1 John 2:18-19, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
John once again is relating to his readers in the familial of a father to his children, his little children, in other words, the babes in the Lord, particularly those who have been newly born-again. As with all children even in the natural, children are particularly susceptible to the influence of those who claim to have some authority and John is especially keen on pointing out the importance of staying aware when it comes to the truth and especially the truth concerning the Word of God.
He again, as he often does, reminds them of the coming Antichrist and that even before the Antichrist that will precede Christ’s return there would be and will be many other antichrists that appear claiming to either be or have ties to the messiah.
Now, we have to understand something about time itself as we read what the beloved Apostle wrote over two-thousand years ago. Many would say, and especially doubters, that things have been no different since John addressed this issue and nothing has changed, BUT, here is confirmation as the Apostle Peter addressed it:
2 Peter 3:3-4, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
2 Peter 3:8, But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
While I’m at it, I want to clear something up that I have reiterated time and again over the years. The Apostles and Disciples wrote as inspired by the Holy Ghost, but they wrote in a way that still took into consideration the time they lived and with the common knowledge they had. When Peter stated in the eighth verse that “one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” he was speaking an inspired spiritual principle and not a mathematical fact! Too many Christians today, believe this principle to be a literal statement concerning time concerning the Lord and that is sadly narrow-minded thinking and especially with the increased knowledge (that the Prophet Daniel predicted) that we have today. The principle that Peter was making was that time has absolutely no meaning to the Lord. He could have stated that one million years was as one day, but people in his time had a harder time comprehending that and yet the readers of Peter’s day, fully understood the implication that Peter was putting forth. To confirm this, another instance, again concerning Peter, is found in Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
In this instance Peter thinking he was being more pious than the Pharisees asked about forgiving seven times since the Pharisees believed you only HAD to forgive three times. Jesus was CLEARLY stating a spiritual principle that you forgive a person as often as they need to be forgiven, yet even today in this day and age, there are those who believe that 7 times 70, or 490 times is an actual limit to forgiveness. No, I am NOT exaggerating for I actually served under a pastor that preached that. I am here to tell you, that after hearing that in a sermon and trying to talk with him, I no longer served at that church, yet NO ONE else questioned or wondered about his message on forgiveness.
Remember this important fact; the Holy Spirit inspired men of old to write down the Words that we have in the Bible, BUT, the Holy Spirit ALSO quickens our hearts and minds to the TRUTH when we read and meditate on that Word!
So back to the statement that John is making concerning it being the last hour, we can look at the spiritual principle here and realize that even as Christ Jesus hung on the Cross (if not before), the countdown to the Last Days had begun and the enemy of our souls KNEW it!! Remember, our Heavenly Father, God Almighty, reveals things to His children from the perspective of Eternity, for He Himself is Eternal, without a beginning or an end. He created us in His image, meaning we did have a beginning because of being created, but we have His eternal nature due to the breath of His Spirit within each of us!! We need to open our minds and get past this confining aspect we call time and realize that in God’s plans and within His will, time has no meaning and everything WILL unfold according to His perfect plan!
Remember also, John is only confirming what Christ Jesus Himself prophesied and stated; Matthew 24:23-26, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”
The Apostle then goes on to tell the “little children” how to tell, or how to discern, the true from the false, the true Christians, or disciples of Christ from the antichrists. He wants them to walk with awareness AND understanding. These antichrists are false teachers professing and propagating a false gospel. Just like their father, the devil, they may lace or sprinkle bits of truth throughout their messages, but these “truths” are taken out of context or twisted to make it more appealing to those hearing. To the discerning Christian, the true followers and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, these false teachers are the proof that the time of Christ’s return IS drawing nearer!
John is sharing some sage advice with the readers and signaling out to the younger converts that you will know them because “they went out from us, but they were not of us.” These were those who PROFESSED to be Christians, but separated themselves from the teachings of the Apostles and of Christ. John is telling the reader to not be fooled; they may dress like you, say all the right things and may blend in perfectly, but their hearts and thus their FRUIT will give them away. A prime example of this was Judas Iscariot. He walked with Jesus, seen the same miracles that transpired within their midst, heard the exact same message and deceived all the disciples EXCEPT Jesus, Himself. I am sure, Judas was center-most on John’s mind when he wrote these words.
