I think it is easy sometimes to think of Satan merely as that roaring lion. The one who out and out seeks to destroy us.
But the truth is that as often as he takes that tactic, he also takes the tactic of the harmless sheep. That’s clearly seen in the Antichrist.
We hear the word Antichrist, and we immediately think of him as this terrible figure who will wreak havoc on the world. And he will. But before he does so, he will appear to be like Christ. As someone who is looking to bring peace and salvation to this world.
He has yet to come (so far as we know), but throughout history, even in the time of John, there were many antichrists, people who appeared to be harmless, who in fact seemed be a blessing to the church, but who instead spread deadly poison in the church and who had to be cast out. John says of them,
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (19)
What kind of poison were they spreading? The same kind of poison that’s spreading even now: a denial of Christ.
There are many people who have no problem saying, “I believe in God” or “I believe in a higher power.” That concept is not offensive to them at all. But bring up Jesus Christ and their whole tone changes. He is an utter offense to them.
But John tells us,
Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist — he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (22-23)
In other words, you cannot truly claim to believe in God if you reject Jesus. To deny Jesus is to deny God himself. Why? Because Jesus is God.
That was one of the things that the Jews failed to understand in Jesus’ day. That the Christ is divine.
And so when Jesus asked them, “Why, if the Christ is David’s son, does David call him Lord? If David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son,” they were stumped. (Matthew 22:42, 45)
The answer is that not only is Christ the son of David, but he is God himself. Jesus said as much. (John 8:58, John 10:30-33).
But people will go out of their way to deny that. They will call him a prophet, a good man, even the Son of God. All of them are true. But he is also God, and has been from all eternity. And to deny that is to swallow the poison that Satan is selling.
So John tells us,
See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us — even eternal life. (24-25)
The ultimate question that everyone has to answer is this: “What do you think of Christ? Whose Son is he?”
Your eternal destiny rests on your answer.
Who do you say that he is?