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.” (I John 2:27-28)
One of John’s purposes in writing to these young believers he explicitly states in today’s text: “I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” The word deceive (πλανώντων; phanonton) means to lead astray. The grammar indicates this effort to stray from the truth is the possessed and singular purpose of the antichrists. It is also a present, active and continual effort.
Can Christians be deceived? History and experience has shown that this indeed can happen. That is why the Apostle John will go on to say in I John 4 that believers in Christ should always test the spirits to see if they are of God (I John 4:1-3).
Pastor and author Sinclair Ferguson explains that, “Christians have been, and are, capable of being deceived. Have none of the elect been deceived in recent years into supporting “ministries” that have proved so tragically different in reality from what they professed to be? Sadly, we are more easily addicted to the spectacular (“signs and wonders”) than to the substantial, to novelty (“false prophets”) than to a wholesome orthodoxy. If we think Christians cannot be deceived, the deception has already begun.”
However, the apostle includes a contrast which has to do with the anointing John spoke of in I John 2:20-21. This anointing and consecrating ministry by the Holy Spirit in which He regenerates, baptizes, indwells, gifts, seals, fills and illuminates each elect sinner is one which remains or abides.
Therefore, there is no need for the believer to require a special, anointed teacher. Such a notion is popular and pervasive in cults and false religions where the individual whims of the leader are observed rather than the authoritative Word of God.
Dr. Ferguson offers some helpful and practical tips to avoid deception by false teachers and antichrists. He states, “But how can we guard ourselves against spiritual deception? By developing sensitivity, we become aware of Satan’s strategies in our lives (2 Cor. 2:11). Have you learned what they are? By developing self-knowledge, we recognize how weak we are. Since nothing good dwells in our flesh (Rom. 7:18), we need constantly to depend on the Lord. Do you? By developing an appetite for God’s Word, we are “trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14, ESV), and we grow in discernment.”
May the Lord give each of us the ability to discern deception, to develop knowledge of ourselves and to develop an appetite for God’s Word.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!