The word Antichrist is only used in two books of the bible, i.e., 1st & 2nd John. It’s meaning is implied in the book of Revelation, but the word does not appear there.
The books of 1st and 2nd John, according to scholars were written by John the apostle, who also wrote the 4th gospel and the book of Revelation. They also believe 1st and 2nd John and the book of Revelation were written close to the same time, between a.d. 85 and a.d. 96.
The Traditional view of the Antichrist being embodied into one person is dispelled by John, he sets out to correct this view; “you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come” (1st John 2:18).
Strong’s Concordance defines the “Antichrist” as “one who puts himself in the place of, or the enemy (opponent) of the Messiah”. Essentially it means one who assumes Christ role!
John warns the Antichrists came out from among his own, as a precaution he defines who is of God and who is not. He says, “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (1st John 4:2-3).
When I ask Christians if they believe every person in the entire world who confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, their answer is always no!
How could John make such a bold statement to define who is of God and who is not based on a confession that Jesus Christ came in the flesh?
The assumption is, this passage is about the “flesh of Jesus”, but it could take on another meaning. Notice what Paul the apostle says to the church at Corinth:
“For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2nd Corinthians 4:11).
He also writes to the Church at Galatia about “travailing in birth” until Christ is formed in them (Galatians 4:19).
The assumption the flesh here is Jesus’ flesh may have caused translators to use the phrase “has come in the flesh” which is past tense. The Greek word for “come” is “erchomai” which can also mean “coming” (future tense). It is the same Greek word used for “Coming in the clouds of Heaven” (Matt 26:64).
If we look at this passage in the future tense, it would read like this:
“By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is coming in [their] flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is coming in [their] flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world”.
This makes more since! The one who confesses Jesus Christ is coming in their flesh, embraces and declares Christ is being formed in them. When Christ rules in our heart he becomes our life and we become the living embodiment of truth!
Who are these Antichrists?
John takes the focus off one person being the Antichrist and reveals the broader scope of many Antichrists “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2nd John 1:17).
God gives us a choice between two lives, we can keep our old life (carnal) and be lost, or we can exchange it for the life of Christ and be saved. This new life comes at a great price; “the death of the old life”. If we confess Jesus Christ is coming in our flesh and embrace his life, our old life will begin to die, but it will not go down without a fight (Galatians 5:17, Romans 7:22; 8:7).
Herein lies the making of an Antichrist; they avoid the death of their carnal life in exchange for Christ’s life, they wish to be removed from the cross (Matt 16:25, 2nd Cor 4:11). Their carnal life continues to rule under the guise of Christianity.
Antichrists seek to be like Christ by their own effort; they rely on knowledge, charisma, enthusiasm, ambition, creativity and talent. They feel inspired to lead others who have God’s spirit, but they themselves have not died to the carnal man allowing Christ to be formed in them, thus putting themselves in the place of Christ and leading others astray!
The disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of his coming and the end of the world, the first words Jesus said to them was; “take heed that no one deceives you!” (Matt 24:1). He also said in the same chapter “for false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24). The signs and wonders are religious and appear to be spiritual, if possible they could even deceive God’s elect, but God steps in and does not allow deception to overtake his elect.
When we think of the Antichrist we think of one person, John attempts to dispel this notion and warn they are already here and even came out from us! They have especially made their “Mark” on the religious world in these last days by being very charismatic, miracles appear to come because of them, they attempt to refine their followers by words of knowledge about God, and take away God’s place to refine his children individually by fire (1 Peter 1:7). They are calling (refining) fire down from heaven rather than God.
The Mark of the beast (666) is the acceptance of their doctrine (forehead/mind) and working toward their cause (hand/works), it is not a chip or a stamp! The number “6” is the number throughout scripture to represent “man”. 666 represents the body, soul & spirit of man which has turned itself over to the beast (which can appear very religious and charismatic). The word “Mark” can take on other meanings besides a physical mark; i.e., “he left his Mark on the world”; or “the Mark of a true servant is” and so on. Buying and selling as referred to in the book of Revelation can also take on spiritual meaning, Jesus said; “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire…,” ( Rev 3:18).
The Antichrist stands behind the pulpits of every denomination all over the world, they themselves are deceived and they are deceiving others. They don’t lead people to the death of their old nature, instead there are a myriad of doctrines that attempt to lead people to Christ and tell people how to be like Christ, but they don’t lead people to die with Christ (Gal 2:20), and allow Christ be “formed in them” (Gal 4:19). If Christ is formed in us we will be like Christ because it is his actual life in us and not our best effort or proclamation of him.
We live at the end of time, Christianity at large has been deceived as Jesus foretold! God is awakening his elect; “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
The true children of God carry their cross daily and die to their own effort of being like Christ and allow him to be formed in them. They are constantly coming to the end of their selves so his life can prevail! We are not saved “by our works” we are saved by “dying to them”, so his works can manifest in us (Eph 2:10; Rev 22:12).
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).
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