Deceit of Deceivers, 2 John 1:5-13

“I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.” 2 John 1:4.

“And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.” 2 John 1:5.

Verse four above has been included as a reminder that the first portion of this chapter leaned heavily on walking in the truth. The truth being the doctrine of Christ as the gospel presents it.

By the time we get to verse six, we will see the word commandment replace it.

Here in verse five, the apostle tells the church that he is changing nothing, we still have the commandment to love one another; which is not just an old commandment but it is known as the royal law.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” James 2:8.

James is quoting here from Leviticus 19:18, the third book in the Old Testament. Having said that, the apostle goes on to tell how love is expressed.

“This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.” 2 John 1:6.

If we walk according to God’s commandments we will show our love. This does not mean that we are under the Old Testament Law; rather it means that if we truly love, we automatically fulfill the law.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14.

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18.

“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8-10.

Theodore H. Epp describes the love here in a different manner than we would normally expect. He says that this love is different from the sort one may have for a friend; rather it goes further as to setting one’s heart on doing others good.

This love for a brother is not simply one of not doing them harm, but it is the determination to do them good.

This call in 2 John 1:6 to obedience to love one another and to keep God’s commandments brings us right to the next thought.

“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.” 2 John 1:7.

If the church, if Christians, do not maintain a love for one another and if they are not walking in the truth, in God’s commandments, if they do not study the word of God then deceivers will come in unawares and rob them of their pure doctrine and rip the heart out of the church itself.

This has always been done slowly, incrementally, so that Christians, who study the Scriptures carelessly, or not at all, accept the watering down of God’s word and the changes to the church itself by so-called theologians.

Perhaps the worst of this change came around 250 A.D. when the division of the body of Christ began in the form of the clergy and the laity.

The clergy being a body of holy experts who would come to rule over the laity, the common man; in time this common man took the place of a dumb sheep sitting in a pew listening to the educated clergy.

With the experts in charge and the flock having only the word of their clergyman to go by, robbing the church of its glory and message was simplicity itself.

Granted, there have always been godly men in charge, and their influence unquestionably slowed the decline of the church, but did not stop it.

Eventually there came the burdening of the church with rules and penances and heavy weights that Christ never meant for His people. This always happens when men take over and then ungodly men rise to power to bring in their own godless rituals.

The rule of the Pharisees is a good example of the perversion of Scripture and the placing of a discouraging load on the people.

“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.’” Matthew 23:1-4.

By the time Constantine made Christianity the state religion of Rome in 312 A.D. the church was ripe to be changed into man’s image away from God.

This change included making some pagan rituals a part of the church in an effort to increase membership and increase the power and prestige of the leadership.

Also as the state religion, Christianity became the in thing to join, both for personal gain and prestige.

When the Roman Empire fell into chaos around 500 A.D. the church became the mainstay of western civilization and as everything sank into the dark ages the church only grew in power and influence.

During this dark time godless men within the church started sinful practices such as selling indulgences, guaranteeing heaven for a price.

In the twelfth century the Inquisition was begun, dooming millions to imprisonment, or horrific torture and death.

Ironically, these godless demon inspired churchmen were of the same type who threw Christians to the lions during the Roman persecution.

While the Reformation which began around 1517 A.D. freed many from the iron grip of the church; in time the Reformation churches fell back into some of the error of their predecessor, even to the point of becoming state churches and persecuting and killing those who disagreed with their doctrines.

It is persecution from these and the Catholic Church which forced many Christians to seek a new life in the New World.

Most Christians today have once again become dependent on the clergy to teach them everything, in spite of the fact that the Bible is in nearly every home in America.

This dependence on “holy men” trained in liberal seminaries for teaching, and a lackadaisical approach to the truth of Scripture has led us to the ineffectual state that Christianity is in today.

This brings us back to verse seven.

“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.” 2 John 1:7.

As you can see from the above passages, this is what happens when Christians do not follow the commandments of God. What it means to deny that Christ has come in the flesh is everything.

His incarnation, His death and resurrection, His being seated at the right hand of God the Father at this moment, and His imminent return to rule this earth and destroy evil permanently.

They may deny all of this, or any part of it; the last sentence of verse seven says of these people, “This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” What a dreadful and powerful name to call those who bring another gospel into the church.

Gospel means good news, it is the revelation that Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose again from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9.

“Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.” 2 John 1:8.

This full reward is that which Christians will receive at the judgment seat of Christ after our life has been examined and the things not done for Christ are burned up and the things done in service for Him will receive a reward.

“According to grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” I Corinthians 3:10-15.

Another aspect of the phrase, “that we do not lose those things we worked for” is seen in the brief church history given earlier. Christians did not look carefully at the things which were being introduced and resist them.

As a result, the church we have today bears little resemblance to the one set up by the apostles after the Day of Pentecost.

Though most of us dislike confrontation, we must always confront known heresy, this is the only way we will keep the little that we have remaining.

“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.” 2 John 1:9.

Mark that well, the person who “…does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God”. The person who does not have God has absolutely no authority in the church!

I like how the J. B. Phillips version puts this one.

“The man who is so ‘advanced’ that he is not content with what Christ taught, has in fact no God. The man who bases his life on Christ’s teaching, however, has both the Father and the Son as his God.” 2 John 1:9.

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” 2 John 1:10-11.

Many have ignored this command and have lost their spouse, or their children, or had their own Christian lives destroyed or derailed by falling into the error that these people carry about.

Evil doctrine murders souls, sending them to an eternity in hell without Christ. Those who bring such things to your home or church should be loved as we should love any who are lost.

But that does not mean that we need to extend our hospitality to them or wish them well; and they certainly have no place at the podium before the church.

“Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.” 2 John 1:12-13.

Deceit of Deceivers, 2 John 1:5-13 taken from posted on 3-20-12, updated on 8-8-18.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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