24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you 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 2:24-29
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
GCSEs seem like a very long time ago to me now. Probably because they were. It was, in fact, 1995 when I sat my GCSEs. Whilst I don’t remember a huge amount about this process, I do remember my Year 10 History lessons. Partly because I loved History (perhaps why I’m a History teacher now!), but mainly because of the stand in teacher we had whilst our usual teacher was away from school on maternity leave. He was an interesting character to say the least. He used to carry everything around in a carrier bag – from Harrods no less! He used to challenge my friend Robin to chess matches. He gave every piece of work 30/30, then distinguished between a good and bad piece of work through the number of ‘v’s he awarded (for example, a less good piece of work might be graded 30/30 v v v good, whilst a superb piece of work might be graded 30/30 v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v good). But I remember him most of all because he taught us completely the wrong material for our exam. This meant that our usual teacher had a lot of ground to cover upon her return.
In this section of John’s letter, he warns about false teaching. The false teaching that concerns John, however, is the teaching of the ‘antichrists’ that has the potential to mislead Christians, to confuse them, and to corrupt the true Gospel message. John warns that those who engage in false teaching are deliberately trying to lead his readers astray. They are actively preaching an anti-Jesus, anti-Christ message in order to lead people away from the Church and its true teachings. This is, in fact, John reveals in verse 26, one of the primary reasons for him writing this letter in the first place.
Yet John says that those who hold firm to pro-Christ teaching, as opposed to anti-Christ teaching, need not worry. They have received an anointing from the Holy Spirit who reveals the truth to them through the Word of God in the Bible. They do not need teaching from elsewhere; the message in the Bible is sufficient. The Holy Spirit, through the anointing of Jesus’ followers, illuminates God’s word, and through this teaches us all things. Unlike the false teachers, whose message is, by definition false, there is nothing counterfeit about the Holy Spirit. His anointing of believers is real, and his teaching is not counterfeit. Of course, none of this negates the need to be taught, to have scripture explained, but it does mean that there is no need for any other teaching that is not already made known to them through God’s word.
There is good reason to hold firm to Biblical teaching. John implores his readers to “see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.” They need to keep in mind the Gospel message that led them to follow Christ. If they do, then they will “remain in the Son and in the Father.” By remaining firmly rooted in the teaching that lead to their conversion, their relationship with Jesus will be maintained, and, through Jesus, so will their relationship with God the Father. Ultimately, the result of this relationship is eternal life, a guaranteed place in the new creation, God’s perfect kingdom.
John concludes this section of his letter by imploring his readers to “continue in him,” to continue to place their confidence in Jesus and to strive to live lives that honour him. If we do, we can be “confident and unashamed before him at his homecoming.” Whilst those who have deliberately sought to mislead and deceive Christians will ultimately have to answer to Christ for their actions, those who continued to make Jesus the priority in their lives can be confident of being gifted eternal life by him.
Ultimately, if we know who Christ is, we know that everyone who honours and glorifies him has been born again as one of God’s children. We should be able to tell one of God’s people, a Christian, from their actions.
To conclude, we need to be aware of those who seek to mislead us with false or corrupted teaching. We need to ensure that we hold on to the established teaching of God’s Word, illuminated to us by the Holy Spirit which, if we are true believers, has anointed us. It is the Holy Spirit that will teach us real truths, not false truths. If we hold onto this then we will remain firm in the Son and in the Father, and can be confident before Jesus when he returns again. Ultimately will be rewarded with eternal life, eternity in God’s perfect kingdom.