Saturday, December 30, 2017

Discerning truth and error

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TO CHEW ON: “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 9

This short book/letter of only 13 verses is nevertheless deep and thought provoking. Its key words are “love” (four occurrences) and “truth” (five occurrences). Its main themes are truth and error—concepts we’d expect to see addressed by the philosophical Apostle John. With efficiency John lays out the territory of each.

What is truth and how does it relate to the believer? *
  • It unites them in fellowship - 2 John 1
  • It lives in them forever - 2 John 2.
  • They remind each other of the truth they believe and affirm it in their greeting of each other - 2 John 3.
  • It manifests itself in their obedience to God - 2 John 4-6.  

What is error?
  • Its advocates are deceitful - 2 John 7.
  • They deny Christ’s incarnation - 2 John 7.
  • They ignore the teachings of Jesus and disobey Him - 2 John 9.
  • They are to be guarded against, even shunned (John tells his readers to not even invite them into their homes) - 2 John 8, 11.

In our time when a smorgasbord of Bible teaching is available through books and online, maybe we should keep some of John’s points in mind as we evaluate who speaks truth and whose teachings come with shades of deceit and error. Some questions we might ask as we evaluate what we read and hear:
  • Does this teacher acknowledge the deity of Jesus?
  • Does he/she teach what Jesus taught, or are they selective, leaving out controversial bits?
  • Is their teaching clear or filled with questions and an unwillingness to state clearly what they believe (so that what they really believe remains fuzzy; we can’t pin them down)?
  • What does their lifestyle say about their beliefs?

Such spiritual perception implies a familiarity with the Bible and Jesus' teachings on our part in the first place, so we can tell what’s off. Let’s be studious and biblically literate so we can be discriminating in choosing what teachers to put ourselves under.

PRAYER: Dear Father, please fill me with Your Spirit of wisdom so I will recognize truth and error. Amen.

* These points are taken from the Study Notes on 2 John from the NKJV Thompson Chain Bible, p. 2099.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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