1 - 2 Advocate and Propitiation
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for [those of] the whole world.
V1. From what John said in the above-mentioned, two misconceptions can arise. The first is that you may be overwhelmed by a kind of discouragement. After all you cannot do anything about it if you sin, for sin is still in you, isn’t it? The second is that you may think: ‘It is not a big deal if I sin, for if I sin, I can just confess it, right?’ As a response to these questions the word of John sounds: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” Right, you may say, I am willing to accept that, but unfortunately, it still happens that I do sin. Well, says John, in case you sin you may know that you have “an Advocate with the Father”.
In the way John takes note of this, you see that he takes into consideration that it is possible for you to sin, but he does not consider it inevitable. But in case it does happen, you do not need to despair. It’s not that sin is not bad. Sin is always awful. How terrible sin is, is best seen on the cross of Calvary, where God brought His nothing-sparing judgment on sin upon His beloved Son. At the same time that is the basis for the work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate with the Father in case it does happen that you sin.
If you sin, it will cause your fellowship with the Father to be disturbed. You indeed still remain His child, but because of the sin you’ve committed you cannot enjoy it. When one of my children does something that causes him to deserve punishment, it stands in the way for me to show him that I love him. Indeed I love him, but our relationship has been fractured. What has come between us must first be resolved by repentance.
As an “Advocate with the Father” the Lord Jesus does what is necessary to restore your relationship with the Father. The way He does that you see in the denial by Peter. The Lord leads Peter to repentance by reminding him of what He said to him earlier (Lk 22:61-62). Because of that repentance Peter’s fellowship with the Lord has been restored. If you come to a confession of sin, you owe that to Him; it is His work.
He is pleading your case as “the righteous” with the Father. He represents you with the Father as the One Who bore the judgment on the sin that you have to confess. He is the Righteous because He always has perfectly fulfilled the righteousness of God in His life.
V2. He also perfectly fulfilled God’s righteousness toward sin. After all, He is the “propitiation” for the sin that you have committed. The work that He has accomplished is the basis of the restoration of your fellowship with the Father.
He is of course not only the propitiation for that particular sin of yours. You may know that He is the propitiation for all your sins and also for all the sins of all God’s children. Of course it couldn’t be otherwise. When He accomplished the work at the cross He knew exactly who have believed in Him since Adam and who was going to believe in the future. Of all those people He knew all their sins and became the propitiation for them.
But it does not stop there. It goes further. He is also the propitiation for the whole world. Now it is important for you to read well what is said here. It is not written that He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. This is how some people read it which can lead to the erroneous conclusion of the false doctrine of the so-called universal atonement. [Note: In this verse the words “[those of]” are put in brackets, which means they don’t belong to the inspired Bible text.]
According to those who defend the universal atonement, all people and even satan with his angels will ultimately be saved. This is a reprehensible conclusion that is against the clear statements of the Scripture concerning an eternal torment of unrepentant sinners in hell (Rev 20:10). Do not let yourself be deceived by this!
The work of the Lord Jesus is that great and the value of His blood reaches that far, that on that ground God can save each person. That is God’s side of the truth. The other side of the truth is that only the person who repents, becomes a partaker of that. These things go beyond our logical thinking. We can only look at the different aspects of God’s truth separately – we know in part, in pieces (cf. 1Cor 13:12) – and admire and worship Him for what we see then.
Now read 1 John 2:1-2 again.
Reflection: What do you learn in these verses about the work of Christ?
3 - 11 Obedience and Love
3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
V3. In the next verses John will pay attention to the characteristics of the new life. In that way he wants to teach his readers, including you, how they can recognize the new life. That is how he wants to encourage them and you. The fact is that false brothers have crept in who can say wonderful things about knowing God. They claim to know God and they even say that they know Him in a special and profound way. However, those people turn out to be deceivers. That leads to the question about how you can recognize whether a person knows God, and how you can recognize it with yourself.
To end all uncertainty and to confirm the children of God in their faith, John gives five characteristics. Those characteristics are important for you too. Two of them are in the section that you have now before you. These are obedience and love. The third characteristic is that the new life does not sin (1Jn 3:6). The fourth is about the possession of the Holy Spirit (1Jn 3:24) and the fifth is in connection with the doctrine of Christ (1Jn 4:2).
