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Discerning the Spirit of Antichrist

Wed, Aug. 13, 2014 Posted: 07:36 AM

“Children, 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” (1 John 2:18).

The Apostle John warned his readers about antichrists four times in his epistles. There is little doubt that John saw general antichrist figures as those who were false teachers and fake believers; those who ultimately deny that Jesus came in the flesh as the Messiah. In one way or another each ultimately opposes and rejects Christ.

But John also clearly saw a final individual Antichrist whose spirit “is already in the world” (1 John 4:3).

The term “anti” in the Greek can mean both “against” and “in place of”. When you look down through history and right up to our present time / culture, and also through Scripture, you see both definitions of the Antichrist’s spirit prominently on display.

The Spirit of Antichrist in History

A look back at history demonstrates two things concerning Antichrist: (1) the world has been and is still being prepared for his entrance, acceptance, and worship; (2) types of Antichrist have appeared numerous times, each of which have given glimpses of what the final Antichrist monstrosity will be like.

Concerning the first point, a cursory survey of the past will show that when you hold God’s funeral, someone will always take His place. It can happen with a sudden power/political grab, but the more chilling and worrisome past occurrences have been those where the Antichrist figure is actually unwittingly put on his throne by people who look to him for help in times of trouble. From there, it is a short step to popular or self-deification.

In ancient history, you see a discernible pattern emerge that confirms this:

Whether they are ancient names like Epiphanes or modern ones like Hitler, the spirit in each betrays its origin through its denial of the one true God, hatred for the people of God and longing for the elevated position of God expressed by its father: “‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Is. 14:14).

The Spirit of Antichrist in Popular Culture

It doesn’t take much effort to see the Antichrist’s reverse image of Jesus being portrayed in symbolic form in today’s culture, primarily through the media and entertainment industry.

Take, for an example, the figure of the vampire. Vampires have been horror movie antagonists for decades. However, now they are many times elevated to be the ‘good guys’ in their story. Vampires are seen all over the entertainment landscape today and are the primary characters in movies such as the Twilight saga, in TV series such as HBO’s True Blood, etc.

Now, think about the differences between Jesus and the vampire figure.[1] Jesus, the Light (John 8:12), voluntarily shed His blood for us, sacrificing Himself, so that we might have eternal life. The vampire, a creature of the dark, murders and sacrifices its victims, drinking their blood (expressly forbidden in Scripture: Lev. 7:26-27), so that it can give itself eternal life.

How about another media antichrist figure – the zombie? Zombies are seen literally everywhere these days. AMC’s Walking Dead is one of the top shows on television, with many movies (e.g. World War Z, etc.) video games, and other entertainment mediums showcasing the zombie figure.

Notice the contrast between the Christ and the zombie antichrist figure.[2] Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:54). The zombie has a resurrection, however it’s not one of life but of a deathly existence. Its sole purpose is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of its victims so that it can maintain its own eternal subsistence.

The vampire and zombie are just two antichrist figures popularized today and I’m sure if you look, you’ll find quite a few more. However nothing is more eye-opening than analyzing the spirit of Antichrist through the Bible.

The Spirit of Antichrist in Scripture

Tracing the spirit of Antichrist through Scripture is very revealing, especially when seen in light of how it tries its best to mirror the real Messiah, but ultimately ends up revealing its true self. The following table supplies a contrast between the true Christ, Jesus, and the false messiah, Antichrist.[3]

Jesus Antichrist
Is Christ Is Antichrist
Subject of prophecy Subject of prophecy
Seed of Woman (Gen. 3:15) Seed of serpent (Gen. 3:15)
Typified by Old Testament characters (e.g. Joseph) Typified by Old Testament characters (e.g. Cain)
Revealed at God’s appointed time (Gal. 4:4) Revealed at God’s appointed time (2 Thess. 2:6)
Israel bears Jesus Rome bears Antichrist (Dan. 9:26)
A real man of God (1 Tim. 2:5) A real man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3)
More than a man – the God Man More than a man – the Satanic man
Made covenant with Israel (Heb. 8:8) Makes covenant with Israel (Dan. 9:27)
King of kings (Rev. 17:14) King over earthly kings (Rev. 17:12-13)
Performed miracles Performs false miracles (2 Thess. 2:9)
Died and rose again Appears to die and rise again (Rev. 13:3)
Object of universal worship (Dan 7:13; Phil. 2:10) Object of earthly universal worship (Rev. 13:4)
Seals followers on forehead (Rev. 7:3) Seals followers on forehead (Rev. 13:16-17)
Followed by Holy Spirit who causes men to worship Him Followed by False Prophet who causes men to worship him (Rev. 13:12)
Rides white horse (Rev. 19:11) False peace pictured on white horse, personified ultimately by Antichrist (Rev. 6:2)
Prince of peace (Is. 9:6-7) False prince of peace (2 Thess. 5:3)
Man of sorrows (Is. 53:3) Man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3)
Son of God Son of destruction (2 Thess. 2:3)
The Lamb (Is 53:7) The Beast (Rev. 11:7; Dan. 7)
Powered by Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14) Powered by Satan (Rev. 13:4)
Submits to God (John 5:30) Defies God (2 Thess. 2:4)
The Holy One (Mark 1:24) The wicked one (2 Thess. 2:8)
The Truth (John 14:6) The Lie (John 8:44)
The Good Shepherd (John 10:11) The Idol Shepherd (Zech 11:17)
Came down from Heaven (John 3:13) Comes up from Abyss (Rev. 11:7)
Does Father’s will (John 6:38) Does own will (Dan. 11:36)
Humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8) Exalts himself (Dan. 11:36)
Honors God of fathers (Luke 4:16) Refuses God of fathers (Dan. 11:37)
Cleansed temple (John 2:14) Defiles temple (Matt. 24:15)
Rejected by men (Is. 53:7) Accepted by men (John 5:43, Rev. 13:4)
Leads His flock (John 10:3) Leaves the flock (Zech. 11:17)
Slain for people (John 11:51) Slays the people (Rev. 13:7)
Glorified God on earth (John 17:4) Blasphemes God on earth (Rev. 13:6)
Received into Heaven (Luke 24:51) Received into Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20)
He that “was, is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8) and remains forever He that “was, and is not, and shall ascend and goes to destruction” (Rev. 17:8, 19:20)

The Spirit of Antichrist in the Future

The Bible is clear in its teaching that one day the final Antichrist will appear and rule for a time (that’s why John refers in his letter to the fact that "Antichrist is coming"). Revelation 19:20 tells us that the Antichrist’s fate is defeat at the hands of Jesus and eternal punishment.

But until then, we will continue to see the spirit of Antichrist manifest itself as a global attitude, and in certain people; as something that opposes, rejects, and tries to stand in the place of Christ. It’s my prayer that as Christians, we – through the Holy Spirit – discern that spirit and oppose, reject, and identify it for what it really is.

[1] See Eric Metaxas’ article for more insight into vampires and Christianity:

[2] I also find it interesting that many hatetheists and skeptics refer to Jesus as a “Jewish zombie”.

[3] Many of these points are taken from Arthur Pink’s book, The Antichrist (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1988), pp. 86-90.

Robin Schumacher