“My little children, I am telling you this so that you will stay away from sin. But if you sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, the one who is all that is good and who pleases God completely. He is the one who took God’s wrath against our sins upon himself and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world’s” (1 John 2:1-2).<
One of the best things you can have is a trusted friend that you can count on when you need them. Knowing this, the Scriptures tell us that Jesus is just such a person- someone that you can count on to help you when you need Him just as 1 John 2:1 says above. You see, Jesus is our “advocate” before God, someone who will protect, defend, and intercede for us if we do something wrong.
But Jesus is more than just our defense attorney- He advocates for us based on the fact that He has personally taken the punishment that we deserved for the wrong things we’ve done.
John goes on to explain this idea a little further in the next verse and a quick look at some other versions of 1 John 2:2 will help us to get a fuller understanding of this important teaching. For example, the New International Version of the Bible (NIV) tells us that Jesus “…is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” and the New King James version (NKJ) says that Jesus is “…the propitiation for our sins”.
“Atonement” is a word that carries the idea of making up for something that’s lacking. “Propitiation” refers to “paying the price” that’s necessary to satisfy God’s justice against those who have broken His laws. So because Jesus paid the penalty that we deserved and made up for the fact that people are not what they are supposed to be, imperfect human beings can now enjoy a relationship with a perfect God.
“Someone may say, ‘I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.’ But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to, he is a liar. But those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God more and more. That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian” (1 John 2:4-5).
A person who has really come to know God will show the evidence of that knowledge in their daily life. Now this doesn’t mean that you’ll always be perfect, but the existence of God’s influence in your life is a sure sign that you really do have a relationship with Him. But don’t forget that the opposite of this is also true- a person who claims to be a Christian but doesn’t show any evidence to back it up can’t be telling the truth.
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:9-11 NIV).
People use the word “hate” in lots of different ways. For instance, the word “hate” can be used to express dislike as in, “I hate spam.” It can also be used to express unwillingness as in, “I hate going to the dentist.” Or the word “hate” can be used to express feelings of strong dislike and hostility as in, “Criminals hate the police.”
It’s that last meaning that fits the context of 1 John 2:11. This Scripture tells us that a Christian who carries intense feelings of contempt or hostility towards another Christian should see that as an indication that something is very wrong. While it’s normal to have occasional disagreements or differences with others in church, feelings of hatred towards others really have no place in a Christian’s life. In fact, 1 John 2:11 compares this to walking around in the dark, and once you start doing that, it’s only a matter of time before you hurt yourself or take a fall.
“Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love these things you show that you do not really love God” (1 John 2:15).
When John uses the word “world” here, he’s not talking about things like plants and trees and flowers. The “world” is used here to represent those attitudes, values and belief systems that reject the God of the Bible. This word is used in the sense that Jesus uses it in John 15:18 when He said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (NIV). If you’re still not sure what this means, then John will be happy to provide you with some further illustrations in the next verse…
“(F)or all these worldly things, these evil desires-the craze for sex, the ambition to buy everything that appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance-these are not from God. They are from this evil world itself” (1 John 2:16).
The values of the world express themselves through things like lust, greed and pride as it says above. The NKJ version of the Bible refers to these things as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The NIV puts it like this: “…(E)verything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world.”
These cravings of sinful man refer to those people who are only interested in meeting their needs without regard to God or anyone else. The lust of the eyes is an envious desire for shallow and petty things like having the “right” hair, the “right” clothes, being seen with the “right” people, and so forth. The pride of life and the boasting of what he has and does is what we might call “trash talking” today- it’s the empty bragging and arrogant boasting about who you are and what you have. The Bible tells us that these things don’t come from God- on the contrary, these are things that often characterize the lives of people who choose to live as if God doesn’t exist.
“And this world is fading away, and these evil, forbidden things will go with it, but whoever keeps doing the will of God will live forever” (1 John 2:17).
Remember that it’s not those who know the will of God or hear the word of God but those who do the will of God who get to live forever. You see, it’s not enough to simply know what God has said in His Word- you have to do it too! This brings to mind something important that Jesus once said that’s recorded for us in Matthew 7:21: “Not all who sound religious are really godly people. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but still won’t get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven.”
“So I am not writing to you as to those who need to know the truth, but I warn you as those who can discern the difference between true and false. And who is the greatest liar? The one who says that Jesus is not Christ. Such a person is antichrist, for he does not believe in God the Father and in his Son.
For a person who doesn’t believe in Christ, God’s Son, can’t have God the Father either. But he who has Christ, God’s Son, has God the Father also. So keep on believing what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will always be in close fellowship with both God the Father and his Son” (1 John 2:21-24).
The word “antichrist” can generate a lot of horror movie-type images in the minds of many people. Unfortunately, this only clouds over the important things that these verses are speaking about. So let’s leave the Sci-Fi images behind for a moment and focus in on what the Bible is really talking about here.
If you look at the word “antichrist” you should quickly notice that this word has two basic parts- “anti” and “christ.” Now the “christ” portion of this word obviously refers to Jesus Christ while the “anti” part that comes just before it means “against.” This term “anti” should be familiar to most people because it’s commonly used in such current words as antibiotic, antifreeze and antiwar today. So when you put the term “anti” before the word “christ”, you create a word that’s used to describe someone who is “against Christ.”
However, the term “anti” can also mean “instead of” or “in place of.” This means that the word “antichrist” can also be used to describe a person or belief that tries to substitute Christ for someone or something else. So any person or teaching that attempts to take the place of Jesus in your life could also be characterized by the term “antichrist.”
Ultimately, this term “antichrist” will find it’s complete definition in a time yet future when there will come a man who will be so totally under the control of sin that he will personify the word antichrist in both senses of the word (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 and Revelation 13-20 for more on that). Because of this, this man will be the ultimate personification of the antichrist -someone who is totally against Christ while attempting to substitute for Him at the same time.