I John 2:18-19 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went away from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have stayed with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
Most would agree that we are living in the end times. There are signs of it everywhere, and as we Christians watch in grief, we whisper, “Come, Lord Jesus,” (Rev. 22:20.) But many of the same things we witness today were present in John’s time, as well. At the end of time, there will be one, major anti-christ. But there have been minor ones since the time of the early church, and if we are not careful, they can do great damage to the body of Christ.
John is not referring merely to backsliders, for backsliders very often return to the flock. Backsliders have Christ at their core, and while sin may offer some fun for a little while, that pleasure is short-lived, and they will find themselves longing for home. Instead, John is referring to the people who are against Christ. They come to church, but never really accept Christ. They have all sorts of reasons for attending church: social status, business contacts, habit. But they have never allowed Christ to enter their hearts or change their lives. Often, these “anti-christs” are power-hungry and will cause havoc within the church. They’ll cause divisions and factions, and they relish the power they feel when they can do harm to a Christian and to the church. And often, these people will leave the church and take many followers with them.
We do not need to fear them, however. As long as we seek God and stay in His Word, the Holy Spirit will make us aware of their presence. Oh, we may not be able to put our fingers on it, but we will know in our spirits that these people are not of the Lord. And we must work to protect the younger, weaker, immature members of the flock from being wooed away by these false teachers. And we must truly seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we pass out leadership positions in our churches, for leadership in the hands of an “anti-christ” is a dangerous thing.
Dear Father, Thank You for warning me not to believe everything I hear from people who claim to be teachers of Your Word. Thank you for giving me Your Word, so I can read and compare for myself. And thank You for Your Holy Spirit, which will make me aware when something is not right.