ABIDING In The DOCTRINE of Christ

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THE SECOND LETTER OF JOHN – (With an Emphasis on verses 7-11)

When John wrote this letter, there were many false teachers as there are today.

These men and women argue that Jesus was not always the Son of God.  They didn’t think that Jesus was both God and man through his whole life.  So, they taught that Jesus became the Christ only for a short time.

The FALSE TEACHERS thought they had a new knowledge (“Gnosticism”).

The word “Gnostic” comes from the Greek word, “Gnosis” meaning to know. Gnosticism taught that man’s body, which is composed of matter, is evil and that God, who is spirit, is totally good.  Also, that SALVATION is attained not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge.

This new knowledge, GNOSTICISM, had replaced what the apostles taught.  The false teachers said that their MESSAGE was new and different, a really new idea. But it was the wrong idea.  They had added their own ideas to the TRUTH, and thus, the CULT beliefs began and our flourishing today.

In the Gospel of John 14:6, Jesus says He is the personification of the TRUTH:

[16]  “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”  (Amplified Bible)

Jesus is “the TRUTH” incarnate.

And yet “the TRUTH” is under fire today.  The current fad led by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code is nothing new.  His false information comes from the cultic beliefs that were rejected by the true church long ago.

The same is true regarding the so-called Gospel of Judas.  Those false Gospels written long after the fact were quickly rejected by the church.  So contrary to what Mr. Brown wrote, the church overwhelmingly rejected the Gnostic teachings.

Many of the New Testament letters were written to combat false teachings that threatened the church.  The Epistles of John are no exception.

The letter of 2 John is the shortest letter in the New Testament.  Yet, this little letter speaks powerfully to our generation, especially concerning our relationship to the TRUTH as it is in Jesus.

John begins his 2 letter by telling his readers, 

[1] “…not only I but also all who are [progressively] learning to recognize and know and understand the TRUTH– [2] Because of the TRUTH which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever” (AMP).

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VERSES 7-11 dealt with the basic Gnostic heresy that was beginning to put a negative influence on the early church.

BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus are to possess the TRUTH (vv 1-3) and practice the TRUTH (vv 4-6) and we are to protect the TRUTH (vv 7-11) as our responsibility.

I have been engrossed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro this year.  I particularly enjoy hearing  the backstories of the athletes from the nations gathered for one purpose in mind.  To be victorious in representing their country.

Stories of sacrifice, of vigorous and sometimes painful exercise of their sport.  If we, as believers in the TRUTH, can also apply the same unbending dedication to being victorious, not for medals around our necks, but out of LOVE for our God and Savior.  That my friends, is LIVING IN THE TRUTH!

IN VERSE 7, John calls those who follow the Gnostic movement DECEIVERS, or as the Amplified Bible calls as “IMPOSTERS” and the antichrist.

[7]  For many imposters (seducers, deceivers, and false leaders) have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge (confess, admit) the coming of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) in bodily form.  Such a one is the imposter and the antichrist.

Peter Jones is the author of the book,  “The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back” movement, calling today’s church to spiritual warfare.  Mr. Jones points out how gay rights are promoted in popular magazines, public radio and Hollywood.  Feminist spirituality is making inroads into Christianity.  Christian students are being silenced in the name of religious tolerance.  Mystical techniques for achieving well-being and self-knowledge are being adopted in the business world and in the military.

Merely coincidental trends?  No, this is spiritual warfare and are expressions of an ancient heresy reasserting itself today.

IN VERSE 9 John encourages his readers, and that includes us, to “ABIDE” in the Doctrine of Christ.  Don’t panic, when you read or hear the word “doctrine.”

DOCTRINE simply means “the teachings of Christ.”

[9]  Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.

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In other words, those who follow the teachings of the antichrist spirit and denies the person and the deity of Christ, is separated from God.  They are lost and destined for destruction in hell, according to God’s Word.

The word “abide” means, “to continue,” “to remain,” “to dwell” in the teaching, or doctrine of Christ.

READ the words of Jesus  (John 15:4-8 NIV translation):

[4] “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  [5] I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  [6] If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  [7] If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  [8] This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Looking at 2 JOHN, verses 10 and 11 for a moment, John writes [10] “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [is disloyal to what Jesus Christ taught], do not receive him [do not accept him, do not welcome or admit him] into [your] house or bid him Godspeed or give him any encouragement.  [11] For he who wishes him success [who encourages him, wishing him Godspeed] is a partaker in his evil doings.”

John isn’t saying that we are to refuse hospitality to the lost–unsaved people.  In fact one of the best ways of sharing Jesus to others is to invite lost people into our homes.  John is saying that we are not to show hospitality to false teachers who can, and will, DECEIVE the church.

During the first two centuries and beyond, the gospel message was carried from place to place by traveling evangelists.

