Preached at the San Diego Rescue Mission on Wednesday morning, September 27, 2017.
There are a lot of people trying to sell you their truth. Beverage companies will say that they have the best tasting soda. Sports teams will try to convince you that they have the best team for the coming year. Politicians will try to convince you that they have the best ideas for the country. Religions will try to convince you that their belief is the way to peace. Truth matters. We have 2000 years of people changed by a risen Savior. Truth is found in Jesus, the Christ.
What is truth? Truth is something that exists outside of ourselves. It’s true that I woke up this morning. It’s true that I am wearing blue jeans again today. It’s true that you ate breakfast. It’s true that some of you waited on the same, long med line this morning. It’s true that some of you have been here a few weeks, and others several months. It’s true that we are sitting down on chairs.
Yet, we sometimes have a hard time with truth. There are some things we don’t want to believe. We may not want to believe that we have made mistakes. We may not want to believe that we are broke, or that we need to make changes in our life that are hard. But truth doesn’t change because we want it to. We all need to deal with truth.
John talks about truth in 1 John 2:18-27. He gives us some good warnings, and encourages us to abide in truth.
We must be on guard against false teaching.
The first thing that John points out is that we must be on guard against false teaching. We must be on guard against false teaching.
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. 1 John 2:18-19
John talks about the last hour. When Jesus ascended into heaven, the last hour began. The angels said that, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” It was at Jesus’ ascension, that the countdown of history to Jesus’ return began. It is not an hour per our clocks. It is according to God’s divine time. We must be aware that Christ can return at any moment.
John had given a teaching about the coming Antichrist. The Bible describes a person during the end times that will rise and deceive many. But John clarifies that this spirit of antichrist is already in the world. The spirit of antichrist is a spirit of false teaching, meant to lead people away from the true Christ of reality.
The spirit of antichrist wants people to create a Jesus for themselves that doesn’t exist. “To me, Jesus was only a good teacher.” Or, “he was an enlightened human being.” Or, “he was a political revolutionary.” People love to create false ideas of who Jesus was. Who you think Jesus is does not matte. What matters is who Jesus is in real reality.
Only Jesus has the right to define who He is. Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” The religious leaders tried to stone Jesus because He was claiming to be God. Only Jesus has the right to define who He is, and we must accept Him for who He is. Anything that differs with what He taught about Himself is antichrist.
John says that the spirit of antichrist comes from people connected to the church. He says that, “they went out from us, but were not of us.” False religions love to borrow from Christianity to support their teaching. But they then teach things that are opposite of what Jesus claimed about Himself.
Islam teaches that Jesus was just a prophet, like other prophets. They teach that he was a human being, not the Son of God. Mormonism teaches that Jesus was not God forever, but that he was born in heaven, and his brother is the Devil. Buddhism teaches Jesus as just a good teacher, who was enlightened. Hinduism accepts Jesus as an incarnation of a god, along with all their other millions of gods. Modern Judaism does not consider Him to be the messiah, or divine.
What is important is that we look at the words of Jesus, and decide for ourselves. What does Jesus say about Himself? Who does He say that He is?
Truth is obvious.
Suppose everyone is telling us that the grass is green. But, we believe in our heart of hearts that the grass is purple. We sit and think about purple grass. We concentrate hard, and focus our minds on purple grass. We want and want the grass to be purple. But no matter how hard we try, the truth is that the grass is green. Truth exists outside of ourselves. It doesn’t matter that I want the grass to be purple. I must deal with the fact that the grass is green. I can accept it or deny it, but the truth will always be that the grass is green.
In the same way, the spirit of antichrist in world religions is obvious. Jesus cannot both be God, and not God. One must be true, and the other false. People know in their gut the truth. But, they prefer a lie.
False religions give people an opportunity to believe whay they want to be true. But, truth is truth. We must deal with the truth of Jesus Christ. No matter what we want to believe, the truth is that Jesus died for our sins, and rose from the dead. The truth is that He ascended into heaven, and will one day return with power and glory. How you deal with that truth is up to you.
We must guard against false teaching.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to know truth.
Second, the Holy Spirit empowers us to know truth. The Holy Spirit empowers us to know truth.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:20-23
John reminds Christians that the Holy Spirit abides with us. He will guard our hearts and minds, and guide us to the truth. Jesus said this in John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
The Holy Spirit reminds us of the truth about Christ, and brings it to mind when we are in need. When we are hurt, we remember that Christ is our Healer. When we are upset, we will remember that Christ is our peace. When we are overwhelmed and afraid, we will remember that He is our Protector. The Holy Spirit guides and protects us.
