“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.” 1Jn 2:18
“and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come;
and even now already is it in the world.” 1Jn 4:3b
Many who study the Last Days argue over whether there are many antichrists or one antichrist. In fact both (as is often the case in prophecy) are true. John states clearly, “even now are there many antichrists”; yet he also states (despite the fact that there were already many antichrists who had come) that there was still “that antichrist” that “shall come” – who had clearly not yet come. This is he whom we rightly call “the Antichrist”. So let there be no doubt about the fact that the Antichrist shall come in the Last Days to deceive the masses.
But John here is more concerned about warning us about the antichrists [plural] that are already come. He speaks of “that spirit of antichrist” that “even now already is it in the world.” Of course, all he tells us about antichrist is true of the Antichrist and the antichrists. If we are going to be prepared not to be deceived by the Antichrist, we must first recognize and resist “that spirit of antichrist” that has already come to deceive many. John tells us that there are many antichrists – many who will come and falsely represent Christ Jesus. In fact it is a sign of the last times. We should export more and more antichrists as we approach that day.
If there were many in his day, how much more are there today as we draw near to the last time?! John speaks of “that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1Jn 4:3 So what works in antichrists is a spirit of deception, manipulation, and control. They will think they are doing God a service, when they are in fact shaming the name of Jesus by violating his words.
Jesus also spoke about this spirit of antichrist when he mentioned that there would be many “false christs”. Consider also that Jesus, though he found fault with the church of Ephesus for leaving their first love, yet praised them for their willingness to scrutinize/prove men of God: “thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars” (Rev 2:2). So let us also receive Jesus’ approval by being those who “Prove all things” (1Th 5:21), including apostles, those who travel for the Lord. What does Jesus say of antichrists or these false christs (Mt 24:24/Mk 13:22)?
First, they “shall arise”. They will be lifted up over others. This was in fact Paul’s great concern. He warned the elders that “of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Ac 20:28 The antichrist spirit wants others to admire them and follow after them, and it will arise over others to get that control. Notice Paul warned that this spirit would arise in those who lead the church.
Second, Jesus said these antichrists “shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Surely these men are the same Jesus warned his disciples about in the start of the chapter. “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Mt 24:4-5 Their method is to give out that ‘they are some great one’ (like Simon Magus, Ac 8:9). This spirit of antichrist and the signs and wonders that it works through is what makes normally clear thinking believers lose their balance and begin to follow a man even when he is clearly erring from truth. This is why we must ‘continue stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine’ as the early church did (Ac 2:42).
Peter, as the one who confronted Simon Magus and the spirit that worked in Simon, also warned us of this danger. He wrote, “beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” 2Pe 3:17 But what was Peter’s advice on how we are not to be led away with the error of the wicked and to not fall from our stedfastness? It was: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” v18 To summarize it was to:
- to grow in grace &
- in the knowledge of the Lord & Saviour
- & to give the glory to Jesus Christ (not to men)
If you want to not be taken in by the spirit of antichrist, these are the things that you must do. You must make it a priority to grow in grace, grow in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, and give glory to Jesus. Never forget Jesus “is the head of the body, the church … that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Col 1:18 By this we see the spirit of antichrist will  try to bring believers under the law (for antichrist enslaves believers through the law).  It will also cause people to forget what Jesus was really like, how he commanded us to live, and what he did for us through his death and resurrection.  Antichrist will get peoples’ eyes on a man so that a man gets the glory and preeminence instead of Jesus.
Let us also look in detail at what John says regarding the antichrist. Let’s see what he describes as ‘that spirit of antichrist’ so we may recognize it and resist it. Let us not forget, as we have seen, that the antichrist spirit is embodied in leaders, leaders who will not come as a lamb, but who come as lions to devour God’s people. What makes a leader an antichrist?
First, antichrist means ‘instead of Christ’. So all who teach and follow after religion or vain traditions or bring in the commandments of men or tell men they can be ‘more holy’ or ‘spiritual’ by any religious works (such as kneeling or fasting) is an antichrist, for they are getting men to think they can be made holy, apart from the blood of the spotless lamb! By getting people to do dead works to be righteous or more holy, such leaders have “counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29). We dare not add anything to the finished work of Christ!
Second, “Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.” 1Jn 2:22 So an antichrist will deny the authority of God the Father and of his Son, the Word of God. How will they do this? by casting aside God’s word when it does not match their agenda. To do this they must deny that Jesus is the Christ, i.e. the anointed one. How do they do this? by focusing people on their anointing and that they are ‘the anointed of the Lord’. Thus, they labor to get men to hearken to him and do what they say without questioning. So any who says “hearken to Moses” (whether the real one or a modern-day substitute) rather than Jesus or in addition to Jesus, and all who receive this lie are antichrist.
Third, note from 1Jn 2:22 antichrist is preeminently a liar. What does he lie about? his own sin. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1Jn 1:10 Why will he hide and lie about his own sin? so he can keep up the deception that he is the anointed one, the one above everyone else and who knows better than anyone else. So an antichrist will say when he violates God’s word will explain it away saying ‘it is not sin’ or that ‘he had to do it, because of what others did’. When he is accused, he will always counter-accuse others in order to get the light off of himself.
Fourth, “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist …” (1Jn 4:3). So whoever comes in the name of the Lord and confesses Jesus is the Christ but who denies Jesus has come in his own flesh (i.e., he denies he must walk as Jesus walked, forgiving his enemies, even the enemies of the Lord), then he is in deed and in heart a liar, a deceiver, and an antichrist.
Fifth, “whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” 2Jn 9 Anyone who says you don’t have to do what Jesus taught (i.e. we don’t need to do Mt 5-6-7) is a liar and an antichrist. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, & the truth is not in him.” 1Jn 2:4
Sixth, antichrist will be livid (‘furiously angry’) with his brother and teach others to hate those he chooses to make war against (i.e. those he feels who have wronged or slighted him). He will endlessly recite what ‘his enemies’ have done to him, and say ‘how despicable’ it is and will claim he is not a brother. But “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now” (1Jn 2:9, also v11). Antichrist, like his father the devil, will go about to steal and kill and destroy (Jn 10:10). Why? for “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (1Jn 3:15).
So in summary we have these:
- Receives the praises of men
- Thinks more highly of himself
- Ignores or despises grace of God
- Puts himself forward as a great one
- Brings people to bondage to the Law
- Deceives people thru the works he does
- Institutes dead works for false holiness
- Puts himself above authority of the Word
- Covers & justifies his sin & counter-accuses
- Claims he doesn’t have to walk as Jesus walked
- Denies what Jesus taught, especially on character
- Wars against & hates any brother who doesn’t submit
This last point is in fact the ‘litmus’ test of whether one is a child of God or a son of perdition. How do we know who are the children of God? Jesus said the child of God will love his enemies and bless them that curse him; he will do good to them that hate him and will pray for [not against] them who despitefully use and persecute him (Mt 5:43-45). In contrast the son of perdition, the spirit of antichrist, will do the opposite. He will hate his enemies and rail against them; he will pray against them and call curses down on them; he will do evil to those that hate him, beating them, entreating them shamefully, and sending them away empty (Lk 20:11). This is the way of antichrist. Consider Christ who concerning the enemies of God cried out “Father, forgive them” and Stephen his disciple who cried out “lay not this sin to their charge” (Lk 23:34, Ac 7:60). May we learn to walk as Jesus did.