JESUS MADE SIN FOR US: WHAT IS PAUL TALKING ABOUT?

For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. ` 2 corinthians 5:21

Sometimes people interpret this text as, “Jesus became sin with our sinfulness.” This is common among those who interpret the cross solely as the place of substitution rather than sacrifice, and there is a difference.

Part and parcel to the belief that Christ was made sin with our sinfulness is the belief that Christ was rejected and condemned by God as a sinner when he died on the cross.

Because this view is so prevalent, it isn’t uncommon to hear someone describe the atoning work of Christ as substitutionary atonement rather than sacrificial atonement – there is a difference, a huge difference. Consider the meaning of the two words, substitution and sacrifice.

A substitute takes the place of another, for all intents and purposes it is a replacement. A sacrifice on the other hand is an offering, something of immense value which is given unselfishly, and is very costly to the giver.

When a firefighter enters a burning building to rescue another person he is putting his life on the line to save another, and if he dies in the process, we could say he sacrificed his life. We would not describe the firefighter as a substitute, and if we did, our words would likely be considered an insult.

Words do have meaning, and I am convinced that many Christians are missing out on truly understanding the power of the cross, because of this.

Throughout the Old Testament the sacrifices which were types of Christ were offered to God as a sweet fragrance (a sweet savor, or aroma) that God would accept on the behalf of the people, as holy sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 22:20, 21, 25, 27). By virtue of these offerings, the people were sanctified and made holy in the sight of the Lord.

In Philippians 4, Paul draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he speaks of the gift of support which the Philippians sent to his aid.

But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.~ Philippians 4:18

In 2 Corinthians, Paul again draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he says the following: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish… ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

In both cases (Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2) Paul appeals to the language found in the Old Testament which described the atonement sacrifices foreshadowing the death of Christ.

No one reading Paul’s words in Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2 would think the expression “sweet savor” had any other meaning than that which is pleasing to God. In fact, Paul uses the words “well pleasing” in his Philippians 4 description.

When Christ died on the cross, he paid the ransom for us with his holy life which he offered to God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus gave himself as a sweet savor offering, well pleasing to God!

This is why holy communion is so important and powerful. It is a memorial of the death of our Lord, for through Jesus’s sacrifice we are consecrated to God and made holy.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet – smelling savor. ~ Ephesians 4:32- 5-2

God accepts us because he accepted, not rejected, Jesus when he died on the cross for our sins. Had God rejected Jesus on the cross, we would still be in our sins. Throughout the Old Testament the offerings which foreshadowed Jesus were accepted to make atonement. Those offerings which were rejected did not make atonement.

And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. ~ Leviticus 1:4

Notice the language in the text above: “it shall be accepted for him to mke atonement.” In like manner, Christ was accepted for us. Now consider Leviticus 7:18:

And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.  ~ Leviticus 7:18 

Rejected sacrifices and offerings did not make atonement.  Only those which were accepted as a sweet savor did. Yet there is an entire ideology that many have been taught which states that Jesus redeemed us by becoming a substitute rejected by God in our place. This is contrary to the entire narrative of scripture regarding the sacrifices which foreshadowed Jesus, which were offered for atonement. Jesus sacrificed his holy life for us when he died on the cross, and the sacrifice of himself was an offering that was a sweet fragrance to God. 

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. ~ Ephesians 5:2

Why then does the Bible say that Jesus was made sin for us, and how should we interpret this verse? 

Paul’s reference to Christ being made sin for us is derived from the Old Testament motif of the sin offerings. The sin offerings were offered to make atonement for sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the word atonement was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness. This is the context which surrounds Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5.

Literally, Paul is telling us that Christ was made to be the offering for our sins, and that is how we are reconciled to God. Christ was made to be our sin offering not our literal sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the words sin and sin offering are translated from the same Hebrew word “chattath”. One writer pointed out that chattath is translated as sin offering 118 times, and translated as sin 168 times. We determine which is being spoken of based on the context. 

