1 John 2:21-24
I have not written to you because you know not the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.…
I. WHY THE APOSTLE HAD WRITTEN (ver. 21). It does not follow that he would not have written to those who were either ignorant of the truth or opposed to it. To every sinner he would address the gospel of salvation, and entreat him to become a possessor of its benefits. Indeed, he did so in other writings. On the present occasion, however, he wrote to them that knew the truth. He had special reasons for writing to them particularly. No doubt one reason was the extreme jealousy of the apostle lest any of those who knew the truth should act inconsistently with it. In another epistle he discovers the spirit that animated him in this respect (2 John 4) How it must have distressed him to have found some not walking in the truth. He therefore wrote to instruct, and warn, and encourage them that they might walk worthy of their high vocation. Nor can it be supposed this was not needed. In the most enlightened there is still much ignorance. In the most determined there is still irresolution. In the most devoted there is still deficiency. But his great reason appears to have been his hope of success in writing to such. He declared the truth to them, encouraged by the belief that there would be found in them a readiness of mind to receive it. In this assumption of the apostle there is a practical lesson of great value. We are taught that the acceptance or rejection of the truth is chiefly dependent on the disposition of the heart towards it. It is the perversity of the will that often blinds the understanding. Let that be rightly disposed, and we are apt to see clearly.
II. WHAT, THEN, DID HE WRITE? The reply is in the next two verses. It is observable that, in treating of truth and error, the whole subject of the apostle is concerning Jesus Christ. He assumes that if our views of Him are correct, so will be our apprehension of the whole circle of truth. He therefore goes largely into the subject. He presents the Saviour in various views of supreme importance, in which it is vital to true godliness that we shall perceive the truth and not fall into error.
1. The first is adverted to in the opening of verse 22. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?" No doubt the general sentiment here is the rejection of the claims of Jesus Christ to be the Messiah promised in the scriptures of the Old Testament. This was the sin of the Jewish nation. He was the light, but they could not see it, because their eyes were blinded. This view, however, does not express the full doctrine of the apostle. To receive or reject Jesus as the Christ has respect to all His offices, and consequently to all the blessings which we may obtain or forfeit by embracing or refusing Him in them.
2. In the same verse the apostle gives another description, and says, "He is antichrist that denies the Father and the Son." This cannot mean a denial of the existence of the Father and the Son as two distinct beings, the one dwelling in heaven, and the other upon the earth. The reference is manifestly to some union between them which some might be disposed or tempted to deny. It is that in which Christ is called God's "own Son," His "only-begotten and well-beloved Son." In this relation the Son is the equal of the Father. Let us give Him the glory that is due by hearkening to His invitation, "Look unto Me and be saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God, and beside Me there is no Saviour."
3. The apostle gives one other view of antichrist in verse 23, "Whosoever denieth the Son," etc. There are two deeply important sentiments in these words, which can only he noticed. The one is that no one can have just views of God unless He is known as He is revealed in the Son (Matthew 11:27). The other sentiment is the result of the first. He only who knows God in His Son can have fellowship with Him.
III. This will more fully appear while we notice THE OBJECT OF THE APOSTLE IN WRITING AS HE HAD DONE. It is expressed in the 24th verse. The three terms, "abide," "remain," "continue," are the same in the original. The repetition is sufficient to show the extreme importance attached to the thought by the apostle. What, then, is it? It is suggested by a phrase which he uses again and again throughout the epistle, "The truth is not in us." In order that the truth may have its due effect, it must be in us, not as a speculation in the head, but a mighty practical principle in the heart. It must he in us as food is in the man whom it nourishes. But it is not merely the truth, as a system, that must thus dwell in us. It is as the casket that contains the jewel; and that jewel is Christ.
(James Morgan, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.