“The love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake. Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a human point of view.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-16a)
The term “Anti-christ” when looked at in the Greek simply means any thing or any one who is in place of Christ or instead of Him in your life. The word ‘anti’ in the Greek does not just mean the opposite of something as it does in English, it also means INSTEAD OF, or IN PLACE OF – in other words, antichrist is not only that which is against Christ, but is also that which SUBSTITUTES itself for or instead of, Christ the Anointed One.
John was the only writer in the New Testament to use the phrase “antichrist” and he wrote that the spirit of antichrist was already here (1 John 2:18, 4:3). It seems that John’s concept of antichrist was not just of a person (THE antichrist) as he spoke of antichrists (plural) and the spirit of antichrist. The spirit of antichrist is that which opposes or places itself in the place of, or instead of The Anointed (Jesus Christ), usurping the role and functions which are His alone. This is idolatry, for idolatry is anything and everything that takes the place of, or is instead of Christ in a person’s life: “For as far as this world is concerned, you have died, and your new, real life is hid with Christ in God… So kill, deaden, deprive of power the evil desire lurking in your members – those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry, the deifying of SELF and other created things instead of God.” (Colossians 3:3,5).
So long as we are looking warily at others who may or may not be “antichrist”, we may be ignorant and blind to areas in ourselves which may be anti-Christ. It is a most devious and cunning deception to cause us to focus on someone or something “out there” while remaining completely blind or myopic when it comes to seeing the same sin in ourselves.
Anything that is in the place of or instead of something, is a substitute for the real thing, in other words: a counterfeit. We cannot see or know the real and genuine until we let go of the substitutes and illusions we cling to. Substitutes are normally not recognized for what they are until the real has been encountered. We can often be quite satisfied with a substitute, because it IS a substitute. “Trouble” only seems to arise when we encounter the real and genuine, because then the substitute is revealed for exactly what it is and will no longer suffice. When we know the real, then the substitute IS no substitute! We need to discern not whether something is a good thing (“from now on we estimate and regard no one from a human point of view”)but whether it is a God thing because there can be a world of difference between the two. Many of the natural “good things” which we may value, may in fact be antichrist – in place of Christ.
Compromise is Antichrist
One example is compromise and love. Compromise can be the substitute of divine Love (which includes bearing one another’s burdens, longsuffering, forbearance, endurance, lovingkindness). We may think that we are very loving of someone or something because we tolerate much which we do not condone and yet we may not realize that it is not God’s love at all, but a substitute: fleshly compromise. Compromise is encouraged these days as being Politically Correct, but compromise is based on the love of Self or others more than and rather than a deep love of God. We compromise when we fear man and so may not speak out about something because we do not want to offend or be maligned or rejected or thought ill of. Compromise is chosen because it looks good and feels good to our flesh. Divine Love, on the other hand, is based on love for God and of Godand so has mercy only on what He has mercy on. Love desires only what the Beloved desires, to the exclusion of its own desires. While divine Love lays down and sacrifices Self and its will in favor of God and His will, compromise has the opposite effect; it puffs up Self by making it think that it is acting in love when in reality it is acting from self-love which is only a substitute and counterfeit of God’s love.
Divine Love comes from God and cannot come from us; it is from Him and of Him and for Him. God hates compromise because it is an unholy mixture which does not and cannot distinguish, discern and separate between what is holy and what is unholy; what is of the flesh and what is of the Spirit; what is of God and what is of ourselves. Instead it cloaks itself in pseudo-spirituality, religion and good works in order to deceive and blind us and others to the fact that it is a mere substitute and not the real thing. Divine Love is not blind; it sees very clearly and will see the unholy and because God’s Love is holy, there is no compromise.
