If I were to draw a picture of the antichrist, I wonder what it would look like? And what do I picture and imagine when I think about drawing a “false prophet”? We can visualize many different images, but it is interesting to see the image that the Holy Spirit uses to describe the antichrist and false prophets.
1 John 4:1-3 – 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
This is a rarely-taught but crystal-clear mark of the spirit of the antichrist: Denying that Jesus came in the flesh.
But what does that exactly mean? Imagine when John wrote this. Jesus had lived on the earth recently. Multitudes saw Him; John had seen and touched Jesus himself (1 John 1:1). Back then, there was probably zero debate whether Jesus was a real Person who had lived on this earth.
So what is the spirit of the antichrist denies that Jesus came in the flesh? Very simply, it is the spirit that does not embrace that Jesus faced the exact same pressure of temptations and trials as we do.
Many, many Christians are unnecessarily bent out of shape about the spirit of the antichrist coming through some vaccine or public school policy or authoritarian government influence. Meanwhile, we allow the spirit of the antichrist right in by not embracing the truth that Jesus came in the flesh and was tempted just like us, but was still perfectly victorious.
I find that this is a very, very easy spirit to give into. In the various daily challenges that I face, the spirit of the antichrist can so easily dominate. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe in Jesus Christ. And yes, I am bold to tell others that I am a Christian. But in the daily trials of life, I do not embrace this simple truth:
Jesus came in the flesh, and therefore felt the exact same tug towards sin that I do (and He did not sin; Hebrews 4:15). The spirit of the antichrist puts Jesus on a slightly higher pedestal when I compare my ability to overcome sin with His.
Putting Jesus on a higher pedestal than me sounds like the right thing to do in all situations. But that’s wrong. When I put Jesus on even the slightest level higher than me in the ability to overcome sin, I give in to the spirit of the antichrist.
Same Starting Point:
Do we really have the exact same ability to overcome sin like Jesus did? Didn’t Jesus have very different natural circumstances than we do? After all, He lived in a different time altogether. And He also never sinned even once, so He didn’t have the history of past sins haunting Him like it does us.
God first ensures that every born-again Christian’s starting position is the same as Jesus’s. God heaps the same favor on us that He heaped on Jesus, and gives us EVERY CONFIDENCE that we will succeed.
THE SAME HOLY SPIRIT THAT JESUS WAS BORN WITH: Jesus was birthed through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit coming within Mary (Luke 1:35). It is the same miracle of the Holy Spirit coming to live within us that causes us to be born again (John 3:3-6).
THE SAME SECURITY OF BEING INFINITELY LOVED: Jesus was able to explain God as Father because He came from the Lap of Love (John 1:18). God also raises us up from the deadness of our sin to sit with Him (Ephesians 2:1-6), and fully justified (Romans 3:21-25).
THE SAME POWER THAT JESUS HAD TO OVERCOME SIN: Jesus overcame every single temptation to sin by depending on God’s Words to maintain the life of the Spirit within Him (Matthew 4:4; Hebrews 4:15; James 1:13). And we have access to the very same powerful Sword of the Spirit to help us overcome sin (Romans 8:11-13; Ephesians 6:17).
So our starting point is guaranteed and secured in Christ.
On this foundation, God now asks us to overcome sin just like Jesus overcame.
When He lived on this earth, Jesus didn’t have a different sex drive than any of us. But He ran away from all youthful lusts and remained pure.
When He lived on this earth, Jesus didn’t have a lesser desire to please Himself than we did. But He still chose to never please Himself.
Spiritually, Jesus felt the tug towards sin as strong as any of us face it. We must apply this view of Jesus to every area of temptation and struggle in our lives – and especially the ones that we’re going through right now. This is where the spirit of the antichrist is trying to slip into our lives – TODAY!
Same Finishing Point:
We can so easily think that Jesus came from the Father’s lap (John 1:18) and that it was guaranteed that He would automatically return to the Father’s lap. NOT AT ALL! Jesus has returned to sit down on the Father’s lap only because He overcame.
Revelation 3:21 – He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Jesus’s return to the Father’s lap was not automatic or guaranteed. He overcame and therefore sat back down with the Father. So also, our final success is not guaranteed. Sitting on the Throne with Jesus and the Father is the only success that we should long for – and that is only reserved for those who overcome (a subset of all those who will end up in heaven.
The beauty of Jesus Christ
The true beauty of Jesus Christ is hidden behind all the miracles and even all His teachings. The real beauty of Jesus is that He came in the flesh and was tempted just like all of us (Hebrews 4:15). He came to this earth, fully aware that His eternal destiny was not automatic. But He willingly took on that risk for you and for me.
Oh, the marvel and awe-inspiring wonder of this Jesus. Doesn't this make Him even more worthy of our perpetual worship?
And this is the beauty of Jesus that we can exhibit in our lives too. We are not called to be just like Jesus in performing miracles like He did, or teaching like He did. But in overcoming sin, we can and must be just like Jesus.
Conclusion: In light of all of this..
1 John 4:4 – You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
As we take in the majesty of the overcoming Jesus, we can live without any fear of the giants that may still appear unbeatable.
We are born again and seeking to be disciples of Jesus, so we are loved just as Jesus was loved (John 17:23), seated on the Father's lap as His “little children.”
And since Jesus overcame those same giants, we can too. In fact, by depending on the Father as a little child and following the Example at Jesus, we will overcome today too (1 John 5:4)!