Verse 20c: You Know the Truth
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
The object of the anointing that we have received from the Holy One is our “knowledge of the truth”; the Spirit of Truth enlightens every believer’s understanding to the truth that has already been confirmed by Scripture.
1st John 4:6 (CSB) We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
This is how we know that someone has the anointing from the Holy One: they listen to the testimony of the Holy Spirit through the apostles.
Not only does the Spirit enlighten our understanding, but he also enlightens our hearts with the knowledge of Christ:
2nd Corinthians 4:6 (CSB) For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
Essential to the Christian faith is the revelation of truth to the inner man by which we are transformed, from the inside out, by the word of God:
1st Peter 1:23 (CSB) …because you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.
Colossians 3:10 (CSB) You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.
The mark of the unregenerate hypocrite in the Christian faith is someone who intellectually knows the word of God but has no power to live in the truth that they know; this person’s faith is dead because it isn’t resulting in new life.
“You Know the Truth”: but those who have been taught by the anointing of the Holy One have been enlightened by the Spirit inside and out, becoming a new person by the power of Christ’s resurrection.
This text is an allusion to Jeremiah’s prophecy:
Jeremiah 31:34 (CSB) No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.
This prophecy is fulfilled by the new covenant (Hebrews 8:11-15) in which we received the promised Holy Spirit.
The central point being made here is that the object of our Christian anointing is “truth”, meaning that our Christian anointing results in our personally knowing Christ, who is “the Truth” (Jn 14:6).
John 8:30-32 (CSB) As he was saying these things, many believed in him. 31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
One important point that must be understood so that we do not fall into the deadly snare of pride is that John is not suggesting that our knowledge of the truth is “complete” or “infallible”:
1st Corinthians 8:1-2 (CSB) Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it.
1st Corinthians 13:12b (CSB) Now I know in part, but then I will know fully…
One of the marks that someone is not being instructed by the anointing of the Holy One is the pride of thinking that their knowledge is perfectly complete or infallible; they become unteachable and refute even the words of Scripture because their knowledge is carnal. Spiritual knowledge does not make us “unteachable”, nor does it do away with the need for instruction from those the Spirit has appointed as teachers in the body; it humbles and unifies the body in Christ so that we can be built up in love together.