Preached at Northwest Christian ChurchDavid P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, June 6, 2010.
1 John 2:18-27: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore 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. And this is the promise that He has promised us – eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
Our subject today is not one that anybody would consider a favorite topic. It is not one that will send goose bumps up and down your spine, or even bring a smile to your face. Nevertheless, it is a necessary subject, a topic we need to explore because of how timely it is, and how prevalent it is, and is becoming.
It is a subject, frankly, that has more to do with subtracting than adding to the Body of Christ. It is a topic that deals more with losses, than with gains. And, none of that, of course, is the kind of thing we like to talk about. None of that gives us a ‘CHARGE,’ so to speak.
Nevertheless, here we are with a passage of Scripture that does talk about it, and perhaps, if we look around and think about it, here we are with a situation that illustrates it, and even begs for it to be examined. I am talking about the subject of APOSTASY.
Apostasy… Now, that word may not be one that is in your day-to-day vocabulary, one that you use frequently, or maybe have even heard of before. So, let me take just a moment to define it and to briefly explain it, before we move on in our study of it. Apostasy, what is it? Simply put, it is the ABANDONMENT of one’s religion – or, we might say it this way, it is the departure, the walking away from one’s faith in Christ.
Now, listen. While you’re thinking about what I’ve just said, allow me to add this in – this word, ‘APOSTASY’ is rarely, if ever used, in our English Bibles. However, don’t let that confuse you, because though this word is rarely found in our Bibles, the concept behind it is prevalent throughout the Bible. For example, in John chapter 6, following His teaching on the Bread of Life, verses 66 and 67 indicate that some who had previously followed Jesus, went back, turned around and walked away from following Jesus any longer. In Matthew 24, Jesus, looking to the future, both immediate and long range, instructs the twelve to the effect that, in the future there will be many who will fall away from the faith. There will be many who, because of the afflictions and persecutions that go with following Christ, because of the deception of false prophets leading them astray, and, because of allurements of ever-increasing temptations, Jesus says, “The love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:9-13)
Apostasy, what is it? Well, in today’s study text it is, or entails, a denial of the deity of Jesus (1 John 2:22). And, in 2 Peter, it involves living such a life of open, unrepentant sin, that by one’s lifestyle, by one’s sinful behavior, he or she denies the faith (2 Peter 2:20). All of which, according to several New Testament passages (including this one here), is characteristic of the last days. (see 2 Thess. 2:3, 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1,5; 2 Tim. 4:3ff)
Apostasy… As I said, this is not going to end up being one of your most favorite sermons. However, it may end up being one of the most necessary, and I pray, helpful sermons I have ever preached.
1 John 21:18ff – The first thing we note, the first thing we come to find out from this passage, as it deals with the subject of apostasy, is simply this: Apostasy is a fact.
1 John 2:18-19: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
As much as we’d like to think and believe otherwise, apostasy is not a far-off, future prophecy, yet-to-be-fulfilled, but a present reality. The apostle John says it like this in verse 18, “As you have heard that the Antichrist [capital ‘A’] is coming, even now are there many antichrists [lower case ‘a’]. This is how we know it is the last hour…”
The fact of Apostasy - it is a hard cold, first-thing-in-the-morning, first look-in-the-mirror kind of thing – yes. Nevertheless, we must not overlook it or refuse to acknowledge it. To fail to acknowledge this fact, is to do so to our peril, and to the peril of many others, including those sitting next to you in this room.
The fact of Apostasy, John says it this way, in chapter 4:1ff.
1 John 4:1-6: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, where they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Apostasy, what is it? It is a departure from faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And, yes, though we may wish otherwise, it is a fact.
But then, secondly, please note why acknowledging that fact, the fact of apostasy, is so crucial for you and me. Let me put it this way, it is critical, essential for us to realize and recognize that apostasy is occurring – why? Because Apostates, those who turn their backs on Christ, are dangerous! Apostates are dangerous!
Now, you might be asking yourself, “Dangerous?! How can folks like that be dangerous?” To begin to answer that question, allow me, first of all, to point you to verse 26 of our text.
1 John 2:26 – “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.”
According to this verse, what is it that makes Apostates so dangerous, as far as the faithful followers of Christ are concerned? One thing, you see, don’t you? They are all about deceiving people, they are all about leading the faithful down the path of destruction that they are walking! But, how is it that they come to be deceivers to begin with? Good question. Take a look at the 4 steps that these false brothers and former sisters take, that leads them, and can end up, leading others into apostasy. Step number one, they depart from the truth. They depart from the truth – verses 21 and 22.
