“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie – just as it has taught you, abide in Him.” ~ 1 John 2:27
Explanation of the Text: In contrast to the false human teachings being proclaimed, believers have access to something greater. There is access to the truth, which comes through the reception of the Holy Spirit which cannot be received from any human. With the reception of the Holy Spirit comes understanding of God’s truth, which stands in stark contrast to the false teachers. Logically then, it is easy to conclude that John is saying there is no need for them to rely on the false teachers when they have access to legitimate truth.
It is important to recognize though that John is not saying there is no need to learn or be taught. Those who claim this are using the verse and teaching inappropriately and to do this negates other teachings within Scripture. Had this been the case, there would no need to have the offices of evangelist and prophet (Ephesians 4:11) and the gifts of wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Furthermore, the apostle Paul writes that these are “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Instead, it is important to note that we are to grow in our grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and John is simply saying that man’s wisdom is no substitute for God’s wisdom. “John’s point is that believers must not rely on human wisdom or man-centered philosophy but on the teaching of God’s Word by Spirit-gifted human teachers and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit” (1).
In fact, we see the Holy Spirit often working with the knowledge we already have. To convict us, to encourage us, and to help us in discussions, the Holy Spirit guides us to recall knowledge that we previously learned. A good example is the recollection of verses in the midst of discussions. One cannot recall information they did not already know. If a person doesn’t know a Bible reference to begin with, how can the Holy Spirit bring it to mind for you? In fact, it is well said that the “Holy Spirit provides intuitive knowledge and intuitive discernment about acquired knowledge” (2). Knowledge and understanding of Godly teachings should be so much part of our lives that it becomes a matter of intuition. It is to say that our responses are continually in accordance with Godly living simply because the principles have become so ingrained into us that we know what to do. In this way, a mind rooted in God comes out in action as a living sacrifice to God (cf. Romans 12:1-2).
Finally, John brings the discussion full circle. When the Holy Spirit abides in a person they know the truth. Yet, the truth that is being taught is to abide in Him. To know the truth means to abide in the truth. True teaching will always point back to God.
Examination & Application of the Text: “The indwelling Holy Spirit sensitizes the child of God to spiritual truth and gives him an ability to discern error when it poses as truth” (3). With this understanding come two primary practices for our lives.
- Be In the Word: There is a basic necessity to be in the Word. To know the truth requires study of the truth.
- Apply the Word: For the truth to become part of natural intuition it must be applied.
We must endeavor to learn the Word, to study it, but it must not stop there. Truth is meaningless if it is not put into action. Therefore, as we learn, we must look at our lives and discern how to put it in action so that it may permeate our lives.
Of course, all of this is predicated on the understanding that one is a believer. The anointing refers to the Holy Spirit, something that a person does not have access to if he or she is not a legitimate follower.
Questions to Consider:
- How much time do you spend learning the Word?
- Is your natural reaction to any situation one that is reflective of the truth of God?
- What can you do to ensure the truth is being made know more in your life and through your life? (Read Proverbs 1:9 and 9:10)
(1) John MacArthur, 1-3 John, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007), 103.
(2) Spiros Zodhiates, The Epistles of John, The Exegetical Commentary Series (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1994), 151.
(3) Ian Hamilton, Let’s Sudy the Letters of John (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2008), 29.