************ Sermon on 2 John 1:5-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 12, 2020
2 John 1:5-8
John, the elder, writes to the chosen lady. He writes to warn her against inviting false teachers into her home (2 Jn 1:7). These false teachers took advantage of Christ's command to show hospitality. Once in a home they would start teaching their heresies and errors and from the home these teachings would make their way into the church.
It is in this context of false teachers and preachers that John emphasizes truth. Walk in the truth, says John. Meaning we join with those who are in the truth and we keep separate from those who are outside the truth. Walk in the truth. Meaning, as we saw last time, truth unites us, truth saves us, and truth indwells us.
Today, we look at loving in the truth and holding on to the truth.
I Love in the Truth
A Our Bible reading starts with the phrase, "And now." John has just told us to walk in the truth. And now what? "And now ... I ask that we love one another" (2 Jn 1:5). Truth does more than unite us, save us, and indwell us. Truth also means we love one another.
At the time of John, just like today, there were some who were so devoted to the truth that they lost sight of love. Yes, there are false teachers and false prophets and many deceivers and we need to keep watch for the sake of the truth. But we are not to be so critical, so careful, so discerning, so skeptical, so theological that emphasis on truth overpowers our responsibility to love. Our faith and its practice is to be marked by love. Truth and love are to be in perfect balance. We do not use truth to be unloving, inhospitable, unkind, unmerciful, ungracious, mean-spirited. Just the opposite. The truth is always to be held in love. So, love one another. Love is part of the truth.
B "I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning." This is the same thing John said in his first letter.
(1 Jn 2:7) Dear friends, 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.
The command to love is an old, old command. It is a command "from the beginning." Listen to these two verses:
(Deut 6:5) Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.From the beginning, we have had the call to love. From the beginning of Israel as God's people. Even from the beginning of creation all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
(Lev 19:18) Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
The message of love is embedded in the Old Testament. It is an old command. So John is not making up something new like the heretics always do.
C "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands" (2 Jn 1:6). Think of what this says about the command to Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was actually a call to love God.
Think of what this says about the Law of God given at Mt. Sinai. The Law is a call to love. It is a summary of how to love. That's why Jesus, in Matthew 22, sums up the Law with the call to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves.
If you love God, you will not worship other gods. If you love God, you will not bow down to an idol. If you love God, you will not misuse His name. If you love God, you will worship Him with God's people.
Love also sums up the second table of the law. Listen to how Paul states this in Romans 13:
(Rom 13:9) The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."The command to love covers every single human relationship.
"Honor your father and your mother." If you love them, you are patient with their failings, you give them time and attention, and you don't talk badly about them.
"You shall not murder." If you love someone you don't slander their name, you don't hold grudges, you don't refuse to forgive, you don't hate, and you don't do anything that harms your neighbor.
"You shall not commit adultery." If you love your neighbor you live a decent and chaste life.
"You shall not steal." If you love your neighbor you are not going to steal from them, you are not going to defraud them, you are not going to take advantage of them.
"You shall not give false testimony." "You shall not covet." Those who love their neighbor do not do such things.
Love is not a sentiment. Love is not a feeling. Love is not an emotion. Love is obedience. When I am obedient to the first four commandments, I am loving God. When I am obedient to the next six commandments, I am loving others. So John says, "Walk in love." That is, keep His commandments. You can only truly love by being obedient to the Word of God. Which means you must know the Word of God in order to love.
D And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands" (2 Jn 1:6). Think of what this says about our lives. We've been asked to examine ourselves this past week as we prepare for the Lord's Supper. What did you see? What do you see? An honest examination means you see a failure to love God above all and a failure to love your neighbor as yourself. An honest examination means you see yourself a sinner standing in need of God's grace and mercy.
E On this Lord's Supper Sunday we need to go back, for a moment, to what was written in 1 John 2. John tells us the command to love is not a new command (1 Jn 2:7). Yet, in the very next sentence John tells us it is a new command: "Yet I am writing you a new command ..." (1 Jn 2:8).
