5. Protection for the Child of God
Protection for the Child of God
1 John 2:18-29
A father knows how to protect his children.
A few years ago, when asked how he would handle his 12-year-old daughter’s future boyfriends, NBA hall-of-famer Charles Barkley responded, “I figure if I kill the first one, word will get out.”
God protects His children.
He can protect us physically.
If you travel to Colorado Springs and visit Focus on the Family’s campus there, they’ll show you the bullet that’s still lodged in the woodwork in the main lobby. It’s a testimony to God’s protection.
The visitor’s center is a busy place – 100,000 visitors yearly.
That’s how it was Thursday May 2, 1996. Laurilee Keyes was tending the reception desk when a man abruptly yelled, “Hang up the phone!”
Trying to politely finish her conversation, Laurilee didn’t look up and gestured for the man to wait.
“Laurilee!” shouted Judy Baker, sitting next to her. “Hang up the phone right now!”
Laurilee looked up and saw a gun pointed right at her. The gunman started screaming that he wanted everyone else out of there.
The man stripped off his clothes to the waist, and put on a vest that he said contained explosives. He held the gun in one hand and a detonator in the other.
For the next 90 minutes, the Judy Baker and Laurilee Keyes talked calmly with the man who was holding them hostage.
“What’s your name?” Laurilee asked as Judy offered him a glass of water.
“Kerry Dore,” he said, accepting the water. They asked about his family and learned he had children.
When Dore told the women that he planned to end his life that day, Laurilee tried to dissuade him, telling him that his children didn’t want a dead father.
Then, Dore was on the phone with the police negotiator, and the women heard him say he wouldn’t hurt the hostages. He never looked at the women to give them permission to leave; they didn’t look at each other; no one spoke; Judy and Laurilee simultaneously got up and slipped out the door.
Both women walked to safety, and a short while later the gunman surrendered peacefully.
God’s ability to protect us is amazing.
You don’t even know how many times your heavenly Father has protected you from …
· An accident on the highway.
· A deadly sickness.
· A harmful relationship.
· An emotional hurt.
But God’s protection is not only physical and emotional.
He also wants to protect us from anything that would harm us spiritually.
Several warnings in this book:
· Warned about the conflict between light and dark in 1 John 1:1–2:6.
· Warned about the conflict between love and hatred in 1 John 2:7–17.
Here, God warns us about a third conflict: the conflict between truth and error.
A serious warning we need to hear.
[Read 1 John 2:18]
Notice two important words and phrases in this verse:
· “the last hour”
· “the Antichrist”
Both terms show us that …
· We are living in an hour of crisis.
· We have an enemy that we must guard against.
The “last hour” reminds us that a new era has dawned on the world.
· Important to understand that the last hour is not a duration of time, but a kind of time.
· The last hour began with the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection from the tomb.
· The last hour will end when Jesus returns.
· All of OT history prepared the way for what Jesus did on the cross.
· All of history since His resurrection is preparation for His return.
· “The last hour” began back in John’s day and has been growing in intensity ever since.
· We are living in “the last time,” “the last hour” – days of crisis.
The term, “antichrist,” is used in the Bible only by John. It describes three things:
1. a spirit in the world that opposes or denies Christ;
2. the false teachers who embody this spirit; and,
3. a person who will head up the final world rebellion against Christ.
The prefix “anti” in antichrist has a double meaning – against or another.
· It can mean “against” Christ.
· It can also mean “another” Christ.
Satan is fighting against Jesus Christ, and He is substituting counterfeits for the truth of Jesus Christ.
The “spirit of antichrist” is in the world today.
· False teaching of the Da Vinci Code is antichrist – against Christ, and offering another Christ.
· Any other type of false teaching that would deny the Christ of the Bible or alter Him into someone He never was – is antichrist.
It will eventually lead to the appearance of a “satanic superman” whom the Bible calls “Antichrist” (capital A). He is called (2 Thes. 2:1–12) “the man of sin” (or “lawlessness”).
In these last days, how can believers be on their guards against false teaching – the spirit of antichrist, and false teachers – those who themselves are “lowercase a” antichrists?
God offers protection to His children from false teachers.
This passage shows us three ways that false teachers – antichrists – can be identified and guarded against.
