Thinking more on Pastor Babij’s Sunday sermon about the coming day of the Lord, I found myself pondering the apostle John’s intriguing statement about antichrist in 1 John 2:18,
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.
Even though John says that one ultimate antichrist is coming, he also says that there are already “many antichrists” on earth—proof of the late state of this world. And what is the key mark of these antichrists? John gives the same answer three times in his letters: willful denial of the truth about Christ (1 Jn 2:22; 4:3; 2 Jn 1:7). Really, all antichrists will seek to do at some level exactly what the ultimate antichrist will do: deny Christ, exalt the self, and make war on those who will not give ultimate obedience and worship.
One striking result of studying history is that you discover just how many people throughout time—especially those in power—fit well into the mold of antichrist. The Bible itself is full of these rebellious, wannabe gods: Pharaoh of Egypt (Ex 5:1-2), Sennacherib of Assyria (2 Ki 18:31-35), the King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:1-10), the King of Babylon (Isa 14:3-23), the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Dan 11:21-39), Herod the Great (Mt 2:1-20), and Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-5; 20-23). We could add to this list most Roman emperors (like Nero, Domitian, and Diocletian) as well as some kings and queens of Israel—not to mention various modern dictators, demagogues, and religious leaders.
Why so many antichrists? We see an answer in Genesis 3:4-6,
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
The truth is that, since humanity’s fall into sin, all of us are born following the same spirit of antichrist (Satan) that Adam and Eve followed. We therefore naturally live intent on denying Christ, exalting ourselves, and enforcing our own way. Rather than submit to God, we want to be god. While most people try to conceal this heart attitude, it often comes out when under strain or when a person simply feels powerful enough. Yet living this arrogant way only results in God’s overwhelming judgment (Ps 2:1-12; Ps 82:1-8; Isa 42:8).
But there is freedom from this self-destructive spirit in Christ, who gives us his new Spirit (Rom 8:9-11). Though the flesh will want to resume self-exalting ways, the true Christian will take up after the pattern of Christ and not antichrist. After all, a Christian is one who, by faith, has come to accept one basic piece of divine wisdom that every antichrist foolishly rejects:
Luke 14:11, For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Questions to Consider:
1. In the proceeding context of 1 John 2:18 (1 John 2:19-24), whom does John implicitly identify as antichrists?
2. How are the “many antichrists” of this present age evidence of Christ’s imminent return?
3. Does your life demonstrate that you follow the spirit of Christ or the spirit of antichrist?