“A WARNING TO A DEAR LADY” 2 John
INTRO – All sorts of warnings around us all the time.
- Warning labels on medicines
- Warning signs on roads & highways
- Weather warnings when severe conditions are present
- Warning sirens & lights on emergency vehicles
All of these are designed to alert us that there is a potentially dangerous & harmful situation occurring or that one could occur. The dictionary definition for “warning” says: 1) a statement or event that indicates a possible or impending danger, problem, or other unpleasant situation. 2) cautionary advice.
The Apostle John is doing that in this short, concise letter. He’s giving this dear lady & the folks in this church a heads-up about the dangers & problems & “unpleasant situation” that could be lurking close by due to the false teachers that are at work. And he’s giving this church some valuable cautionary advice about how to deal w/ these false teachers & what to do.
There are many false teachers & false teachings in our world today that masquerade as orthodox Christian teachings. Just the other day, I passed a banner that was attached to a fence beside a church in the Jackson area. It was encouraging folks to pray for our nation, which is, of course, a good thing. The first part of one of the sentences said this: “As human efforts fail to solve America’s key problems, we turn to God…” – so far, so good – “through His holy mother” – not good! It is a completely unbiblical heresy to say that Mary is the mother of God. She was the earthly mother of Jesus, but Jesus has always from eternity past been the Son of Go d. God has no beginning & no end, & has no mother. And there’s absolutely no biblical support for anyone praying to her or any human being who has died.
And we don’t pray through her or anyone else other than Jesus Christ. It does absolutely NOTHING to pray to Mary, or through Mary, or to ask Mary to do anything. She can’t do anything about what is going on in the USA. She was an ordinary human being just like you & me. She is not in heaven praying for you or anyone else. There is only one Advocate before the Father, only one Intercessor before the Father, & His name is Jesus. Mary can’t pray for you. No other person who has died can pray for you. My daddy, as godly a man as he was, is not in heaven praying for me. When Billy Graham dies, he won’t be in heaven interceding for us.
As Christ-followers, we must heed the warnings to be on the lookout for those who oppose the Bible & who spread unbiblical teachings. Let me give you 4 words that need to be in our vocabulary to warn us of false teachings:
GUARD – v. 7 – Since coming to CWBC, been on more mission trips than ever in my life. One of the things I noticed in the trips to Nicaragua & Honduras is the large number of armed guards everywhere – every store, bank, business has a uniformed armed guard standing outside. Most of them holding a shotgun. You can tell they mean business.
Why are they there? Obviously, to prevent the bad guys from coming in & robbing the business &/or causing harm to those who work there & do business there.
John continues to warn his readers of the “bad guys” who want to come into the church & do their damage w/ their false teachings. These “antichrists” that he’s warning about were undermining the truth about who Jesus Christ truly is, & hurting the Church by corrupting the Gospel w/ their wrong theology. They were “deceivers”, liars who weren’t just espousing an aberrant gospel – they were striving to lead people astray, keeping them from hearing the truth of the Gospel & being saved. That’s serious business!
Just as the guards in Nicaragua & Honduras don’t play, we, in the Church, don’t play either when it comes to guarding the Church from those who are leading people astray w/ false teachings & a false gospel. We may not meet them at the door w/a shotgun, but we are going to meet them w/ the guns of the Gospel of Jesus Christ blasting away. We aren’t going to kill them physically, but we are going to destroy their false teachings w/ the truth of the Gospel!
WATCH – v. 8 – John continues his warning to this dear, Godly lady by challenging her & the church to “watch yourselves.” He’s telling her to look out, to beware, to take heed b/c, as convincing as the false teachers may be, they will take away any spiritual progress that had been made. They will promise growth, but will only deliver deterioration. They will promise that you’ll move forward, but they will deliver stagnation. Giving in to their teachings will lead to a tragic loss of rewards promised to those who live a faithful life of obedience to the Lord.
It’s so easy for any of us to fall prey to an easy believism, a gimmicky plan for quick spiritual growth. But true spiritual growth happens over the course of a lifetime that is dedicated to the ongoing pursuit of the truths that are taught in the Bible. And a strong NT church will help its member to stay on track, moving forward in their walk w/ God, growing in spiritual maturity. That growth happens in 2 primary ways:
- A growing knowledge of the Word of God.
- A growing application of the Word of God.
It’s what John emphasized over & over in 1 John: If you love God, you’ll keep His commandments. We’ve got to KNOW the Bible, & we’ve got to LIVE the Bible. The Christian life is not a life of continual study of the Word but w/ no outward result; it’s a life of continual consumption of the Word that leads to life-changing application. R.C. Sproul: “Without right doctrine, right living is impossible. We have not really understood Scripture if we are not changed as a result of our study.”
ABIDE – v. 9 – In April of 1521, Martin Luther, a lowly German priest whose work altered history & started the Great Reformation, stood before the emperor, who asked him to recant his stance on the Gospel. Risking his life, Luther declared, “Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God. Amen.”
John’s challenge here is for us to “abide,” to STAND, to REMAIN IN PLACE, to ENDURE, to CONTINUE & stay strong in our faith, no matter what it costs us.
- It may cost you a relationship when your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to have sex, or move in together in an unbiblical relationship that doesn’t honor God.
- It may cost you a job promotion, or a business relationship when you take a stand against some unbiblical business decision your boss makes.
- It may cost you a grade in school when you write a paper in your college class that stands on biblical principles & your professor doesn’t like it; or a place on a sports team when you decide that your child is not going to play ball on Sundays throughout the year.
- It may even cost you your life.
As a faithful Christ-follower, we must make a lifelong commitment to abide in the teaching of Christ that is found ONLY in THIS book – the one, true, living Word of God! That commitment will bring life, joy, peace, fulfillment, direction, purpose, meaning, & strength to your life & to the Church. It will encourage others to do the same. Younger believers will draw strength from your commitment to abide. So stay there! Stay in the Word! Stand on the Word! Strengthen yourself & others through the Word! Never back away from it or back down from it! Preach it! Proclaim it! Love it! Live it! Bask in it! Be bold in it! Shout it! Share it! Just keep abiding in it!
REJECT – v. 10-11 – John is telling this lady to outright reject these false teachers. Paul told the Romans to do the same thing in Rom. 16:17 – “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions & create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; AVOID THEM.” Sometimes, it’s hard for us to say that we ought to reject someone, as John tells this woman in v. 10-11 to not even receive the false teacher into her house (that’s where the church would be meeting. So he’s telling her to not let them in the church). But there’s good reason for this. Here it is:
The protection of the Body of Christ supersedes the personal feelings of any individual.
If someone is trying to bring a false teaching into the church & they get their feelings hurt when we toss them out, too bad, so sad! If someone has left the church & is now trying to lead others away through their false teaching & wrong thinking, & they get upset b/c we don’t want to have anything to do w/ them, that’s their problem, not ours. The purity of the Gospel & the protection of the members of the Church is priority. We can pray for those who are wrong in their doctrine – & we should – but we are not going to accept them into the fellowship due to the potential danger they bring & the potential damage they could do. It’s as simple as that.
CONCLUSION: John warned this dear lady, & today, you & I have been warned. We’ve got to guard, watch, abide, & reject. Will we heed the warnings today?