The first characteristic to recognize whether a person knows God, is that he is obedient. That applies also to you. The proof that a person knows God, is not delivered by speaking about spectacular visions that he may have had or impressive gifts that he may have. The point is whether a person obeys the commandments of God and of the Lord Jesus. Can you say that you want to do the commandments of the Lord Jesus? Do you love Him that much that you are willing to obey Him and walk in His ways? When Paul came to conversion, the proof of the conversion was not that he suddenly spoke in tongues, but that he asked: “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10).
It’s not about thinking: ‘I do not always walk in obedience and therefore I am not converted.’ The point is that you as a child of God discern in your heart the desire to walk after His commandments. That desire proves that eternal life is in you. By the way, the commandments here are not the ten commandments that were established in the law of Mount Sinai (Exo 20:1-17), but everything that the Father says. You see that perfectly in the life of the Lord Jesus. The law was not His life principle – although He perfectly fulfilled the law – but the commandments of the Father (Jn 10:17-18; 12:49; 14:31).
V4. Now if someone comes who says he knows God, then to you is now given a means by John to test that. Do you see with such a person that he does not consider the commandments of God and do you notice that there is no desire for him to do the will of God? Then you must classify him as a liar. He is doing his own will. The truth is not in him. He doesn’t have the Lord Jesus, Who is the truth, as his life.
V5. If you notice with someone that he keeps the word that the Lord Jesus has spoken, you can be sure that he knows God. It is striking that John speaks about “His word” in verse 5, while in verse 4 he talks about “His commandments”. You may probably define the distinction as follows. ‘His commandments’ are all desires the Lord has regarding your life. Each of His desires is a command to you. This is how He dealt with the desires of His Father. ‘His word’ encompasses more. It regards not only His desires, but also Who He Himself is in His Person, what is within Him, what His own glory is.
If you keep His Word, you do not only fulfill His desires, but you show Who He Himself is. Then it is not only about a practice, but also about an attitude, a radiance. It is the radiance of the love of God that is perfectly present in such a person and which comes to expression unimpeded.
If that is the case with you, then in that way you acknowledge that you are in Him, i.e. in God, that is, that you live in fellowship with Him. I repeat, it is not about the extent of your experience, but about whether you acknowledge that this is true. How weak it may be seen and experienced in practice, each child of God will wholeheartedly say that this is the case with him. At the same time he will desire to experience more and more of it and that it will be more and more visible in his life. That is also an extra proof that it is present.
V6. That also means that you abide in Him, that you dwell in Him. That is not a temporary matter that can change, but it is a permanent dwelling place. It is not that at one moment you abide in Him and at another moment you are not. How could it be possible for you to have eternal life at one time and at the other time don’t have it? That you abide in Him also becomes visible in your walk. Therein also becomes visible what was visible in the walk of the Lord Jesus. Just as He did, do you seek the honor of God. He is the center in your life. The sphere of your life is your relationship with Him. At the same time it is a touchstone to test if it is really true when a person claims to be in God.
V7. The commandment John speaks about in this verse and the following verses, is the commandment of love. As an introduction and in accordance to that he addresses the readers as “beloved”. The commandment of love is not a new commandment, but an old one. By that John does not refer to the commandment that God gave to His people at Mount Sinai to love Him. That commandment only made clear that man was not able to keep it. The commandment that John is talking about is spoken out by the Lord Jesus. It doesn’t come from Mount Sinai, but, so to speak, from the Father’s house. The new commandment has another starting point.
That’s the reason why you read here that it is a commandment “which you have had from the beginning”. That refers to the time that the Lord Jesus was on earth. When the Lord Jesus spoke it out, He spoke of a new commandment (Jn 13:34). That proves that it does not refer to the commandment of Sinai. Now that John speaks about it, he can say that he is speaking about an old commandment that they’ve heard, for it was already mentioned by the Lord Jesus.
V8. On the other hand, it is also “a new commandment”. What then is new? It is the commandment that is given to people who have the new, eternal life that enables a person to love. That new life is the Lord Jesus. The new commandment, therefore, has another origin and it also has another target group. There is a new company of people on earth. Those people are not only born again, just as each believer in the Old Testament was, but they have the Son as their life and in that way they have been brought into fellowship with the Father. Therefore it is said “which is true in Him”, the Son, and it is also true “in you”, the believer.
