Father And Son
Tim Temple

Introduction

As we all know, we live in an age of information explosion. During the last fifty years or so technology has continuously increased and improved to the point that we now have access to more knowledge than ever before in history. Someone has done a survey and found that four fifths of all the knowledge that we possess today has been discovered within the last one hundred years of human history. At the same time, the speed with which that technology can be disseminated has increased in the same way. By means of radio and television we have access to news and other information literally around the clock if we are willing to pay enough for the cable news service. By means of Doppler radar and cell phones and fax machines and those kinds of things the people who report the news can gather it and get it out to us more quickly than ever before so that in many instances we hear about major news stories in other parts of the world within minutes of their occurrence and sometimes have continuous coverage as they occur—even warfare. That is to say nothing of the ease and speed with which research can be done for ourselves on the internet and in the computerized card catalogs at the library and all of those kinds of things.

That ease and quickness of information has its advantages, but it also has great dangers because it also is possible for us to hear things that we perhaps wouldn't want to hear, and it is very possible for us to hear things that we shouldn't hear. It is increasingly the case that we are hearing things that are contrary to the principles and the standards of God in His Word.

In our last couple of studies of I John, chapter 2, verses 18 and 19, we have seen that because of the times that we live in and the troubles that come with those times, specifically the false teaching that is so readily available to us during this time, we need a standard, we need a doctrine, for our Christian conduct.

In our last study we saw the nature of that doctrine that God has given us. We saw in verse 21 that it is supernatural. To combat difficulties of the age in which we live, God has supernaturally provided His own Spirit to live within us. God the Holy Spirit comes into our lives the moment we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, and one of the proofs that we have the inheritance from God is the fact that we have the Holy Spirit within us. One of the results of that is that at least theoretically it is possible, and possible in reality if we will allow it to be, for us to know God better than we know any human being, even our own spouse or our children because we have the Spirit of God within us, and we don't have the spirit of any other man.

We talked all about that in our last two studies. How does this tie in with all this information rush that we are getting? In verse 21, John makes an application. Notice I John, chapter 2, verse 21:

I John 2:

21I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

Remember, the immediate subject of John's letter, and particularly the subject of chapter 2, is the false teaching that was going on around them. He was warning them to be on their guard about that. He says, “As I warn you about the false teachers, I don't have to go into the specific analysis of the different false doctrines that are out there. I don't have to do that because you know the truth.” Remember, he has written just a few lines above this the truth that we have the Spirit of God within us. So we have the capacity to know the truth, and we have the Word of God which tells us the truth, the Holy Spirit of God to open our eyes to the truth, so John says, “I don't have to write to you about all these various kinds and methods of false doctrine that are going on. You know the truth. You have the truth available to you.”

You know, it really shows the wisdom of God that He didn't write it all down because those particular false teachings that were abroad in that day have gone by the wayside and the false teachings that we have today are of a different tone and a different nature, so it would probably have been a waste of our time if God had written those things down, but He didn't have to because we today have the same Holy Spirit that those original readers of John's letter had. Because we have the Holy Spirit and we have the Word of God, we know the truth or at least we have the availability of truth and the opportunity and the ability to know the truth.

All we have to do is to compare whatever lie is being told to us with the truth that we have the opportunity to know. That is a supernatural provision that God in His grace has made for every one of us as His children.

Standard For Judging False Doctrine

As we move on in the text, we find that not only is this doctrinal standard supernatural, it is also very specific. Look at verse 22:

I John 2:

22Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

So you want to know the standard for judging every false doctrine, the standard by which to measure all truth in every field? Here it is. It is very specific. It is the truth of the Deity of Jesus Christ and all that goes with that. If Jesus is God, then whatever Jesus said about the way we should live and whatever His disciples, His official representatives, wrote to elaborate on what Jesus said becomes the truth with which we can deal. So the standard for the discernment between truth and error in whatever field it may be, in whatever area of life it may be, is Jesus Christ and all that is associated with Jesus Christ having come to earth and having lived among us. Besides that, as we have been talking about, having the Holy Spirit within us enables us to understand that truth and to apply it to our lives.

