The Antichrist Exposed

Who Is the Antichrist?

The Antichrist Exposed

HOW would you protect yourself if you knew that a deadly epidemic was
raging in your area? You would likely build up your immune system and
stay away from people who are contagious. We must do the same in a
spiritual sense. The Scriptures tell us that the antichrist “is already
in the world.” (1 John
4:3
) If we want to escape “infection,” we must identify the
“carriers” and avoid them. Thankfully, the Bible sheds considerable
light on the subject.

“Antichrist” means “against (or instead of) Christ.” So in its
broadest sense, the term refers to all who oppose or lyingly claim to be
the Christ or his representatives. Jesus himself said: “He that is not
on my side is against me [or is antichrist], and he that does not gather
with me scatters.”—Luke 11:23.

Of course, John wrote about the antichrist over 60 years after Jesus
died and was resurrected to heaven. Hence, the antichrist’s activities
must be understood in the light of how they affect Jesus’ loyal
followers on earth.—Matthew 25:4045.

The Antichrist Is Anti-Christian

Jesus warned his followers that the world in general would hate them.
He said: “People will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you,
and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my
name. And many false prophets will arise and mislead many.”—Matthew 24:911.

Because Jesus’ disciples are persecuted “on account of [Jesus’]
name,” the persecutors are clearly antichrist, against Christ. The
“false prophets,” some of whom were once Christians, are also in that
category. (2 John 7)
These “many antichrists,” wrote John, “went out from us, but they were
not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have
remained with us.”—1 John 2:18, 19.

The words of both Jesus and John plainly indicate that the antichrist
is not a single person but is made up of many individual antichrists.
Moreover, because they are false prophets, one of their main objectives
is religious deception. What are some of their devices?

A DECEIVER WITH MANY FACES

The word “antichrist” applies to all who deny what the Bible says
about Jesus Christ, all who oppose his Kingdom, and all who mistreat his
followers. It also includes individuals, organizations, and nations
that falsely claim to represent Christ or that improperly ascribe to
themselves the role of Messiah by presumptuously promising to achieve
that which only Christ can do—bring about true peace and security.

Spreading Religious Lies

The apostle Paul warned his fellow worker Timothy to beware of the
teachings of apostates, such as Hymenaeus and Philetus, whose “word will
spread like gangrene.” Paul added: “These very men have deviated from
the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they
are subverting the faith of some.” (2 Timothy
2:16-18
) Apparently, Hymenaeus and Philetus taught that the
resurrection was a symbolic one and that Christians had already been
resurrected in a spiritual sense. Granted, becoming a genuine disciple
of Jesus brings one to life from God’s standpoint, which Paul himself
plainly stated. (Ephesians 2:1-5)
Nevertheless, the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus disregarded Jesus’
promise of a literal resurrection of the dead under God’s Kingdom
rule.—John
5:28, 29
.

Ideas of a purely symbolic resurrection were later developed by a
group called Gnostics. Believing that knowledge (gno´sis in
Greek) could be derived in a mystical way, Gnostics combined apostate
Christianity with Greek philosophy and Oriental mysticism. For instance,
they held that all physical matter is evil, and for that reason, Jesus
did not come in the flesh but only seemed to have a human body—a belief
called Docetism. As we have seen, this is precisely what the apostle
John had warned against.—1 John 4:2, 3;
2 John 7.

Another fabrication, concocted centuries later, is the doctrine of
the so-called holy Trinity,
which makes the assertion that Jesus is both Almighty God and the Son
of God. In his book The Church of the First Three Centuries,
Dr. Alvan Lamson states that the doctrine of the Trinity “had its
origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures; that it grew up, and was ingrafted on
Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers.” Who were
these “Platonizing Fathers”? They were apostate clerics who were
infatuated with the teachings of pagan Greek philosopher Plato.

The engrafting of the Trinity was a masterstroke of the antichrist,
for this doctrine shrouded God in mystery and blurred his relationship
with the Son. (John
14:28
; 15:10;
Colossians
1:15
) Just think, how can one “draw close to God,” as encouraged by
the Scriptures, if God is a mystery?—James 4:8.