At the same time that makes the enormous contrast with the world around you clear and it also shows what is happening to the world. The world is in the darkness; it is completely surrounded by it. The true light that shines in it only makes the darkness more tangible. The darkness is a temporary matter. The light is not a temporary matter. It is shining now already and it will always shine. It is the “true Light” and therefore it has got nothing to do with the wandering light of the false teachers who boast on having higher light and higher knowledge. Those people belong to the darkness and are just as temporary as the darkness.
It is a good thing to consider that the darkness indeed will pass away in creation, but it will last forever as the place where everything that is related to the darkness is locked-up. The Lord Jesus addresses that as “outer darkness” (Mt 8:12).
V9. Also he is “in the darkness” who “says he is in the Light”, while he “hates his brother”. You may think: ‘But a brother is of course not in darkness, right?’ That is true. Therefore it is not about a true brother here, but about a person who pretends to be one (cf. 1Cor 5:11). He acts as a brother and approaches the believers as his brothers, while in reality he hates them. That appears from his efforts to convince the believers of his so called great insight in Who God is and thereby spreads false doctrines about the Lord Jesus and His work. There has never been any light in him, he has always been in the darkness and he is there “until now”.
You may possibly dislike a brother occasionally. That is not right and it must not remain like that. But hating your brother means that there is totally no love for him present at all. If you are dealing with a true brother you will always discover something of the new life in him. Ultimately the love for that brother will prevail. You will surely notice that love with yourself because you will dislike yourself for disliking your brother.
V10. The observation that you love your brother – and you will be able to sincerely say that about yourself –, means that you abide in the light. Love and light belong together. They are the Being and nature of God. Because you have the Divine nature, love and light are perfect with you. Therefore you will not be a stumbling block for another person by tempting him to sin. There is nothing in you that could possibly cause another person to fall into sin. That what is in you, comes from God (Psa 119:165). And He certainly tempts nobody to sin, does He? The new life that you have, is the life of the Lord Jesus. You follow Him and therefore you have the light of life (Jn 8:12; 11:9-10; 12:35; Pro 4:18-19).
V11. That’s altogether completely absent with a person who hates his brother. The contrast is enormous and again typical for the way John presents the things. Love makes a person to walk in the light. Hatred makes a person walk in darkness, without knowing where he is going. These kinds of people have eyes blinded by darkness. So how could such a person be a good guide for another person (Mt 15:14)?
Now read 1 John 2:3-11 again.
Reflection: What are the characteristics of the new life? How do you recognize them and where are they missing?
12 - 17 Fathers, Young Men, Children
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
V12. In the previous verses you saw that there is a radical separation between light and darkness, between love and hate, between you as a child of God and the world. John will now write about some other things to his “little children”. He makes clear that not all children of God are spiritually at the same level. Just like in natural life, also in spiritual life there are different growing stages:
1. The spiritual growing process begins with the stage of ‘child’.
2. Then the stage of a ‘young man’ follows.
3. Finally, spiritual maturity is be reached when a person becomes a ‘father’.
Before John elaborates on the different growing stages, he first says what those different groups have in common. That is that their “sins have been forgiven … for His name’s sake”. This great blessing is the part of every child of God. This is where the assurance of the forgiveness of sin is shining. In case you would be doubting (a little bit) about whether God has indeed forgiven your sins, then you need to carefully consider this verse. The assurance of the forgiveness of sins is not in yourself, but in God and in Christ and His work. Your sins are forgiven “for His name’s sake” (cf. Psa 25:11; Isa 43:25).
It does not say that your sins have been ‘removed’, but “forgiven”. ‘Being forgiven’ shows the heart of God. In the forgiveness God opens His arms and wraps them around you. God does not forgive reluctantly, but He likes to forgive (Psa 86:5). He receives the prodigal son and gives him all the glory of His house. He especially gives him His arms and His heart (Lk 15:20-24).
I once heard a nice story of a man who was doubting about whether his sins were really forgiven. This man was told that when he has asked God for forgiveness, he could surely trust that God has cast all his sins ‘behind His back’ (Isa 38:17). However, he could hardly believe that. That may be true, he said, but when God turns around, He will surely see them again. Then they told him that God has cast them ‘into the depths of the sea’ (Mic 7:19). Yes, the man replied, but when God drains the sea they will become visible again. Then they told him that God will ‘remember his sins no more’ (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:12), that is, that He will never refer to them again. Forgiveness is in the magnificence of God’s Being, in His Name. That convinced the man. He was now assured that also his sins were forgiven.
