Today’s reading begins by talking about “antichrists”. This is a term found only in the letters of John, and here refers to false teachers marked by at least three characteristics. First, “they went out from us”. That is, they pursued their own ends and purposes (ie, making a name for themselves, getting rich, inflaming people to serve a personal cause or agenda)instead of staying faithful to the mission of the local church.
Second, they deny the faith. They deny that Jesus is the Christ, teaching instead that he is merely a good man, a great teacher, a wonderful example for us all. That Jesus is the Christ can be denied in deeds as well as words, of course, when we fail to live in humble obedience to him.
And finally, they seek to deceive the faithful. It is a sobering thing to think that there are those who, consciously or unconsciously, are seeking to deceive us. To think, for instance, that we can be faithful to Jesus but not live sacrificially for the sake of those in need is to be deceived. It is to be deceived by those who have made the standard of living we enjoy in America today their standard, and not the Gospel of Christ. There are many ways to be deceived, and we all face them on a regular basis.
So what do we do?
We abide in Christ by living in harmony with his teachings as they are found in Scripture. We abide in Christ by loving others as he has loved us, and allowing them to love us as well. So to abide in Christ means we can’t go it on our own; we must stay in fellowship with a local church.
We look to Christ’s appearing, and remember that in a world of people seeking to do their own thing, we are those who are called to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.
We live in faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that we will not be ashamed on the day of his appearing.
Perhaps we can sum all of this up by saying that a person who claims to be a Christian but who does not live in obedience, love, and truth, is either deceived or a deceiver. It’s probably worth our asking ourselves, “Could that be me?”