"5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."
American Christianity tends to focus on an individuals destiny, whereas biblical Christianity focused more on a corporate vision. Any authentic study of the Bible shows us that in the Old Testament the emphasis was always on the nation of Israel, and in the New Testament the emphasis was always on the church as a whole, not the individual.
Every warning and every promise of God found in Scripture was given to the community of faith as a whole. The preaching from the pulpits of America today, can often sound more like the "American Dream" rather than sound, biblical teaching. Most preaching today focuses on "our rights in Christ" to be blessed. In Scripture, the emphasis regarding finances has to do with being blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others, glorifying God and serving humanity, rather than on self-fulfillment and personal happiness.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus taught material blessing only in the context of seeking first the Kingdom of God.
It seems to me that much of the focus from the pulpits today has to do with individual fulfillment and satisfaction, Scripture clearly instructs us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. In fact, the Bible encourages believers to risk life and limb to advance the Kingdom. With the exception of the Apostle John, the other original apostles of the church died as martyrs. The message of faith preached in the contemporary churches of today, would be foreign to biblical prophets and the apostles.
Christians today have a consumerist mentality regarding church, based on what suits their personal wants as well as best meeting their family needs, as opposed to equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. I believe that the greatest examples we have of intimacy with God in the Bible come from the book of Psalms, in which the writers were in dire straits.
What good is an entertaining service, where there is no provision for the Holy Spirit to move, leaving the congregational assemblies with the same brokenness they had before they came in? The churches are run more like a democracy than a theocracy that is under the power and authority God and the holy Scripture. For example, I have not found even one instance in the Bible where God permitted the people to choose the leader of His people. Leaders were nurtured within the context of congregational life by church leaders and mentors rather then denominational theological seminaries.
The Apostle Paul warned us this day would come, when in II Timothy 4 he said "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."
The church of Christ is all about the truth, knowing truth, upholding the truth, living for the sake of the truth!
Let us pray
Father, we thank You that you’ve given us Your truth. We are grateful that we can hold Your Word in our hands, and in our hearts. Thank You for reminding us that the truth is the foundation of Your church. Lord, thank You for helping me discharge the truth, seal Your Word to our hearts. Help us to be faithful to the truth, so that the watching world will see the power of Your transforming work in our lives.
May it all be for Your glory and increase in the kingdom and for Christ's sake.
In Christ's name we pray
Today's Message: You Better Watch Yourself!
As Christians, we are living in a fallen world full of lies and deception. While being commanded by Christ to love others and share the truth, we are forced to deal with those who are blinded to the truth, as well as those who seek to pervert or dilute the gospel truth. There are many in our culture who dogmatically deny truth. Truth is personal, its whatever we believe it to. And, everyone is living their own truth. There is no absolute standard of truth. Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth. Allow me to boldly point out, that God's truth is that ultimate standard by which all else can be judged.
The truth characterizes us as believers, because the truth is necessary for salvation and is therefore essential to spiritual life. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to defend the truth.
The teaching that Christians should love others is central and a recurrent theme throughout the New Testament. Knowing God's commands us is simply not enough, we must put it into practice in our every day lives. In other words, demonstrating biblical love for others is not optional.
We live in a culture that often lacks tolerance and genuine love for others, especially those who hold a viewpoint different than our own. Many today love those who agree with their position, but tend to dislike, and even belittle those with whom they disagree. As Christians, we must model the love of Christ, even to those apart from the faith. For there is no greater proof of our faith in Christ than the ability to love others.
We must not forget Jesus' cry for forgiveness for those who had wronged Him at the cross in Luke 23:34.
Open with me your Bibles to II John 1:5-8. As we noted previously, the purpose of John's brief letter serves as a warning about being loving and hospitable toward those who say they belong to Christ. In our last study, we looked at verses 1 through 4. In verse 1, we learned that the truth unites us. And, in verse 2, we saw that the truth indwells us. In verse 3, we discovered that the truth blesses us, then, in verse 4, the truth controls us. Our entire lives are therefore lived in the sphere of divine truth We not only live in the truth, we are to love in the truth.
So let's begin by looking at this concept of loving in the truth. I invite you to follow along with me as I read to set the text in our minds, as we prepare our hearts for what the Spirit is saying to each of us. Listen for the voice of our Lord. II John 1:5-8.
"Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."
