Having great affection for the believers to whom he wrote, John warns them of the conditions that will exist immediately prior to the Lord’s return. In ‘the last hour’, v. 18 JND, there will be many antichrists active in opposition to the Lord. Initially, they may well be amongst the saints, indistinguishable from believers. However, at this climactic time, they will leave the assembly and cause distress and discouragement as they go. In going, they will manifest something of their true character. How can the saint of God cope in such times? John supplies an answer: ‘But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things’, v. 20.
The phrase that forms the title for our meditation today is found only here in John’s first epistle. He does not stop to identify of whom he is writing, but it is clearly the Spirit of God. John may have remembered the words of the Lord: ‘Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth’, John 16.13. It is on this basis that John can now write, ‘ye know all things’, v. 20. It is not because of any intellectual attainment but as a consequence of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.
We notice that the Holy Spirit indwells believers. John says in verse 20, ‘ye have …’. This asserts their continued possession of the unction. He says again, verse 27, ‘the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you’. The fact that the Holy Spirit dwells permanently in the heart of each believer is the seal of our salvation and ‘the earnest of our inheritance’, Eph. 1.13-14.
The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts is that we might know the truth of God. John writes, ‘the same anointing teacheth you ... all things, and is truth’, v. 27. As the Lord described the Holy Spirit as ‘the Spirit of truth’, John 14. 17, so John testifies of that essential trait of deity that characterises the Spirit of God. The One who indwells us can provide us with the test necessary to determine truth from falsehood, with the revelation of Christ to defeat every antichrist, and with the fellowship of divine persons that will be our portion eternally.