Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Antichrist (No, Really)

[I try to spend part of most days in quiet time with God. Below, I've journaled my quiet time for today. To see how I approach this time with God, see here.]
Look: “I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 7)

According to the New Testament, there will be all sorts of antichrists roaming the world and in the Church in “the last days.” And the last days are those that fall between Jesus’ first appearance on the earth (at the first Christmas) until He returns to “judge the living and the dead.” The New Testament also teaches that just before Christ returns, there will be one last antichrist, who may even be the devil himself.

The time was ripe for Christ’s return for judgment the second He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). That’s why the first Christians were disappointed that Jesus hadn’t yet returned. Because of their disappointment, they had to be encouraged by the apostles to keep trusting in Christ.

But I find John’s words here interesting: any person who seeks to move people away from the Gospel and Christ is “the deceiver and the antichrist.”

He doesn’t say that such persons should be harmed. He says that they shouldn’t be heeded. And he says that the Church shouldn't harbor them or encourage them.

Listen: It can be dangerous to label a person as another antichrist. The label has been applied to people over the centuries, resulting often in murders of innocent people, acts were themselves examples of antichrist behavior.

The danger also attaches to people who self-righteously dismiss others as antichrists.

It may be better to think in terms of antichrist ideas spawned by the era of the antichrist which prevails on the earth from Jesus’ ascension until His return.

The antichrist is expressed in many -isms and ways of living and thinking that reflect the human desire to “be like God.” To name a few: materialism, racism, sexism, xenophobia, prejudices of any kind, slavery, child abuse, sexual abuse, gossip, thievery, covetousness, adultery and fornication, and so on.

All of these things fall under the general heading of sin and each has a single starting point, a single sin: The failure to acknowledge God as God, accompanied by the desire to be our own God. The antichrist and all sin begins with idolatry, from the idolatry of the self, to the idolatries of things, people, lifetsyles, etc.

The spirit of the antichrist is the spirit of narcissism, self-interest, and disregard for God, even when God is supposedly being extolled.

In today’s world there are some preachers and politicians and performers who invoke God’s name for their philosophies and actions but are clearly not of God. 
No human being is perfect of course, we all fall short of God’s intentions for us (Romans 3:23). But these modern day antichrists commend doctrines and policies and lifestyles that brazenly defy the revealed Word of God in Scripture while claiming all along to be righteous, good, and wholesome. 
These preachers and politicians and performers must answer to God and I pray that they will encounter authentic Christians who won’t suck up to them and to whom they will listen, for the sake of their salvation and for the sake of the world they affect each day.

But I must answer to God, too! What is it in my own life that doesn’t reflect the truth about Christ or the truth in His Word?

Before I go removing the speck in someone else’s eye, I had best get the plank out of my own (Matthew 7:5).

It’s good to be forewarned about the false preachers, the antichrists that roam freely in this age before Jesus’ return, especially so that each day I may return to the Lord in repentance and faith, lest I drift away from God and express the spirit of the antichrist in my own life.

The best antidotes to the spirit of the antichrist in me and in the Church are to remain focused on Christ and His Word, to share and consider His gospel, to daily repent, and to be daily renewed in faith and life by the Lord.

The best antidotes to the spirit of the antichrist in the world are to pray (Matthew 6:5-15), to spend time each day with God, praying over His Word, the way God the Son spent time with God the Father each day in (Luke 5:16), to ask God to send workers into the harvest so that more disciples are made and people live in the truth that sets them free (Matthew 9:38; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:6; John 8:32), and to share the Gospel (Acts 1:8; John 3:16-18).

Respond: Today, Lord, help me to keep You consciously first as I live, speak, decide, and act. In Jesus’ name. Amen
[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio. Living Water is a congregation of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

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