V13a. After the determination that the assurance of forgiveness of sins is the part that all children of God share, John addresses the three groups separately. He starts with the “fathers”. It is God’s purpose for all His children (both brothers and sisters!) to grow up to be ‘fathers’ in the faith. A ‘father’ has gone through the phases of a child and a young man. A father knows Him “who is from the beginning”, that is Christ, the Son of God.
You may say that this also applies to the child and the young man. That is true, but by presenting it like that, John makes clear that Christ is sufficient for a father. Fathers are those who live closely to Christ and closely to the Scripture. The characteristic of a father is that he has been disconnected from the world to be fully in the other world where He is in Whom everything is to be found for the heart of the Father. The only important thing for him is to have fellowship with the Father and the Son.
V13b. The “young men” are in the middle of the development of their spiritual life. The young man is involved in a warfare against the wicked one. Nevertheless he may know that he has overcome the evil one because he has the new life. That doesn’t mean that the evil one leaves him alone. The evil one seeks to tempt him to love the world. This is elaborated on later in verse 15. When you are a young man you stand in the victory. From your position as a conqueror in Christ (Rom 8:37) you are able to live a life of victory.
V13c. The “children” in the faith, the babies, are not characterized by struggles in the first place. They have peace in their heart because they know “the Father”. They rest in His faithfulness, love and care. Inwardly they have rest and they feel “like a weaned child [rests] against his mother” (Psa 131:2). They do not need to grow in the knowledge of the Father. They know Him and have a personal relationship with Him.
Before we continue I would like to make a general remark. You have seen that John indicates what is typical for each group. That, however, does not mean that each characteristic is specifically only for the group that is being regarded. Also a father in Christ has his struggles at times and he also knows what it is to rest at the heart of the Father. In the same way the young man also has the moments of rest and of being fully satisfied by the Lord Jesus. The same applies to the children. They certainly have their struggles at times, while they also experience at times that the only important thing is Christ.
V14a. To encourage the different groups in their growth, John addresses them once more. That gives them an extra assurance against the persistent attempts of the false teachers to deceive them and to draw them away from the assurance and perfection of the new life they have.
Regarding the “fathers” John has nothing more to say than he has already said. Christ is sufficient for them. There is nothing more that could complement that.
V14b. With the “young men” it is different. He first points out to them what they are and what they have done. They are “strong”; they have strength. They do not have that strength in themselves, but they derive it from “the word of God” that “abides” in them. The truth lives in them because the new life is in them. Therefore they also have overcome the evil one.
A beautiful example of that is to be seen with the Lord Jesus when He is tempted in the wilderness. There He defeats satan by making use of the Word of God (Mt 4:1-11). For that reason it is of great importance for you to read the Word of God with the greatest attention and to absorb it. Then it will have an impact in your life and it will cause you to overcome in situations of conflict. If you do not do that you will surely suffer defeat.
V15. As far as the young man is concerned, most of the conflict material is provided in his confrontation with “the world”. There is a close relationship between the world and the evil one. The evil one uses the world to catch you. Now you must not think that the world only consists of clearly sinful things as pornography, violence and lies. Such things are being rejected by every sincere child of God with abhorrence.
The world, however, consists of much more subtle forms of sin. You may as well reject pornography, but you may then find a magazine in the waiting room of the physician or the dentist in which it appears. You read it with the ‘pious’ excuse that it is a good thing to know what the world has to offer. But you would have never taken such a magazine in your hand if a brother or sister were with you.
Remember well that the world is controlled by satan. He is the ruler and god of this world (Jn 14:30; 2Cor 4:4). The world as a sphere of influence of the evil one may come to you in a very friendly appearance. It may help you for instance to express yourself in such a way to find favor with another person or to make you have what you loved to have. The way you talk and also the way you dress yourself, the way of spending your time and the goals you pursue, may all show how much you love the world.
It is all about your perspective on life. The evil one wants to tempt you to look at it in his way. That’s how he operated with Eve when he drew her attention to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She looked at it and saw that this was exactly the way satan had presented it to her. As soon as you allow anything of love for the world, you shut yourself off from the love of the Father.
V16. The world is characterized by everything that’s in it. John summarizes everything that is in the world in three things: the flesh – that is not the sinful flesh, but your body with all its needs –, the eyes and life. In themselves they are not sinful, but due to the fall of man they became instruments of sin. These are the three aspects of your being as a human, aspects that determine your personality.