In verse 21, he ends the sentence with the fact that no lie is of the truth, but in this verse he gets more specific. The biggest lie of all is that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God. A way that you can immediately know the truth of a religious organization or a religious movement, people who may come to your door and want to come in and discuss spiritual things with you in whatever way they word it, is what they believe about Jesus Christ. What do they believe about the man Jesus? Was He just one of us who somehow became a god and shows us in His doing that that it is possible for us to become gods? There are men in white shirts and black ties riding bicycles all over town who will knock on your door and tell you that. “That is who Jesus was. He was one who became a god and because he became a god, if we are willing to go through intricate steps and processes, we, too, can become gods.” They weave that so carefully and skillfully into the truth teaching about Jesus Christ and about Heaven that it is easy to get confused. So we need a standard, and that standard is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

John is going to tell us a little farther over in his letter that if anyone comes to you with any other doctrine, no matter how impressive it may sound, no matter how beautiful the television commercials they produce may be, reject them. “Don't even bid them God speed,” John is going to tell us. Here is the standard: Jesus, the human being of Nazareth, Who lived and walked on this earth two thousand years ago was the Christ, the Son of God, the fulfillment of all Old Testament promises and predictions. That is the standard on which we judge any teaching that may come along.

In fact, in the last part of verse 22, to deny the Father and/or the Son is to be anti-Christ. We know that in the very last days of God's program, in the last seven years of God's program, particularly the last three and one-half years of God's program, the book of Revelation tells us that there will be a figure, a political figure, a world ruler, who will be known as the Antichrist . John says, “We know the Antichrist is coming, but I tell you that there are many antichrists in the world already.” Who was an antichrist? Someone who denies the Father and/or the Son. In fact, he is going to say in verse 23 that to deny the Son is to deny the Father. To say, “I believe in God, but I don't believe Jesus Christ is God,” is total falsehood. If a person denies the Son, he is in doing that denying the Father. So our standard of judgment about whatever religious teaching we may hear is, “Who is Jesus Christ?” If the answer is anything other than “the Christ, the Son of God,” our standard has been used, and we know that that is a lie.

I want to think about this anti-Christ thing for a minute because John's immediate context was the false teachers of his day and their teachings. It is still to be applied in that way, and that is what we have been talking about. But it also applies to those who deny the other truths that come from God. To teach, for example, that man came from the primordial slime or some other version of that, that man just evolved and came into being through an accident of nature, through random happenstance, is to be anti-Christ because God says that He created everything that we see all around us. To insist that a baby in the womb is not an actual person is to be anti-Christ because God says in His Word that He opens the womb and that that baby in the womb is not a fetus; it is not a blob of tissue; it is a child whom He ordained and described and defined and knows even the length of the life of that child. To portray on television or in real life in some cases that couples can live together without marriage and that just because you may be young and beautiful and smart and funny makes it all okay is to be anti-Christ because God says that marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge in Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 4.

To live by the rule that if you can just drive the right kind of car and live in the right kind of town and have the right kind of profession, associate with the right kind of people is to be anti-Christ because God said that we are to look to Him for the satisfaction for our deepest needs. To build our life around the idea that if you can just get the right degree and get the right promotions and titles and offices, you will be acceptable to God and to other people is to be anti-Christ because God says that He accepts us in the beloved Son Who died for our sins and that is where our worth comes from, that He has accepted us and forgiven us and made us new creatures in Christ Jesus. To teach anything other than those things that God tells us so clearly about the essence of life is to be anti-Christ. That is the message of John.