It’s like when you sit and take a test in class. A question comes, and you draw a blank. You know that you should know this, but you can’t remember the answer. It’s frustrating. Then the answer dawns on you, and you feel relieved. The Holy Spirit guides us in a similar way. As we put our faith in Christ, and learn about Him through His word, the Holy Spirit uses that truth. He guides us through the tests of life.
Some people will say that truth is relative. They will tell you that, “Well, that may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” Truth is not relative. Something either is, or isn’t. Two different beliefs about the same thing cannot both be true. Jesus cannot both be God and not God at the same time. He either is God, or He isn’t. People don’t want to face truth about Jesus, because the truth of Christ requires a response. If I acknowledge that Jesus is God, that is going to require a response from me. I am going to have to accept Him as Savior, and Lord.
People will say that there are many paths to God. That Jesus is just one way, but that there are many ways to God. The truth is that Jesus does not give us that option. Jesus says that belief in Him is exclusionary. He says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” No single person can come to God, except if they do it through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way. John reminds us of that here. “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” If you want to know God, you must put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only when you believe and commit your life to Christ, will you know God.
We must be on guard against false teaching. When we put our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit empowers us to know His truth.
The truth of Christ must abide in us.
Third, the truth of Christ must abide in us. The truth of Christ must abide in us.
Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us– eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:24-27
John tells the church and us, “Remember the truth of Jesus that changed your life? Remain in that truth!” Your life was in chaos. You were heading down the wrong path, breaking the commandments of God, living in sin, and creating a lot of havoc. But someone told you about Christ. Someone told you that Jesus loves you, that He died for you on the cross. Someone told you that He rose again from the dead, and that through Him, you can have life! Someone told you that, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Someone told you the truth about Christ, and you believed. You were tired of living life apart from God. You believed in Christ, and He gave you a new life!
We do a lot of things to remind ourselves us important times. We celebrate our birthday every year as a celebration of the day of our birth. We have Veterans day to remind us of all the veterans that sacrificed for our freedom. We celebrate anniversaries as a celebration of a relationship. We need to regularly remember how God changed us, and how He changed our lives through Christ. Remain in His truth! Remember how He saved you, how He changed your life. Remember God’s faithfulness, remember His mercy, and His love.
We are reminded of the promises of God. John says that, “this is the promise that He has promised us– eternal life.” As the truth of Christ abides in us, we are confident in Him, and we hold on to the real hope of God’s promises. God is faithful. He always comes through with His word. If He has promised it, it is finished. God has promised believers in Jesus eternal life. God took on our dead lives on the cross, and in exchange gave us eternal life in Him.
Believers in Jesus have a great hope. Because He lives, we also live! We must keep hold of all that Christ has taught us. We are no longer people without hope. We are not people who don’t have a future. We have a perfect hope and a future in Christ.
We had a client here who came in from a lifetime of alcohol and drug use. He was an older man. At his intake, he said that he wasn’t religious. But something changed during his time here. Something changed in his heart. He wrote in his packets how God had changed his life. He would walk around with a big smile on his face. He would tell me how excited he was that he had Jesus. I didn’t know that he was sick. He left for the hospital, and didn’t return. But with Jesus in his heart, he was a new man. He came into the Rescue Mission without much hope. Jesus changed his life here. He has a real hope, and a real future, because he is living with Christ. Truth is found in Jesus, the Christ.
We must remember to be on guard against false teaching. When we are Christians, the Holy Spirit empowers us to know truth. We must remember how the truth of Jesus changed our lives, and have His truth abide in us.
Perhaps you are not sure if the truth of Christ abides in you. Maybe you are not sure if you have that hope, and that future. Maybe you have fought against believing in Jesus, that he died for your sins, and that he rose again from the dead. Maybe you are not sure about the love of God. The Bible says that God loves you so much, that He gave His Son for you. It says that if you believe in Him, He promises to abide with you, and give you eternal life with Him. Jesus paid the penalty for your sins. He wants you to believe in Him. Surrender your life to Christ. Today is the day.
Remember, truth is found in Jesus, the Christ. Follow Him today.