2 John – Walking in the truth of God’s love!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 9, 2013 AM
In some cultures, the elderly are venerated and are respected for their wisdom and long life. When I was younger, I thought all older adults were wise, moral, and never made mistakes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not all senior adults were wise, very moral, and in fact had wasted their lives in ungodly living! I discovered this to be true from a great uncle who drank like a fish, swore like a merchant marine, and no one liked him because of his constant anger. Yet, there are wonderful truths we can learn from godly senior adults in our church. We should listen to those among us who are older that exhibit a holy lifestyle. They can teach us a lot about walking in the truth of God’s love!
The little letter of John that we will look at today is one of the shortest letters in the Bible, containing only 245 words in the Greek text. History, tradition, and the wording itself give testimony that it was probably written by John, the apostle. Unlike his first larger letter, this “postcard” is more of a short notice to the church in order to encourage them, however, it follows the same theme of John where he writes, “I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.” (1 John 2:7 NIV) It is the theme of walking in the truth of God’s love! Let’s discover what he writes…
There are many philosophies in the world today but there is only one that is true. There cannot be many “truths” just as there cannot be many ways to figure one plus one equaling anything but two! While there are those who want to have a smorgasbord for their theology, there can only be one that is correct. John teaches us that…
I. Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love! (Vv. 1-4)
1. John, the elder – the old man, was writing to “the chosen lady and her children,” whom he “loved.” They were dear to him because he had invested so much of his life and effort to bring them the truth of the gospel. He desired that they know that it was not just him alone, “but also all who know the truth” who cared for them. And this is the way it should be in the church of Christ. The reason was obvious to John, “because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever!” The key words here are “truth” and “love.” Daniel Akin writes, “If love would appeal to the hearts, then truth would appeal to their minds.” (New American Commentary) And this is the heart of this lovely letter, God’s truth and His love. In our day and age, we place far too much emphasis on the emotionalism of God’s love than the reality of His eternal truth. Both mattered to John. The gospel truth lives in us as a community of believers and stays with us eternally as well! The gospel truth is the foundation that gives meaning to God’s expression of love! This is why John immediately tells them, “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.” John, I believe, deliberately bracketed his theme with these two words of “truth and love”. Notice too, what gave John pleasure, he writes, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” Nothing gives a pastor or spiritual mentor greater joy than to know those they have labored in love over are walking with the Lord. The Bible Knowledge Commentary relates, “Christian love is by no means mere sentimentalism or humanistic compassion, but is motivated by knowledge of the truth which has been revealed in Christ.” It is this “gospel” truth that is the basis of Christian love. It is precisely this truth that the “Body of Christ” must be careful to guard. To maintain a healthy fellowship, the local church and its individual members must remain faithful to the truth of the gospel without compromise; Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love!
EXAMPLE: Pontius Pilate stood before Jesus the entire embodiment and culmination of God’s truth and asked, “What is truth?” Jesus had already bluntly told those who would follow Him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) We live in a day and age where folks say they want the truth, but do everything in their power not to come to the truth. Will Smith has always denied being a member of the Church of Scientology. He has, however, publicly praised some of the philosophies, and that’s led to speculation he might be a secret Scientologist. Marc Headley, who left the church in 2005, went to see Smith’s recent movie After Earth and wrote a review linking many of the film’s ideas to Scientology’s teachings. He connects the film’s central philosophy, “danger is real, fear is a choice” to Scientology. Headley wrote, “Through Scientology, one is supposed to ‘rid oneself of your fears.” Just because famous folks like Will Smith, Christie Alley, Tom Cruise or John Travolta maybe Scientologists does not make it true or something to base one’s life. Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love!