I believe that one of God's greatest gifts to us, especially in this day and in this culture in which we live, perhaps the greatest gift, is that we have a standard by which to judge thoughts and ideas and teachings that are moving all around us. We don't have to make our decisions based on preference or convenience or majority rule. God moves us from having to try to figure out what is best and what most people are saying in trying to get over their wisdom into the area of being able to make our decisions on the basis of rock-solid facts. We are of people most blessed in this storm of ideas and teaching and falsehood that swirls all around us and is pumped into our living room electronically and into our computers and so many things facing us about what is wrong and what is right and who is right and who is wrong. We have a standard, the standard of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

John makes it very clear that you can't have one without the other. In verse 23, he says:

I John 2:

23Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

A Proper Reception Of The Truth

In terms of outline, we have talked about the need for a doctrinal standard and the nature of that doctrinal standard, but in verses 24-29, John shows us the natural result that should come from having that standard. First, he says that the results of having that doctrinal standard should be a proper reception of the truth. Look at verse 24:

I John 2:

24Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

How should we respond to this great truth that we are dealing with here? The truth is that God has given us the standard and He has given us the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to enable us to understand the standard. How should we respond to that? He says in the first part of verse 24, “Let him abide in you.” If you are thinking with me, you might say, “Well, if we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, why would John tell us to let Him reside there? We don't have much choice about it, do we?”

You see, that is not what John is talking about. The word abide here is a translation of a Greek word that means “to be at home.” Jesus used that word a lot while He was here on earth. He said, “Abide in Me and I in you as the branch abides in the vine.” He used this particular Greek word that talks about not just living there, but being at home there. It is one thing to be a visitor in someone's home and something else to be “at home” there. We have friends who may come and stay with us. They are coming through town for some particular purpose and we say, “Come stay with us and make yourself at home.” But if we had a friend staying at home with us for several days and we were out away from the house for several hours and we came back unexpectedly and we found our friend that we know to be at home in our house sitting in our home office going through our income tax records, how would we respond to that?

Most of us would say, “What do you think you are doing?” He might say, “Well, you told me to make myself at home and so I am just making myself at home.” That is a pretty far-fetched idea, isn't it? God talks about letting Him abide in us. Oh, He is there, but He says, “Let me be at home in your heart. I don't want to be just a visitor. I don't want to be somebody whom you just confine to the guest bedroom and even though you tell me to be at home, you really don't mean that.” He says that the proper response to the fact that we have this standard and the ability to understand the standard is that we should let the Holy Spirit be at home in our hearts. He lives there, but is He at home there?

Think about this for a minute. Can the Holy Spirit be at home with the kinds of things that you entertain yourself with? Do you think that He enjoys the same television programs you do and the same books that you read and the other things that you do for entertainment? How about the people you keep company with? Can the Holy Spirit be at home and relaxed with the kind of people you have some dealings with or the things you talk about or the way that you talk about them or the things that you think about? Can the Holy Spirit be at home there? God says, “I have equipped you to live in a world that is filled with falsehood, that is filled with Satan's devices to keep you from having all that I want you to have. But I have also given you a standard by which you can know what is true and what is not and that standard lives within you. Now let Him be at home there.”

What would it be like if we called in a pest exterminator and we said, “You know, we have some bugs in the house and we don't know where they all are. We just see them scurry across the floor. We don't know where they come from or where they are going, but we know that they are here. Would you come in and do a test for us and find out where the bugs are and get rid of them for us?” How would you feel if you were in that business if you came to the house to check things out and you were poking around looking under furniture and all those things that they do and you came to a certain door in the house and you said, “Not there. We don't want you to check in there.” He says, “I am supposed to check and find the problem that you have. I am supposed to be able to show you where the problem is.” “That's all right, we don't want you to go in there.” “Well maybe that is where the nest is.” “No, we don't want you to go in there.”

