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Yesterday, we looked at the demands that Love places on her counterpart Truth, according to John’s Second Letter. Ultimate Love and Ultimate Truth is a person whom we call Jesus. Though he is God, he loved his people so much that he submitted to death on a cross for them. In Jesus, Love wins.

But in Jesus, Truth wins too.

John’s Second Letter does not devolve into something mushy and overly-sentimental because Love is appropriately balanced by Truth. When serious problems arise, Truth does not allow Love simply to overlook them. So, John concludes this short letter with a strict warning:

[7] For 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. [8] Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. [9] Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. [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.
[12] Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
[13] The children of your elect sister greet you. (2 John 1:7-13)

John does not want the church to whom he writes to think that they are to embrace every religious teacher who comes into their midst. Love needs boundaries and limits, and she discovers those boundaries with assistance from Truth. Truth rightly recognizes that false teaching is not merely misguided, but destructive, harmful, and deadly, and he keeps Love from too quickly greeting those who represent such dangers.

The Truth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not merely a quirky opinion; Jesus Christ’s coming in the flesh is the only message that brings life itself. Those who cling to this Truth find eternal life, for whoever has the Son has life; those who reject this Truth are left only with death, for whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

John’s opposition is directed not at those who have been deceived by false teachers, but rather toward the deceivers themselves. It is a false teacher (not one who is falsely taught) who is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Truth teaches Love that she cannot fully exercise her care and compassion if she tolerates poison and death in her midst. Truth compels Love to guard her children well, lest they lose what we have worked for, in order that they may win a full reward. Truth reminds Love that the only lasting good is found in the doctrine of Christ, through which we are reconciled to both the Father and the Son.

Truth gently points out to Love that deceivers might not be up-front with their deceptions:

The heresy of these teachers was that they confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. We are not told that they categorically denied the incarnation, but that they did not ‘acknowledge it (RSV, NEB). Perhaps they were subtle enough to counterfeit rather than contradict it. Nevertheless, their teaching was tantamount to a contradiction. (John Stott, The Epistles of John [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964], 209.)

Truth even gives courage to Love when false teachers must be turned away without a greeting, knowing that to do so would be to fan the flames of death among her children. In opposing falsehood, Truth and Love form a united front against the deceivers and the antichrists who teach a form of spirituality, yet deny (or simply distract from) the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.

In Jesus, Truth wins too.

Post Series on 2 John:

  1. Loving One Another in Truth
  2. In Jesus, Truth Wins Too

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