While we are living in the truth, there is no excuse for being so devoted to the truth, that the truth literally overpowers your responsibility to love, as to be unloving. The truth is always upheld in perfect balance with love. This is non-negotiable commandment. The world in which we live has such a skewed perception of love, so we must walk in love in order to please our Lord and demonstrate His love to the world. The Bible emphasizes the extreme importance of guarding the life of our heart and what flows in and out of it.
Ephesians chapter 1, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe."
Our whole existence then, is to be lived in the sphere of the truth and love. The purest truth embraces love because love is a part of that truth. We are never to not use the truth as a means to be unkind or unloving. The truth is always to be upheld in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16, "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."
Since part of the truth is to love one another, if we’re living in the truth, if we’re indwelt by the truth, blessed by the truth, controlled by the truth, part of the truth is that we love one another.
Now, let's look at verse 5. "Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another."
"Now," this is a logical link with what he just said in verse 4, "walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father." In other words, since we are united in the truth, since we are indwelt with the truth, since we are blessed by the truth, since we are controlled by the truth , "Now I ask you." John is saying this is a request consistent with the command of Scripture, consistent with living in the truth.
He knows that those who are of the truth will not resist his request to love, this is not something new. So, he says "not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning." What I am saying to you, you already know, we love one another. I’m just reiterating what is commanded in God's Word.
By "the one which we have had from the beginning," he is speaking about the beginning of your life in Christ. Therefore, we are to open our hearts sacrificially to one another, to embrace them. Because we have been called into a fellowship marked by love, we are to love one another. This is almost a direct parallel with I John 2:7, "Beloved," to the church to which he is writing.
Then, in verse 6, he says "And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it."
This is consistent with what he said in I John 1, "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."
And in I John 2, in which he says "The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes."
I’m not telling you something new, this an old commandment which you’ve had from the beginning, if you’re a part of the truth, if you belong to God, if you are in the light, you should walk in it, and love your brother.
It is interesting to note, that John, who was once known as the son of thunder, who wanted to call down fire from heaven, and incinerate a village that rejected the disciples and their Lord, has become known as the Apostle of love. The Old Testament, the law, was nothing but a summary of love.
Deuteronomy 6, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
And, in Leviticus 19, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord."
In Matthew 22, Jesus reiterated this when He said "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’" The Old Testament law is simply a summary of how to love. The Ten Commandments, which is the summation of the law, are divided into two parts. The first half has to do with how you love God, the second half has to do with how you love each other.
That's why the Apostle Paul said in Romans 13, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." If you truly love someone, you will not do wrong toward them. If you love God, you aren't going to disobey His commands, you’re not going to take His name in vain. And, if you love your neighbor, you are going to kill them, you aren't going to steal from them. The Old Testament the, is all about loving God and loving each other.
In I John 2:7-8, remember, he said "Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining."
Contrary to what some have claimed, this is not a contradiction, John is simply saying, while the command itself is old, the command to love each other is not new the way you now see it in Jesus Christ is new. Because God has never been a man before. You have never have you seen what love really looks like the way you now see it in the person of Jesus Christ.
You've never had such a perfect model of love. The disciples saw first hand what perfect love looked like. In Christ, they saw the perfection of God’s love. Love that was so perfectly displayed on the cross, for the sake of those He loved. This is the trueness of God's love in Christ, which the world has never before seen. Therefore, there’s a new understanding of love because of what the Holy Spirit is doing in you.
In John 13, Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room before His crucifixion, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
The fruit of the Spirit is love, the work of New Covenant grace has granted to the believer the gift of the Holy Spirit. The command to love is not new, but there’s a newness in the comprehension that we have of it, by the example of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who grants us this love in a measure that we have never before experienced. The Old Testament saints didn’t have that experience. But we have been blessed to have a new way to experience this magnificent spiritual reality as we begin to feel the realities of the coming glory in the Kingdom. We're living in the reality of the overlap of the coming Kingdom and the passing age of darkness.
Because we experience the truth of that love planted in us by the Holy Spirit, we are already tasting of the powers of the age to come. We belong to Christ who gave to love the perfect manifestation. Because the Holy Spirit indwells in us, He enables us to love in a way unknown before. So, for us, who are truly in Christ, loving one another literally becomes a way of life. Therefore, how you interact with other people, how you treat them, is simply an expression of how you love those people. As we are obedient to the Word of God and the will of God, it reveals itself in how we love others.