That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? We wouldn't do that to any pest exterminator. But don't we do that to the Holy Spirit pretty regularly? “Let Him be at home. Let Him abide in you,” John says. “Don't close off any of the rooms of your heart or any of the rooms of your life to the Holy Spirit. He is the One Who is there to find the truth for you and to guide you into the truth. Let Him abide in you,” He says.

The last part of verse 24 shows us kind of a double indemnity. If you notice there in the middle of the verse he says:

I John 2:

24Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

Think about this. He says, “If you will let me be at home in your heart, if you will let me abide there, you will discover an amazing thing. Suddenly you will realize that you are at home with Him, too. If you let Him be at home, you will discover that you are at home with Him.” There is no more feeling guilty that you sing songs in church that don't match up with what you do in your life, no more boredom with that stranger sitting in your heart whom you really barely know, and you have to try to go in and entertain Him a little while every now and then just because you don't want to offend Him, but He really is still a stranger even though He is there living in your heart. Instead of that, an easy, relaxed at-homeness with the God of the universe really is the most wonderful thing. In fact, look what John says in verse 25:

I John 2:

25And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

We could read that and we would say, “Well, I know that. He promised us eternal life. That is the promise that He has promised us.” But look at it in its context. He says, “Let God Himself be at home in your life, and you will discover if you will do that that you will be at home with Him,” and then John makes his comment about that: “This is the promise that He has promised us. This is eternal life—to have God at home in our hearts and us be at home with Him being there. That is eternal life.”

There is a sense in which the word eternal here is a reference to quality rather than quantity. Eternal life is not just something that we have off somewhere in the sweet by and by someday. Eternal life is a quality of life that begins in this life before we ever get into eternal time. To let God be at home in your heart and have access to any part of your heart and all that being at home there implies, John says, “now that is eternal life.” That is what eternal life is all about—when we are at home with Him and when He is at home with us. Someday we will change location, but we already know what eternal life is. If you have given God the opportunity to have that place in your life, you know what he is talking about. You have that standard by which to measure the things that you should get into and the things that you should avoid and to measure the attitude that you should have and to measure the relationships that you should have. You have the standard of God's truth and you have God enlightening your heart to it; and so really the things that happen in this life that are difficult, that are disappointing, that are frustrating to other people, while they may still be frustrating and disappointing, it all fits together because you are at home with the One Who planned it all and Who is in charge of it all. That is a quality of life that no one can know but those who abide in Him and are at home with Him.

The Proper Response To Truth

Moving on quickly, the second natural result of this doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the proper response to truth. Look at verse 26:

I John 2:

26These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

Let me remind you that the anointing that is referred to in verse 27 is this presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we have been talking about today. He refers to it as “an anointing” in the first part of the chapter. First, he repeats his purpose for writing. The reason he is writing to us is protection from those who would try to deceive us, and that is what we have been talking about today—all that deception that is out there being pumped into our lives, or at least the potential for deception. For good measure, he repeats how that takes place, that enlightening, that guidance in verse 27 making use of the ability to understand God's truth because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Notice the phrase, “ye need not that any man teach you.” That is at first glance a very threatening verse to me, and it would be easier to just skip over it, but let's think about what this means. It doesn't mean that there is no place in the Christian life for a teacher or a commentary. God makes it very clear that one of the spiritual gifts that He has provided for His children is the gift of teaching, the gift of pastor/teacher. That is one of the means by which he nourishes and grows and uses the Body of Christ, so it can't mean that. The commentary is the teachings of men written down, and He uses those. God has provided both of those, but what it means is that when you by yourself come to a passage of Scripture or to a situation in life where you need direction, you don't have to wait until the pastor chooses to preach about that situation. You don't have to wait until you can call him on the phone and ask him about it. When you are in that situation, one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to guide you into the truth. He is at home in your heart, and you are at home with His being there. All you have to do is to ask God to show you what the passage means. That is His purpose. God has given the pastor/teacher and the other tools of teaching so that we can be prepared in advance for a lot of things so that we can be fed God's Word. If that is not available, for whatever reason, God has given us the ability to understand His Word all by ourselves, whether we have a seminary degree or not or whether we have a commentary available to us or not.

