1 John 2

Is It Genuine or Counterfeit?

As [Jesus’s] anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. 1 John 2:27

My husband and I enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow. People on the show are always amazed when something they considered ugly is worth thousands of dollars. Other people are heartbroken when their family heirlooms are exposed as worthless imitations. Distinguishing the genuine from the counterfeit is essential in the antiques world; it is also vital in the spiritual world.

How can I identify a counterfeit?

Chapter 2 of 1 John is like a Christianity Roadshow episode. In it, John explains how we can tell the difference between genuine and imitation Christianity—between people who walk as Jesus walked and those who walk the path that leads to destruction.  

First, authentic Christians obey Jesus’s commands (1 John 2: 4–6). Jesus condensed the Law of God into two commands: love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37–39). John reminds us that our love for other people proves our love for God is genuine (1 John 2:9–11).

Second, authentic Christians “do not love the world or anything in the world” (1 John 2:15–17). The Greek word for world in these verses is kosmos. It refers to the “whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, and pleasures . . . [that] are obstacles to the cause of Christ.”[1] In other words, genuine Christians avoid anything that prompts us to dishonor God by disregarding his will or devaluing his character (v. 16).

Third, authentic Christians detect false teaching and discard it. John emphasizes three characteristics of false teachers: they separate themselves from true Christians (v. 19); they deny the deity of Jesus Christ, the Messiah (vv. 22–23); and they add to or subtract from the gospel (vv. 24–25).

Detecting counterfeit Christianity may seem complex, even impossible, but John encourages us with this reminder: Jesus anointed us with the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and can teach us all things (v. 27). He is the Christianity Roadshow expert. He provides the accurate knowledge, the godly love, and the discernment we need. He enables us to walk as Jesus walked (v. 6)—to live in the light (v. 10) so we won’t stumble in the darkness of fear, disunity, or error.

Each morning when we awaken, we can invest time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to be our counterfeit detector throughout the day. Here’s a simple prayer model: Spirit, help me depend on your expertise, not my flawed judgment, in every decision I make today. Amen.


John reminds us of two important truths in verses 1–2: Jesus is our advocate in heaven (speaks to the Father in our defense), and he is our propitiation (the once-for-all atoning sacrifice for our sin). How can these truths motivate us to “walk as Jesus walked”?

Read 1 John 2:18–22. John is the only NT writer to use the term antichrist. It can refer to one person (v. 18) or to a group of people (vv. 18–22, 1 John 4:3 and 2 John 1:7). What are the characteristics of an antichrist according to these passages?

John gives some characteristics of false teachers in this chapter. Read the following passages for more of their characteristics: Matthew 24:10–11, 2 Peter 2:1–3, 2 Corinthians 11:13–15, and 1 John 4:1–6.

What is the pure gospel that “you have heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:24)? Paul defines it in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4. How can we make sure that it “remains in us” according to 1 John 2:27?

Denise K. Loock

This devotion is part of our series on 1 John.

[1] “G2889 – kosmos – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 18 Jan, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2889&t=KJV.


  1. Thank you for this. We need discernment in these times! There are so many who want to deceive. And I enjoy roadshow too

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