The coming of Christ within each man is the precursor for the exposure of the antichrist. The antichrist has been a topic of much contention and speculation in Christendom. Just this past month, the Russian Orthodox patriarch made headlines by claiming that people’s addiction to their mobile phones would herald the coming of the antichrist. Over the years, there have been numerous antichrist suspects from the pope, who often tops the list, to political figures, state leaders, kings and queens, to heads of institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union. Like most Christians, I too once saw the antichrist as a single, definitive figure that would rise to power in the “last days”. As a result, the notion of an antichrist bore little significance to me.
Despite the popularity of such views, there are those who also don’t discount that the antichrist is already in the world. A well-known current bible teacher writes on the topic saying: “the antichrist is here, and not yet here”. He argues that “both Paul and John picture a final time just before the second coming when a person of great demonic power will rise up in rebellion against the true Christ and his people. In the meantime, the satanic characteristics of that figure are always manifesting themselves in the world with greater or lesser dominance”. He goes on to compare the presence and coming of the antichrist with the presence and coming of the kingdom of God. He states that just like the antichrist, the kingdom is “’not yet’ here and is already here”. Thus, he concludes that there is “fulfillment without consummation” in both the Kingdom and the antichrist.
While it is true that both the kingdom and the antichrist are present realities, to say that they are “not yet here” is a gross contradiction. The writer tells us that the “person of great demonic power” that will rise up in rebellion to Christ is both a spirit and a definitive figure. Therefore, though he acknowledges the present manifestation and working of the antichrist in the world, he also believes that antichrist is to come embodied as a man. Thus, “he is here, and not yet here”.
Notice that this is how Christ is also understood by many saints today. Almost all of Christendom teaches that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ will be as a man – in a body of flesh, which is to occur as an isolated future event. However, in the same breath, the saints are also taught to believe that Christ abides in them, that they are the temple of God. So, Christ is also “here, and not yet here”.
Such teachings characterize the mixture and confusion that the church system has regularly feed its congregation. This mixture blurs the truth and it leads to error, which breeds more error. I believe the misunderstanding of what the antichrist is is part and parcel of the misunderstanding of what Christ is. Without a doubt, if a person truly knows what Christ is, they will also see what the antichrist is. I say ‘what’ and not ‘who’ to emphasize the essence and substance of Christ.
Dear reader of these lines, I would ask you to contemplate on the following. What is the essence of Christ? What is His substance? By essence I mean the most important quality or feature of something, that makes it what it is. Essence is “the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something… which determines its character”. For example, the chair that I’m now sitting on is made of wood. Though chairs may be called by different names and come in different sizes, colors and shapes, its substance remains to be wood. Similarly, Christ appears to all in diverse ways and in different measures. He also has many names including: Bread of Life, Savior, Redeemer, Prince of Peace, High Priest, King, I am, Comforter, etc. However, these are not His essence.
The essence of Christ is Spirit! It is from the essence of Spirit that all of Christ’s characters, qualities, offices, and ministries flow. Thus, we read that: “the Lord is THE SPIRIT” (2 Cor. 3:17). For, “the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). This is also why Paul writes: “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer” (2 Corn. 5:16). Why? Because, now we know Him after the Spirit. We see Him, hear Him, worship Him and walk in union with Him in the spirit.
So, if the essence of Christ is Spirit, what is the essence of the antichrist? John tells us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God… By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist” (Joh. 4:1-3). It should be clear from John’s statement that the essence of the antichrist is spirit. Yet, it is a spirit that stands in opposition to the Spirit of God.
Dear beloved, there is still a battle raging between these two spirits, these two hearts, these two minds, these two natures. In all of us, our will, desires, and thoughts either flow out of the spirit of Christ or the spirit of Adam; the man of sin. And as we will further see, the spirit of Adam and the spirit of the antichrist are one and the same spirit residing within the soulish realm of man. Both stand as an enemy to Christ. The spirit of antichrist inhabits the self-life of our old carnal nature which usurps the dominion of Christ in our own temple. It is this spirit that possesses men and controls them from within, causing them to reject the voice of God and to walk after the dictates of the flesh. John affirms that “the spirit of the antichrist… is now already in the world” (1 Joh. 4:3) and “even now many antichrists have come” (1 Joh. 2:18).
