In last weeks post we looked at the strange phenomenon that the stampede brings to our city, namely, the tidal wave of counterfeit cowboys that seems to flood the city. I likened counterfeit cowboys to counterfeit Christians for both of their conspicuous lack of authenticating traits. This week I want to further unpack what John means in 1 John 2:20 when he says, speaking to Christians, “But you have been anointed by the Holy One and you all have knowledge.”
The context that occasioned the writing of this letter was such that, evidently, false teachers were trying to deceive the Christians, particularly regarding who Jesus is. John says in 1 John 2:26,“I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” John is making the argument that all true Christians in fact already know the truth concerning Jesus Christ. (v.21) In combating these Christ deniers, the truth that he reminds the believer of is actually sort of startling. John says in v.27 that, “the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you.” This is a startling statement for a number of reasons. Does John mean that the believer does not need to sit under the preached word? Is the office of teacher/ preacher obsolete? Does a Christian need fellowship with other believers, or is it actually possible to be a lone ranger Christian?
Well, what John is getting at here should be encouraging for you if you're a Christian. John is saying that because you have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, you have true, saving, knowledge of who Jesus is. Because you hold fast to the truth of the Scriptures, you recognize him as the eternal Son of God. You know that he is King of kings and Lords of lords and that one day, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess this. You recognize him as the Saviour of the world. You know he is the God-man. You know that he lived a sinless life and yet died in the place of sinners. You know that he was accepted before the Father as a perfect sacrifice for sinners because God the Father raised him from the dead. You know that through faith in him, you have been cleansed of your sins and been given his perfection. You know that in him, you are secure in your acceptance before the Father. You know that in him, you have the sure expectation of eternal life with him, in the age to come. Or, as Jesus put it in John 8:31,32: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The result is that when someone comes along to try to convince you otherwise concerning Jesus, you can then see right through them. This concept is what the Reformers called the “perspicuity of Scripture.” The idea behind this term is not that the Christian understands all there is to know about the Bible, but rather that what we must know in order to be saved is understood by the Spirit anointed believer. This means that you don't need the ultra spiritual leader or priest who knows the secrets of who Jesus really is to enlighten you. (Evidently, this is what the false teachers of 1 John were up to along with the leaders of every other cult and false religion known to man.) What this means is that if you hold fast to what you heard from the beginning, (v.24) you have been inoculated against heresy. As we abide in Christ and his word, we have immunization against the evil ones lies and against those who do his bidding.
In a world full of charlatans, half baked truths, and alternative facts, this is a great encouragement indeed. But if you really think about it, could it be any other way? After all, if you have been born of God, (1John 5:1) you know too much about the beauty of Christ to then go back to being a Christ-denier. “For God, who said, 'let light shine out of darkness', has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)