Most topics of great importance in our life for God are talked about many times in Scripture, by many different writers in very different circumstances. Anytime a topic is mentioned only in one set of verses from only one human writer it adds a great challenge in interpreting that segment of Scripture for our own times. In the latter part of I John 2 we have such a discussion. John’s primary theme in the Book of I John is to help those who are followers of Christ to have confidence in their salvation. In I John 5:13 John said, “These things I have written to you who believe on the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life and this life is in his son.” God wants us to have confidence in our salvation. At the same time John was writing them to warn them about false teachers whom he called “AntiChrist” who were among them and leading many away from God and his teachings. One of the fundamental things being claimed by the false teachers was that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh. He was completely a spirit being according to them. John said that you could know they were antiChrist if they said that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh. The two basic truths about Jesus the Immanuel is that we know that He is God and that He became a man to live among us and feel our trials and temptations without giving in to them. “He who was rich became poor that you through his poverty might be rich.”
In chapter two John had been discussing how we could know are saved by keeping his commandments. He explained why he wrote to the different age groups of people and the strengths they had in living for Christ. He pleaded with us not to love the world or the things in the world, since the world was passing away with it’s lust. In verses 18-19 he said that those who had gone out from us didn’t really belong to us. If they had belonged to us they wouldn’t have left. He also declared that he knew they had heard that there were many antiChrist in the world and affirmed that they were among them. In verse 20-27 he turns to talk about the anointing that they had. Focus on this topic in these verses. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” He noted that he didn’t write them because they didn’t know the truth but because the did know it. He said the liar was the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antiChrist – denying the Father and the Son. He challenged them to make certain that what they had heard from the beginning remained in them. Then verses 26-27 say, “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 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 the anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
What is this anointing talked about here? Notice it is tied to the discussion of some leaving Christ to go back into the world and the discussion of the antiChrist that are now in the world and persuading people to follow them instead of being true to Christ. The anointing would let them know that what the false teachers were saying wasn’t really true and would convince the Christ follows that Jesus was the right way for all to travel.
Let’s think of things we can be certain about with reference to this anointing. The anointing makes it possible for us to know who the antiChrist are and that the false teachers are not telling us the truth. The anointing is from the Holy One, which would be possible to apply to the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit. It seems likely here that it refers to the Father who is directing all things. This anointing remains in you and isn’t just something that comes for a short time and then leave us. “You do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, you don’t need anyone to teach you these things over and over again. “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.” John didn’t want to lose the very people among whom he had spent so much time with and had such a great relationship. Notice verse 27, “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as he anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
Think about the fact John was writing this letter somewhere around A.D. 90. Many of the writings of the New Testament were now available to the people as well as the Old Covenant. So what is the anointing? It seems most likely to me that the anointing is another way of speaking of the gift of the Holy Spirit who was given by Jesus to those who were obedient to him and his message of faith. In Acts 2:38 when the disciples asked Peter what to do they heard him say, “Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is to you and your children and to all who are afar off as many as the Lord our God shall call. Consider some of the things the New Testament says will be the workings of the Holy Spirit in us. He leads us and bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God (Romans 8:14-17). The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. When we don’t know how to pray as we should he intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit lives in our bodies and helps us to keep the body pure from immorality (I Corinthians 6:18-20). The Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit within us (Galatians 5:21-22). He strengthens us in the inner man (Ephesians 3:14-20). He transforms us into the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The anointing in the Christian helps us recognize the teachers who are really against Christ rather than being on his side. It may well be that false teachers will try to get you to leave the right way to follow some personal view they have established. But the Spirit within us reminds us of the things we have placed into our minds of the word of Christ. Too often even when he tries to give us warning about wrong ways, we ignore them to go in our own way. In such cases the anointing is of no value because we have turned to him a deaf ear refusing to heed his warning. Paul told Timothy to guard the deposit he had placed in his care through the Holy Spirit. The anointing remains in us all though life working to get us ready for the home made without hands in the eternal heavens.