“It is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” I John 2:18
The apostle John wrote the above words around two thousand years ago. It was “the last hour” then, and it is the last hour now. Just as John urged believers to recognize antichrists then, we need to recognize antichrists now. As we practice discernment to identify the “antichrists” who are sowing destruction among us today, we will be able to hold fast to truth and holiness and “abide in the Son and in the Father” (I John 2:24). We will also position ourselves to eventually identify the final Antichrist who will wreak destruction during the Great Tribulation, should that come during our lifetime.
So, how do we recognize antichrists? Jesus’ advice is to do a fruit inspection:
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20)
Let’s dig a little deeper by examining what “good fruit” looks like according to three passages. This will, in turn, show us what “bad fruit” looks like, creating a checklist we can use to identify antichrists.
To begin, let’s look at the example of Jesus, as shown in Philippians 2:5-8: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” From this passage, we see that:
Jesus did not grasp after power (Philippians 2:5-6). ANTICHRISTS ARE POWER-HUNGRY.
Jesus came to serve others (Philippians 2:7). ANTICHRISTS WANT OTHERS TO SERVE THEM.
Jesus was humble (Philippians 2:8). ANTICHRISTS ARE PROUD.
Jesus was obedient (Philippians 2:8). ANTICHRISTS REJECT AUTHORITY.
Jesus was selfless (Philippians 2:8). ANTICHRISTS ARE SELFISH.
Now, let’s turn to the description of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23:
The fruit of the Spirit is love. ANTICHRISTS SHOW HATRED AND SOW HATRED.
The fruit of the Spirit is joy. ANTICHRISTS ARE FULL OF UNSATISFIED SELFISH CRAVINGS.
The fruit of the Spirit is peace. ANTICHRISTS ARE CHARACTERIZED BY INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CHAOS.
The fruit of the Spirit is patience. ANTICHRISTS ARE IMPATIENT.
The fruit of the Spirit is kindness. ANTICHRISTS ARE CRUEL AND HEARTLESS.
The fruit of the Spirit is goodness. ANTICHRISTS COMMIT EVIL ACTS.
The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness. ANTICHRISTS ARE FAITHLESS WITH OTHERS.
The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. ANTICHRISTS ARE HARSH IN WORDS AND ACTIONS.
The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. ANTICHRISTS ARE UNDISCIPLINED AND IMPULSIVE.
Finally, let’s look at the definition of love in I Corinthians 13:
Love is patient. ANTICHRISTS ARE EASILY IRRITATED BY OTHERS.
Love is kind. ANTICHRISTS ARE MALICIOUS.
Love is not jealous. ANTICHRISTS ARE JEALOUS, ENVIOUS, AND COVETOUS.
Love does not brag. ANTICHRISTS BOAST AND BRAG ABOUT THEMSELVES.
Love is not arrogant. ANTICHRISTS ARE PROUD AND ARROGANT.
Love does not act unbecomingly. ANTICHRISTS BEHAVE INAPPROPRIATELY.
Love does not seek its own. ANTICHRISTS LOOK OUT FOR NUMBER ONE.
Love is not provoked. ANTICHRISTS ARE QUICK TO ANGER.
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. ANTICHRISTS HOLD GRUDGES.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. ANTICHRISTS CELEBRATE REBELLION AND UNGODLINESS.
Love rejoices with the truth. ANTICHRISTS LIE AND ENCOURAGE DECEPTION.
Let’s go back to John. Following his warning about antichrists, John writes, “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you” (I John 2:26). Make no mistake – antichrists are present in the world now, just as they always have been, and they are seeking to deceive God’s children.
I urge you to take this checklist and use it to evaluate the voices you are listening to – voices in government, in the media, on the radio, in books, from the pulpit ... even among the people you know and interact with every day. It is vital that we learn to discern the antichrists among us and reject their teaching, their guidance, and all they represent.
I close with John’s words in I John 2:28 – let us hear his warning and encouragement and take it to heart:
“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”