False teachers can be identified by their …
1. Departure from God’s Church
[Read 1 John 2:19-20]
“They went out from us, but they were not of us.” - the word “us” refers to the fellowship of believers, the church.
Evidently, there were false teachers who had arisen among God’s people in the church’s in Asia Minor, to whom John wrote this letter.
Initially, they had seemed like part of the church family and fellowship.
· Worshiped with the other believers.
· Prayed with the other believers.
· Partook of the Lord’s Supper with the other believers.
But then, perhaps slowly and gradually, they began to go their own way.
Special meetings where they taught their “new and mysterious doctrine.”
Eventually, stopped being part of the church altogether.
One of the marks of being a true Christian is affiliation and fellowship with a local body of believers – the church.
IL: First church I pastored, no Sunday evening services. Wanted to preach. So, I volunteered to go and preach at t local nursing home. The residents would make their way to the parlor, sit in a semicircle, and I would preach to them as loud as I could preach.
Man who said, “Preacher, I’m 91 years old, and I haven’t heard a word you said. I just come to these meetings sos ever’body will know whose side I’m on.”
One week, a nice couple, in their fifties, came to provide music. She played the piano. He sang.
Sang beautiful old gospel songs. “Let Us Have a Little Talk with Jesus,” “Love Lifted Me,” “Whispering Hope.” Wonderful, heartfelt singing.
I preached. After the little service was over, I asked the man, “Brother, where do you and your wife go to church.”
You could almost see the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He instantly became defensive.
“I don’t go to any church,” he said. “I don’t have to go to church to be a good Christian. I know the Lord. That’s all I need.”
I didn’t argue with him. I simply thanked him for the nice music, and invited him to attend the church I served.
God instituted the church. Christ died for the church. Every New Testament letter was written in the context of the fellowship of the church.
You say, “Why are you bringing this up on Sunday evening of Memorial Day?” If anybody believes in the value, validity, veracity, and vitality of the local church – it’s this group gathered here tonight!
But – listen – there might come a time when …
· You think you’ve become so spiritual that you don’t need to come to church.
· You grow discouraged because of problems in the church.
· Someone in the church disappoints you or deceives you.
… and you might be tempted to give up on coming to church.
I’ve never known a strong spiritual professing Christian who gave up on church.
When someone tells me …
…I don’t need to come to church.
They usually have either …
· Moral problems – they’ve stopped living the truth and don’t want to be part of the church’s discipline.
· Doctrinal problems – they’ve stopped believing the truth and they don’t want to be part of the church’s teaching.
· Relationship problems – they’ve stopped loving the truth and the they don’t want to be part of the church’s fellowship.
God’s children who are walking with God’s Son and holding onto God’s Word will have a love for God’s church.
In fact, I have sat with precious saints of God who have become invalid or infirm and therefore shut-in and homebound – and without fail – the thing they miss most is the ability to go church.
“Oh, how I miss going to church,” I hear them say.
False teachers can be identified by their departure from God’s Church.
Notice another way that false teachers can be identified:
By their …
2. Denial of God’s Christ
[1 John 2:21-24]
v. 21 – “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it” – the Christians to whom John was writing knew the truth – they had heard the unique message of the Christian faith.
The great truth of the faith that sets a Christian apart from others is this: Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh
1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God …
He was not introducing them to the truth, but reacquainting them with and reminding them of the truth.
At the end of verse 21, He makes a statement that withstands any assault of logic or argumentation: “no lie is of the truth.”
In other words – if these false teachers are lying at any point about Jesus – you know that they do not represent that truth.
v. 22 – “Who is a liar?” He who denies that Jesus is the Christ.
Christ – not Jesus’ last name – a title: Jesus the Christos, God’s anointed.
Continue on into verse 23 –
If you deny – or say no – to the Son, you don’t have the Father either.
These false teachers – an early version of what would later become Gnosticism – the basic idea of Gnosticism is that you attain salvation by some type of spiritual enlightenment.
Gnosticism was a religion based on Secrets. Secret knowledge. Secret understanding. That somehow brings you to God.
Gnosticism was never a branch of Christianity. It was a departure from Christianity.
