One of the things the false teachers were apparently telling the people was, “What you have learned from the apostles is not enough. We have a special anointing from God that neither they nor you have.”
But John tells his readers,
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (20)
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him. (27)
What is this anointing John is speaking of? He’s speaking of the Holy Spirit whom God gives to all believers.
And what John says here echoes strongly the words of Jesus himself. Jesus said,
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you…When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. (14:26; 16:13-14)
Two things here: First, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is ultimately our teacher. What will he teach us? Things clearly contrary to the things Jesus has said? Of course not. Instead he reminds us of what Jesus has said. And if he does not speak on his own, but speaks only what he hears, he will never contradict anything Jesus said. So if you hear anyone saying, “I have a special anointing from God,” and yet they contradict what Jesus has said, you can safely ignore them.
Second, in bringing us the words of Christ and making them known to us, he always brings glory to Christ. He will never, as some of the false teachers did in John’s day and do even now, deny that Jesus is God or degrade him in any way.
John is not saying then that we don’t need teachers in the church. (He himself was teaching the people in this very letter.) What he is saying is you don’t need these teachers with special “anointings” who try to teach you something contrary to what you have already heard. Instead, just as the Holy Spirit taught you from the very beginning, remain in Jesus. Acknowledge him as Lord and God, and surrender your life daily to him.
Are you listening to the Words of the Spirit today?