CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST
Antichrist means opposed to Christ. The spirit of antichrist is, therefore, the spirit that is opposed to the Spirit of Christ. The apostle John says, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (1 John 4:3). There are many forms of it, for the same apostle says, "Even now there are many antichrists" (1 John 2:18). But no matter what the form or the disguise, the spirit of antichrist is primarily the spirit of Satan, for his is "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2).
The great opponent of Christ does not always carry on his work of opposition openly. He "is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14), and "deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). Now no one can deceive unless he appears to tell the truth; therefore it must be expected that Satan will in his work counterfeit the truth as nearly as he can. Christ warns us that "there shall arise false christs, and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24). This being the case, no one need be surprised to find that Satan has carried and does still carry on his work under the guise of Christianity. It is only when people are quite fully given to his service, and there are few to challenge it, that he throws off his disguise.
If it were possible, he would deceive the very elect. And why is it not possible to deceive them? Christ gives the answer. He said of the shepherd of the sheep, "When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him; for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:4, 5). And then He said, "I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine" (vs. 14).
In becoming acquainted with Christ, therefore, and in that way only, can we escape the deceptions of the enemy. It is necessary that we study the Spirit of Christ so that we may know by contrast the spirit of antichrist. This is very clearly set forth by the apostle Paul, in his exhortation to us to have the same Spirit [see Phil. 2:1-8].
The characteristic of Christ is here seen to be humility. He says of Himself, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29). Note well that when He came to earth He took upon Himself only the form of a servant. That does not mean that He did not serve, for He also said that He "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (20:28). What is meant is that He had only to take the form of a servant, because He had the mind to serve before He came to the earth to give His life on the cross.
This is a far different spirit from what prevails among men. The highest virtue known among men is for a man not to seek that which is not his own. The common form of self-justification is, "I want nothing but what is due me; I simply want my rights." But that desire was not in Christ. He gave up His own. He committed everything into the care of the Father, who "highly exalted Him," because of the mind that was in Him, which was the mind of God, for "God was in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:19). If men who stand so firmly on their rights, demanding that they shall be accorded everything that is due them, were consistent, and claimed the same thing from God, it would fare hard with them.
The study of the Spirit of Christ is an inexhaustible subject; but we [can] form a sharp contrast with the spirit of antichrist. Christ declared that His kingdom was not of this world, whereas Satan claims the whole world as his own (see Luke 4:5, 6). Therefore he is called "the god of this world," and the "prince of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4; John 14:30). It is for this reason that in Ezekiel 28 Satan is represented as the king of Tyre, while the nominal king is called the prince of Tyre. When wicked men rule they are simply instruments in the hands of Satan, who is the real ruler. He is king, while they are only princes (vss. 12-17).
Satan lost his first estate because his heart was lifted up on account of his beauty. This is the first indication of the spirit of antichrist,--thinking of self. "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isa. 14:12-14). Note that Satan's thought was all of self. The pronoun "I" is most on his tongue. He was going to be like the Most High. He would place his throne by the side of the throne of God. He was not content with being first among the angels; he must be God. He was sure that his talents and beauty deserved a far higher place than was granted him. Ambition caused his fall.
Mark the contrast between Christ and Satan. Christ had everything by right, being God by nature, yet He resigned all. He would not look out for His own interests, and let others look out for themselves; He emptied Himself, and thought only of others. Satan had nothing of his own, but only that which was given him, yet he designed to seize everything. He was a created being, yet he thought that he ought to be God, and that he could be. He would seize what his ambition craved, no matter what the consequences of others. This is the spirit of antichrist. Therefore we are justified in saying that the spirit of antichrist is simply the spirit of self.
Wherever self predominates, there Satan rules. The Spirit that works in the children of disobedience is the spirit of self. It cannot be too fully learned that self is Satan. Every manifestation of self is nothing but the manifestation of the working of Satan in man. Every sin among men has sprung from selfishness; and the perilous times of the last days will be due to the fact that "men shall be lovers of their own selves" (2 Tim. 3:1, 2).
On the other hand, "Christ pleased not Himself" (Rom. 15:3). Whoever will be His disciple must deny Himself. As Christ emptied Himself, and allowed God to appear in His fullness, so the disciples of Christ must allow Him to come into their hearts, driving away self by the same power by which He emptied Himself, that they may be "filled with all the fullness of God."
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