[1 John 4:2-4] “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
This is the 38th session in the 1 John Lecture series. In the last session, we learned about the false prophets, who deliver what is not the will of God, as if it were will of God. In the Old Testament times, God sent His prophets to deliver His will to the people. But some people made up some lies for their own benefits and told the people it was the will of God, or some others were deceived by the false spirits to give false prophecy. The spirits of darkness that used to incite the false prophets still deceive believers even today. After the resurrection and ascension of the Lord, the Holy Spirit came upon the children of God. Today, the primary work of the spirit that is of God, namely the Holy Spirit, is the ministry to let us believe in the Lord and receive salvation. On the contrary, the spirit of darkness focuses on deceiving the people and provokes them to deny the Christ by corrupting the way of salvation. That is why the Bible says it is the spirit of anti-Christ. Today’s reading passage 4:2-3 says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” The previous verse says to test the spirits, and the criteria in discerning are the word of God, the truth. We can easily find the things to consider in discerning the spirits in 1 John. They are: do they live a holy and pure life as the bride of the Lord and do they keep the commandments of God? Do they walk in the Light, love God, and love their brothers? You can also discern whether or not somebody has received the spirit of God, if you check each one’s words and actions against the messages on nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritual Love Chapter, and the Beatitudes. And the most important criterion is, as stated in the reading passage, whether one confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. As explained in 1 John 3:23, to confess Jesus as the Christ has many meanings in it. It is not just to believe the fact that Jesus came in the flesh but also the reason why He had to come in flesh and the entire providence of salvation. It is to believe the way of cross as a whole as seen in the following facts: Jesus the Son of the Creator God came to this earth in human body; He took and died on the cross in our place, fulfilled the Law with love, and forgave all our sins; and Jesus Christ is our only Savior. The providence of salvation that God had hidden since before the ages and later revealed, cannot be believed or understood with the thoughts of fleshly men. But those who have received the Holy Spirit, namely the spirit that is of God, can believe that Jesus is our Savior. For this reason 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:12 says “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” And those who deny or corrupt the providence in Jesus the Savoir are the ones who have received the spirit of anti-Christ that stands against God. Here, you should be very clear about something. We do not say everyone who is not living in the truth is anti-Christ. To believe in God is to keep His commandments and to walk in the Light. Even though they profess with their lips they believe, those who still live in sins are the ones who are of darkness. They do not discern the will of God nor can they be protected by God. Thus, they live in tests and trials just like the worldly people. If ministers belong to this category, it causes an even greater problem. If a blind man leads another blind man, both of them will fall into a pit. Likewise, such a minister will misguide his flock into the way of death. Consequently, at the Judgment he will be sternly punished. But even though such people do not live in the truth and do not teach the truth properly, we cannot say they are anti-Christ as long as they acknowledge the way of the cross including Jesus having come in the flesh. It just means that they do not have spiritual faith and they are not proper in the sight of God. Those who have received the spirit of anti-Christ intentionally spoil the words of the Bible, directly stand against the Holy Spirit, blaspheming Him and bringing down His name. When I say this, it might sound that it is easy to discern between the two, but in reality, it is quite often difficult to reveal the spirit of anti-Christ. It’s because they do not directly deny the word of God but corrupt it in a very manipulative way. The heresies at the time of John the apostle also came up with some clever theories to deny that Jesus came in the flesh. Up until today, we have heresies that have similar claims, and there are also those people who call themselves the Savior or God Himself. Today, it is said that those who claim themselves to be the Savior or God number more than 40 in Korea alone. Some people say Jesus came as the Savior, but due to various reasons He did not fulfill the way of salvation and thus another savior had to come. Or, some others say Heaven does not exist while still others deny God the Trinity. All these claims are from the heresies that deny the Lord, and they are receiving the works of anti-Christ. Externally they seem to believe in God and quote from the Bible, but they deny the ministry of salvation that Jesus accomplished by having come in the flesh. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 1 John 4:3, latter part says, “…of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the signs of the end time. Verses 4-5 say, “And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.”” As He prophesied, even from the time of the early church, the power of the anti-Christ began to mislead many people. And today, as so much time has passed and the spiritual world is so corrupted, the power of the anti-Christ has become much stronger. Until the 7-Year Tribulation comes, they will keep on increasing their power. As the Tribulations begin, the power of the anti-Christ will unite and take over the control of the world in a very short time. They will be the main people who will persecute and force the conversion of those Christians who were not caught up in the Rapture. For your information, on the other hand, some people accuse those churches that have very active works of the Holy Spirit as being heretic or anti-Christ. This act is to go against the will of God due to their spiritual ignorance. Just because the works are not in accordance with their own standards, they say speaking in other tongues, prophecies, or visions are wrong. Some even condemn clapping and dancing in praises as heresies. But 2 Timothy 3:5 says, “…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.” We must not carelessly use the word ‘heresy’ and ‘heretic’ when speaking about those who confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh; that the Bible is the errorless word of God; and that God is God the Trinity. This is to condemn and stand against the Holy Spirit. If they keep on doing what they do, they will eventually be forsaken by God or even be captured by the spirit of anti-Christ. To my regret, a similar case occurred regarding our church. A person named Sahm Kyeong Choi had been condemning our church as heretical for a long period of time, and he himself accepted a heretical idea that denies God the Trinity and was condemned as being heretical. We must be of God’s spirit, discerning only with the criteria of God’s words. Also, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will protect all the brothers in faith from being tempted by the anti-Christ.