1 John 2:21-22: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.”
Secondly, they decide to DENY God the Father, by denying Jesus the Son. Read it again in verses 22 and 23.
1 John 2:22-23: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
In taking just these two steps, Apostates show themselves to be dangerous. But, look closer at the text and you’ll notice something very startling.
In moving in the direction of apostasy, these false brothers and former sisters not only depart from the truth and deny God the Father and Jesus the Son, they also DEFECT to the world, and end up DESPISING the faithful. Take a look, apostasy, what is it? 1 John 2:19 – It is going out like Judas Iscariot, when he left the upper room to carry out his sinister plot against Jesus. Apostasy is a going out.
But, going out – where? 1 John 4:1,5 – It is going out into the world – not to preach the good news of Jesus Christ – no! But, a going out, like Judas did when he open his heart to the devil. Apostasy is a going out from a relationship with Jesus Christ, and with God’s people, in order to DEFECT to the world!
Secondly, note also that apostasy – this defection to the world – also entails a leaving behind of the promises that God makes to those who belong to Him through faith in Christ. And, what are those promises? In a nutshell, two words sum up all of those precious promises that are ‘yes,’ and ‘amen’ to the glory of God, in Jesus Christ. What are those two words?
1 John 2:25 – eternal life. Think of it this way: 1 John 2:15-17 – In defecting to the world, loving it’s things, and choosing that love over love for the Father and the Son – what is the apostate choosing? And, what is he leaving behind? 1 John 2:17 – He is choosing something that is passing way, the world and its lusts, and he is losing – LOSING – what abides forever! Why is apostasy so dangerous? Apostasy, DEPARTING from the truth, DENYING the Father and the Son, DEFECTING to the world in not only dangerous to the faithful – they may try to deceive us – but sadly, it also is very dangerous to the apostate. His going out, and his leaving behind where will it all ultimately lead him or her? 1 John 2:28 – I love this verse, don’t you? As someone why, by God’s grace, is seeking to walk with Jesus, not away from Him – look what’s in store for me, for you – and sadly, not for them:
1 John 2:28 – “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at his coming.”
As those who are abiding in Him, not choosing to become apostate, we look ahead to the day when Christ will appear - to standing before Him confidently and unashamedly. But to what can they look forward? What is in their future?
Apostasy is dangerous, have I made that clear yet? It is dangerous, and so, my brothers and sisters, one more thing along these lines, in defecting to the world and to the prince of this world – 1 John 3:1 – it shouldn’t surprise us that they don’t acknowledge us. 1 John 4:5-6 – it shouldn’t surprise us that they don’t listen to us. And, one more, 1 John 3:13, in defecting to the world, and to Satan, the prince of this world, it shouldn’t surprise us that they hate us! Jesus said they would! No surprise there, really! So, what then?
The fact of apostasy, and the dangerous nature of the apostates, leads us in one direction. It leads us in the direction of having to make a choice ourselves. What is that choice, at least, the one that the Spirit of God, and His spokesman, the apostle John, would have us make? It is the choice to abide, to abide in Christ, to abide in His truth, to continue in fellowship with His people, rather than to become apostate! Before we move on too quickly examine this choice, allow me to clarify something for all us, right here, right now - abiding in Christ, in His truth, and so on AND choosing to become apostate, there are NO OTHER CHOICES! Those are the only two options we have! So, what then? 1 John 2:24, 27-28 – we can either OBEY the command of God to abide and reap the benefits – “If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” We can choose to obey these commands, and be blessed, or - we can choose apostasy, no promised blessings, no future benefits, nothing but painful, dreadful, eternal consequences!
Okay, so I decide to abide – help me! Can you show me how? This Book [the Bible], this letter, it’s full of ‘how-tos’. 1 John 1:7 – “Walk in the light, as He is in the light.” 1 John 2:15-17 – “Love not the world…” Pray, consistently – Ephesians 6, Philippians 4, and many other places. Train effectively – Hebrews 12, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 9, etc. These things are keys to abiding, yes! But, don’t forget! Don’t every forget one most important thing: 1 John 2:20, “You have an anointing from the Holy One…” You have an anointing from the Holy One... Now, what does that mean? How does that impact you and me? Number one, you don’t need the deceptive lies of the false brothers. Test them, and you’ll see. If you find out that they are denying Christ and have defected to the world, you don’t need their teaching. In fact, 1 John 2:18-27 – in Christ, you have an anointing, the Holy Spirit’s anointing, and through Him, God teaches you the truth. And, one more thing – 1 John 4:4 – Pray consistently, train effectively, yes! But, most of all, remember, remember, remember,
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you in greater than he who is in the world.”