“For Whoever Greets Him Takes Part In His Wicked Works”
The church of Jesus Christ is held in very high esteem by the Scriptures. Our Lord built her himself, and she cannot be destroyed (Matt. 16:18). He exercises his supreme authority solely in her interests (Eph. 1:22). She is his body, and is what fills him up (Eph. 1:22-23). She is the only avenue in which one can know the awesome wisdom of God, which was God’s plan from before the world began (Eph. 3:10-11). She is the only place in which one can give God glory (Eph. 3:21). Christ saves only her (Eph. 5:23), and died for her as well (Eph. 5:25). He has set her apart for glory, to cleanse her and present her to himself without any spot or blemish of sin (Eph. 5:26-27). He nourishes and cherishes her just as we do with our own bodies (Eph. 5:29-30). She is God’s family, and is also the firm foundation of the truth of his Word (1 Tim. 3:15; cf. John 17:17). Jesus purchased her with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
Yet, over the years careless and misguided souls have tried to change the church from what the Bible describes it as being. They say that the Lord’s church is made up of all the different denominations, sects, and religious groups which exist today, that “one church is just as good as another,” that “we all are going to Heaven, just by different roads.” They say these things even though all of these different churches, sects, and groups of Christendom have different doctrines, follow different creeds, leaders, and authorities…all while claiming to be led by the same Holy Spirit. Does the Spirit of God tell one church one thing and tell another church the exact opposite? Or does God’s Holy Spirit-inspired Word (2 Pet. 1:19-21) actually teach that there is ONE body and thus ONE church (Eph. 4:4; cf. 1:22-23), that there is actually ONE faith (Eph. 4:5), and that this ONE faith comes only from God’s Word (Rom. 10:17)? God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). Satan is (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).
The teaching of the Scriptures are so plain, so why do people stray from them and start these man-made churches which teach false doctrine? The Bible tells us why (2 Tim. 4:3-4). They do so because they want someone to scratch their itching ears. They want someone to teach them only what they want to hear rather than the truth of the Word of God. This is why it is so important to walk in truth and love, friends. Love and truth are very closely mingled together, because love means that we walk according to God’s commandments which are truth (2 John 4-6; John 17:17).
So how do we walk in truth and in love when we encounter those who teach error? First of all, we must beware of them (2 John 7; 1 John 4:1-3; cf. Matt. 7:15; 24:11, 23-25; Acts 20:29-31; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Pet. 2:1-3). In John’s day, they were teaching that Jesus had not come in the flesh. That was a direct falsehood, which is why John called them deceivers and antichrists (“antichrist” simply meaning “against Christ,” which is what one is when one teaches falsehood about Christ. “The Antichrist” being some supernatural, satanic, unstoppable, end-of-the-world-bringing force is a false concept also brought about by false teachers.)
Secondly, we must be on guard by watching out for ourselves and examining ourselves (2 John 8; cf. Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33; 2 Cor. 13:5; Acts 20:28; Gal. 6:1). We must never take our relationship with God for granted, for by doing so it will be easier for us to fall prey to the deceptions of these false teachers and thus lose our heavenly reward (2 John 8; cf. Heb. 3:12-4:1). This is why our own, regular, committed, deep study and meditation of God’s Word on a daily basis is so important (Ps. 1:1-3). It is only through deep study and obedience of God’s Word and constant self-examination that we will abide in the doctrine of Christ.
Abiding in the doctrine of Christ is crucial if we are to keep a healthy relationship with God, because those who do not abide in Christ’s teachings do not have God (2 John 9; cf. 1 John 1:6; 2:3-5). The doctrine of Christ is defined as both teaching about Christ (cf. 2 John 7) as well as the commandments which he gave (cf. 1 John 3:24). Those who keep his Word will have a relationship with him and his Father (2 John 9; cf. John 14:21, 23), and will never have to worry about losing their reward.
This is why it is so important that we be on the lookout for those who would deceive us and cause us to lose our inheritance. Appropriately, God has told us to not even eat or give a greeting to false teachers (2 John 10-11; cf. Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 1 Tim. 6:20-21; Eph. 5:11). From time to time, those who teach error will come our way. Some will be proven to have taught error out of sincere ignorance, and will be open to scriptural correction (cf. Acts 18:25-26). However, those who are proven to be unrepentantly teaching falsehood and who are trying to get us to agree with, comply to, and support their false teachings are to be completely avoided. We are not to eat with them or give them a greeting, a term which in biblical times not only referred to salutations but also meant to give your approval and support to what that person was doing. Giving your support to a teacher of truth, whether that support be food, hospitality, and/or financial in nature (cf. Philemon 22; 3 John 5-7), meant that you would be a fellow worker with that teacher (3 John 8). Unfortunately, the same would be true if you gave your support to a false teacher as well (2 John 11).
Therefore, it is urgent that we do everything we can to support those who teach the truth while in no way giving credence or support to those who unrepentantly teach error. We should not give our money to them, or advertise what they are doing for fear that such would cause people to be exposed to them and fall prey to their deceptions. Remember, souls are at stake…including our own! The honor of the church which Jesus died for is at stake as well!
My hope is that we can all walk in truth and in love…the truth and love which are found in the Scriptures alone.