I’d bet the farm that you know about the Anti-Christ, but do you know about the Anti-Spirit?
OK, I’ll come clean – that’s a term I just now made up so you’re forgiven for not knowing it. But it’s a real thing nonetheless. Let me explain.
All throughout Scripture, Jesus and the Anti-Christ are compared and contrasted. Their similarities include that both are the subject of prophecy, both are foreshadowed by Old Testament characters (e.g. Joseph and Cain), both are revealed at God’s chosen time, and both have a person who directs people to worship them.
When it comes to contrasts, Jesus is called the godly Man of sorrows (Is. 53:3) while Anti-Christ is called the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3); Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1) while Anti-Christ is the son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3); Jesus comes from the seed of woman (Gen. 3:15), while Anti-Christ comes from the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15); Jesus is the Lamb (Is 53:7) while Anti-Christ is the Beast (Rev. 11:7); Jesus is the holy One (Mark 1:24) while Anti-Christ is the wicked one (2 Thess. 2:8); Jesus humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8) while Anti-Christ exalts himself (Dan. 11:36); Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) while Anti-Christ is the idol shepherd (Zech. 11:17).
In my opinion, the same holds true for the Holy Spirit and what I call the Anti-Spirit. The latter is what I believe Paul refers to when he says, “And you were dead in your offenses and sins, in which you previously walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1-2, my emphasis).
The Holy Spirit directs the people of God, while the Anti-Spirit leads the people of the world.
Paul says this about the Anti-Spirit’s leading: “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led” (1 Cor. 12:2). And, of course, John calls out the Anti-Spirit when he says: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God … every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).
While Scripture doesn’t explicitly name something the Anti-Spirit, whatever spirit Paul and John refer to, there’s no question it produces far different fruit in its people than the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s fruit is well known: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).
But the fruit of the Anti-Spirit? You couldn’t have a more stark contrast – one that we constantly experience firsthand and see lived out every moment in the media.
Instead of love you find hate, especially towards the things and people of God. In place of joy you have despair that seeks any temporary escape through materialism, drugs, alcohol or bad relationships.
Instead of peace you have turmoil and anger. You’ve heard of the TV show “Mad About You”? If the Anti-Spirit crowd had a cable spot it would be called “Mad About Everything”. And rather than patience, you have immediate overreaction and a furious lack of restraint that goes off like a short-fused firecracker.
As opposed to kindness, you have an ugliness that gets in your face with a bullhorn and roughs you up with physical violence if it feels like it. Instead of goodness that manifests in generosity and good will you have selfishness and a desire to see bad things happen to others.
Forget faithfulness; the Anti-Spirit destroys commitments and causes people to turn on one another in the blink of an eye. In place of gentleness is a harshness that both is dismissive and nasty.
Finally, instead of self-control you have a complete lack of discipline and an indulgence that is self-destructive.
The real misery index
If there’s one characteristic shared by those under control of the Anti-Spirit, it’s this: they are miserable.
Real and lasting happiness eludes them. Shaky ground is their only footing. Their stance of being offended by everything and ashamed of nothing causes friction, angst and disappointment everywhere they go.
Describing Anti-Spirit people, John Calvin writes: “If he is fully depicted by the words of our Savior, “that which is born of flesh is flesh” (John 3:6), he must be a very miserable creature.”
Oh, you can try as Louis Markos says to redefine sinful traits like narcissism as self-esteem, envy as fairness, and consumerism as a natural and inalienable right in your own mind, but in the end, you’ll still rank high on the misery index.
What a contrast is the person who is led by the Holy Spirit and avoids joining in the activities of the Anti-Spirit crowd – something David directly speaks to in Psalm 1: “Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on His Law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (vv. 1-3).
There’s really no comparison in a life lived in conjunction with God’s Spirit vs. the world’s. If you’re someone who’s bearing the bad fruit of the Anti-Spirit, and suffering the negative consequences because of it, it’s my hope that you call on God and change sides as soon as possible.
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.