All the commandments when obeyed, demonstrate my love for God. My interaction with others reflects my love for them, demonstrating that I love them. Do you see? If we walk according to God's commandments, there’s no escape from obedience in love. Our love, then, is defined by our obedience to Scripture. If you obey everything the truth says, it is revealed in your relationship with God and thus, your relationship with others.
If we live according to God’s truth and we also love according to God’s truth. We should understand that, it's very basic. Whoever claims that he loves the Father, then also loves the child born of the Father. When we are obedient to the commandments, as they relate to others, then we're loving others. This is not about sentimentality, it's about obedience. We love by being obedient. No true love between Christians can be marked by sin and disobedience to the truth of God. You cannot really love God, or love someone else, if you set the truth aside. Love is best expressed when we obey the Word of God. That means if I love you and you have a need, I’ll come to you, in love and meet that need.
I hate to leave that point, because there's really so much more to say. But I don’t want to belabor it too much, because we have more to uncover. So, let me just say living in the truth demands loving in the truth. You can’t live in the truth and you can’t love in the truth if you’re not loyal to the truth.That brings us to verse s 7 and 8, which is really the heart of the passage.
"For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."
You can’t say you’re loving someone when you mistreat them, when you engage in sinful attitudes, sinful tolerances or sinful compromises with them. You can only truly love in obedience to the Word of God. John, then, is giving us limits in this serious warning! You cannot love deceivers, and you cannot love antichrists. If you’re going to live and love in the truth, as defined in the truth of Scripture, then you cannot embrace those who are against that Scripture. We’ve seen it in our nation through its history. When love without truth starts to wrap up liars and deceivers and antichrists and embrace them, then the truth is lost.
The New Testament is full of warnings about many deceivers have gone out into the world.Those who oppose Christ, they’re going to be all over the place, they'll be everywhere.Allow me to just give one of those references, Matthew 24:24, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."
The same account is given in Mark 13. Test the spirits, don’t just accept everybody that comes along and says they represent Jesus Christ, because many false prophets have gone out into the world There are going to be liars with seducing spirits, teaching demonic doctrine that sounds a lot like Christianity. So we are to take heed. Every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God, is the spirit of the antichrist, so you just have to be alert, because they are going to sneak into the church.
You can read II Peter chapter 2, the entire chapter describes these false teachers and their characteristics. In I Timothy 4, and the epistle of Jude, which we will be studying soon, II Corinthians 11. Scripture is full of strong language for the false teachers. Literally, everywhere the gospel has ever gone, Satan sends false teachers and they preach their other gospel. You have to be alert, because there are a number of ways to deny the true gospel. They deny the gospel by denying Jesus was God.They deny the Trinity. They deny that Jesus is God in the flesh. They deny that salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone.
The list goes on and on and on, because there are many ways they can deny the true gospel.The bottom line is if your Christology, your theology or your gospel is distorted, then you don’t have the truth as revealed in God's Word. The confession is that the Jehovah of the Old Testament in the person of the Son, became incarnate in human flesh as the promised Messiah. Any denial that Jesus is God, is demonic.Anyone who denies biblical Christology is a heretic. To say that Jesus only appeared to be a man is to say the Bible is a lie and God is a liar! That is damning and destructive heresy.
Jesus had to be God in order to conquer death and sin. He had to be man in order to be a substitute for the sinner. That's why John says in verse 7 says, "This is the deceiver and the antichrist." The deceiver is in relation to man; the antichrist in relation to the Lord.That's why he says in verse 8, "watch yourselves. You cannot love indiscriminately. You cannot embrace everybody in the name of Christ."
In verse 9, he says, now we won't go into it today, I just want to briefly touch on it, "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son."
Look, I know this is not "socially acceptable" teaching, I’m accused all the time of being unloving, narrow-minded. I have even been called belligerent and that's fine with me, because when it comes to the truth of God, what else can I be? My commitment is to God, I seek God's approval, not the approval of men.
I live by Matthew 10:28, which tells us "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
We have come too far in the truth to turn back to the lies of demonic doctrine! It is easy to become discouraged if we only focus on our present situation. Life is difficult at best, so we must remember that eternity awaits the saved by grace. We will one day enter the eternal presence of God with a full reward. We must not grow weary in well doing, for you will reap if you faint not!
May it be so..
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
Now and forever, in Jesus' name
the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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