by Terry Somerville
A fundamental Christian truth is that we are in a spiritual war and not a worldly war. (Eph. 6:12 ; 2 Cor. 10:3,4) One of our enemies is the spirit of antichrist. Anytime we come under a spiritual influence without discerning what spirit is at work we are vulnerable to deception. Deception means we are fooled by something that looks like the real thing. Because it is very subtle we need to recognize the character of the spirit of antichrist.
A SPIRITS CONFESSION
We notice John says "every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist." Simply put, antichrist denies Christ. We can know a spirit by its confession as well as its fruit. We've often challenged a spirit directly by demanding:"You spirit behind (these words, this desire, or this teaching ) is Jesus Christ Lord? Did He come in the flesh?" When the spirit is of God a tremendous flow of praise to Jesus frequently pours forth from the spirit into our minds and hearts. On the other hand a spirit which is not of God may be silent or pour forth cursing and blasphemy. John says simply they will fail to confess Jesus. This is a fundamental way to recognize the spirit of antichrist.
FALSE PROPHETSWe are to test the spirits, John says, because there are many false prophets. The spirit of antichrist will especially try to infiltrate prophetic ministry. While Paul tells us to discern the message of prophets (1 Cor.15:14) ; and Peter tells us to recognize the lifestyle of false prophets (2 Peter 2) John tells us to test the spirits" which speak to the prophets. It is possible for people who live right, to speak, feel and do things that seem right, but the spirit be wrong. The spirit of God puts Jesus at the focal centre. The spirit of antichrist will often simply not acknowledge Jesus and elevate something else instead, a church, a ministry, a person.
LIES AND DECEPTION
"Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist..."( 1 John 2:22) "Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist" (2 John 7) Another characteristic of the spirit of antichrist is deception. Under its influence people become deceived and spread lies believing them to be the truth. We must beware of this angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14) This spirit can deceive Christians. Because of this spirit believers will oppose true leadership with lying accusations. The character of the accuser is frequently angry, divisive, and refuses to handle the issue in a biblical manner. Even when confronted with absolute evidence to the contrary, the deceived person will maintain the accusation and believe the deception. The Spirit of God never inspires this behavior, and the church we must learn to never give it a place.
When the spirit of antichrist is given a place by leadership certain features emerge."For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and great miracles to deceive even the elect..." (Matt. 24:24) The work of the antichrist looks like real Christianity and it can fool even the elect; But in 2 Timothy 3:5 Paul said such deception will have "a form of religion but deny the power". What p[ower is being denied? The power of miracles will be there to deceive. It will have all the forms we expect in church. It is power of the cross that will be denied! THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS THE POWER OF GOD! (1 Cor1:17,18)Before you brush this off be careful, Jesus said this spirit is already here and working!
Even if we confess Christ's death and resurrection, the spirit of antichrist does not want us to take the cross personally and die to ourself. Beware of grace without repentance, discipleship without cost or Jesus as helper instead of master. "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.'(2 Cor.4:10)
FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD
Without the cross,the spirit of antichrist works in ways appealing to the world. "They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world and the world listens to them." ( 1John 4:5) The spirit of antichrist will try to shift the focus of a church in order to be relevant, attracting people by giving itself to the most recent trends. Instead of asking "What does Jesus want?" The concern becomes "What do the people want?" When the spirit of antichrist invades church leadership they fear offending the unspiritual and begin to resist the plans of the Holy Spirits. The "high calling of Christ" is voted down, the "lowest common denominator" is voted up. Friendship with the world is emnity with God" (James 4:4) Yet Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and he builds his church. If it is Jesus we show forth, rather then ourself, he will be relevant to anyone he touches.
THE FATHER AND THE SON
"Such a man is the antichrist. He denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22) The final characteristic that we will cover is the denial of the Father and the Son. Whenever we find the Father or the Son separated in some manner we see the work of the spirit of antichrist. This is immediately apparent in the cults and very liberal churches. It is the Father and the Son together who are worshipped and glorified. They are seated together in heaven. The Son and the Father are one. They are not separate in doing one thing or another. STAND FIRM Let us discern the work of the spirit of antichrist in our selves and humbly cry out to God for restoration. Only God's Spirit can reveal deception, and only God can restore. Ask God to show why the spirit has a place in your life. When we see others under the influence of such a spirit we restore them in humility and gentleness realizing how easily we can be deceived. If a church is under the influence of the spirit of antichrist we must move with prayer and a broken heart. Grumbling around the body plays into this spirits hands. We must go privately and humbly to leadership, or keep it to ourself as God may lead. Above all, we fight the good fight and bind this spirit in prayer whenever it is appropriate.