“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.”
(2 John 7-11 NIV)
Previously, in verses 4-6, John reminds the lady (and us) that his teaching has been consistent and clear from the first time she heard it – grounded in God’s Truth, and in love for Christ,as evidenced by following His commands.
God’s Truth, our response – our love for Him, and our demonstration of our love – to obey Him and His teachings. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Now John moves on to a tougher subject… addressing the issue of false teachers.
As we learn God’s Truth and are obedient to follow it, one of the things we learn along the way is discernment. As we learn God’s Truth, God gives us the ability to detect truth from error, to sort out truth from deception.
Jesus talked about the future with His disciples, and warned them about the false teachers and prophets that were to come:
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matthew 24:23-25 NIV)
John is saying the same thing to the lady – have discernment! The false teachers are abundant and everywhere. They may look and sound like those who teach the truth, but they deny Jesus Christ as being God, as being the Messiah. To the false teacher, Jesus is just another prophet or good guy, the same as them. They do not acknowledge Jesus as God.
John says that anyone who denies Jesus as God is a false teacher, and a deceiver. They may use a lot of church words and phrases, and appear to be good, trustworthy people on the outside, but if they deny God’s Truth and Jesus Christ as God, they are deceiving you and should be called out as such.
So why did John write these words to this lady? Was she denying the truth? Not at all. John was clear about her love for God’s Truth and Jesus, and her children’s obedience to the Lord in the first part of the letter.
John’s reason for writing these tough words were to warn and protect her. Similar to Gaius in 3rd John, this lady loved God’s people, and lovingly opened her home to the short-term missionaries as they passed through her town. Unfortunately, many of the false teachers had short-term missionaries as well, and they were masquerading as God’s servants and taking advantage of her hospitality and kindness for a free place to stay. And while they stayed in her home, they tried to convince her to follow their false teachings and lead her away from God’s Truth and Jesus Christ.
So what did John tell her to do? Have discernment. John instructs her to not even let these folks in her home until she finds out what they believe about Jesus and what they’re teaching (v. 10). John says to invite these false teachers into her home was to share in their wicked work (v. 11).
The other thing that John is concerned about is this lady’s spiritual well-being. John tells her that to let these people into her home invites confusion and chaos, and will undo all the teaching and investment that John and others who are faithful to God’s Truth have invested in her (v. 8). The false teachers are sincere, and offer heart-felt emotional stories that draw her in. But John warns that the truth is not in them, and that she must have discernment and not be drawn into their trap.
May you keep God’s Truth close to your heart, and follow Jesus in obedience. And pray for discernment, that nothing will lead you away from God’s Truth, and your love for Him and obedience to Jesus.