The ranking in which John puts these aspects is the same as with Eve (Gen 3:6), but contrary to the ranking God uses (1Thes 5:23). Eve sees that the tree
1. is good for food;
2. is a delight to the eyes;
3. is desirable to make one wise.
Since the fall of man, the body became an idol. The lust of the flesh started to be predominant. Linked to that is the lust of the eyes. Advertising for instance is focused on the eye. The product, whatever it may be, stirs up the lust for it, which is dormant present in you. What comes through the eye to you, penetrates much deeper in you than what you hear. As soon as the eyes are captivated by the product, something you of course seem to need to be happy, you become obsessed with it. In the meantime you have been totally swallowed by the world and totally separated from God. Pride has made you a prisoner. Pride appears from your willfulness and probably even your irrepressible efforts to get what is presented to you.
V17. The pursuit of the world is temporary, it cannot stand. Opposite to that is doing “the will of God”. If you put your mind to that, you are doing something that does not pass away, but something that “lives forever”. By pursuing this you prove that you are born of God. John therefore says that “the one who does the will of God lives forever”. Is it hard to choose?
Now read 1 John 2:12-17 again.
Reflection: Where are the dangers for you in closing yourself off to the Father’s love?
18 - 24 Characteristics of the Last Hour
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not [really] of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but [they went out], so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
V18. After John has addressed the fathers and the young men, he now addresses the children or babies in faith. He ensures them that they live in the last hour. Of course that applies to all other believers, including himself. We all know that we live in the last hour. Nevertheless, the babies in faith are especially addressed because they in particular form a prey to the dangers that characterize this “last hour”. Actually the last hour is characterized by the coming of “many antichrists”.
You also come across expressions that are similar to the expression ‘the last hour’, such as ‘later times’ (1Tim 4:1) and ‘the last days’ (2Tim 3:1). In ‘the last days’ spirits will appear in professing Christianity that are of a more serious nature than the things of ‘later times’. The situation that is described here by John is even more serious, for it is about the antichrist here. In him you see the exaltation of man that takes the place of Christ.
The meaning of the word ‘antichrist’ is twofold. It means both ‘against Christ’ and ‘instead of Christ’. Both characteristics appear in 2 Thessalonians 2 (2Thes 2:4). There Paul speaks about the antichrist as the man of sin who exalts himself ‘against’ God and who displays himself ‘as being’ God, thus who takes the place of God.
The antichrist has not come yet, he still is to come, but he, as a matter of fact, has his heralds and trailblazers. These are the antichrists and they are many. As already said, the danger of antichrists is the greatest for the children. Antichrists are persons who bring false teachings about the Father and the Son. The antichrists for instance may possibly say sensitive things about the Lord Jesus, but they deny Him as the Son of God. False teachings about Christ are more easily accepted by new converts than by fathers in Christ, the matured believers to whom Christ is everything they need.
V19. In the days of John the antichrists went out from the midst of the believers. That also caused the ‘children’ to be confused. They formerly had those teachers in their midst and had accepted their ministry. Now all of a sudden they were not there anymore. But John eases them. Their going out reveals that none of those false teachers belonged to the company of believers. They were deceivers who did not care at all about the children, but on the contrary they tried to catch them. They certainly did not belong to the children of God. If that were the case they would have remained. John uses this simple reasoning to make clear that they were wrong people.
You might wonder about that in relation to the times in which we live. The antichrists do not go out anymore, but establish themselves in professing Christianity. The antichrists do not go out anymore because of the confusion in professing Christianity. The Christians are no longer a unity and they have not collectively resisted against the false doctrines anymore for a long time already. At the time I am writing this, it is allowed (here in the Netherlands) that a reverend of the protestant church of the Netherlands, can even deny God in his teachings, and can still keep his position as a reverend. Nonetheless nothing changes the fact that such people are not from us from the beginning and do not belong in the Christian fellowship of the family of God.
V20. As a young believer you may possibly meet all kinds of teachings. What is true and what not? What should you believe and what not? It often happens that a false teaching is brought in a pleasant way and by eloquent people. Still, I sometimes hear from the young believers: ‘I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t ‘feel’ right’. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. As a young believer you may actually be a favorite target of satan to deceive you in your faith, but through your conversion to God and your faith in the Lord Jesus you have “an anointing from the Holy One”, due to which you know all things.
