Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.2 John 1:8(NASB)
The second epistle of John was written when the apostle was well advanced in years, to the chosen lady and her children. John's heart rejoiced because this lady and some of her children, knew the truth of the gospel of Christ and were walking in the light of the gospel of grace. We do not know the identity of this chosen lady, but she was a woman who had loved and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for her salvation and had wisely taught this truth to her children, and John had no doubt ministered to her and rejoiced to see her and her family grow in a knowledge of the truth.
John is often referred to as 'the apostle of love' and as with so many of his writings, his thoughts turned to love as he penned his short epistle to this beloved lady: "Now I ask you, lady," he wrote, "not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments." Yes, John knew that the heart of the gospel is love; that God loved the world so much that He gave His beloved Son to be our Redeemer, that God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, and that love is the fulfilment of the law. And in his Gospel, John recorded Jesus' new commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you."
John knew that love for God and love for one another is an essential element of our Christian faith, and he recognised it in this lady's life, but biblical love can often become distorted when formalism, legalism, mysticism, socialism, and other 'isms' are added to the pure gospel. And John wanted to warn this lady that discernment is also very important in our Christian walk, for love without discernment can cause a believer to be deceived by a smooth-talking false teacher. And so John reminded her: "Many deceivers have gone out into the world, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh." John did not want her to lose what he and the other apostles had accomplished in her life.
Where truth exists, you will always find those that oppose the truth, and John knew that the world in which we live is the greatest arena, where wars against the gospel truth are fought by the enemy of our soul. John opposed those who deny the truth so strongly that he called such a person: "The deceiver and the antichrist." Deception in the Church is ugly and dangerous and must be quickly recognised, rooted out, and removed from the Body of Christ. John says those who do not present the gospel of Christ as it was presented by the apostles, are liars, and while we should always speak the truth in love, we should not compromise the truth by ignoring deceptive teachings and practices.
John knew that Satan, the enemy of our soul, is both a murderer and a deceiver who will seek to introduce deception into our homes and fellowships, so as to cause us to stumble. He knew the enemy will often approach God's children as a roaring lion, whose evil desire is to destroy our faith in Christ. But John also understood that the devil will often approach us as an angel of light and attempt to trick us into believing a false gospel; to trip us up with trickery, and to shipwreck our testimony to others. And so a large section of his letter to this godly lady is a serious warning about the deceitful antics of our enemy. In verse 8 he warns, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist."
There were many groups in John's day who refused to accept the deity of Christ, while others rejected His humanity - just as there are today. However, Scripture is clear that Jesus is fully God yet he is also fully Man. This is called 'the hypostatic union'. Denial of either Christ's deity or His humanity renders the truth of the gospel as null and void, and this was what John wanted to express in this section of his second letter: "Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."
Not only are we to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation (our justification) but we are to keep on walking in the truth, and loving as Christ loved. We are to die to self, grow in grace, and mature in the faith so that the indwelling Holy Spirit may work in and through us to the glory of God the Father (our sanctification). If we leave our first love, grow weary of well-doing, fall into legalism, compromise the truth, become lukewarm in our faith, or allow false doctrine to shipwreck our testimony, we will not lose our salvation, but we will forfeit any rewards that God has prepared for us to do. May we run the race that is set before us looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
From the early days of Christianity until the days in which we now live, there have always been attacks on the Person of Christ and His finished work on the Cross. We must contend earnestly for the faith that was given to us, that God the Son came to earth as the perfect Son of Man, that he died according to the Scripture, that he was buried and rose again, and is today seated on the throne of God the Father until He returns to set up His kingdom on earth. May we be careful not to compromise the truth so that God may be glorified in our lives and so that we all will receive the reward that God has prepared for us.
Heavenly Father, thank You that I am secure in You, that nothing can separate me from Your love, and once I am saved, I cannot lose my salvation. However, I know that living and walking in the flesh can result in a loss of rewards and so I pray that You would help me walk in spirit and truth, to Your praise and glory, and receive a full reward at the Bema Seat. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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