SOBER WORDS OF WARNING
Lord, my affections are set on heavenly things
Read 1 JOHN 2:15–27
On Not Loving the World
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Warnings Against Denying the Son
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[b] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
a 1 John 2:15 Or world, the Father’s love
b 1 John 2:20 Some manuscripts and you know all things
New International Version (NIV)
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“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived … your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor 11:3).
John changes his tone as he begins to warn his spiritual children. The theme is still love, but this is a caution against worldly love. If love for God and fellow believers is the goal, then carnal love – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is the antithesis, for it does not come from the Father but from the world. One can immediately discern the fatherly wisdom in these verses – “I know these things look attractive, but they will actually destroy your life if you’re not careful.”
John then reveals a specific concern to combat “those who are trying to lead you astray” (v 26) by denying that Jesus is the Christ. These are evidently people who had at one time been part of these Christian communities, yet now John calls them antichrists and liars. This fierce denunciation reminds us of Jesus’ description of this “son of thunder” (cf. Mark 3:17) and echoes similar language in Revelation. When it comes to defending and protecting his spiritual family, John stoutly reminds them to remain in Christ and to continue to allow the true spiritual anointing they have received to lead them into truth.
John is probably challenging an early form of Gnosticism, which insisted that the apostolic teaching the churches had received should be enhanced with the “higher knowledge” (Greek, gnosis) which the Gnostic teachers claimed to possess. John calls this a deception, purporting to lead them away from Christ. I wonder what similar issues Christians are facing today, as we navigate our way through an increasingly secular and skeptical culture.
We should be suspicious about any teaching that seeks to supplant or add to the centrality of Christ. New things can be wonderful, but only when they confirm the truth.