The Crux of the Matter

The clearest passage of all explaining Antichrist is found in 2 John 6-7: "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." In this passage, we see first of all how John is inspired to define love: "that we walk according to His commandments." In context, the "commandments" being spoken of are clearly the commandments of God the Father (cf. v. 4)—not some "new" commandments of Jesus. Even though John wrote in the 90s ad, some 60 years after Christ's crucifixion and 20 years after Paul's death, there is not even a hint that God's commandments were "nailed to the cross" or "done away with" by the Apostle Paul! Then John reminds his readers that the commandments were those they had heard "from the beginning." In other words, they are the clear teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 19:17 and elsewhere.

Then, in verse 7, John warns that the "deceivers" do not teach "Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh." He describes such teaching as "Antichrist." The significance of Jesus Christ "as coming in the flesh" is that—as in the original Greek—the present continuous tense is here used, denoting something that is now happening.

The well-known Expositor's Bible Commentary attempts to explain this passage (2 John 7) in the following words:

"Curiously the tense is changed from the past tense 'has come [el luthota] in the flesh' (1 John 4:2) to the present participle 'as coming [erchomenon] in the flesh.' It would be possible, therefore, to interpret this as a reference to Jesus' return: he is coming (i.e., will come) in the flesh (cf. 1 John 2:28; 3:2). But since we know of no controversy in this area, this seems unlikely. Dodd obscures the sense by translating the participle erchomenon in the past tense, as if its meaning were simply identical with 1

John 4:2, and then offers the surprising explanation that 'our author is not skilled in the niceties of the Greek idiom' (Johannine Epistles, p. 149).

It is far safer, however, to assume that the writer does know the difference between a present participle and a perfect (past tense) and that his intention is to say something beyond what he was saying in 1 John 4:2."

As those highly trained Greek scholars acknowledge, John is indeed saying something "beyond" his statement in 1 John 4:2! John not only says that Christ has come fully in the human flesh. But God inspired John in this latter passage to reveal that Christ is now coming "in the flesh!" How?

As we have already seen, Jesus said: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23). Through the Holy Spirit, Christ and the Father actually live within the truly converted Christian, guiding him, inspiring him and empowering him to keep the commandments and live God's way of life!

The Apostle Paul was also inspired to make this very plain when he wrote: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, KJV).

That is the "key." Through the Spirit, Christ will literally live His life in our human flesh! He will give us the strength to obey God's commandments!

Religious opponents challenge the real Christian by saying: "You can't keep the Ten Commandments! They are spiritual and you are only physical." But one who is led by God's Holy Spirit may truly reply: "You are right. In my own human strength, I can't. But to the degree I yield to God's Holy Spirit, I can and I will keep God's commandments! Christ within me helps me not to kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, covet, dishonor my parents, break God's Sabbath, practice idolatry, take God's name in vain or have another 'god' before the true God. I may slip in some point occa sionally, but I will then repent and confess my sin to God and have His forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9). Then I quickly get back on God's path and, through His Spirit, grow in grace and knowledge. I am not perfect. But, through Christ living His life within me, I am growing toward perfection and walking in God's law as my basic way of life."

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