What is the true essence of antichrist and why should we care about it?
Podcast Transcript: Click HERE to listen
When you hear the word “Antichrist” what comes to mind?
Depending upon our background we may have conjured up quit a variety of religious and political figures both past and present.
Some of us may have been drawn into thoughts of the unknown future, but I doubt any of us pictured ourselves.
I know for me – it is much more comfortable to believe that the antichrist is someone completely disconnected from myself. I mean I am a Christian for goodness sake. How could I be a Christian and be against Christ at the same time?
But as I look back on the last 20 years of my life living as a Christian – if I am honest – I see a lot more of me than I do Christ in the things that I have done and said.
As I look back I can see that many times I have said one thing and done another; Pretended to care when I really didn’t; Gave more out of obligation than generosity; loved those who could give me something in return more than those who couldn’t. Prioritized desire over obedience. The list could go on and on.
On the outside i often portrayed myself as an angel of light while inside I was filled with darkness.
And it got me thinking…
What if the antichrist is not so much of a person as he is a condition?
What if he is in fact the definition of humanity trying to be like God without his help?
What if he is the personification of the natural heart pretending to follow God because he is unwilling to surrender to the conditions of discipleship we discussed in episode 15?
You remember what Jesus said, right? He said,
““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 ESV)
What if the real antichrist I should be worried about is the antichrist in me?
It is interesting because when you look at what the Bible has to say about the antichrist there is a lot of support for this idea.
For instance right before the John introduces the concept of the antichrist he writes this:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15–17 NKJV)
In other words, what John is saying here is that true followers of Jesus will reject the love of the world – and then he goes on to define what the love of the world looks like.
The lust of the flesh – indulging in sensuality
The lust of the eyes – indulging in selfish desire
And the pride of life – love of display and prestige
These are all characteristics of the world and not the Father
However, antichrist would be one who claims to be following Christ while also enabling the the love of the world to remain in the heart.
Again, this could describe any of us!
That is why John went on to say in the next two verses:
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 John 2:18–19 NKJV)
This is fascinating to me because not only does John warn us about the universal or corporate Antichrist of the last days but he also mentions the many individual antichrists of his day.
And why did he call them antichrists?
Because they refused to become one with the body of Christ. They wanted to be associated with Christianity to receive its benefits (mainly eternal life) but they did not want to be restricted by it. They wanted to be Christians but they also didn’t want to give up their love for the world.
Thus antichrist in its truest sense is a mixture between the two.
It is a synthesis between a love of Jesus and a love of the world at the same time.
In a sense it is a baptism of sensuality and pride.
Interestingly enough we find Paul making the same connections in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians when he wrote:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 NKJV)
Of course in this context Paul is clearly referring to the Universal or Corporate Antichrist of the last days that will be revealed before the true Christ comes again in the clouds and there is a lot we will have to say about that later but for now I want you to pick on the essence of antichrist that is revealed here again for us.
Notice first of all what the antichrist is>
He is the man of sin – the son of condemnation.
In other words he is unredeemable. The man of sin cannot be saved. This an important point.
Also notice that he exalts himself above God.
Which of course means he acts as though he were God. His will reigns supreme over God’s will
And he can do this because he sits on the throne in the temple of God.
In other words he is in control
He has taken something that rightly belongs to God and sits as an imposter on the throne – giving his commands as if they were the commands of God. Keeping the ones he likes and discarding the ones he doesn’t like
Are you seeing the connection to the natural human heart yet?
I don’t know about you – but I see see myself completely in that description.
The reality is that I still want be the God of my own life.
I want to sit on the throne of my body temple – yet the gospel tells me that in order to accept salvation I also have to accept that my body no longer belongs to me and therefore is not mine to control.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV)
It is only as I allow God complete control of me by giving up my throne to him that I can be a follower of Jesus in the truest sense.
This is what Jesus meant when he said if anyone would come after me let me deny himself.
In other words the first and most important step in discipleship is getting off the throne.
Failing to do that opens me up complete the self-deception of the natural heart.