In Hebrews 10:6, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Psalms 40:6 which says, Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

It is clear that the Psalmist is referring to the sacrifices and offerings and not talking about sin. In Hebrews 10:6, the author of Hebrews cites this text in reference to Jesus, saying, In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. The words “sacrifices for” have been added by the translators of the KJV for clarity, because the context is the sacrifices for sin. Without this clarification, the text could have read, In burnt offerings and sin thou hast had no pleasure.

The Greek word “hamartia” which is used in Hebrews 10:6 in reference to the sin offering, is also used in 2 Corinthians 5:21 in reference to Christ being made sin for us. So we must determine from the context if Paul is saying Jesus was made to be our literal sin, or our sin offering.

It should be of importance to us that the apostle Paul was a Jew who had come to know Christ. The things which Paul taught about Jesus were rooted in his scholarly understanding of the scriptures. Paul most assuredly would have thought through the scriptures as a Jewish scholar and would have understood Christ’s death and resurrection in view of the scriptures. Paul tells the Corinthians the following:

I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures… ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Paul certainly understood Christ’s death in view of the Old Testament scriptures and would not have taught anything contrary to the Old Testament’s motif when he speaks of Christ dying for our sins. Paul spoke of Christ’s death in view of the precedent set forth within the sacrificial system because those sacrifices foreshadowed Christ.

Jesus is our Redeemer, and he died for our sins as one who was pure and holy. There is no precedent anywhere in scripture which would indicate that the offerings for sin were made sinful with the sins of the people, which is how 2 Corinthians has been interpreted by some. Instead they were to be offered as unblemished sacrifices which were holy to the Lord.

Leviticus 6:25 says, “Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, this is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy.

Christ was a most holy offering for our sins when he died on the cross. He was not morphed into a condemned sinner. He wasn’t a sin infested replacement. He was pure, holy, and righteous.

Leviticus 22:21 tells us that the sacrifices which foreshadowed Christ had to be perfect in order to be accepted – And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.Christ was perfect, He was without sin: he knew no sin. Jesus Christ died as an unblemished lamb whose blood is pure and holy. The scripture says we were not redeemed with corruptible things, instead we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as from a lamb without spot or blemish (See 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus did not become a corrupted sin infused replacement when he died on the cross. He was a holy sacrifice unto God and in that holy sacrifice of himself we are accepted and have access to God.

The teaching of the Bible is that our redemption is by virtue of the blood of Jesus. Jesus is, was, and always will be holy, pure, and just. The apostle Peter declared that he is the holy and just One which the people rejected (Acts 3:14). Peter also declared that he is the prince of life and that the grave could not hold him because God would not allow his holy one to see corruption. (See Acts 2:24, 27; 3:15)

Christ was our sin offering and not our literal sin when he died on the cross.

THE SIGN OF THE PROPHET JONAH

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

In Matthew 12 the scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus and tempted him. They asked him to give them a sign to prove that he is the Messiah. Jesus responded by saying the following:

An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. ~ Matthew 12:39-41

The reference to the sign of the prophet Jonas (Jonah) can be found in Matthew 12:38-41, Matthew 16:1-4 and in Luke 11:29-32 and is an…

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DID JESUS DIE SPIRITUALLY?

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

The Bible says, “Jesus bore our sins IN HIS OWN BODY ON THE TREE” (1 Peter 2:24). The lacerations that came from the beating Jesus endured, the nails that pierced his hands and feet, the crown of thrones placed on his head, and the spear driven into his side; was the punishment he endured for our sins. This punishment was inflicted on Jesus by the hands of sinful men, and this is the revelation that comes forth in the New Testament.

Peter does not say, “Jesus bore our sins in his spirit,” but rather, “in his body.”

Within the context of Peter’s description of Jesus bearing our sins, he tells us that Jesus suffered wrongfully while entrusting himself to God who judges righteously.

