Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon #1232
October 18, 2015 2 John 1:4-11
Dr. Ed Pettus
“Walk in the Truth”
4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
2 John is addressed to the “elect lady and her children”. On the surface we might think that this is addressed to a woman and her family, and perhaps that could be so, but most believe that John is using a common metaphor for the church – the church as a female, the bride of Christ. If the church is the elect lady then her children would be the congregation. I believe this is the case here. John is writing to a church and in his message he rejoices that some are walking in the truth. Of course, that news of joy is tempered a bit as it is just “some” who are walking in the truth. We assume then, that some are not. But John does not address that, only the good news that those children who are walking in the truth are walking as God commanded, and in that, John rejoices. Too often we look only to the negative side of things. I think we do that because we hear mostly bad news every day. The news broadcasters and journalists know that bad news sells more than good news. I truly believe that since we are constantly hearing bad news, we also tend to look more toward bad news rather than good.
John looks to the good news, rejoicing that some are walking in the truth. Maybe we need to reflect on our tendencies and make sure that we also look to the good in things and spend less time focused on bad news or the negative things in life!
… that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
The truth in which they are walking is following the command to love one another. And the fact that they were loving one another demonstrated that they were walking according to his commandments. Kind of a circular action – love – command – love – command – love… Jesus said the same thing when we spoke of the great commandment,
Matthew 22:36-40 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
On the two commands to love God and neighbor, the law and the prophets depend. What that means is that love is at the core of keeping God’s commands. We spend our life learning to love according to God’s word.
6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
The metaphor that John uses to follow the word of God is to walk in it. Walking takes more time than most ways we get around. Walking was the primary way in biblical times, but I think that we can learn from the thought of walking. Things like taking more time, paying more attention, and moving slowly through the commands until we know the way in every detail.
Jesus uses another metaphor in abiding. When we abide in something we talk about living within, about dwelling. We spend time there. It is like abiding in our homes. Home is where we spend a great deal of time and energy. We find rest there. We spend time with family and friends in our homes. Jesus commands that we abide in His word. Spend time there and live there. One of the greatest passages on this is in this same gospel of John, chapter 15:4-11.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
The deeper truth is we not only abide in Jesus, but he abides in us. And the reality is that apart from being in Jesus, we can do nothing. Abide in Jesus and let his words abide in you. We know if this is true by the fruit we bear and the keeping of commandments.
The same could be said for walking, we walk with Jesus and he walks with us. If we try to walk alone, we can do nothing.
7For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.
This is probably the main reason John sent this letter, to encourage the church to not be deceived. One of the major problems for the church in its early existence was the problem with false teachers. Throughout history the church has had to determine what we believe and to protect that truth. We face the same kinds of attacks on the truth of scripture. People inside and outside the church are constantly deceptive, twisting the word, and teaching false doctrines. This is why it is so important that we walk in the truth, abiding in his word.
Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
The blessing of abiding in the teaching of God is that we have the assurance of the presence of God. This is a great encouragement to us knowing that we are promised God’s presence in our journey of faith. It’s like having our favorite teacher with us all the time to keep on the right path.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
John also gives a warning about those who teach false doctrines that we should not receive them or even greet them. This seems to contradict the teachings of hospitality throughout the Bible, but I think it is a warning to protect the church. Certainly we are to show hospitality whenever we can, but we have to be wise also in protecting the teaching of the gospel in our lives and in the church. It would be foolish to let someone come in the church and teach that Jesus is not returning as he said he would or that Jesus is not the only way to the Father. Any false teaching robs us of the joy of walking in the truth.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
The standard is to do our best. We are presenting ourselves before the Lord as we seek to handle the word in appropriate ways. This is done through study. Study takes time, like walking, like abiding. Study means learning and memorizing and living it out. It means being intentional and deliberate in our study. We can only walk in the truth if we really know the truth and that comes from study.
b. Spiritual Fight 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Our fight is against spiritual things and one of the ways we fight temptation or fight deception and false teachings is that we bring every thought we have captive. This is done through study and obedience and submission to God’s word. Imagine if every thought we ever had could be totally obedient to Christ.
c. Strong Defense 1 Peter 3:15
In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
The reason study is first on this list is because that is how we are able to fight the spiritual fight and present a defense of our hope. I have used this verse from 1 Peter on multiple Sundays to encourage us to be able to tell our story of faith and to present the gospel to people. We might write our story down and study the scriptures to be able to give testimony to the truth of God. We do that in love and devotion to God and that is part of how we walk in the truth.
I want us to be encouraged today to walk in the truth, to rejoice in that truth, to study the truth, to fight for the truth, and to defend the truth. The more people can see the truth in us, the more they will be drawn to it. Let us walk, take a slow diligent walk, in the truth that is Jesus Christ. Amen.