Looking back into my family history, I found in the records, on my mother’s side of the Family Tree, a Circuit Rider.  A clergyman who travel on horseback in early America from church to church, especially within a rural Methodist circuit. Believers by the way, were to show them hospitality and allow them to stay in their homes.

The FALSE TEACHERS also had this practice.  They would often visit a believer’s home in pretense of being a Christian.  The believer would unwittingly show them hospitality.  Yet to willingly show hospitality to false teachers was to participate in their actions.  I always remember my parents’ warning growing up:  “Hang around in a bad crowd, and people will believe you’re part of that ‘bad crowd.’

CHRISTIANITY is about TRUTH.

imagesJesus says. “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.”  There is God’s TRUTH and an eternal TRUTH.  We must possess the Truth in receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior of our lives.

WAIT, there’s more!

We also must practice daily the TRUTH by exercising Christian LOVE.  And, we must protect the TRUTH by “abiding”- in the Doctrine of Christ.

What about you?  Have you made your commitment to Jesus as Lord of your life?  Or, are you following after the false teachings so prevalent today?

As for me and my house, we have made our choice!

 


SOURCES & CREDITS:

Bible Translations Used:  The Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Credits:  The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back on the Truth XChange. Preface published by P & R Publishing.

Commentary:  2 John – Free Bible Commentary in Easy English.

Our CONSCIENCE: The Good, the Bad, and the Uncomfortable

LIFE is full of decision-making, whether we are young in life or old.  

I can look back today at my childhood and often wondered in making decisions,

“Should I do this or do that?”  

My mother would say, “Always listen to your CONSCIENCE Mel.”

At the time, I had no idea what a “conscience” was, so mom would explain “It’s that little voice you hear inside of you coming from your heart.”  Now that was confusing at my young age.

Dictionary.com DEFINES Conscience as “The inner sense of what is right or wrong in our conduct or motives, impelling one toward right actions.”

If my mother were alive today and heard this definition of Conscience, she would chime in…”that’s what I said!”

And now, in the twilight of my years, I still have trouble keeping my CONSCIENCE under control.

Managing your conscience is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control in the garden

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My wife tells the story of her distaste for the squash growing up in Southern, California.  She says that her dad loved it so much, that he grew it in their backyard against a wooden fence.  The vines grew uncontrolled and the squash was so prolific, they had Chayote every night for dinner during the Summer months.  Now I like squash, but every night for dinner?

Managing your CONSCIENCE is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control by continually struggling to keep the vines under management.  

Our CONSCIENCES are also a struggle to manage.

THE GOOD CONSCIENCE:

Our CONSCIENCE can uphold us when we struggle spiritually.  

The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to fight the good fight; to keep a clear conscience when facing struggles.

1 Timothy 1:19 (AMP):

“Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) CONSCIENCE. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith.”

Our CONSCIENCE can also protect us from TEMPTATION.

In Genesis 39:7-12. Joseph was sexually tempted by his bosses wife.  Joseph followed his CONSCIENCE and resisted the temptation.  Because of his decision, he developed a stronger testimony for God.

THE BAD & THE UNCOMFORTABLE CONSCIENCE:

Our CONSCIENCE can also display a bad side which can fuel PARANOIA

Proverbs 28:1 (The Message bible):

“The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them;”

Let me give you a few more bible examples of “bad consciences”:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 says,  [1] “But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach,[2] Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose CONSCIENCES are seared (cauterized)  (AMP).

That folks, is an example of a hardened conscience!

Another example I found in Scripture, was a CONSCIENCE of self-destruction in a disciple, a follower of Jesus (Matthew 27:3-5 NIV): 

[3] When JUDAS, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  [4] “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”  “What is that to us?” they replied.  “That’s your responsibility.”  [5] So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.  Then he went away and hanged himself.

So by EXAMPLE, our CONSCIENCES are not altogether GOOD or BAD.

Billy Graham said “Most of us follow our CONSCIENCE as we follow a wheelbarrow. We push it in front of us in the direction we want to go.”  So the issue is managing our consciences properly.  And how do we do that?

God has given each one of us the resources needed in managing our CONSCIENCES…which brings me to the BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG-STUDY, where God’s RESOURCES are revealed to help us manage our conscience.

God’s RESOURCES found in 1 John 3:18-23:

 

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Whatever you do, let your ACTIONS be motivated out of LOVE (3:18)

A good illustration of this Resource can be found in 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul discusses eating food that has been offered [sacrificed] to idols.  The question had been raised:  ‘Is it proper–the right thing to do–to eat meat that was left after the blood was used in sacrificing to an idol?’  Paul’s instruction was that it was okay. There was nothing morally wrong with it.  However, if this practice causes someone else to stumble, then avoid such practices.