It is easy to say you believe something, but a lot more difficult to put your life on the line and trust it completely. We all might believe jets can fly but it is a whole different matter to get on one and fly somewhere! The same is true for our faith. If we say we “love the gospel” then John writes…
II. Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love! (Vv. 5-6)
1. John continues by addressing the church concerning why he is writing them, “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning.” We know it is the early church he is writing because earlier he had said that they were the “chosen lady and her children.” Many think that perhaps John was writing in coded words because of the persecution of believers that had begun. What exactly is this “command” he wanted to remind them of, specifically he writes, “I ask that we love one another.” John knew this truth, because he had experienced it firsthand when he had walked daily with Jesus that love was more than an emotional response for the believer. If they were walking in the truth of the gospel, they needed to be certain they were also walking in the love of the gospel! The truth of the gospel is Jesus and the love of the gospel is its message! But what does it mean to “love one another”? The test of our love to God is our universal obedience to His command, and we need to absolutely maintain this love, for there are many lies and untruths concerning God’s love in the world. It is not realized simply by doing good things, it is not found in shallow emotional outbursts, nor is it spiritually realized through a sense of our own holiness in contemplating our bellybuttons. He told His followers that the world will know we are the disciples of Jesus when we show the world the love of Jesus through our lives. His love is outwardly active and sacrificial, not inner and introspective. Obedience to it demands a high price from the individual and this is why John was so excited to hear they were in fact, walking in the love of God. The first disciples gave their very lives for its message, but willingly lived every moment of their lives doing it! I believe that the world today needs to not only reaffirm Jesus’ message but also adhere to His command of love. Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love!
EXAMPLE: My mother used to get truly frustrated with my brother Ed when he would promise over and over to clean his side of the room, but always found some excuse not to do his chore. One afternoon he came home to find all of his things piled in a heap on the floor. He was incredulous and angered. When you say you will do something but you do not follow through, what does that say about you? As we have all heard many times, “Actions speak louder than words.” Many folks claim to be “Christian” but it requires more than mere acknowledgement. Living in the love of God is more than fuzzy feelings, believing in angels, or goodness for goodness sake. It requires one’s obedience to the commands of Christ to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV) John did not write “you a new command but one we have had from the beginning… that we love one another!” Knowing about Jesus is one thing, but Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love!
There are those who think that Christianity is a religion of compromise. They get this false premise from Jesus teaching us to “turn the other cheek.” He never meant forsaking what you believe to get along. This is why John would write in concerning the love of God…
III. Christians are to protect the gospel of God’s love! (Vv. 7-13)
1. We are to walk in the truth of the gospel and live the command of love in our lives. The reason for John was obvious because there are those who subvert the faith, denying the person or the work of Jesus Christ. John said, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.” In fact, “Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” John had told the church through an earlier letter, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NIV) The church today not only does not “test the spirits” they do not know how to do so nor do they understand why we should do so! We have swallowed the politically correct lie that above all else, we must get along, even to the detriment of the gospel! It is disgusting what ungodliness Christians try to excuse by a selfish misuse of God’s love. Some fail to understand that they have become “antichrist” in their adherence to humanistic false doctrines. John warns, “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.” And to the horror of our modern day thinking John bluntly retorts, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God!” However, “whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” Jude would warn that while we were to “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear”, we were to hate “even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh!” (Jude 1:22-23 NIV) John also sternly warned them that, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.” In our anything goes society, we wonder why this was so important for John. The spiritual truth is this: “Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work!” When a Christian allows ungodliness into their lives, they are tacitly acquiescing the teaching of Jesus! John equates that supposed “Christian” as an “antichrist”! Christians are to protect the gospel of God’s love!
EXAMPLE: Recently we have heard about how the military, particularly the Air Force, is systematically erasing all mention of God, Jesus, or the Bible from its murals, statues, paintings, and mottos. It is an ungodly revision of our national history. The Air Force is doing this because one atheistic group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. They had an inspirational painting that referenced a Bible verse removed from a dining hall at Mountain Home Air Force Base, calling the painting “repugnant” and an “overt display of Christian nationalism.” What is truly repugnant is the fact that while many have voiced their concerns, few have called or written the Air Force to tell them how repugnant it is to not only our national heritage but to those brave men and women who fought for religious freedom of expression to have their faith wiped from the public arena. I believe it is time for Christians to protect the gospel of God’s love!
Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love; Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love; and Christians are to protect the gospel of God’s love!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.