Living a Balanced Life
(An In-Depth Study of First John)
The Abiding Word
1 John 2:18-29
As we come to the end of chapter two one thing is abundantly clear; John loves God and John loves the children of God. In John’s day, just like today, truth for a majority was relative. To those who left the church and sound doctrine, truth changed with popular culture. They saw themselves as “progressives”. They understood truth as the latest teaching designed by the human heart. John assures his readers that the truth never changes. Whether the 1st century or the 21st century, “that which was from the beginning”, the message delivered by Christ to the Apostles and then to the church, has not changed. Nothing new has been added. The message is the Gospel. Inside this truth is found a deep and abiding love for God which overflows toward others. John reaffirms the core of Christianity, saying that either we exhibit the sound doctrine, obedience, and love that characterize all Christians, or else we are not true Christians.
In John’s mind, the truth does not originate from inside a person. If a person is found with the truth in them, John makes it clear that God is at work. John makes this point with the use of two words that are not common to most casual conversations; “abiding” and “anointed”. Truth is revealed by an anointing of the Spirit of God and an abiding in the Word of God. It’s no wonder John strongly encourages us to “abide in Him”. (1 John 2:28) This being the case, John would agree that a professing Christian that is never abiding in the Word of God and never praying is living a life that is prone to following lies (antichrist).
However, in this section of Scripture, filled with warnings about the spirit of antichrist found in this last hour, rests some of John’s most encouraging and assuring words to all those who are truly born again. John is confident that the truth is in you by the power of the Holy Spirit. (vs 20) He is confident that the truth that you heard from the beginning is such a part of your life that you will abide in the Son and the Father. (vs 24) In other words, both a theological depth and an intimate personal experience with the truth (God) is found in the life of every believer. This keeps life balanced. This establishes and maintains our system of values. Despite the power of the spirit of antichrist in the world, John knows believers will persevere. He remembers Jesus’ teaching… “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Understanding the Times
Verse 18 is chiastic in structure:
A. This is the last hour
B. Antichrist is coming
B′. Many antichrists have come
A′. This is the last hour
The first part of v. 19 (like v. 18) is chiastic:
A. They went out from us
B. They did not really belong to us
B′. If they had belonged to us
A′. They would have remained with us.
Result: We live in a last hour of great deception.
The WORD and the SPIRIT
Anointed: Truth is a gift (vs 20; 27)
Abiding: Truth never changes (vs 24a)
Persevering: Truth always keeps (19, 24b, 2 John 9)
Lifestyle of the anointed is to abide
Abiding gives rise to:
- Growth in understanding
- Power to practice the truth
- Ever increasing confidence