Someone once said me, “It was not merely the stripes of men that Jesus endured.” The same person also told me “we should not hone it…

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JESUS, AND THE THIRD TEMPLE

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The anticipation of the building of athird templein Jerusalem ismounting as many evangelical Christians look to the Middle East, persuaded that such a temple will eventually become the center of a futuristic reign of Christ.

Those who embrace this view may be surprised to learnthat God has never requested, or desired a permanent house made with human hands.

In Acts 17, the apostle Paul preaching at Mars Hill, to the men of Athens, said the following:

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things… ~ Acts 17:24-25

In scripture, the first temple (aka Solomon’s temple) was build as a result of a desire in David’s heart to…

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ARE YOU TRULY READY FOR THE COMING OF CHRIST?

No other topic stirs more debate among Christians than that of the end times and the coming of the Lord. People are infatuated with the ideas of the rapture, the antiChrist, the mark of the beast, the millenium, and the signs of the times leading to the ultimate climax of life as we know it.

While the Bible does give us glimpses into future events, I think too many have missed the most constant message about the coming of the Lord given to us in the New Testament, which is the call to godliness in expectation of the appearance of Christ.

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. ~ 2 Peter 3:13-14 

Throughout the New Testament the theme of preparedness can be seen over and over again in view of the coming of the Lord. Oftentimes, preparedness is preached to the unbeliever with sayings such as, “Jesus is coming, are you ready.” However, the message of preparedness in the New Testament is not a message aimed at unbelievers. It’s aimed at believers.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. ~ 1 John 2:28

From the Olivet Discourse given by Jesus in the gospel accounts until the final chapter of the book of the Revelation, the theme of living righteously and godly in expectation of the coming of Christ is repeated over and over again.

In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus says the following:

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 24:45-51

In the book of the Revelation Jesus says, Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. ~ Revelation 16:15

Unfortunately, too many Christians (especially evangelicals in the West) have corrupted their faith with political ideas of Christian nationalism. Instead of taking seriously the call to be pure at the coming of Christ, they react to conspiracies which take advantage of their end time ideas such as labeling certain aspects of politics as part of an antiChrist system. End time beliefs without obedience to the call to godliness results in the manipulation of Christianity for politicians, who arouse Christians to a type of “political holy war” for their own selfish gain.

Yet the Bible teach us that we are to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord ~ Hebrews 12:14

This is evident in Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians:

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Why is it important that our heart be established unblameable in holiness before God at the coming of the Lord? It is because real faith is not a one time believing experience which has no fruit of godly living. Real faith in Jesus is lived, and when Christ appears at his coming we will be rewarded not for a moment in time when we once believed the gospel, but for the endurance of our faith in Christ.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls...Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ… ~ 1 Peter 1:7-9, 13

There is not a shred of evidence that can be presented that the New Testament teaches that a person can have a conversion experience and then live a life of ungodliness and be Ok when the Lord comes. In fact we are told to put away the traits of the old life of sin in view of the coming of Christ.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:.. ~ Colossians 3:4-6

Notice that Paul tells the Collossians to modify the impulses to sin that are in the flesh because of the coming of Christ. Consider also Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome:

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. ~ Romans 13:11-14

Again and again, the message in the New Testament is to put away sin in expectation of the coming of the Lord. While many have the idea that since they were once saved by the grace of God, God will overlook a life of ungodliness when Christ returns, the Bible says otherwise:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. ~ Titus 2:12-15

According to the apostle Paul the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in expectation of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. How can we expect to be saved by grace if we deny the teachings of grace?

The Christian life is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and we are called to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us… Hebrews 12:2. We are to run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. ~ Hebrews 12:2

Notice that it is “with patience” that we run our race. Yet patience is often the one attribute which is the least desired by believers, but Jesus said, “in your patience possess ye your souls.” ~ Luke 21:19

The apostle Peter speaks of the trial or testing of our faith being rewarded at the appearance of the Lord, and James tells us that the trial of our faith works patience, but James does stop there, he tells us to let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. ~ James 1:4

Nothing prepares the believer for the day of the Lord like patience.

