18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 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 it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
Speak of the Antichrist, and the image that comes to mind for many is the devil incarnate, whose appearance precedes the end of the world (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The antichrist John speaks of here, though, is much less ominous . . . and much more common. It’s as simple as the law of non-contradiction. You are either for Christ, or against Him. You either believe that He is the perfect, sinless, fully-Divine, fully-human Son of God, who died in our place to pay the penalty of sin and redeem us for eternal glory with the Father . . . or you do not. In that sense, everyone is either Pro-Christ or Anti-Christ. Anyone who rejects Jesus outright or denies His divinity by denying that He is indeed the Christ is, therefore, an antichrist. And as John says, there are many. They don’t perform terrifying demonic miracles. They simply deny Jesus, and walk away (v. 19).
This does not mean that antichrists are harmless, though. John says in verse 26, there are those who are trying to deceive the saints. They may not try to persuade anyone to worship Satan. But there are many ways to reject Christ and encourage others to do the same. False religions are antichrist. To affirm Buddha, or Krishna, or Zoroaster is to deny Christ. The absolute materialist, who denies the existence of any god, denies Christ. To claim Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not the Son of God is to deny Christ. Even to affirm the continuance of the Mosaic law and the remaining need for sacrifice for sin would be to deny Christ.
Unlike the movies, we don’t need a special commission or powers or talismans to combat antichrist, just the truth. And from the time we first confessed Christ, the truth has been abiding in us. John doesn’t warn us against the subtle wiles of antichrists, but simply encourages us to abide in the Christ we know, the Christ we first confessed. He doesn’t encourage us to go out and find some new truth, but to stay firm in what is known. In a day and age where new is always improved and progress is always better, this is a warning worth heeding. Let us not prove that we never were believers by leaving (v. 19), but let us abide in the truth to the end.