2 John 7–10 (NKJV)
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
For the last two weeks we have explored John’s second epistle and seen that John unites things that many of us often attempt to divide. Today John tackles the topic of truth and informs his readers that truth matters and that Christianity has propositional content that enables us to evaluate false teaching.
The particular false teaching that John rejects was called docetism – docetists taught that the body is evil and that salvation is escape from the prison house of the body. They insisted, therefore, that Jesus could not have assumed a body – that would put him in the same dilemma as the rest of us. Jesus only appeared to have flesh and bones – he really was a spirit instructing us with secret knowledge on how to escape the body.
This, John tells us, is a damnable lie. If we do not get the identity of Jesus right, if we do not articulate the truth about Jesus, then we have neither the Father nor the Son. John informs us that the critical issue is not whether one believes in a person named Jesus but what one believes about him. Who is Jesus? Both Scripture and Christian tradition have always insisted that Jesus is God Himself in human flesh, the Second Person of the Trinity. He is “God of God; Light of Light; very God of very God…being of one substance with the Father.” (Nicene Creed)
Those who modify, twist, distort, or pervert this doctrine are neither Christians nor allies. Whether Unitarians who insist that Jesus was just a great man, or Muslims who insist that Jesus was just a great prophet, or Jehovah’s Witnesses who teach that Jesus was just the greatest of all god’s creations, or Mormons who teach that Jesus was just a man who earned his way to godhead – we are not to consider these nor their like as Christians or allies. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house [church] nor greet him [consider him your ally in the work of the Gospel].
Maintaining this stance is challenging in our day – we live in a religiously pluralistic society full of neighbors and friends who do not embrace historic Christianity and who consider such a devotion to truth out of touch. And so we often find ourselves tempted to compromise or downgrade Jesus’ claims. We are ashamed of the truth rather than embracing the truth.
So reminded of our call to embrace the truth and that we have at times compromised the truth instead, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.