1 John 2:18-23
Icebreaker Question: What has been your favorite conspiracy theory or movie about the Antichrist or an Antichrist-type character?
Antichrist is usually a sensational character that appears in novels and movies about the apocalypse. Consequently, most of us look for an Antichrist that comes straight out of Hollywood casting. We should be aware that Satan is much too crafty to deceive the church in a way that everyone would immediately recognize.
The battle that Satan wages against the believer is not a battle for raw political power. The battle with humanity is a battle for the mind.
Last week we talked about the three formidable weapons used against us – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. This week we see that antichrist engages our minds in a battle for truth. Truth is where the claims of Christianity rise and fall. The mind is where we believe or disbelieve in the things that are true.
The early church was supremely concerned with knowing the truth of the divine identity of Jesus as the Messiah. Howard Marshall tells us what is at stake.
“To reduce Jesus to the status of a mere man, or to allow no more than a temporary indwelling of some divine power in him is to strike at the root of Christianity.”Howard Marshall
John gives us a much less sensational… and more easily recognizable… standard for identifying antichrist. Rather than being identified with a single legendary figure, John tells us that there are many antichrists. And they include anyone who would seek to distort the true identity of Jesus as passed down from the apostles.
Take a moment to read 1 John 2:18-23 out loud in your group.
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.[a] 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
- Why do you think John emphasized that it is “the last hour” over 1,900 years ago? (v. 18)
- Do you believe that people often make professions of faith in Christ that are not real? (v. 19)
- Is it more effective that an antichrist would come from outside or inside the church?
- How are people inside the church tempted to believe things about Jesus that aren’t true?
- In what ways does God anoint us in such a way that we have knowledge (v. 20)?
- What things specifically does antichrist deny (v.22)?
- Why is it crucial for the church to recognize antichrist (v. 23)?
Ask these questions of your group as you begin to work to identify where they are at in the discipleship pathways (Exploring Christ, Growing in Christ, Christ-centered) that we have talked about as group leaders. Keep in mind that we are not merely interested in box checking religious acts. We are seeking to shepherd group members to evaluate how measurable actions reflect their personal journeys of faith.
These questions will be on the discussion guide each week, so if you don’t get to all of them, you will have a chance over the next few weeks. If you need more information as a discussion leader, please contact Jonathan Pugh. Whichever accountability question you discuss, be sure to discuss how it relates to our mission to “Engage those far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to know and follow him.”
- Have you come to a place in your life where you can say that you have trusted God for salvation?
- Have you publicly stated that faith through believers’ baptism?
- How are you serving God with your time?
- In which ways are you making prayer a part of your daily life?
- How is your personal Bible study going this week?
- Have you been able to talk about faith with somebody outside of church this week?
- How are you currently being led to give of your resources to God’s work?
Break into groups of three or four and pray for each other to be able to recognize anti-christian thoughts that may find their way into our minds.