The Holy Spirit is Key to Discerning the Truth - A study in John 2:18-29
There is a greater urgency to discern truth from lies. We are told churches are unsafe for people to assemble but casinos and big box stores are safe. We grow weary hearing all this. But the enemy doesn’t let up on his attacks. So we must remain vigilant, diligent and prepared. John wrote this epistle to declare the truth and fight against lies that hurt people and the lies turning them away from the truth.
1 John 2:18. The last hour describes a kind of time not a duration. Paul describes this time in 1 Timothy 4:1-3. People leave the faith and believe deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. Remember antichrist can be defined as “against Christ” and “instead of Christ.”
Verse 2:19. ”They” are the ones who oppose Christ. “Us” are those who believed Christ and stayed with Him. Those who oppose Christ adhere to doctrines not taught in God’s word.
Fast forward to today. We say some (not all) who left the church and not returned because of Covid-19 have believed a lie. Yes. The virus is real, it is contagious, and some have died from it but the viruses in past years did not create this response by government officials. Our enemy is behind this.
Verse 2:20. Christians have the Holy Spirit residing within them and those who oppose Christ do not. What does it mean, “and you know all things?” This refers to the truth. The Holy Spirit is our teacher teaching us all things (see John 14:26).
Verse 2:21. What are some basic truths? God exists. He created all things. Adam and Eve sinned plunging all mankind into darkness. Their punishment was death - first immediate spiritual death then eventually physical death. All of us inherited the sin nature from Adam and Eve. God sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins that we may have eternal life with Him. There is no lie in these truths. The false teachers claimed salvation can be achieved through knowledge or through a special anointing. This is a lie. This is what the cults do. They deny Jesus. The seeker friendly churches deny sin exists and that they can improve themselves through self effort. They fail to realize everyone is spiritually dead in their sins. Dead means not alive.
Verse 2:22-23. Satan is the father of lies. His followers speak lies. To deny Jesus is the Christ is to refuse to recognize or acknowledge Him. Jesus said, “Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven (Matt 10:32-33). They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. (Titus 1:16). I think of those who have left the church because of this virus with no intent to return. This is serious.
It’s easy to fall away. We must remain diligent to stay close to Him.
Verse 2:24. Let the truth abide in you . This is the truth we have been told since when the world was created and the truth we’ve learned since we became born again, our new beginnings. Abide means to dwell, remain, last. If we remain in, dwell in the truth we will also remain in and dwell in the Son and Father.
This abiding in must become a daily practice. Why? Because:
1. we forget.
2. our circumstances overwhelm us and we lose focus.
3. we are attacked by the enemy.
Verse 2:25. This is a great promise. Without God’s promise of eternal life, we all face eternal death i.e. separation from God for all eternity. Thank You Jesus for dying for me! Make it a practice to thank Him every day.
Verse 2:26. John didn’t want us to be deceived. Jesus did not want us to be deceived and says so in Matthew 24:4 as he begins teaching the disciples about the end of the age.
Verse 2:27. The key to discerning truth from error is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. The Gnostics believed there was a special revelation for the enlightened, an elite group. This is a lie. All believers have the Holy Spirit to teach them. The Bible is given to everyone to read and learn.
Are believers allowing the Holy Spirit to teach them? Are they listening for His still small voice? Are the Covid-19 church abstainers really listening for God’s direction on this and other issues? Just a question to ponder.
Verse 2:28. The word abide appears six times in verses 24-28. Abiding is essential to discerning truth from error; Abide in Him.
The Lord is coming back. Today, we are one day closer. Our confidence (trust) will be in Him when He appears. Our sins are forgiven; we have been made new creations in Christ so we will not be ashamed at His coming. He has done it all. What are we to do? Believe Him. Trust Him. Repent. Follow His leading; do the work He prepared for us to do. Remember it’s the narrow road. It’s difficult but the reward is great.