Arthur Ray - One of Oprah’s biggest promotions came when she was a promoter for the Secret. The “secret” is based off of the law of attraction, which holds that you create your own reality through your thoughts. You can take this to be figuratively or inspirationally. By believing you will succeed, you will do better in life, in work, in school, and in relationships. But more than just he law of attraction, the secrets explicit claim was that you can manipulate objective physical reality. And on, by the way, James Ray is currently standing trial for the murder of three of his devotees, because of an unnecessary accident at his famous sweat camp in Sedona, called “The Spiritual Warrior.”
The reason Oprah and her team of religious experts are so popular is because they are of the world, and the world hears them and receives them. They appeal to the flesh by promoting “SELF-IMPROVEMENT”, and how to feel good, and achieve the best you ever. And oh by the way, there is zero accountability to God., and sin is not an issue we ever have to deal with. They are false teachers influenced by the spirit of error (1 John 4:6).
Other Heresies that are leading people astray in our culture.
1. The Jesus Seminar
The goal of the Jesus Seminar is to “separate historical fact from mythology.” The Jesus Seminar people are unbelieving, unsaved, liberal “wanna-be” or “wish-they-could-be” Bible Scholars claiming to represent Christianity.
Therefore, the Jesus Seminar scholars:
- Reject the Resurrection of Jesus
- The Virgin Birth
- All of the miracles found in the Gospel's
- Over 80% of Jesus’ teachings
The Jesus Seminar begins all of its debates with a shared, yet concealed, presupposition – that, “Anything outside the realm of natural explanation can never be backed by historical evidence.” In simple terms, they hold that it's impossible for the Gospels to be historically accurate, because they record things that they believe simply can't happen, like the blind receiving their sight, the deaf receiving their hearing, demons cast out, walking on water, food multiplying, and people being raised from the dead, etc.
What the Jesus Seminar people are saying is “Has God really said?”And there answer to that rhetorical question is absolutely not! They are false teachers influenced by the spirit of error (1 John 4:6).
2. Brian McLaren – Emergent Liberal
Brian McClaren is the father-figure of the Emergent Church’s liberal side. His influence is so great that Time magazine declared him one of the 25 most influential evangelicals. Gay marriage advocate Phyllis Tickle, declares in the foreword of McLaren’s book, Generous Orthodoxy (2006 edition), that he is the Martin Luther for the 21st Century.
In a 2004 interview with Christianity Today, Brian McLaren says, “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be ‘saved’... I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us have arrived at orthodoxy.” I don’t know about you, but one of the things that made Martin Luther, the man that Martin Luther was is the fact that he was famous for saying “Sola Scriptura”, which means, “By Scripture Alone”. Meaning, "I don't want mans opinion! What does the Bible say? Because that is the only thing that matters!" This may be Brian McLaren talking, but we know that it is really Satan using him to ask the same old question “Has God really said this?” He is a false teacher influenced by the spirit of error (1 John 4:6).
When thinking of modern heretics who have great influence, we have to mention Satan’s latest and most popular puppet, Rob Bell.
3. Rob Bell – Emergent Liberal
Rob Bell says; “This is not just the same old message with new methods. We’re rediscovering Christianity.” What Rob Bell is saying here is that he doesn’t want the “same old message” of the Christian faith. He wants to rediscover Christianity, because the one that has been offered to him doesn’t sit well with his belief systems.
Rob Bell’s latest book, and greatest of all heresy, Love Wins could quite possibly be one of the most important and influential works of our day and age, simply for the fact that it appeals to the flesh, and removes any urgency for a person to get right with God in this life. In Rob Bell’s attempt to Rediscover Christianity, he has removed the doctrine of hell from the equation. “For many in the modern world, the idea of hell is a holdover from primitive, mythic religion that uses fear and punishment to control people for all sorts of devious reasons. And so the logical conclusion is that we’ve evolved beyond all of that outdated belief, right? ... At the center of the Christian tradition since the first church have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.” (pp. 69-70, 109)
So we see here that as Bell is trying to “rediscover Christianity”, the version that he has come up with is one where history is not tragic (the fall - soteriology), hell is not eternal (eschatology), and God’s love in the end will make sure that anyone and everyone who wants to be reconciled to God, will be reconciled even if they don’t choose Jesus in this life! (Christology) And so we see that Rob Bell's Soteriology (study of salvation), Eschatology (study of end times), and Christology (study of Jesus Christ) are all a very different form of Christianity that he has "rediscovered" for himself. Does that sound like the doctrines that Scripture teaches? Of course not! Does Brian McLaren’s statement, “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet... None of us have arrived at orthodoxy.” Does this sound like the gospel to you? Of course not!
So why do I share all of this with you? Why have we been looking at this topic of testing the spirits over the last 3 weeks? The reason we have been looking at this topic in such great detail is so that you would be aware of the errors that are attacking the truth of the Gospel. And as you become aware of these errors you will begin preparing yourself to dialogue with people about these issues as they come up.
Whenever we dialogue we must remember the boundary markers of communication that God has given to us in Scripture. The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” So this is how we are to dialogue with people, with gentleness, patience, and humility. But we are to take a stand for the truth and correct their errors, and teach them the truth. And we never waver from the truth!
We know that the world follows such teaching because it is carnal and it appeals to the flesh, but we follow God’s Word because it is the Truth. So how do we dialogue with these people?
- How would you explain to Oprah that all roads don’t lead to God? You stick to the defense that believers have been using from the beginning. In fact, on the Day of Pentecost under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter would proclaim, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). As Paul would say, Jesus is the only Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus Himself said, “I am the way the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).
- How would you explain to the Jesus Seminar that all of Scripture is inspired by God, and is not up for anyone’s testing? The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
- How would you explain to Brian McLaren and Rob Bell what the Gospel is and what the eternal consequences are for changing the gospel? The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 1:6-8 that if anyone comes and tries to turn you away “from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Paul clearly establishes here that the gospel message that was given to the church from the beginning is easy to understand (2 Cor. 11:3), and will never change (1 Cor. 15:1-8), and therefore stick to that gospel, because anything that moves away from it is cursed.
Oprah, the Jesus Seminar, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell are only a few of the false prophets that are within the world today. They all preach a different gospel and according to God’s Word their teaching is accursed, and we are to stay clear of them. We have to be men and women who stay grounded in the truth of God’s Word, and boldly defend it for this generation and the next that God seeks to save.
How can we protect ourselves from the Antichrist’s deception? We must remain in the truth (John 8:31-32; 2 Thess. 2:9-10). We are called to be like the Berean’s who search the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). We can also listen to Radio sermons by respected Bible teachers. We need to daily fill our hearts and lives with the truth of God’s Word. We also must do our best to live set apart lives, because Satan will try to appeal to our flesh in order to lead us astray (1 John 2:15-17).
Over the last 3 weeks we have looked at the importance of Testing the spirits, because not all are from God. We have discovered that we have been given:
- A Command to test the spirits (1 John 4:1)
- A Guide (the Holy Spirit) to test the spirits with (1 John 4:2)
- A Focus (keep the focus on Jesus Christ) when testing the spirits (1 John 4:2-3)
- Because the Antichrist is at work in the world (1 John 4:3-6)