“Be not deceived!”
This is the theme that the apostle John writes about throughout his letters. He was in the spirit of truth and really cared for people that they would not be deceived by “nice words” and hypocrisy and lies. “So if we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue living in darkness, we are liars and do not follow the truth.” 1 John 1:6 (NCV). Living in darkness means that we have something we want to hide, some sin that will not tolerate the light. That is not the spirit of truth! “Anyone who says, “I know God,” but does not obey God’s commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person … Whoever says that he lives in God must live as Jesus lived.” 1 John 2:4-6 (NCV). There must be no “having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:5. People are so easily fooled by an appearance of godliness, so John wants to shine a powerful light on hypocrisy, so that we are not deceived.
Attractive outward appearances
We are naturally drawn to good appearances, to people who look and dress well, with confidence and a talent for speaking. But what we should look at is not what they say, but what they do – the spirit they are in. How are they when we don’t see them? Are these people living in the light, keeping God’s commandments just as they are written in the Bible, living as He lived? Beautiful words mean nothing; it is a person’s life that matters. Beautiful words can blind people to the sins of the speaker. People are used to listening to what sounds nice and to hearing beautiful words, but they have no sense for the truth. Is there a life with Jesus behind the words? People can speak so beautifully, but then they continue to live in sin.
Pastors and leaders of churches can live in adultery and other sins, and people are not aware of anything until it is suddenly revealed. Then people are so shocked; he was such a gifted leader! But if people had been in the spirit of truth that John so powerfully writes about, they could have noticed the spirit behind the outward appearance. God makes sure that such hypocrisy will be revealed. These things cannot be hidden forever. Don’t just sit and listen to what sounds nice – beautiful words, attractive personality, and so on. Learn from what John exhorts us to and learn to see what spirit is behind their words! Get a sense for the spirit of truth! Then you will not be deceived by the spirit of the Antichrist that works so powerfully through these people to turn people away from the truth that is in God.
Preaching should be according to God’s Spirit
Our trust and confidence should be in those people who preach the word of God in sharpness, clarity and power. Those who live openly in the light, who live in the spirit of truth. Their speaking leads us to a life in Christ. A life of keeping His commandments and living as He lived. This is the opposite of what the spirit of the Antichrist is doing through leaders who cannot lead anyone to anything more than forgiveness of sins and good feelings, because they themselves live in hypocrisy and don’t keep to the word of God.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God.” 1 John 4:1.
There are only a few who love the truth
But still people love to hear these words because it means that they don’t have to come out of sin in their own life – it takes away the need for action and suffering to come out of sin. This is why people who preach in this Antichrist spirit draw such large crowds with their worldly greatness and beautiful, empty words. They give people exactly what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. And then Satan is satisfied and happy, because he has people right where he wants them – far away from the truth of the gospel of victory over sin.
So, people would rather continue in their blindness and ignore the truth. Because then they can live their comfortable lives, safe in their belief that Jesus did everything and they have to do nothing. Those who should be their teachers in Christ are possessed by this Antichrist spirit, and so the biggest part of the religious world goes on in darkness and ignorance.
There are only a few who preach the word of truth! There are only a few who seek the truth and are not deceived by an outward show with no life of Christ behind it.