LET LOVE BE THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE!

Using this RESOURCE as our guide, we should then apply this principle concerning our actions–

  • Speaking rudely to another person.
  • Social drinking.
  • Cursing.
  • Being critical of another person.

Our words, actions and thoughts should communicate LOVE to the other person.

Paul says in Acts 24:16,  “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Another RESOURCE noticed in John’s letter was to submit to the TRUTH.

SUBMIT TO THE TRUTH
SUBMIT TO THE TRUTH

Sometimes a GUILTY CONSCIENCE is inappropriate.  That said, there are times when I personally feel guilty because…I AM GUILTY!

The best guide in determining TRUE GUILT isn’t other people.  They may not give you very sound advice.

The BEST GUIDE is God’s Word!  It is always consistent, unlike opinions from others.  It is unchanging.

BUT there is a challenge here in becoming submitted to the TRUTH, God’s Word and accepting what it teaches.

I once read somewhere,  “The TRUTH will set you free but it will make you uncomfortable in the process.”

Here’s but one example to apply:  Maybe you are having trouble forgiving someone.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive your [own] shortcomings and let them drop”  (Mark 11:25 AMP).

As we submit to God’s Word in the Bible, we will make right decisions in following a consistent pattern that is pleasing to God.

The 3rd RESOURCE John lays before us is to Accept the GRACE of God (3:20):

[20] “Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation makes us feel guilty and condemn us.  [For we are in God’s hands.]  For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].”  (Amplified Bible)

The Bible instructs us to throw your sin into the deepest ocean and leave it there. In addition, God has put up a no fishing sign:

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If you have confessed your sin and asked God’s forgiveness, then REJOICE in the GRACE OF GOD!

GRACE isn’t a pacifier for those who want to continue living in their SIN.  However, if you truly REPENT–change your direction–God’s GRACE will heal your wounds.

Finally, in verse 23, we find the RESOURCE of Putting Your Trust in Jesus.

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“Now, what does JESUS have to do with managing our conscience?”

Good question.

JESUS forgives us when JESUS FORGIVES us when we SIN, thus giving us a CLEAN HEART (clear conscience).

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins…”  (1 John 1:9).

BUT there’s more!

Besides forgiving you and I for our sins, He will also give you a fresh start!

A lady by the name of Louise Fletcher Tarkington wrote a poem entitled “The Lord of Beginning Again” [See Footnote [i] ].  This poem reflects the desires of many.

I wish that there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again.

Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,

And all of our poor selfish grief

Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at 

the door And never put on again.

In Jesus this is possible.

We can gain victory over our CONSCIENCE.

We must follow the internal leadings of LOVE, submit to God’s TRUTH, accept the GRACE of God and put our TRUST in Jesus.

Is God speaking to you about your CONSCIENCE right now?  He wants to give you VICTORY.  Will you accept it today?


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  http://fromtroublesofthisworld.wordpress.com/…/the-land-of-beginning-by-lau…

Photos:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

 

 

Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

Looking At The World From A Different Perspective:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (AMP):

[1] BUT UNDERSTAND THIS, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble–hard to deal with and hard to bear.  [2] For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers); disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.  [3] [They will be] without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman);  relentless–admitting of no truce or appeasement.  [They will be] slanderers–false accusers, trouble makers; intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.  [4] [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.  [5] For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it–their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession.  Avoid [all] such people–turn away from them.

A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb
A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb

Looking at the world from a BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE, it is not difficult to reach this conclusion from the title to this blog-post: “Things Aren’t Always As They Seem”–

Although this planet is inhabited by more than six billion human beings, there are only two types of people: Those who BELONG TO CHRIST and those WHO DON’T.

Now that, at first, may seem like an oversimplification, but the fact is reflected in…

1 Corinthians 10:21: 

You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the demon’s cup. You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demons’ table.”

Unfortunately, in comparison to the rest of the world, the TRUE CHURCH, that is to say, ALL BELIEVERS not willing to compromise, do not compromise their FAITH by following the norms and the evil current running through this world, is a FACT.

It is a sad fact to think that out of more than six billion people, only a small group or percentage will be SAVED.

Look at the words JESUS speaks in clarity–John 14:6:  “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”

THIS WORLD is full of people who are just like described in our text (2 Tim. 3:1-5), appear to be one thing, but in all reality something very different.

The world is full of people who profess to be “Christians”; people who with their mouths loudly (and some, not so loudly) DECLARE they are men and women of God, but in REALITY are very far from God.

How do I know this?

Because there are numerous doctrines and teachings that appear to be beautiful and good, but when examined against the Truth, the Word of God, quickly find that there are DOCTRINES & TEACHINGS designed to separate men from God’s presence.