There are two Greek words translated as new. There is new in time. John says the command to love is not new this way -- it goes all the way back to the beginning. And, there is new in quality, in essence, in character. John says that in Jesus the command to love is new in quality -- something fresh, something different, something exciting.
So what is new? What is different? What makes it fresh and exciting?
"Love God above all." Never has this command been so clearly seen and displayed as it is in Christ. No one, absolutely no one, loves God the way Jesus does. Love for God is perfectly seen in Christ. How much does Jesus love God? Not a single word, not a single thought, not a single deed in His life transgressed God's law. Every word, every thought, every deed was captive to God and His glory. Remember what He said in the Garden of Gethsemane? "Not my will, but yours be done" (Lk 22:42). Why? Why was Jesus so scrupulous about obeying the law? So He could save us from our sins. He was obedient in our place.
"Love your neighbor as yourself." Never has this command been so clearly seen and displayed as it is in Christ. No one, absolutely no one, loves their neighbor the way Christ does. Love for neighbor is perfectly seen in Christ. During His whole life on earth Jesus showed love. And, this love reached its culmination on Good Friday. Why was He betrayed and hit and whipped? Because of love! Why did He go to the cross? Because of love! Why was He cursed by God? Because of love! Why did He suffer and die? Because of love!
Love. Love that is new in quality. Love that is perfect. Love that is beyond anything anyone else has ever shown. That is the love of Christ. That is the truth of Christ's love on this Lord's Supper Sunday.
II Hold on to the Truth
A Walk in the truth. Love in the truth. We end with hold on to the truth. Verse 8:
(2 Jn 1:8) Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
What does this mean? It means you can't love the deceivers mentioned in verse 7. John tells us there are many deceivers. Think of how many there are: JWs, Mormons, the Roman Catholic Church, Joel Osteen, the health and wealth gospel, cults galore, snake handlers, holy rollers. They have gone out into the world. They are to be found everywhere. In fact, everywhere the Gospel goes, everywhere the truth is to be found, you find these deceivers. Everywhere the truth goes, Satan sends them and they preach another gospel.
Deceivers. The Greek word means wanderer. Their thoughts, their lives, their words, their teachings wander from the truth. In some ways, the deceivers are worse than Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus because they pretend to be in the truth. They pretend to be of Christ but they aren't. They are to be avoided and shunned and denied.
B "Watch out ..." You can't love antichrists. You can't love false prophets and teachers. You cannot embrace those who speak against what Scripture teaches. When we embrace or tolerate these liars and their lies we lose the truth.
We have seen that, haven't we? We have seen it again and again. Look at the seminaries at Harvard and Yale and elsewhere. They prepare men and women to preach a false gospel. Look at many of our Christian colleges teaching our youth evolution and tolerance. Look at the many churches and denominations that have abandoned the truth.
You can't walk in the truth, you can't love in the truth, unless you also are loyal to the truth.
C There are all sorts of ways to deny the Gospel. You can deny the Trinity. You can say salvation is by works rather than by grace through faith. You can deny the divinity of Jesus. You can deny the reality of sin. You can deny the words of Scripture. You can deny the demands of God's law. John mentions those who deny Christ Jesus came in the flesh. To say Christ Jesus did not come in the flesh is to say He is not fully God and fully man. To deny Christ Jesus came in the flesh is to say He was not born of a virgin, He did not live a sinless life, He did not die and could not die as a substitute for man because He was not man. To deny Christ Jesus came in the flesh is to say He did not rise from the dead.
"Watch out ..." You have to protect yourself. You have to protect the church. You have to protect the new in faith. You have to protect our children and youth. "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for." Watch out that you are not going backwards. Watch out that you are holding on to the truth.
"Watch out ..." Make sure you hold on to the truth we hear and see this morning: that Christ has died for our sins.
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