Natural Man is Antichrist
Perhaps one of the most devious substitutes in our lives is simply the natural man or Self; it is Self that wants to be in control and do things and make decisions, judgments, plans, methods, ways… even for God. Our intentions may be admirable but God is not impressed with anything that originates from Self. He sees and knows the motivations of our hearts even when we do not. Often it is OUR knowledge from OUR head that is ruling us and is anti (in place of) Christ in our life. We may not see this simply because it is idolatry; it is the idolizing of Self, and idolatry always blinds. The Bible is very clear that those who trust in idols, even unknowingly, become like them: blind, deaf and dumb. “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the WORK of MEN’S hands. Idols have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not, nor is there any breath (spirit) in their mouths. THOSE WHO MAKE IDOLS ARE LIKE THEM; SO IS EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS IN AND RELIES ON THEM.” (Psalm 135:15-18). Closely related to worshiping the idol of Self is worshiping the idol of someone else. It may be someone who has much of Christ evident in their lives, it may be someone who has much wisdom and maturity. We so naturally and easily look towards others for those things which God wants to provide for through His Son and His Life, NO MAN must take the place of Christ in our lives.
Religion is Antichrist
One aspect of this idol of Self is religion, which includes self-righteousness and religiousity. It is a substitute that appeals to our flesh because it is again clothed in what appeals to us (things WE can do, say or help with and which may look good to others), and until and unless God unveils these things to us, we will not be able to see that they are a mere substitute in place of a vital, living, real relationship with our Father. The false is only revealed for what it is when the Real has been encountered. If you do not know the Real, then the false will seem perfectly adequate! Religion is a devious substitute because it LOOKS good, it looks as though God would be pleased with it, and it is all done in His name and ostensibly for His glory. But God’s ways are not our ways and He is interested in our hearts before He is ever interested in what we do, because if your heart is right, then your “doing” will also be right. Religion is antichrist because it claims to be for Christ and yet takes the place of Christ. It is for man rather than for God and it results in bondage which takes the place of our freedom in and with Christ.
Pride is Antichrist
When God through grace unveils Himself to us, He also begins to unveil who we are because both revelations are necessary and go hand in hand. If we have just a revelation of God and not of ourselves, then we are in danger of pride; and if we have just a revelation of who we are and not Who Christ is, then we are in danger of false humility (which is just another form of pride) because we don’t yet see ourselves through God’s eyes as redeemed and loved in Christ. Both of these unveilings are necessary and they balance one another.
We discover that there is only One Thing about us which satisfies the heart and will of our Father and that is Christ as Head of our lives and substituting HIS Life in place of ours. And this One Thing in our lives is not brought about by anything we have done but by everything HE has done so that none of us can boast or take pride in ourselves. You cannot have two lives. You cannot have two heads. You cannot have two hearts. You cannot have two bodies. We must die to ourselves in order to truly know Life in Christ and to have His Head, His heart and His Mind and His Life. This is resurrection Life; we die and yet we truly live!
Our Knowledge is Antichrist
We are so used to having Self and our life in place of Christ and His Life that we automatically rely upon ourselves and our own knowledge; even good, Biblical, spiritual knowledge. Our knowledge and reasoning and judgments can again be mere substitutes which take the place of the full knowledge of Christ. He does not want us just to know things about Him, but to truly KNOW Him intimately and we cannot begin to know Him until we understand that in and from ourselves we know nothing! We might be very sure that we are right and that we know something; but if that something has not come to us personally through Christ and our experience in intimate relationship with Him, then that knowledge may simply be from our flesh and therefore highly suspect.
Our enemy is so deceitful that he will not hesitate to use truth as well as lies to accomplish his purpose of bringing bondage and death. Using truth is far more deceptive to both us and others because we may see only the truth which we already know and in seeing only that, we lose sight of He Who is Truth personified! Truth given as a law brings death. The Truth will only live and bring Life when it is given IN the Life and IN the Way – Christ. He is Love and His Truth will always bring Life and Liberty. When Truth is shared and received in His time and in His Way then it is Life. The three must go together, the Truth, Life and Way of Christ Who is Love.We are truly dumb, blind and deaf except for when Jesus touches us and heals us and causes us to see, speak and hear from His heavenly perspective, and then all that knowledge is of Him, from Him, and for Him!
