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The Enemies of Fellowship

I John 2:12 - 27

Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you,
and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things,
it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him.
(I John 2:27)

There’s a battle going on around us. We’re in the midst of a war. That’s nothing new. We've been told that for
several years: We’re engaged in a war against terror. No, that’s just a small skirmish. The war is bigger. It’s
two kingdoms in conflict. It’s not about Islam vs. the West. It’s a war between the kingdom of darkness and the
kingdom of light. It’s been called “the culture war” and the battlefields are found in virtually every area of life:
politics, entertainment, education, philosophy, and yes, religion.

Like it or not, we’re all involved. You’ve been drafted into the army. No Christian is a conscientious objector.
There’s no such thing as burning your draft card and running to a neutral country. It’s not a matter of whether
you’ll join the fight. Your only decision is whether you will stand and fight or retreat. John wants us to be aware
of the war that goes on around us. He wants to inform us of what’s at stake. He wants us to have the
information that we need to be victorious.

I. Spiritual Boot Camp (12-14)

This passage seems a little strange in where it‘s placed. It’s not immediately obvious as to the point John is
trying to get across. But, with a little study, it makes sense. These verses aren’t just filler; they aren’t idle
ramblings of an old man. They are a perfect preface for what John goes on to say about the battle that we’re
heading into.

Before we go into battle, John wants us to keep in mind where we’re coming from. The best defense the
Christian has is to remind himself who he is and what has been done for him. That’s the message of verses

John says he’s writing to three groups of believers: little children, young men, and fathers. It seems that John
isn’t talking about physical age, but spiritual maturity, here. Nobody comes to the Lord as fully mature
believers. When we come to Christ, every one of us goes through the same maturing process. We start out as
babes in Christ and as we go through life and learn more and experience more, we become mature believers -
grizzled battle-tested veterans, so to speak.

John starts out by first addressing us all, no matter where we are in our spiritual journey. He says: “I write to
you dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. That’s the start of the
journey. That’s what we all have in common. Our sins have been forgiven. That’s the basis of our fellowship. If
God never did another thing for you, this would be enough. It’s a big thing to be forgiven!
A. Little Children - You have known the Father
The word for little children used here is different for the word used in verse 12. That word has nothing to do
with age. It simply means ‘offspring’. Here, though, it carries the idea of an infant, a newborn.

Think of a newborn baby. He doesn’t know a darn thing about life. He can’t read and he can’t even
understand what those big people are saying as they make those silly noises over his crib. He doesn’t have
much information. The world is a mystery to him. Everything is new, exciting, wondrous, and a little scary.
He doesn’t know much and everything around him is alien and unidentifiable. But there’s one thing he
knows… one thing he can recognize: the faces of his parents. He knows who it is that feeds him when he’s
hungry, comforts him when he cries, and takes care of his needs.

Again, this is where we all start. When we first come to faith, we don’t know much. We may not be able to
quote a single Bible verse. We probably couldn’t find I Thessalonians if our lives depended on it. We didn’t
know much doctrine and maybe couldn’t even give a good explanation about exactly how this salvation
thing works. But, there was one thing that we knew for sure. We knew our Father. We knew without a
doubt where our nourishment, comfort, and nurture comes from. We felt our utter dependence on the one
who loves us the most… we possibly felt that reliance more than at any other time since. We didn’t know
much, but we knew what was important.

That’s the place that John wants to take us back to. He wants to take us back to that time of innocence,
trust and dependence. We may have grown some, but nothing’s really changed. We’re still just as reliant
on our Heavenly Father as we ever were. But, sometimes we forget that. Sometimes, we think that we
have it all together on our own.

B. Young Men - You have overcome the evil one. You are strong and the Word of God lives within
Hopefully, we don’t stay as infants, though. We grow in the faith, we absorb the Word into our hearts, we
get a handle on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We mature. We’re in our prime, so to speak.
We’ve been around long enough to have a few battle scars. We’ve fought some battles and are still
standing. We’re stronger than when we were in the beginning and have overcome the enemy.

That’s the picture. Young men are strong. It’s the strength and vigor of youth that’s needed to win the
battles. Most of us are probably in this stage. (and remember, it’s not about age.) John wants us to take
time to reflect on our lives. Keep in mind that we are strong but that strength comes from God. We have
won some big battles in our lives but He is the victor. All of our victories and all of our accomplishments are
only because the Word is within us… because God lives within us.

C. Fathers -

Regardless of what we thought back then, being a young, brash twenty-something isn’t the top of the
ladder. Remember when you were that age? You thought you knew it all and you had the world by the tail,
didn’t you? But, I certainly have to say I’ve matured a lot in the last 20-some-odd years. I’ve sadly come to
the realization that I really don’t know it all.

John’s use of “fathers” calls to mind other characteristics of a mature Christian: A father is a leader in the
family. Fully mature Christians need to be in a place of leadership whenever possible.

A father is a parent. A mature man or woman of faith should reproduce. They are involved in winning souls
and discipline the babes.

But the one true thing about being a mature person is that you have gone through plenty of experiences.
Nothing can replace experience. You’ve seen what it’s like when you win battles and when you lose. You
look back and understand where you made mistakes and what made things go right. You’ve grown through
your experiences and you’ve hopefully gained wisdom in the process.

The one thing that John mentions about the maturity of the fathers: “you have known Him who Is from the
beginning.” They know their Father, but not in the same way that an infant does. They have experienced
Him. They have seen Him work in hundreds of different ways in their lives and know Him in a deeper way
that only comes with time.

