Meditations in 1 John : 24 : Beware the Liar
1 John 2:22,23 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.
John is an upholder of the truth. He has reached old age and probably he is now the only remaining one of the original twelve apostles. The Gospels have been written but time has passed by and the enemy has raised up a variety of forms of Christian truth but which are not the truth; they are heresies. There is a battle going on and John still wants to play a part in it. He has declared that he is an eyewitness to the Son of God (1:1-4), he has reminded us that there is a difference between light and darkness and that affects our behaviour as Christians (1:5-7), he has reminded us that confession and forgiveness are at the heart of our faith (1:8-10), he has reminded us that Jesus is there interceding for us when we get it wrong (2:1,2), but he has challenged us to realise that obedience is at the heart of faith (2:3-6). This obedience is vital and is an expression of our love for God (2:7-11). As spiritual children, fathers and young men, we’ve experienced God and His love in a variety of ways, which act as anchors for us. (2:12-14) The ways of the world are foreign to us (2:15-17) but they are expressed in those who are anti-Christ in this world who distort the truth (2:18,19). Yet we Christians have received the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and so we will know and hold to the truth (2:20,21)
In all of this John is battling against the enemy who seeks to destroy the truth, and John does it by declaring the truth boldly and encouraging us in it. When there are disagreements over principles, doctrine or truth, accusations are made, challenges are brought. Who IS the one speaking the truth? If two people declare opposite ‘truths’ one of them must be wrong. It is in this vein that John now speaks.
“Who is the liar?” This isn’t being unkind but someone in such a situation is not telling the truth, i.e. they are lying about the truth, they are wrong! So in this climate, where new versions of the truth are springing up all over the place, who is speaking the truth and who is telling lies? John’s standard of measurement, in this latter area at least is, “It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.” If you have some theologian or philosopher who denies that Jesus is the Christ, the One sent by the Father to redeem the world, then he is the liar. He is not speaking what is truth. He denies what is true. Be quite clear, there were such men around at that time and they had started in the church and now they were declaring that Jesus was a mere man and that the incarnation had never occurred.
If you didn’t take it in the first time, he repeats it in another form: “Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son.” Yes, he’s also referred to many anti-christs coming and he simply means anyone who is against Christ. If you deny Jesus is the Christ, the messiah, the anointed one of God, then you are against Christ – you are an anti-christ – and, says John, you therefore deny God as well as the Son.
In his second letter John says the same thing: “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 Jn 8,9) Do you see in both letters the link between Father and Son? Jesus came so clearly revealing the Father that if you deny that Jesus is the Son of God, you also deny who God is. Now we may take for granted who God is as revealed in the Bible but if you investigate other world religions you will find that their ‘God’ is portrayed very differently.
The whole point of Jesus coming was twofold: to reveal the Father and to redeem the world. Of the former task, Jesus declared, “the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me,” (Jn 5:36) and “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father,” (Jn 10:32) and “Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (Jn 10:36-38) Again and again Jesus explains that he has come to reveal the Father through the things he does, and these things in turn testify to who Jesus is.
It is a hard hearted person who can read the Gospels with an open mind and not marvel at who Jesus is and at the things he did, and subsequently see who the Father is and what He is like.
When you come to that place of seeing and realizing who Jesus truly is, then you come to a place of calling on the Father, and out of that comes the relationship that Jesus died to bring. Thus it is that John can then say, “whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” The Father and Son are inextricably tied together. This is the truth that John declares and anyone who says to the contrary, he says, is a liar. Strong words but needed to counter the distortions of thinking that were coming about then, and which still appear today!