In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul mentions patience in context to the coming of Christ: And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5

Have you ever given any serious attention to that verse? Have you sought to allow the Lord to direct your hearts into both the love of God and the patient awaiting for Christ’s return?

James says something similar to Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. ~ James 5:7-8

God is a patient God and he calls his people to be patient. This is evident in Peter’s words concerning the coming of Christ:

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night… ~ 2 Peter 3:1-10a

The concept that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day is sometimes often thought of in view of eschatological timelines, but the context is the patience of the Lord. The Lord is long suffering and does not want anyone to perish, and neither should we. We are called to live in a manner which adorns the doctrine of godliness, holiness, and righteousness and this should be our pursuit in this life as await the coming of the Lord.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things (the things which have to do with the love of money); and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: . ~ 1 Timothy 6:10-14

Notice that Paul tells Timothy to follow after (pursue) righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, & meekness. Paul instructs Timothy to do so without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a command we should all take to heart.

With that said, are you truly ready for the coming of Christ?

DID JESUS SUFFER IN HELL?

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

Jesus came in the flesh and redeemed us with his precious blood through the offering of his body for our sins. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  ~ Luke 24:39

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus took on flesh and blood to redeem us.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the…

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FOR THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO HELP, THANK YOU.

For those who would like to help, Pastor Tyrone Paul from South Africa has passed away leaving behind his wife and beloved son. Pastor Tyrone was a true man of God who touched the lives of many. My dear friend Ed Rosella was especially close with him and I would like to share the message Ed sent to those who support the ministry of Eleos International which Ed oversees. Eleos was not a ministry of Pastor Tyrone’s church, but a ministry that was dear to his heart as he and Ed were close friends in ministry. Here is Ed’s message:

Dear friends of Pastor Tyrone Paul,

If you haven’t learned already, with much sadness, we report to you that Pastor Tyrone has gone to be with Jesus at 4:30 am Sept. 13 (South African time). Many tears are being shed around the world for this great man who touched so many lives through his love, concern for others, and his godly example. 

Our hearts break for Rosanne and Tafton who have had their lives upended suddenly by such great pain and grief. Though our gesture seems small, we would like to try to help ease additional suffering for their family by providing funds to help pay for the medical bills, funeral costs, and whatever else Rosanne needs at this time. Your gifts will be given directly to Rosanne. Thank you to all who have helped to contribute towards Pastor Tyrone’s medical bills already. 

If you would like to contribute, you may do so online at:

http://eleosinternational.org/donations.asp

Thank you

THE EGREGIOUS ERRORS OF HYPER PRETERISM

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

Those who embrace hyper Preterism err egregiously in that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 becomes their Biblical hermeneutic. This results in very faulty theology in other Biblical truths such as the blessed hope of the coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment, the new heavens and new earth, etc. Some of them go as far as to deny the existence of Satan.

The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 must be understood in view of the whole counsel of scripture rather than the whole counsel of scripture being interpreted through the lens those events.

HYPER PRETERISM REJECTS A FUTURE COMING OF CHRIST.

Hyper Preterism claims that Christ already came in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was besieged and the Temple was destroyed. The words of Jesus concerning the events of 67-70 A.D. from the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) are interpreted…

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ANTICHRIST

Within western Christianity the concept of an antichrist is often linked to the political views of those within the church. This is especially evident among evangelicals. Many think of an antichrist as a world leader, a politician, or possibly a wealthy person who uses their wealth for evil and political purposes.

These ideas are often the breeding ground for conspiracies, false prophecies and belief that there is a deep state influence among those who have differing political views. Such ideas often create fear and hysteria, and have led some sincere people to do foolish things as they engage in a kind of “political/religious holy war”.

