Key Text: 2 John 1:4-11
We are told to walk in truth and grace and not run from the things that challenge the truth of Christ. Truth and love are frequently discussed in our world but seldom practised. From politicians to salesmen, people conveniently ignore or conceal facts and use words to enhance positions or sell products. Perjury is common, integrity and credibility are endangered species in our world today. Words twisted in meaning and torn out of context, have become major tools for ego building. It is not surprising then that we have to swear to tell the truth.
And what about love? Our world is filled with its words popular songs, greeting cards, agony aunts and romantic novels shower us with notions and dreams of ethereal, idyllic relationships and feelings. Real love however, is scarce. Selfless giving, caring, sharingand even dying. We long to love and be loved but we see very few living examples of real love. Instead an abundance of those who grasp, horde and watch out for ‘number one’.
Jesus is counterculture to society’s prevailing values, of falsehood and self-centredness Why? because He is truth and love in flesh. Therefore, everyone who claims loyalty to Him, to be a student of His must be committed to the ideals of following the truth and living the truth, reflecting love and acting with love toward one another. We must be careful to never interpret His love by our circumstances but interpret our circumstances by His love.
The apostle John had seen truth and love first hand, he had been with Jesus. He was so affected that all of his writings from the gospel of John through to the revelation of Christ Jesus is filled with this theme of truth and love. For John they go ‘hand in glove’ and are inseparable in the Christian life.
Truth and love are spoken very quickly but once understood should last a lifetime.
False teachers subsequent false doctrine and theology where a dangerous problem for the church to which John was writing and it is still presents a problem for us today.
His warning against showing hospitality to false teachers may sound harsh and unloving to a world that preaches tolerance and acceptance. Yet these people were teaching heresy that could seriously harm many believers not for a moment but for eternity.
The truth that John talks about is the truth about Jesus the Christ, as opposed to the lies of the false teachers. John in 1 John 2:21-23 writes about it in this way ‘I write to you, not because you do not know the truth but because you know it and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
The statement that Christians should love one another is a recurring N.T. theme. Yet love for one’s neighbour is an old command, first appearing in the third book of Moses Leviticus 19:18
We can show love in many ways by avoiding prejudice and discrimination, by accepting people, by listening, helping, giving, serving and refusing to judge.
Knowing God’s command is not enough, we must put it into practice, walking in obedience to His commands. ‘If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.’ John 15:10
In John’s day many false teachers taught that spirit was good and the physical was evil, (Gk Philosophy) therefore, they reasoned that Jesus could not have been both God and man. John warns against this kind of teaching and there are still many those today who promote an understanding of Jesus that is neither Biblical or helpful.
Such teaching is still dangerous because it distorts the truth and undermines the foundations of Christian faith and living. People who use the right words but change the meaning by giving their own interpretation.
The Bible is not open to interpretation but instead is open to divine revelation from Holy Spirit. ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’ John 16:12-14
It has never been as important in the last 30 years as it is now, that we as the church here on earth present a right picture of who Jesus is.
We live in an age of ‘cancel culture’ where people just shut you down if what you say doesn’t fit the worldview or minority group narratives.
The way that we live shows a lot about what we believe about Jesus. We live our lives in one of two ways either as an example or as a warning.
v.8 To be rewarded fully is not a reference to our salvation but to the rewards of loyal service. Everyone who values the truth and persistently holds to it will win their full reward. Those who live for themselves and justify their self-centredness by teaching false doctrines will lose that reward. Matthew 7:21-23
John goes on to instruct the believers not to show hospitality to false teachers. They were to do nothing that would encourage the heretics in their propagation of lies. In addition, if believers were to invite them in, such action would show that they were approving of what the false teachers said and did. (Warning here to be careful who you keep company with and take counsel from)
It may seem rude to turn people away, even if they are teaching heresy but how much better it is to be faithful to God than merely courteous to people.
The apostle Paul writing to encourage new believers in their faith: 1 Thessalonians 2:4‘but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man but to please God who tests our hearts.’
John is condemning the support of those who are dedicated to opposing the true teachings of God, those who are against Christ not condemning hospitality to unbelievers.
John adds that a person who supports a false teacher in any way shares in the teachers wicked work.
False teaching is serious business and we dare not overlook it. It is so serious that John wrote this letter to warn against it.
There are so many false teachings in our world today that we might be tempted to take many of them lightly.
Instead, we should realise the dangers they pose and actively refuse to give heresies any foothold.
Understanding the clear and present danger stand up, speak up in love, grace and truth.