For years, I have always thought of the “Anti-Christ” as a person. I supposed it’s all that Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins stuff, pre-tribulation, pre-millenialism, and the rapture. Those folks have an entire time line for the appearance of the Anti-Christ. But John sheds a different light on the concept in his letter.
I John 4:2-3
By this you may know (perceive and recognize) the Spirit of God: every spirit which acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [actually] has become man and has come in the flesh is of God [has God for its source]; And every spirit which does not acknowledge and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [but would annul, destroy, sever, disunite Him] is not of God [does not proceed from Him]. This [nonconfession] is the [spirit] of the antichrist, [of] which you heard that it was coming, and now it is already in the world. [Amplified]
If John is to be believed, a simple litmus test is the willingness of the spirit to confess that Christ is indeed, the long-awaited Messiah. In biblical times, maybe this was easier to do. After all, the Jewish people had been waiting for the Messiah for centuries, his coming foretold by prophet after prophet. They expected and even longed for that day, anticipating a revolution of epic size that would, once and for all, free Israel from its enemies and usurpers.
Immediately after Christ’s appearance, ministry, execution, and resurrection, the guidelines were clear-cut: a person accepted Christ as the Messiah or not. If there was no Messiah, then there was no Christ, and Jesus was a nice guy who turned their world topsy turvy for for no good cause.
So, anti-Christ is not necessarily an individual per se, but a belief, or rather, a disbelief. And I think it’s called a spirit because belief happens within. It is my spirit that chooses, that part of me that works with my mind and soul, to unify the interior life and direct my actions & choices.
In modern times, this confession or lack of confession, is less understood or accepted. We have more relativism and few people (outside the circles of denominational Christianity) like the “black and white” feel of this mandate. Plus, other requirements have been added such as a verbal confession or attendance in church or getting splashed/dunked with water, just to name a few.
But, I remember vividly, my spirit confessed the Christ, because of statements like these written as the word of Jesus, “If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” [John 8:46b-47] I could not call Jesus the lie. And I wanted to hear God. I wanted to be part of the God equation, the interaction, the indwelling of Messiah through the Holy Spirit.
And so, this is the one confession: I believe the source of Christ was and is God. And as a result, the Holy Spirit dwells within me.
My primary responsibility as a result of this confession is to love God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. The rest is human confusion.
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