Does the Bible teach us to embrace such ideas about antiChrist? Notice that I did not say the antichrist” but, antichrist. This is because the Bible mentions antichrist and antiChrists (pural), but never once does the Bible use the description of the antiChrist.

Why is this important?

It is important because we must approach any truth in scripture from the clear texts which mentions the truth we are seeking to correctly understand. It is from the clear texts that we glean understanding from the not so clear texts. Yet many attempt to cast interpretations on unclear texts while completely ignoring what is said in the clear texts. When our interpretations of unclear texts are not aligned with what is revealed in the clear texts, we can be sure that our interpretations are very bad at best.

The clear texts which specifically mention an antiChrist have nothing to do with anyone outside the church (i.e., the household of God). In every instance it is always a reference to apostasy within the church. Thus apostasy within the church should guide our understanding regarding antiChrist.

In scripture, the apostle John is the only writer who uses the term antiChrist. He uses it three times in his first epistle and once in his second epistle. Each time it has to do with apostasy. If we rightly understand John’s message about antichrist, we will better understand Paul’s reference to apostasy and the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians.

So with that said, lets begin with John’s first epistle:

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. ~ 1 John 2:18-24

Notice that John is not warning his audience against political leaders or influential wealthy people in the world. He is warning them against those who come from within – “they went out from us, but were not all of us.” In his letter to the Galatians, Paul mentions false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily (secretly) to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage (Galatians 2:4). Peter warns that there would be false teachers among you, who privily (secretly) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. ~ 2 Peter 2:1-2

In John’s mention of those who went out from us, and Paul’s mention of false brethren, and Peter’s mention of false teachers, there is deceit and falsehood involved. This is what antiChrist is – it is the deceitfulness of false Christianity and apostasy from the truth which leads those who are seduced away from the truth in Christ.

In his second epistle, John says, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” ~  2 John 2:7

Notice that John specifically references deceivers against the gospel as being antichrist.

John continues: Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. ~ v. 8-11

Again, John is not referring to politicians in the world, he is referring to deceivers in the church who have crept into the household of God to lure God’s people away from the truth in Christ. If we would simply give this some thought, we would remember that the theme of warnings against apostasy runs throughout the entirety of the New Testament. In the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Jesus repeatedly warned against such deceivers and the New Testament writers repeatedly warn also. 

Consider that John says in his first epistle, “as ye have heard that antichrist shall come”. What had they heard? Nowhere in scripture can we trace that they had heard that a political leader would be an antichrist. However, we can see over and over again the repeated warnings in the New Testament to be on guard against false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers who lead God’s people into apostasy.
And this line of thinking matches John’s description of antichrist.

Notice again John’s use of the word antichrist in his second epistle: For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. ` 2 John 2:7

Notice that in his second epistle, John uses the description, antichrist, as a reference to deceives who deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. What does it actually mean in John’s writings that Jesus Christ came in the flesh?

Jesus Christ coming in the flesh is a reference to God manifested in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul refers to this as “the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16). It is important to point out that John opens his first epistle claiming that Jesus is the eternal life which was with the Father from the beginning, and Jesus is the one through whom we are called into fellowship with God.

In his warning against the many antichrists, John says, Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. ~ 1 John 2:24-26

John’s statement “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you”, is a reference to the many antichrists which he mentions just a few verses earlier.

