Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:18-19 KJV
How do we know that it is the last days? John tells us that we know this because many antichrists have come. We know earlier from verse 3 that the spirit of antichrist does not confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and is not of God. Next, he tells us of a group that left the church that may help us to understand what is going on in churches today!
First off, he says that they had a belonging problem! They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. Their leaving showed that none of them belonged to us. Stop running after people that don’t even belong to you! Let them go! You don’t want to invest a lot of time in, go into business with, partner with, or give too much responsibility to people who don’t belong to you. Paul used a term that clarifies the reason we needed to be so discerning with whom we connect with when he said, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14).” The only cure for this belonging problem is that we must first of all belong to God by becoming His child. The only way to become His child is to receive Jesus, for the Word says, for as many as received Him, to them gave He power to be the sons of God.
We even have to go beyond distinguishing between those who claim to be believers or not. Sad to say there are many who claim to know God, but John further says that the one who claims to know God and does not keep his commandments is a liar (1 John 2:4). Speaking of using discernment, Jesus from the very launch of his ministry, when many were believing on him as they saw his miracles, John record that he did not “commit himself to them because he knew all men.” John further explains that Jesus “needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man (john 2:24-25).” We especially have to be discerning when appointing leaders of the flock. In Timothy were are warned to “lay hands on no man suddenly” (1 Tim. 5:22).
Secondly, they had a remaining problem. John didn’t simply say they left; he said they did not remain. The reason John said they did not remain is that the did not belong to them. As a believer matures by spending more time with Father God, he will show them their church assignment. The Bible says that God places members in the Body as it hath pleased Him (1 Cor 12:18). Once a believer understands this, then church hopping will be a thing of the past.
I have noticed a lot of men who will move in with a woman and do all the things to take care of a family, but he will never make a commitment. Woman of God, if he won’t commit to you, you don’t want him because he won’t remain! Oh, he will be there as long as he is getting what he wants and he doesn’t incur too much heat in the kitchen! But, stop giving him what he wants, then watch and see what happens when things get rough! I am here to tell you, you don’t want him! Jesus said, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed (John 8:31). Your commitment and longevity is of the utmost importance to God.
Thirdly, this group also had a listening problem. Now if you have ever done any counseling, you will understand that there are those in the body that will consume large amounts of your time with a ton of questions, but they never follow any of your instruction. In other words they aren’t listening; they are just taking up your time! There are many that are simply looking for people to agree with them in their wrong doing. Then there are those who will appear to be right there with you. They will promise to be with you to the end until you correct them, and then they are gone! The problem is the same; they don’t listen.
It is my prayer that in these last days, God would give us more and more discernment. It is certainly not our job to judge people, but we sure had better get God’s direction and guidance before we get “yoked up” with anyone. For years, as a pastor, I spent a lot of time begging people to stay in the ministry until I heard Bishop Jake’s take on this. He said in his ministry, when he sees people in his church start to complain and have the itch to leave, he would without hesitation bless them and hand them their hat. At first, that sounded a bit harsh and unshepherd-like, but I think he must have gotten the message that God is conveying to us here from First John.