“The Bible says I don’t need anyone man to teach me. I can learn the Bible on my own. I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” I hear those words in various forms frequently from people, mostly those who are not willing to listen to the counsel or advice from someone else, those who have been hurt by someone in church and therefore refuse to go again, or from those who just simply are not up on the idea of committing themselves to the local church on a consistent basis. Usually, they will make reference to 1 John 2:27, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” The problem is they usually do not quote all of the verse as it is written nor do they use it in the context in which John wrote it.
False teachers were a problem in John’s day as they elevated their teachings above those of Christ and Scripture. They arrogantly thought they alone possessed a special and secret anointing – a divine knowledge that no one else was privy to. John’s response to the church and rebuttal to these false teachers comes in 1 John 2 declaring that all believers in Christ had an anointing from the Lord. Believers could have personal understanding from the Lord because they are in Him (2 Corinthians 4:6). Colossians 2:3 says this about Jesus, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Believers do have the Holy Spirit living inside them, giving them insight, wisdom, revelation, and truth through Scripture (John 14:26, 16:13, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). While this is true, it does not mean that people do not need teachers and preachers or that they can live the Christian life apart from the local church.
John was reminding these believers to recognize erroneous teachings and to grow in their personal relationship with the Lord (1 John 2:20-21; Corinthians 2:10-16). After all, Jesus was the truth and believers should recognize when people are teaching them wrongly (John 14:6; Acts 4:12, Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 1:9-11). John was not saying that believers did not have to attend church or learn from pastors and teachers. Yes, God’s truth is all-sufficient (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) and free from error. As the end of 1 John 2:27 says, His anointing “teaches about all things, and is true and is not a lie.”
John was not saying that believers did not need teachers or the church. They did not need false teachers so they should discern the truth already given to them. The Lord has given the church pastors, elders, and teachers, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, 1 Corinthians 12:28). For John to write that believers did not need the church or teachers would be contradictory to all of Scripture (Hebrews 10:24-25, 2 Timothy 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Acts 2:41-47; Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:21-24; Romans 10:14-17). Study the Word for yourself while you grow in a local church that preaches and teaches Scripture. Then you’ll be on your way to growing in Christ in a Biblical manner.