John continues:

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children,
abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. ~1 John 2:27-29

John mentions the anointing (a reference to the Holy Spirit) in context to the truth of Christ abiding in us. Interestingly, one of the tactics of modern day false teachers is their continual misrepresentation of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

The real Holy Spirit from God causes God’s people to be rooted and built up in Jesus Christ and in him alone! The Holy Spirit exalts Christ and glorifies him. The one who truly has the Spirit of God leading them will find their joy in fellowship with Jesus and the Father in accordance with the gospel.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. ~ 1 John 1:3-4

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: ~ 1 Peter 1:8

It is Jesus who brings joy that is full of glory to our lives and this is how we know the Spirit from God.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. ~ 1 John 4:1-3

First, notice that John says we are to try the spirits. How do we do that? By the message they bring. The more we are grounded in the message of Christ given to us by the apostles (not those claiming to be apostles in our time but the apostles appointed by Jesus) who gave us the New Testament. John is adamant about this when he says:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; ) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. ~ 1 John 1:1-3

Our fellowship is with the one that his apostles declared to us.

Peter says something very similar when he says, For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. ~ 2 Peter 1:16

After Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, Peter gathered the disciples together to select Judas’s replacement because the scripture had declared of Judas, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. ~ Acts 1:20

From this scripture Peter concluded,  Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. ~v. 21-22

Since the inception of the church, there has been a need for the true witness of Christ because of impostors who bring another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel other than the one delivered to us by those whom Jesus chose.

Consider that Jude begins his epistle by saying, Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 1:3-4

Those who are antichrist do not deny a concept of a Jesus created in their deceiving, another Jesus of another spirit, and another gospel. They deny the original, who is the Living Christ and the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God.

Shortly after Peter mentions that they were eyewitnesses of his majesty (2 Peter 1:16), he tells his audience that the holy scriptures are a more sure word of prophecy and that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation.

But what does it mean that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation? I will get to that in a moment, but before I do, allow me to point out that Peter goes on to say that the prophecy of the scriptures did not come from the will of men, but holy men of God spoke as they moved by the Holy Spirit.

It is in this context that Peter writes, But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. ~ 2 Peter 2:1-2

False teachers do not testify of Jesus. They testify of themselves and of another gospel. They claim to have spiritual revelation from the Spirit as they twist scripture to support their claims. They employ private interpretations to seduce and make merchandise of God’s people. They spawn damnable heresies which ultimately deny the Lord Jesus Christ.

John tells us to try the spirits. False prophets, false teachers, false apostles, are all antiChrists. They will not stir your heart for Jesus. They will not lead you to have your entire affection set on Christ your Savior. An antichrist will always make himself a kind of mediator so that you follow him and not Jesus. Believing that Jesus Christ has come is the flesh is much more than an acknowledgment of a man named Jesus who came into the world. It is the entire message of the gospel that Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son, and God is revealed to us in Christ, and the Father has made Christ alone to be to us his wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

Finally, notice that John uses very similar language in chapter 4 as he does in chapter 2

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.  ~1 John 2:18

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. ~ 1 John 4:3

In John’s writings antichrist is apostasy, deception, and the falsehood of seducers who lead God’s people away from the true faith in Christ.

What about Paul’s man of sin? That will have to wait till my next post on this topic.

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

PRAYING FOR GOD’S MERCY

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. ~ Philippians 2:25-30 

Praying for God’s mercy has become my go-to so often when I pray for others who are in trouble. In the text above Paul refers to his dear friend, Epaphroditus, who was very sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on Epaphroditus and healed him. Not only was God merciful to Epaphroditus, but God was also merciful to Paul. Paul says, God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

Death affects more than the one dying. Death also affects family and friends by the sorrow it brings. It’s important that we understand that even as Christians we still need God’s mercy. The writer of Hebrews encourages us that because Jesus, who was tempted at all points like we are, is at the right hand of God, we should come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  ~ Hebrews 4:16

We all know that we are dependent on God’s grace, but let us not forget God’s mercy because we need it just as much. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people appealed to God’s mercy in times of trouble. Mercy is not just for the sinner, it is for the saint as well, and we all need God’s mercy in our lives especially in times of crisis.

Nothing expresses humility in prayer like the plea for mercy, and when we seek God’s mercy we are humbling ourselves and appealing to God’s kindness and compassion to meet our needs.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy… ~ Psalm 33:18