With ‘the anointing from the Holy One’ is meant that you have received the Holy Spirit, He is ‘the anointing’. He is given to you by the Lord Jesus, He is ‘the Holy One’, when you came to faith in Him (Eph 1:13; Jn 14:26). The word ‘anointing’ implies that you have been enabled to discern whether something comes from God or from His enemy.
The Lord Jesus is called here ‘the Holy One’. That emphasizes the contrast to the unholy teachings that inevitably lead to unholy practices. In the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus has given you a resource to recognize the lie. The lie is everything that goes against God’s Word, which is the truth. What is contrary to the Word of God, you can reject immediately. The Holy Spirit uses only the Word of God in order to teach you about the Father and the Son. In the light of the Bible you can reject all talks as lies from people who draw from other resources and who want you to believe that they can give you a deeper insight in Christ.
V21. John does not write this because you do not know the truth. He confirms that you know the truth. You also know that there is no lie of the truth. It is not possible to mix lie with truth. But that is just the way the deceivers want to exert their influence on you. They will never come up with a plain lie, but they wrap the lie in truths. A person who says many true things and also a little bit of lie is not of the truth. His source is the lie and what he says comes from the devil, the father of the lie (Jn 8:44b). All good things are used by the devil to cover the lie and thus gain access to the children of God.
The truth is what you have in the Scriptures. Everything outside of it is lie. It is good to consider that believers may differ in insight in the truth. But that is an entirely different matter than what is at issue here. Here the point is the contrast between lie and truth. You are not to accuse a person for telling a lie if he thinks differently than you about a certain truth, nor is the other person allowed to do that with you.
V22. “The liar”, that is he who uses the lie, can be recognized by a twofold denial. It is someone
1. “who denies that Jesus is the Christ” and
2. “who denies the Father and the Son”.
The liar is the antichrist, the top instrument of satan in whom his deceitfulness is fully revealed. The spearhead of his denial is the Lord Jesus.
First you read that he denies ‘that Jesus is the Christ’. That means that he denies that the Man Jesus is the same as the Christ of God. ‘Christ’ means the same as ‘Messiah’. As Christ or Messiah His relation to the Jewish people is in the forefront.
Then you read that he ‘denies the Father and the Son’. That means that he denies that there is a relationship of perfect unity in the Godhead between the Father and the Son. This relationship is the core of the Christian faith. Jesus the Christ is the Son of the Father.
V23. The Father and the Son are inseparable from each other. Therefore, whoever denies the Son, neither has the Father. If you confess the Son, His Father is also your Father. The Son reveals the Father. There is no revelation of the Father outside the Son. The only way to know the Father is through the Son (Jn 8:19; 14:7); only through the Son you can see the Father (Jn 14:9); honoring the Son is the only way to honor the Father (Jn 5:23). You see that it is all about the Son. The many talks about ‘God’ in professing Christianity is deceptive, because it often happens without any thought about the Son.
Speaking about ‘God’ also bridges the distance between Christendom and Judaism and islam. Orthodox Judaism and islam deny the essential truth of Christendom and are in the fullest sense antichristian. The rapprochement between the religions doesn’t change Judaism and islam, but it erodes Christendom by taking the core out of it. The big question to test the truth of a statement still remains: “What do you think about the Christ?” (Mt 22:42a).
V24. John presented the liar in his activity. It is important for you as a young believer, a child in Christ, to watch out for that liar. You must not let yourself be confused by the deceitful way in which he tries to present the truth to you. The simple protection for that, is that you let that which you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If you do that you will also abide in the Son and in the Father.
You are referred back to the beginning. What did you hear about the truth back then? Then you heard about Him Who is from the beginning, the Word of life that was with the Father and which was manifested (1Jn 1:1-2). When you accepted what you have heard from Him from God’s Word, you received Him as your life. He is in you now, He abides in you. Because that is a fact you abide in the Son and in the Father. That implies that you live in fellowship with the Son and the Father. Be aware of that and don’t let yourself be robbed from that enjoyment by false teachers who want to tell you that it can all be more beautiful.
Now read 1 John 2:18-24 again.
Reflection: What is John warning you of and how does he encourage you?
25 - 29 Anointing and Abiding In Him
25 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. 28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
V25. As a child in faith, that which you have heard from the beginning abides in you and as a result of that you abide in the Son and the Father. There is not the slightest separation between you and the Son and the Father. It is not about whether you always experience it, but it is about how it is. Your feelings are not the measure, but that which God has promised to those who believe is the measure.
