The spirit of the antichrist and forgiveness

This past Sunday we talked about the antichrist from 1 John chapters 2 and 4. We observed in 1 John 2:18 that John makes reference to antichrist in the singular and in the plural. At the time of John’s writing the antichrist (singular) has yet to come (is coming), while antichrists (plural) have already come. Those that have already come are identified by their departure from the church and their obscuring of the person of Jesus.

In chapter 4 he calls to “test the spirits” because the spirit of the antichrist is about. The way we are to test the spirits is by their teaching about the Christ – is it orthodox. All of this may seem a bit academic or interesting to those curious about the end times. But it is also extremely practical and challenges our own belief. It teaches us that we are in a very real spiritual battle, though we may not be able to visibly see the forces at work. The spirit of the antichrist is at work in subtle ways, ever seeking to undermine Christ. If we are not committed to living out the belief that Jesus is indeed the God-man, then his work will be evident in us. The reason a proper doctrine of Christ is so important is because the power of the gospel rests upon it. If Jesus is not fully God, then he could never have satisfied the penalty for our sin. If he is not fully man, then he could not have been our substitute – our brother and federal head. We would still be guilty before God.

If your doctrine of Christ is true to the Scriptures and you believe the gospel then your sin is indeed forgiven. But it is not your sin alone that is forgiven. It is also the sin of all of God’s children. Jesus’ command that we must forgive others is paramount to being forgiven ourselves. For if you don’t forgive others even though God has, then your putting yourself above God. You can’t put yourself above God and believe in the doctrine of Christ and the gospel at the same time. They are incompatible.

The work of Satan (the foremost spirit of the antichrist) is to stand before God and accuse God’s people day and night (Rev 12:10). His words are a denial of the gospel. It is a claim that Jesus wasn’t really the God-man, able to truly take away sin. His accusations demand that the sin of God’s people be paid for all over again. When we fail to forgive our brother, we bear the spirit of the antichrist. So, let us be quick to forgive before we speak to confront. Then, if and when we see our brother slipping into sin (choosing to walk in a light other than God’s light), we can confront not as a means of inflicting pain and justice (which is to deny the gospel) but of warning. Let us remember that Satan is bound and that the chains that bind him are the teaching and preaching and living out of the gospel.

Lord, we believe but help us in our unbelief!

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