Jeremiah described the natural heart as “deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked;”
(Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)
Thus, the only thing I need in order to become the man of sin is a heart of sin reigning supreme in me
Of course then as we look at Christian history we can see that not everything done in the name of Christianity was done with Christ sitting on the throne of the church just as you or I or anyone today can claim to be a Christian and do things that Christ would never do.
Thus the key to detecting antichrist in ourselves and in the world around us has to be the Bible and specifically the will of God expressed through his Law.
Because Revelation makes clear that the call to follow Jesus in the last days also involves a rejection of the world and a rejection of the spirit of the antichrist that has infected Christianity.
The 2nd Angel is Revelation 14:8 cries out!
“Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”” (Revelation 14:8 ESV)
Just as fallen as our natural heart is any type of religion that allows self to reign supreme; that downplays obedience to the commandments of God and allows for that which appeals to the lust of the flesh, the Lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
This work has to begin inside each of us before it makes any sense to look outside of us for its corporate identity.
Until we see ourselves as fallen we can never see God for who he truly is and Christ as who we truly need living in us.
It is only in self-abandonment that we are transformed from antichrist in me to Christ in me.
It has been said the Battle against self is the greatest battle ever fought. And if we lose this battle we lose everything.
Because it is only those who have Christ in them who are going to be saved in the end.
Almost Christians will not – the ones who say but don’t do.
Unfortunately, “almost but not wholly saved, means to be not almost but wholly lost.”
This why being ready for Jesus has everything to do with knowing him.
Is he living in your heart?
Does your relationship with him mean more to you than anything in this world?
This self-knowledge is essential as we look forward to his soon coming. Because if we don’t know ourselves. If we don’t know who is sitting on the throne of our heart than we won’t know which Christ we are following.
But we needn’t not remain ignorant. Going back to a text we looked at in episode 15 is all we have to do see the truth if we are willing to accept it.
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:3–6 NKJV)
In other words if I say that I know Jesus but are unwilling to keep his commandments than it should become evident very quickly that it is antichrist not christ who is living in me.
The good news is that while it is true that antichrist is condemned to die and unredeemable the gospel opens a door for us to walk through that puts that old man to death and resurrects the new man to life.
This is the hope we have now.
And This is the hope of all who sincerely take on the name of Jesus.
“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 NKJV)
You see in the end The antichrist dies one way or another.
Either we allow Christ to put him to death in us today or Christ will put him to death in us when he comes again.
But if we wait till he comes again it will be too late.
Going back to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians – he is very clear what we can expect to experience on that day if we allow the antichrist to continue reigning supreme on the throne of our body temple.
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 NKJV)
You can hide it today.
No one may know that the antichrist is living in you.
But you know if he is in you and if you don’t know you need to know right now.
Because one day everyone else will know too when He is revealed in those who are destroyed by the brightness of the coming of Jesus.
The glory of God will reveal what is in the heart.
And that day is coming soon.
Are you ready.
This is not something we can take lightly
In fact the Bible tells us to:
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)
I hope and pray we both pass the test.
Because for those who don’t there is a system already set up in the world to deceive those who want to be deceived; to those who willfully are allowing antichrist to reign in their own life.
Yes, and that system is referred to in the Bible as Babylon.
Just as our sinful hearts are fallen so are the false systems of worship our sinful hearts have created:
And what does this system took like?
That is what we are going to be revealing as we move forward in this podcast.
But for now I will say this. The system looks like a method of forgetting God which passes as a method of remembering Him that embraces the the 2 ditches of Christianity we talked about in episode 13 both those who would be saved by their works, and those who would be saved in their sins.
This is why everything we have studied up to this point is essential to understanding prophecies in the Bible concerning the corporate Antichrist of the last days.
There is still a long journey ahead of us.
And it is only possible if we are willing to make that full surrender of our hearts to God
Won’t you allow God to rid your heart of antichrist so that Christ can be all in all?
He is willing. He is knocking. All you have to do is open the door.
Won’t you do it right now?