Up to this point, John has been giving Christians the "behavioral test" of true faith but now he turns his attention to the "belief test". The Bible teaches that what you believe, you live. Lifestyle flows from beliefs; and how you live, reveals what you believe.
John warned his readers to be careful what they believed because they were living in the "last hour". Here are some thoughts from Beeke:
- Truth is absolute: therefore, it is binding on everyone, forever!
- We are all vulnerable to wrong doctrine and falling away from the truth. Don't ever think you are above this.
- God has but one more appointment with mankind; there is one more event on God's theological calendar. It is the return of the King!
- How are you living in light of Christ's return? Live everyday as if it is the last. Be on guard. Believe the truth, guard the truth, and live it!
- The antichrists are ordinary people.
- What characterizes these antichrists? First of all, they were once in the church but were not born again. They could no longer bear or hear God's truth because it pierced their conscience. Secondly, they would not suffer the reproach of the world. Thirdly, they deny Jesus is the Messiah.
- Many people do "good" works but for a work to be truly Christian it must be "Word and deed in every mission".
- Anchor your life in the Word of God. Make it a priority. Do whatever it takes to read it, memorize it, meditate on it, study it, etc. Order your days around knowing God through His Word.
- Take heed of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He leads you to Christ and away from everything that opposes Christ.
- The Word plus the Spirit make you strong to resist doctrinal error.
- The Holy Spirit is not your only teacher but He is your greatest teacher! He leads you into all truth. Apart from Him, you would certainly be deceived but with Him you can know the Truth.
Points to Ponder and Post:
1. What modern day heresies have you encountered, even within "Christian" circles? How do you know if they are false?
2. How would you encourage a new believer to be discerning against false heresy?