There comes a place in your walk with God where you really don‘t need to know more, you have all the life
experience necessary to be able to trust God and counsel others. You know God intimately and really the
only thing else there is to do is know Him more. Just keep on developing a deeper and deeper relationship
with Him.

So we are all at different levels of maturity but we all came from the same place and are journeying to the
same place. Think about where you are and where you’ve been. Think about the excitement of your
journey. Think about how faithful God has been at every stage. He’s our strength in the battle and He is the
one that we love.

II. The Frontlines (15-17)

John sets up a contrast: Love God or Love the world. That’s the battleground, the front lines. Here are the
trenches where we fight virtually all of our battles.

When John speaks of the world, he doesn’t mean the planet Earth, he doesn’t mean the world of people.
People are not our enemies. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Eph 6:12)
The “world” here means the world system which is set up in opposition to God—in the sense of “Satan is the
prince of this world.” It’s a set of principles that aren’t tied to Biblical principles. It’s a way of thinking that
doesn’t take God into account. It’s a way of doing things that is in opposition to God’s way.

John doesn't leave us to guess what he has in mind, His description of the world could have been written
yesterday. He speaks of three attitudes that fit today's world like a glove.

A. The Cravings of Sinful Man. (The Lust of the Flesh)

Sound familiar? Modern psychologists have only changed the name. They call it Hedonism. Webster’s defines
it as "the philosophy that pleasure is the principle good in life." You know, "If it feels good, do it." Once upon a
time the question "Is it right or wrong?" was the deciding factor. Today it's "Will it make me happy?"

So that’s a problem for the world, but not Christians, right? It’s everyone’s problem. We all struggle with it.
Whenever we don’t do what we know we should because it’s not easy, it’s a little painful, it’s going to cost us
something - that’s when we’ve lost this battle.
The problem is that the objects of our lusts aren’t always bad in and of themselves. The Greek phrase is
literally “the desires of our natural bodies” It’s not always wanting something that we shouldn’t have; it’s often a
matter of the way we desire It. The desire could be natural, God-given desires that we turn upside down and
crave. Not being satisfied with a little, we make that otherwise good thing an idol.

B. The Lust of the Eyes

We call it materialism. It's the idea that "things" are really what's important. And it can really sneak up on you.
Most people wouldn't consider themselves to be guided by such a standard. But, let me ask you this: when the
material world and the spiritual world come into conflict, which side is more likely to win out?

Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with money, a nice car, a fun vacation, a nice home. But, when we
make these things to be the important things in our lives, that’s when the battle is lost.

C. The Boasting of What He Has or Does (The Pride of Life)

Another psychological term: Narcissism -excessive self-admiration or self-love. Although God says "consider-
others better than yourselves" the world says, "look out for No. 1" or "you gotta stand up for your rights."
Someone who has fallen for this trap can't see past himself, never tries to see things from the other person's
point of view.

The Amplified Bible describes the pride of life as: assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly
things -- trusting in things that do not come from the Father but are from the world itself.

In this day and age that’s a tough one. It’s so easy for any one of us to trust in our jobs and our stuff. We aren’t
forced to rely on God like many people in this world that don’t have much. We mouth a quick prayer at supper,
but do we REALLY appreciate that all that we have and all that we are comes from God?

So win the battles… don’t love the world or the things in the world. Set your heart and your desires on Him.
That’s victory!

II. The Enemy’s Special Forces (18-27)

The enemy is out there, he’s active. He has a battle plan and he has troops. There’s one unit of Satan’s army
that John especially warns us against. They don’t fight on the front lines, but work behind the lines. They are
snipers, saboteurs, secret agents. They are masters of deception who try to win defectors over to the other
side. John warns us about these people: False Teachers.

Many people today try to identify the Antichrist. I’ve heard anywhere from Pope John Paul to Ronald Reagan.
But John tells us the important thing is to recognize all the many antichrists that are out there. They deny
Christ and try to replace him. We need to pay attention to the teachings that we hear. Any message that
diminishes Jesus to anything less than who He is, is the spirit of antichrist.
A. Their Departure is Their Identification

False teachers hide behind a Christian façade. They present themselves as orthodox Christians or at least
compatible with the faith. They want you to think that their message is the Christian message. But the proof
that they aren’t a part of us is the very fact that they aren’t with us. They are outside the church and outside
the doctrines of the church.

How do you recognize false teaching? There are so many different cults, false teachings, and twist of
Scripture out there how can you possibly spot them all. Today, we see an explosion of false teaching like
never before. Do you know how the Treasury Dept. trains their agents to detect counterfeit money? They
make them study the real thing. You can’t realistically identify every possible deviation from truth, but you
can be so familiar with the truth that you’ll recognize something that’s different.

B. They Deny Christ

False teaching is a serious thing. We’re not talking about minor disagreements that we all run across.
False teaching is recognizable by what it says about Christ. He is the heart of our faith and when you
change the definition of who he is and what he’s done in any way, you’ve weakened or outright destroyed
the message.

Some will say that Jesus is something less than God. Others claim that he wasn’t really a man. Either way,
the teaching in corrupt. Jesus is fully God and fully man.

C. Your Anointing

We’re not left without an ability to know truth from error, however. We are equipped to know the truth. We
have the Holy Spirit within us. That’s the only way anyone can really understand and incorporate God’s
truth into our lives. Without the Holy Spirit, no amount of Bible study would help us to absorb truth.

We’ve heard the Gospel message and have appropriated it into our lives. The truth is within us. All we have
to do is be sensitive to the Spirit and constantly allow that truth to remain in us, remind ourselves of what
we already know…. And we’ll never be led astray.