God has made to us a “promise”. That promise is: “eternal life”. It is not a promise of which the fulfilment is still to come. You have what is promised, that is eternal life, because you believe. God has promised that he who believes in His only begotten Son will receive eternal life (Jn 3:16). Do you think that God would promise something He would not fulfill? That is impossible and therefore there is no room for any uncertainty.
As I already noted at the beginning, there is, beside the aspect of eternal life as the new life in you, also the aspect of eternal life as a sphere of life in which you live. That too belongs to what is promised that you have received. The sphere you have turned into through faith and in which you abide is the fellowship with the Father and the Son.
V26. John writes this all in order to arm you against those who seek to “deceive” you concerning you being a child of God. Even if you have been converted for only a short time, you have the new life in its fullness. Nothing is missing. It is not the beginning of something that is yet imperfect and to which by new truths outside the Bible one thing or another must be added to make it complete. The false teachers are assuming that there is a higher truth to be found in the mysticism of the invisible and that they have the key to it.
V27. Do not let yourself be dragged by these deceptive guide spirits to look for the so-called missing things. It is totally different with you. You absolutely do not need such false teachers, for you are anointed with the Holy Spirit Whom you have received from God and Christ. God’s Spirit, Who abides in you and Who will never leave you (Jn 14:16), will guide you into all the truth (Jn 16:13).
You are not dependent on certain people who claim that you will not be able to come to the full knowledge of the truth without them. The Spirit teaches you all things (Jn 14:26). He testifies about the Lord Jesus and makes clear what is true and not a lie (Jn 15:26). Even if you would only know just a little bit of the truth and you are not able to refute a false doctrine, you will still be able to sense what is the truth and therefore be able to reject the lie (cf. Jn 10:4-5).
Of course this doesn’t mean that you would not need any teaching and that attending the meetings where the Word is explained and that reading Bible study books would be a waste of time. Christ has given gifts to His church, amongst others that of a teacher to edify His church (Eph 4:11). To disregard that gift by not making use of it, means to disregard the Giver of it and that will at least result in spiritual skewing.
The important thing here is that you are able to sense through the Spirit what God’s truth is. Through the Spirit you have the capacity to discern the lie from the truth. By what you have been taught by the Spirit you know that you abide in Him. The Spirit does not sow doubt but He affirms.
By the way, ‘Him’ in “abide in Him” may indicate both God and the Lord Jesus. It is one of the characteristics of the letters of John, that it is not always clear whether ‘He’ or ‘Him’ indicates the Father or the Son. That doesn’t matter, for both Persons of the Godhead are equal to each other.
V28. John again as an old believer addresses all children of God as his spiritual children. He exhorts you to “abide in Him”. In that way He wants to exhort you to be aware of your fellowship with the Father and the Son and to remain in that atmosphere. This appeal of John is with a view to the appearance of the Lord Jesus. In that way he refers to His coming which he himself expects.
If you live in conscious fellowship with the Lord Jesus you will look forward to Him with boldness and also with eagerness. If you live for yourself and not in fellowship with Him, you will be ashamed when He comes. You will, as it were, turn down your eyes. You certainly do not want that, do you? Therefore remain aware of having your abode in Him. When the Lord Jesus appears and every eye sees Him (Rev 1:7), each man will acknowledge that the Son is righteous and that He righteously exercises the judgment. You know that already now.
V29. This speaking about the appearance of the Son on earth is a reason for John to continue with passing on characteristics that are typical for the children of God. From what he has written earlier you know that what matters to him is to make clear that everyone who has the Lord Jesus as his life, is characterized by that life. He who has that life, the eternal life, is “born of Him”. John uses this expression for the first time in his letter.
He who is born of God has the nature of God and shows it by practicing “righteousness”. The Lord Jesus is righteous and therefore you see that characteristic with each child of God. (Of the Lord Jesus, by the way, nowhere do you read that He is born of God, because He is God.)
With practicing righteousness is not meant doing a good deed every now and then. It is about what characterizes the new life, what is the practice of the new life. The new life practices righteousness and nothing else. Practicing righteousness is doing what is right to God and is manifested in your thinking, speaking and acting.
Here also it is not about living up to it for the full hundred percent in your life, but it is about what belongs to the new life, the nature of God. Practicing righteousness is only to be found with someone who is born of God. It is living as the Lord Jesus is.
Now read 1 John 2:25-29 again.
Reflection: What is the meaning of the anointing that you have received?