A PERMANENT ANOINTING
As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you will also remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what He promised – eternal life.
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you have 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. (1 John 2: 24-27)
We must never think that the early church was in any way idyllic. Satan had his emissaries everywhere, just as he has today. False teachers abounded and false teaching was rife. The same spirit that hounded Jesus to death through Jewish prejudice was at work, undermining the truth of the gospel, especially among those who came out of paganism as well as new Jewish believers.
A group of false teachers called Judaisers went about undermining the work of the apostles by teaching Gentile believers that people converting from paganism to Christianity had to be initiated into Judaism first through circumcision. Paul responded to this error very vehemently in his letter to the Galatian church. He insisted that, to go back to the law was to nullify the grace of God.
Another subtle teaching arose out of Greek philosophy, called Gnosticism – that there was a body of secret knowledge only accessible to a select group of people.
“Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Gnosticism is based on two false premises. First, it espouses a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only. Second, Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plain of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God . . .
“Gnosticism is based on a mystical, intuitive, subjective, inward, emotional approach to truth which is not new at all. It is very old, going back in some form to the Garden of Eden, where Satan questioned God and the words He spoke and convinced Adam and Eve to reject them and accept a lie. He does the same thing today as he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He still calls God and the Bible into question and catches in his web those who are either naïve and scripturally uninformed or who are seeking some personal revelation to make them feel special, unique, and superior to others.”
http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-gnosticism.html (retrieved November, 2015)
The “spirit” of these false teachings is still very much alive today. Legalism insists that we adhere to certain rules in order to find favour with God; rules like food taboos and Sabbath adherence, for example. To follow these teachings is to move from grace to law – and once again to fall under the penalty of the broken law. If Christ is not sufficient for our complete salvation, He is not sufficient at all.
The other subtle error is to believe the lie that there is a select group of believers – the so-called “born-again-and-Spirit-filled-and-tongues-speaking” group who have attained something that others lack. There is no such category taught in the Bible. People are either followers of Jesus or they are not followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given in full measure to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.
It is more important that we know the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ than that we understand all the ins and outs of these false teachings. John took his readers back to what they had heard from the beginning. By that he meant that they were to stick to what they had been taught by those who were with Jesus from the beginning.
What was their source of knowledge? Jesus had promised His first followers that He would send the Holy Spirit from the Father and that, when He came, He would lead them into all truth. He would take the truth about Jesus and reveal it to them. Unlike certain people in the Old Testament era who only temporarily experienced the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, He would be poured out on “all flesh” – so said the prophet Joel – and for all time.
Believers could rely on the Holy Spirit to teach them because He remained in them. They in turn could be sure of the truth if they remained in Jesus – held to what He had taught and not followed the false teachers whose intention was to draw them away from their confidence in and allegiance to Jesus as their Lord.
Beware, dear readers, of those who insist that they alone know the truth and who gather followers after themselves. Exclusivity is a sure sign of error. Jesus called people to follow Him. Every teacher or preacher who connects people to Jesus and not to themselves is worthy of trust. In the long run, however, we can rely on the Holy Spirit, the anointing who is on us forever, to teach us the truth if we hold to Jesus’ teaching and not fall for the errors of those who insist that they alone are right.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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