The Bible describes this as apostasy; a turning away from what a person knows to be true and rejecting that truth and going back from the light into darkness. The Bible tells us that in the last days, apostasy will be on the increase! Now there are some that do NOT believe in this apostasy, for they say there is no way, once someone knows and walks in the truth that they can go back into a sinful life, rejecting the gift they were given. BUT, they cannot explain Scripturally the fact that apostasy WILL and IS to this day taking place.
Let me be very clear in this; if your theory doesn’t line up with the WHOLE Bible, it is not the Bible and it is not the translation that is wrong, it is your theory and you must adapt your “theory” to fit what the Bible says is true!
Here is the simple explanation of apostasy, and it ties in with repentance. Repentance is a 180 degree turn from the false towards the truth or the darkness towards the light. It is being remorseful and sorrowful in the recognition that you have sinned and are turning from a life of sin to a life of forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Apostasy is just the opposite of that. Apostasy is rejecting a life of forgiveness in Christ Jesus and willingly CHOOSING to walk back into a life of sin. It is rejecting the light to go back into darkness, etcetera!
What makes this so hard for Christians to comprehend and understand is that in their own hearts, they would NEVER consider doing something like this or comprehend how someone even could; BUT – the Bible says it does and will happen and much more as the Day of the Lord’s return approaches!
The beloved Apostle in his explanation showed and confirmed this to be true. “For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” John is looking back in reflection and letting his readers know that, he was aware of them being false because they did not continue with not just the disciples, but the disciples and Jesus’ teachings. As it happened during the early church, there were many that used, just like is happening today, bits and pieces of the Scripture, most of the time out of context to confirm a point they were trying to make. The best way to deceive someone is to give them a sprinkling of truth mixed in with something that is pleasing to hear and yet totally out of context with the Word of God. Those who are young in the spirit are the most susceptible and this is why John addresses them specifically!
Now here’s a point that John is making; it is not that we are saved by the actions of enduring to the end, but rather those who DO endure to the end are truly saved or born-again. This may seem like I was being redundant but in actuality look at it from the aspects of works versus faith. If enduring is works, that is NOT what saves me by itself, but if enduring is unto the end is in faith, than it proves that I have been truly saved.
I want to share with you another spiritual principle in what John concluded in verse 19, “but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” As PROOF that they were not of us, not true disciples of Christ, not true Christians, “they went out that they might be made manifest.” In other words that they might be shown for what they really are, false prophets, antichrists in heart and spirit! These people didn’t think in their own minds, “we shall separate ourselves from the disciples to show the world we’re false.” No, but the spirit within them CAUSED them to fulfill the prophecies of Christ Jesus concerning the false antichrists! Their own deception has caused them to be “found out” or manifest despite the fact that they try to deceive by TRYING to pretend to be something they are not. John states emphatically, this is the proof you need as a young disciple or young Christian that “none of them were of us.”
Now I know I have brought this up a lot in the past and I will continue to bring this up. These very false teachers and antichrists would tell you that to follow these guidelines today is judging and you have to right to judge. That’s the great thing about the English language and why other cultures find it so hard to learn at times. The words we have in Matthew 7 which is the chapter most used to tell others not to judge, uses the word in the first part of the chapter and it means just what people say we are NOT to do. We are not to condemn or sentence to death or damnation anyone, first because only Christ Jesus Himself has the authority and the ability to judge a person’s heart.
Sadly, everyone is willing to finish the chapter at the 14th verse and completely ignore what the Lord then goes on to tell His disciples what to do beginning with the beginning of the 15th verse! You see, in the first 14 verses, Jesus is talking about how we deal with our brothers and sisters and that we don’t have a right to judge those who are TRULY our brothers and sisters! In the last part of the chapter though, He tells us in no uncertain terms to beware, to be wary, and how to DISCERN the false from the true, the deceivers from the real, etc. He lets us know in no uncertain terms that NOT everyone who says all the right religious things or does all the right religious works are going to make it to the Kingdom of God because, and here’s the point, they never had a RELATIONSHIP with Him!! Why is that so important? Because without the relationship with Christ Jesus who is the BRANCH, we are supposed to be the vines would produce no fruit! There would be NOTHING to prove we are His! He KNOWS who are His, make no doubt and He commands us to be discerning, judging, concerning those who say they are His and are truly not!
The next time someone tells you that you do not have the right to judge, make sure they are speaking within the right context for even John, the writer of this Epistle later on says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” — 1 John 4:1. You see, the Bible will NEVER contradict itself and when there is something we SHOULD be doing or be aware of, it will always confirm that within other Scriptures!