It did not teach salvation through Jesus Christ, but salvation apart from Jesus Christ – though this higher spiritual knowledge.
In the Gnostic understanding, Jesus may have been seen as a way to reach enlightenment, or as a trailblazer who possessed the secrets of enlightenment – but He was not seen as God or as God’s anointed and appointed Messiah.
These false teachers were saying that you could know God without believing in His Son Jesus – John countered in verse 23: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either.”
Importance of knowing what we believe about Jesus.
George Whitefield, the great British evangelist, was speaking to a man about his soul. He asked the man,
“Sir, what do you believe?”
“I believe what my church believes,” the man replied respectfully.
“And what does your church believe?”
“The same thing I believe.”
“And what do both of you believe?” the preacher inquired again.
“We both believe the same thing!” was the only reply he could get.
Bible affirms that:
· Jesus is God’s Messiah – or Christ.
· Jesus is God’s only begotten Son.
· Jesus is God.
· Jesus alone is man’s Savior.
How does God protect us from false teaching?
He shows us that we can identify false teachers by their departure from the church, and their denial of Christ, but then also:
By their …
3. Deception of God’s Children
[Read 1 John 2:26]
In the KJV, the word for “deceive” is translated “seduce.”
“These things I have written to you concerning those who try to seduce you.”
It’s a word that means “to lead someone astray.”
Some people call America a post-truth society.
Deception, shading the truth, stretching the truth, bending the truth, and spinning the truth all seem to be more popular than telling the truth.
It was the dream of a lifetime for George O’Leary: A chance to coach the world’s most prestigious football team—Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish. But the dream soon became a nightmare.
The day after he signed his contract with Notre Dame, O’Leary’s résumé was sent to the press—a résumé that included “inaccuracies” about his education and college football letters. A few days later, O’Leary resigned in disgrace, the victim of his own long-ago lies.
James Patterson and Peter Kim, authors of The Day America Told the Truth, estimate that 91 percent of us regularly embroider the truth. “We lie and don’t even think about it,” Patterson and Kim write. [Charles Colson, “Post-Truth Society,” Christianity Today (3-11-02), p. 112]
It’s a dangerous thing to tell lies about yourself or even someone else – but it’s infinitely more dangerous to tell lies about God and His Son, and His salvation.
False teachers try to lure and seduce believers away from the truth.
- Sometimes in order to bolster their own egos.
- Sometimes in order to gain emotional control.
- Sometimes in order to “fleece” God’s sheep of their money.
- Sometimes because the deceivers themselves have been deceived.
But – ultimately – because false teachers are empowered and used by the greatest deceiver – Satan himself.
How to detect false teachers –
· They depart from God’s church.
· They deny God’s Christ.
· They deceive God’s children.
Those are tools God has given us to protect ourselves from false teachers – antichrists.
But our God has given us something even greater.
Not only does He show us how to protect ourselves, He offers the protection that only He can give.
Notice a few key words in the verses of this passage:
1. Anointing. – The gift of God’s Holy Spirit who lives inside of each believer.
God’s anointing enables believers to discern between truth and falsehood.
v. 20 “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”
v. 27 “The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you; but as the same anointing teachers you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has been taught you, you will abide in Him.”
2. Abide – Living in fellowship with Christ through prayer and worship and study of God’s Word.
As we abide in Christ, God protects us from deception.
v. 24 – “Therefore let that abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and the Father.”
3. Appearing - The sure promise of Christ’s return enables us to persevere in the truth of God’s Word when we are confused by false teaching.
[1 John 2:28-29]
Several years ago, Keith Brown, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, saw a man after church at the coffee hour with a symbol on his lapel; it was the symbol of a bulldog.
Not knowing that the bulldog was the symbol for Mack Truck, and not knowing that Frank, this man, worked for Mack Truck, he naively said, “Frank, what does that bulldog symbolize?”
Frank got a twinkle in his eye and said, “Well, Pastor, the bulldog symbolizes the tenacity with which I hold onto Jesus Christ.”
Keith said, “Well, Frank, it’s a wonderful symbol, but you have lousy theology.”
Frank said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “It should never stand for the tenacity with which you hold onto Jesus Christ. It should stand for the tenacity with which Jesus Christ holds onto you.”