Looking for Christ
While many may look for outward miracles of the deaf and blind being healed, let us never overlook the great unseen miracle of internal eyes being made to see, ears to hear and people being brought from death to Life in Christ! We are truly dead and lost until He finds us and resurrects us and then, and only then, do we truly live and know Life and know that we have been found! And in this finding and seeing and hearing, we find that in His amazing Love, He reveals and deals with the unholy mixture which has been so much a part of our natural lives…
“Pergamum… Here we have an awful state of mixture, contamination, compromise, entanglement with evil things. If we seek for the cause, we find that the church in Pergamum has not discriminated between the things that differ, between what is of the Lord and what is not. It has compromised by reason of defective spiritual sight, and so the issue here, the matter of first love, is that first love is a discerning love. There is much about that in the Bible. Paul is rich on the matter of discerning love. “…having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). “The eyes of your heart enlightened” discerning love. Love is as far removed from blindness as heaven from earth. “Love is blind”? No – not true love. The fact is that true love sees everything, but transcends everything. The love of Christ for His disciples was not blind love that did not know His men, love that was duped, deceived, misled, but eventually found out that they were not the men He thought they were. No, “he… knew what was in man” (John 2:24). His love saw everything, could tell them beforehand exactly what they would do; but love persisted in face of it all. Love is a great seeing thing. If you are consumed with a burning love for the Lord, you will be very quick of scent as to what is doubtful and questionable. You will not need to be frequently and continuously told when a thing is not right. No, love for the Lord will bring you quickly to see and to sense there is something that needs to be adjusted. You may not know what it is at the time, but you have a sense that all is not well. Love will do it. All the instruction in the world will not bring you to it. You may have the Word of God brought to you on all such points, and you might even say, “All right, because you say so, because it is in the Bible, I will do it, I will be obedient.” Do you think that is good enough? Such a thing has never come to you through the eyes of your heart. But mark you, if this love, this discerning love, has really filled your heart by all the intelligence of the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you will sense it without being told; or if it should be brought to you from the Word, that within you will say, “Yes, I know that is right, the Lord tells me that is right.” Do you not think that is the kind of Christian that is needed, and what the Lord needs at the end? That is what He has had in mind from the beginning and He calls that first love that is quick of scent to see what needs to be cut off or added, what adjustments are necessary, and does accordingly. You do not have to follow round and say, “Please do this; have you never taken note that you might be helpful in this way?” You do not have to do that where there is devotion, love watchful all the time, aliveness, alertness, perception, readiness to do without being all the time told to do it. Real devotion to the Lord is something that far outreaches legality. First love is discerning love.”
(From Chapter 6 of “His Great Love” by T. Austin-Sparks, athttp://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001273.html)
This Love and this Life are completely different to anything we’ve known before. We grow up learning how to “discern” from the tree of good and evil and we learn to judge and reason with our minds what is good and what is evil. What we do not realize, is that in that state we are placing ourselves in the place of God; it is antichrist because it is the Spirit of Christ Whose role it is to judge and discern and reveal those things to us rather than US trying to see and decide things for ourselves. There is just no substitute for eating the fruit of the tree of Life and knowing God from the heart; the head cannot fathom it, the mind cannot understand it, but the heart KNOWS it to be Life and Truth! The heart is intimately involved, because it is a life and love issue. Love knows and recognizes its Loved One, always! Let us give up and look away from ALL that would distract and look only for the Real and accept no substitutes for Jesus the Christ! Instead of being motivated by fear of antichrist, let us be motivated by love for THE Christ!
God is Love and Love is not something you can know in your head, it is something which must be experienced in your heart. When we begin to know Him as Love and begin to apprehend just how much He truly does love us, we discover that not only have we reached the End to our search, but the Journey has also only just begun! Love only wants what the Beloved wants. Love is always looking and listening for the Beloved anywhere, in anyone, at any time; it does not matter who it is that He is recognized in or heard through because that person is never the focus and cannot take His place. Only this Beloved One is the focus because truly knowing Him and His Love deals forever with all mere substitutes. There can be NO substitute for Him in our lives! The eyes of our hearts have been opened and our eyes are ever looking for only One: looking away from everything and everyone else, looking always for just this One… And finding Him, the eyes and heart no longer wander, nor do they search any more because they have found their Love and Life!
“Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and that sin which so readily (and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith and is also its Finisher, bringing it to maturity and perfection.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a)