It is good practice to read the Bible and you do that every day, don't you? You should. Let me say again for the umpteenth time that we find time for the things that are important, and there is nothing more important in life than the Word of God and taking in the Word of God. If you can find the time to take a shower every day, if you can find time to even eat one meal every day, if you can find time to read the newspaper, if you can find time to brush your teeth, if you can find time to do those things that we just do without even thinking about them, you can find time to read the Word of God every day. The tone of Scripture throughout is to be taking in His Word every day. So when you sit down to read the Bible every day, just take a moment to say, “Lord, I know that You are within me, and I know that Your purpose is to teach me the Word of Truth. I pray that You will open my eyes to what is here and I pray that You will give me understanding of what is here.” God's promise is that He will do it.”

The same thing ought to be true when you are preparing to hear somebody teach from the Word of God. It is not my skills in teaching that communicates the truth of God's Word to you. Heaven help us all if that is what we have to depend on. God uses my teaching, but the real thing that communicates to your heart the truth of whatever it is I am talking about is the Spirit of God Who lives within you. He takes the words that I speak, and He is the One Who impresses them on your heart. I am going to tell you a secret. It is amazing to me the different things that different people get out of the same sermon. As I talk with people during the course of the week or just at various times I have the opportunity to talk with people, I discover that they heard me say last Sunday such and such. Someone else heard me say such and such about the same verse of Scripture and I don't remember saying either thing really. You see, that is the Spirit of God at work, taking what I did say and applying it to your heart in a way that you need and to someone else's heart in the way that they need, not at odds, not chaotically, but making application of it to your heart. That is because you have the truth living within you, the Spirit of truth, the God of truth. He takes His written Word and gives you understanding of it.

Verses 28-29 tell us that as we continue in that path we come to rely on the truth:

I John 2:

28And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
29If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

The theme of these verses is in verse 29: practicing righteousness. That is why we need the standard. We want to live lives that are pleasing in God's sight, and how do we do that? How do we weed out the way God wants us to live from all this information that is coming in? Again, I say it is because we have the standard of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to help us to understand the standard. That is how we practice righteousness. That is how we know what righteousness there is for us to practice and the result of that will be, verse 28 says, “when he shall appear [Whenever He returns, it is going to be unexpectedly.] we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

The context of this verse tells us something that I think is a practical thing that is easy for us to overlook. All through the years I have heard the teaching that we should be very careful that we are not caught off guard when He comes, that we are not ashamed before Him at His coming, and I have taken that to mean and I have heard it applied, as being sure that you are not in an X-rated theater or a bar or in a gambling casino when the Lord comes back. But in this context, we see the real meaning of it. Those things are just symptoms. How embarrassing is it going to be when we stand before the Lord, the God Who has given us the truth of His Word, a standard by which we can know the truth, and He has given us His own Spirit so that we can understand it and how humiliating it is going to be if we have to stand in His presence and say, “Lord, I knew Your Holy Spirit was there, but I really never got to be at home with Him. I knew your Word was there, but I really never took time to understand it or ask your help in understanding it.” That is what it means to be ashamed at His coming. Oh sure, if we live that way, we are probably going to be doing something that we would rather Him not find us doing. That began to trouble me along the way when as a teenager I thought if I was going to be embarrassed about being here when the Lord comes back, doesn't he already know I am here now before He comes back?

Conclusion

He is not talking primarily about being embarrassed about where He finds you when He comes. He is talking about being embarrassed to have that great provision from Him and not letting it be at home in our hearts and our not becoming at home with Him. God has given us the privilege of knowing Him more fully than our own spouse or our own children. What a shame, what a disappointment to Him and an embarrassment to us when we stand in His presence and face the fact that we never really let Him settle down and be at home in our hearts.


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