Thus, we see that the antichrist is not an entity but a spirit that manifests in many. It is now in the world and has for centuries been among us creating disorder, wreaking havoc, distorting identities and ravaging the lives of men and women throughout the world. Despite this fact, how is it that the contemporary church has failed to discern it? How is it that many a minster still teaches about the coming of the antichrist as a monolithic figure? Could it be that the spirit that teaches about the antichrist is the same spirit of the antichrist?
John claims that among the many antichrists that have come, there are those who “went out from us” (1 Joh. 2:19). For, “they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 Joh. 2:19). Rest assured, the manifestation of the spirit of the antichrist is even among those who gather in the name of the Lord.
The condition of the church of our day is akin to the church of Ephesus in that it has forsaken its first (preeminent) love. Christ is no longer the principal focus of teaching and ministry. He has been replaced by all kinds of soulical programs, fleshly methods, special activities, and ceremonies. The focus of contemporary ministry has become encouragement, motivation, inspiration, personal development, and the equipping of the saints to become the “best versions of themselves”. It comes as no surprise that several ministers have taken up titles like; certified life coach, counselor, mentor, and motivational speaker. Christian books with titles like: ‘Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day’ are sold in the millions. How foreign these words of Paul have become in our day: “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28).
Of course, those who gather in the pews of their respective denominations would argue otherwise, claiming that they preach a Christ-centered gospel. Which church would say otherwise? Scholars who study organisations, teams, and individuals tell us that there is a difference between, what they call, “espoused theory” and “theory-in-use”. Espoused theory refers to the worldview and values that people believe guide their behaviors. Theory-in-use refers to the worldview and values reflected in the behaviors that ACTUALLY drive their actions. Jesus summed it up in these words: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mat. 15:8). There is indeed a great deal of lip service to Christ in the church system. But dig a little deeper and you will quickly see that there is another spirit at work; a spirit that rejects the will of God, a spirit that governs the hearts and minds of men, dictating their thoughts, understandings, and desires away from submission to Christ. This, dear saint, is the working of the antichrist spirit.
To all who see in the spirit, it is abundantly clear that the church system of our day has become one with the antichrist spirit. We are at a point in history where the greatest opposition to the truth and to the revelation of the divine purpose of God comes from the church that bears His name. Indeed, truth has perished and is cut off from their mouth. The deceptiveness of the antichrist has infiltrated that system causing a great numbness and blindness to come upon our brothers and sisters who fail to discern the presence of that spirit in their midst.
It may seem common knowledge that the antichrist is an adversary to Christ. But the subtlety of the antichrist is like that of the serpent in the garden. He is sensible, shrewd, and crafty. He is an expert manipulator. And the working of the antichrist is in line with this nature. His opposition to Christ is neither blatant nor obvious. The Greek word used for antichrist is: “antichristos”. The preposition ‘anti’, also translated “anti” in the Greek, means: “instead of, in place of”. Therefore, the antichrist is not merely an opponent to Christ but a substitution.
Therefore, instead of openly refuting Christ, the spirit of the antichrist works by attempting to fill the rightful place belonging to Christ with something else; something that appeals to the desires of the unregenerate soul. It promotes the will of flesh instead of the will of the Spirit, the devotion to self instead of commitment to God, earthly attainments instead of identification with Christ, a counterfeit anointing instead of the Anointed One, soul worship instead of worship in the Spirit, the thoughts of the outward man instead of the thoughts of the inward man of the spirit, fleshly ministry instead of the ministration of the Spirit, religious works instead of the rest of God, dependency on pastors instead of confidence in the True Pastor, the validation of men/institutions instead of the witness of the Spirit, a counterfeit christ of the flesh instead of the reality of the indwelling Christ, and on and on we can go with the countless devices of the antichrist.
Rest assured, the antichrist does not stand on the pulpit rejecting or blaspheming Christ. Instead it offers a sensible message layered with just enough verses and Christian rhetoric to sound divinely inspired, all the while planting that antichrist seed. This seed, skillfully watered week in and week out, grows within the hearts of the saints until they begin to mistake a thought, an intention, a word, a dogma of the flesh to be of the Spirit of Christ. Thus, that spirit offers the “good” of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to those who mistaken it for the tree of life. Like Eve, those who today congregate around that tree to partake of its fruit perceive it as being good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise. But how this deception has drawn God’s people further and further away from the authority and dominion found in the life of Christ.
May God open our eyes to recognize this deceptive spirit. May we set our King on our holy hill of Zion and crown Him in every chamber of our heart. May Christ alone reign in all that we are!