The apostle Paul tells us here to SEPARATE ourselves from them–yet way before Paul’s instruction to us in Timothy, Jesus warned us to stay alert, “take heed”; don’t let the world catch anyone napping.

Mark 13:21-23 (NASB):

[21] “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ; or ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him;  [22] For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.  [23] “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.”

At this point, I want to take a pause–a “time out”.  I am NOT stating nor implying we should JUDGE and CONDEMN someone.  None of us are worthy to judge anyone!  There is but on Judge!  (John 5:22-23)

I want to make myself very clear on the fact that we are not called to JUDGE or CONDEMN anyone because they may be confused or find themselves trapped in a RELIGION or a SECT.  Let’s always remember when we find ourselves in a situation to EVANGELIZE…our first words must never be “you are going to hell.”  

Our responsibility is to PREACH God’s TRUTH.

So I am NOT implying that we must judge, rather what I am trying to convey to you is we can not trust everything that we see or hear.

The MAJORITY of people, I believe, allow themselves to be led by first impressions, being it positive or negative, and these influence their attitude and behavior toward others.  How do I know this?  Because I am in a spiritual battle as I write–concerning my attitude, my first impressions of others.

If we are honest with ourselves, we are ALL GUILTY of doing just this.  Look at what JESUS tells us regarding our attitude toward others; our judging based on first impressions or otherwise:

Matthew 7:1-2:

[1]  DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.  [2] For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

But then the question arises in our minds, “How can we distinguish between good and the bad without counting on appearances?”

The LORD tells in Matthew 7:15 (VOICE):

“Along the way, WATCH OUT for false prophets.  They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but understand that quaint and innocent wool, they are hungry wolves.”

I capitalized two words in this verse, for the KEY to answering the question is to “WATCH OUT” !!!

There are many people in this world who appear to be something that they are not. People that disguise themselves by wearing masks of religions, that seem to speak eloquently with fancy words, but “inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

WATCH OUT!

There is but ONE WAY that we can prevent ourselves from being deceived; to distinguish these persons from the rest.

EXAMINE THE FRUITS that they produce (Matthew 7:20):

“You will fully know them by their fruits.”

In other words, although my first impression may be good or bad, although the appearance of a group or individual is good or bad, as a true believer, I have to start by learning to wait on God.  This “waiting”, many will say, places the BELIEVER in Christ Jesus at a disadvantage.  

But in reality, the opposite is true.

What happens is, that once we receive conviction, we separate ourselves from all of those things that we have learned that displease God; we will be accused by many saying that a TRUE CHRISTIAN is called to LOVE.  That as Christians, we are CALLED TO LOVE GOD and our neighbors.  That we are CALLED TO FORGIVE even those that may have seriously offended us in the past, and because of the “callings”, we can never distance ourselves from, or stop sharing with, a particular group or individual.

I can tell you that there is some TRUTH to these types of accusations; a Christian Believer IS called to love God and to love his neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40).

Therefore, ONE TRUTH IS…Christians are CALLED to LOVE & FORGIVE.

BUT another great truth is that Christians are NOT CALLED to be Accomplices; Doctrines, rituals, and Sects that serve only to drive a wedge between man and God.

Our responsibility is to TEACH the TRUTH, to PREACH the Gospel of Salvation through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

BUT if they are unwilling to HEAR, unwilling to ACCEPT the Truth, wishing to continue in those things that don’t please God as pointed out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, then we are to SEPARATE ourselves from them.

Look at how this instruction from Jesus is clearly reflected in Matthew 7:6 when we read…hqdefault

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.  Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!  They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you”  ~ New Living Translation (NLT).

WE MUST BE CAREFUL–WATCH OUT!!!

We must be take care of what God has given us–our “PEARLS” of wisdom and understanding.

Read in Revelations 2:11 at how our Lord tells us,  “Behold I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

We must AVOID those persons who disguise themselves to confuse us; we must SEPARATE ourselves from this wicked and evil world, no matter the form we see it appear.

But we must also EXAMINE ourselves very closely to find the FRUITS that we are bearing are in fact pleasing to God.  [See Footnote [i] for a reference to read]

We must examine ourselves to find, if perhaps, that we have become so preoccupied with those around us that our life has stopped testifying of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I…we have to examine ourselves closely, because we find that by CRITICIZING, and HATING those around us, we must realize that we are not bearing GOOD FRUIT.  We must be very careful with what we HEAR & SEE, we have to TEST EVERYTHING using the Word of God.

But just as important, is our self-examination; we have to EXAMINE ourselves and discover if our life is truly hidden in Christ, or perhaps just hidden.

APPEARANCES can be deceiving, so let’s be very careful that we may not be deceiving ourselves in the process.

 


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/its-not-easy-b…ruit-inspector/

Photos:  Google Search Images

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.