Adding to the confusion, many Bible translators have taken God’s name, Jehovah,
out of their translations, even though it occurs over 7,000 times in
the original text! Clearly, attempting to turn the Almighty into not
just a mystery but a nameless mystery is an act of gross
disrespect for our Creator and his inspired Word. (Revelation
22:18, 19
) Furthermore, replacing the divine name with such titles
as Lord and God is a violation of Jesus’ model prayer, which says in
part: “Thy name be hallowed [or, made holy].”—Matthew 6:9, The
New English Bible.

Antichrists Reject God’s Kingdom

Antichrists have become particularly active during “the last days,”
the time in which we now live. (2 Timothy 3:1) A
key objective of these modern-day deceivers is to mislead people in
regard to Jesus’ role as King of God’s Kingdom, a heavenly government
that will soon rule over the entire earth.—Daniel 7:13, 14;
Revelation
11:15
.

For example, some religious leaders preach that God’s Kingdom
is a condition in the heart of men, a view that finds no basis in the
Scriptures. (Daniel
2:44
) Others claim that Christ works through human governments and
institutions. Yet, Jesus stated: “My kingdom is no part of this
world.” (John
18:36
) Indeed, Satan, not Christ, is “the ruler of the world” and
“the god of this system of things.” (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
This explains why Jesus will soon eliminate all human governments and
become earth’s sole Ruler. (Psalm 2:2, 6-9; Revelation
19:11-21
) People pray for this outcome when they recite the Lord’s
Prayer, saying: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth.”—Matthew 6:10, King
James Version.

Because they support the political systems of the world, many
religious leaders have opposed, even persecuted, those who proclaim the
truth about God’s Kingdom. Interestingly, the Bible book of Revelation
mentions a symbolic harlot—“Babylon the Great”—who is “drunk with the
blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” (Revelation
17:4-6
) She also practices spiritual harlotry by lending her support
to earth’s “kings,” or political rulers, receiving favors in return.
This symbolic woman is none other than the false religions of the world.
She is a major part of the antichrist.—Revelation
18:2, 3
; James
4:4
.

The Antichrist ‘Tickles Ears’

Besides rejecting Bible truth, many so-called Christians have
renounced Bible standards of conduct in favor of popular morality. God’s
Word foretold this development, saying: “There will be a period of time
when they [people professing to serve God] will not put up with the
healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will
accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
These religious frauds are also described as “false apostles, deceitful
workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.” The Bible
goes on to say: “Their end shall be according to their works.”—2 Corinthians
11:13-15
.

Their works include “loose conduct,” which is a brazen disregard for
high moral principles. (2 Peter 2:1-3,
12-14)
Do we not see an increasing number of religious leaders and their
followers adopting—or at least condoning—unchristian practices, such as
homosexuality and sex outside of marriage? Please take a moment to
compare these widely accepted views and lifestyles with what the Bible
states at Leviticus
18:22
; Romans
1:26, 27
; 1 Corinthians
6:9, 10
; Hebrews
13:4
; and Jude 7.

“Test the Inspired Expressions”

In view of the foregoing, we should heed the apostle John’s words not
to take our religious beliefs lightly or for granted. “Do not believe
every inspired expression,” he warns, “but test the inspired expressions
to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets
have gone forth into the world.”—1 John 4:1.

Consider the good example of certain “noble-minded” people who lived
in the city of Beroea in the first century. They “received the word with
the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures
daily as to whether these things [spoken by Paul and Silas] were so.” (Acts 17:10, 11)
Yes, while eager to learn, the Beroeans made sure that what they heard
and accepted was firmly rooted in the Scriptures.

Today, too, genuine Christians are not influenced by the ebb and flow
of popular views but cling firmly to Bible truth. Wrote the apostle
Paul: “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet
more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.”Philippians 1:9.

If you have not already done so, make it your aim to acquire
“accurate knowledge and full discernment” by learning what the Bible
really teaches. Those who imitate the Beroeans are not deceived by the
“counterfeit words” of antichrists. (2 Peter 2:3)
Instead, they are set free by the spiritual truth of the real Christ and
his true followers.—John 8:3236.

Like the Beroeans, we should ‘examine the Scriptures daily’

Appeared in The Watchtower  December
1, 2006

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