Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Partners in Evil

This fall I have been in a battle for the truth.  That sounds dramatic doesn't it?  But really that is what it boils down to.  I have heard things like; it is foolish to suggest we only use the Bible as the source for our teaching, we can use the good points an author makes without agreeing with all that is in the book, that is a sign of maturity (even if that author aligns himself/herself with false teachings.)  I am feeling let down by shepherds in the church who are not protecting the sheep from error.

I  read 2 John this morning.  It is a short letter from John, the Elder.  Some sources believe that the Apostle John was around 100 years old when he penned this letter.  It's recipient: "the chosen lady and her children." I don't know who that woman was, some even believe this is code for the Church.  Either way this letter is filled with the importance of knowing the truth.  That word truth is used three times in just the first two verses and six times in the letter's 13 verses.  John was happy to have met some of her children and to have found them living in the truth.  I like to think this woman was teaching her children well, but John suggests there is a problem.  First he urges her to be obedient to God's command to love one another and adds, "Love means doing what God has commanded us, and He has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning." (NLT1)  This morning I am seeing a two-fold meaning here: the first, love one another; the second, recognizing what it means to love someone the way God loves them.  It is not a love that is blind, but one that seeks the best for the other, and we know that the best is bound up in truth- love cannot compromise the truth.

John then moves on to warn her that "many deceivers have gone out into the world." (v.7a)  The Greek word used here is Plan'-os and denotes an imposter (noun) and as an adjective signifying "wandering or leading astray, seducing." (from Strong's Greek 4108)  John says that "such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist."  Wow- we don't say things like that about people- an antichrist?!  I guess by definition those "who are not with Me (Jesus) are against me, and he who does not gather with Me, scatters." Such a person would indeed be an anti-Christ.  I am more comfortable with the words "false teacher," and even that I hesitate to say, but I think the Church needs to get bold again about calling things what they are as we have allowed too much false teaching to infiltrate the body, we no longer even recognize it or it's dangers.  And it's dangers are matters of life and death.  Which gets back to the idea of loving one another the way God does.

So what does John say to this woman about the deceivers?  Watch out, be on guard, pay attention, be diligent- so that she does not lose what has been accomplished, but receives a full reward. (v.8)  I don't like this verse for it suggests that I can lose ground in my faith.  Again, I am led to believe that John sees this as an extremely important issue- something that we must not ignore, for doing so is perilous.  Why is it so dangerous?  "For if you wander beyond the teaching of Christ, you will not have fellowship with God."  There you have it.  "But if you continue in the teaching of Christ, you will have fellowship with both the Father and the Son."  Sounds so simple really, but those deceivers are really good at what they do, and they do it so sincerely, many because they themselves have allowed themselves to be deceived and so promote false teaching/doctrine.  (This is where I hammer in the idea of Sola Scriptura-by Scripture alone.  Read The Book, it is the safest place to be if you do not want to wander away from the teaching of Christ.  Don't take my word for it, don't take the top selling author's word for it, don't take your pastor's word for it- check everything against this one Book.  It takes work on our part, but I cannot stress enough that we dare not be lazy in this regard.  John MacArthur has stated in effect that a mark of a true believer is one who has a love for the Word, one who holds it in highest regard and longs to be in it.)

And now I come to the verses that led me to write as I have this morning.  "If someone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don't invite him into your house or encourage him in any way.  Anyone who encourages him becomes a partner in his evil work." (v.10-11, NLT-1991 version)  The NASB says to not even greet the person, for in greeting them you participate in their evil deeds.  Think twice about buying that book!  Think twice about using materials that lend financial support to those who do not teach the truth about Christ.  They are out there in our churches dear ones- popular authors who say there is no hell, that everyone is going to heaven for God would never turn any away.  There are those out there who would have us delve into the practices of eastern mystics with their teachings on contemplative prayer and the "spiritual disciplines."  I read somewhere recently that you can judge an author by their bibliography.  Many of the books out there encouraging the modern church in these practices have very interesting bibliographies indeed.  Do you know who Aldous Huxley and Thomas Merton were.  It is on these mens writings that much of the teaching we hear today is coming from- they are the "fathers" of contemplative/centering prayer.  Merton was a Roman Catholic monk who held to the belief that all religions had the same basic truth and Christianity could not lay claim to the whole counsel of God.  What do you think John would have to say about inviting the thoughts of these men into our homes, our churches, and yet that is exactly what we are doing when we pick up a copy of Celebration of Discipline for example.  I have a copy sitting on my desk right now- I purchased it back in the 1980's when the church I was attending at the time began a study based on this book.  I told myself that while I did not agree with everything Richard Foster wrote I could still cull some good ideas from it's pages.  Hmmmm- I don't think that argument would go very far with John the Elder.

And so my thoughts return to the woman John was writing to- and to her children.  Some translations say that John met "some" of her children and they were walking in the truth- what about the others?  Had they wandered away because the woman had allowed some deceivers into her home?

Be careful out there today,


GrammaGrits said...

Bless you for speaking truth! We live in an age of growing apostasy, so sad to see it easily coming into the church. I love what you said, too, about checking the bibliography - it is unbelievable sometimes who and what people quote!

Debra Davis said...

Thanks GrammaGrits-this was a hard one to actually post, fearful of the reaction, but perfect love casts out fear doesn't it.