Summary: Eight signs of a false religion.
“From the old leader of the church to the elect lady and her children whom I love so much, as do all other believers who have the truth in their hearts” (v. 1, Expanded Translation).
1. Who wrote? John the apostle, but calls himself “elder”.
a. Identifies himself as pastoral.
b. Not apostle because that office was transitioning out of existence.
c. Used similar words, phrases, and ideas.
2. Who is the “elect lady”?
a. She is a well-known lady in another church, i.e., Cyria.
b. She is a local church.
c. She is called “elect,” i.e., made up of true believers.
d. The “sister” (v. 11) is probably John’s home church in Ephesus.
3. Who are “her children”?
a. The family of the lady, Cyria.
b. The members of a church.
4. John writes from Ephesus, “Elect sister.”
5. Not written to a geographic city, but a circulatory letter.
6. Problem: Itinerant preachers traveling among churches teaching false truths about Christ.
7. Motivation: “That we love one another” (v. 5).
B. DEALING WITH FALSE TEACHERS (vv. 8-11).
“Watch out for false teachers who have sold out to worldly things who will destroy your personal faith and the whole of Christian faith will be lost. They don’t believe Jesus Christ came to earth with a human body as ours. They are against Christ and the Christian faith. They don’t have God indwelling them. But if you are loyal to the teachings of Christ, both He and the Father indwell you. Don’t receive anyone who wants to come to your church and who doesn’t believe the fundamental teachings about Christ. If you do, you will share in his evil works” (vv. 7-11, Expanded Translation).
1. Warnings about two things: “Look to yourselves” (v. 8).
a. What you lose, i.e., the essence of faith.
b. What you will not gain, blessings, “full reward” (v. 8).
2. It is a sin to believe false doctrine. “Whosoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ” (v. 9).
3. “Does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God” (v. 9).
a. Because the Holy Spirit teaches us.
b. Because they yield their ideas to God at conversion.
c. Because they submit to Christ who indwells them.
4. False teachers are called deceivers (v. 7), i.e., apostolic imposters.
a. “Entered into the world” suggests influenced by evil. “Love not the world, nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15).
b. “Confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” i.e., reject Christ’s person and purpose for becoming flesh (John 1:14).
5. Two meanings of “antichrist” (v. 17).
a. Against Christ.
b. Substitute Christ. These deceivers taught false doctrine about Christ, and presented a picture of Christ that was a substitute for the true Jesus.
6. Solution. “Do not receive him into your house” (v. 10).
a. Does not mean can’t have a heretical relative for birthday dinner.
b. Do not receive into church that meets in a house.
c. Separation, both ecclesiastical and personal.
d. Don’t commend them or recommend them. “He who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (v. 11).
C. EIGHT SIGNS OF A FALSE RELIGION
1. Reject historic Christianity.
2. Denies one of the major doctrines of Christianity.
3. Has a new authority, i.e., new revelation.
4. Has an authoritative founder – prophet who has discovered a special message.
5. Highly legalistic or requires special life-style or activities.
6. Has a “book” that is equal to, or above scripture.
7. Experience over doctrine.
8. Salvation by works, i.e., denies blood atonement and grace.
If you have never really accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, would you do it right now? Do not delay or put it off. If you would like to receive Christ by faith, pray this simple prayer in your heart:
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for my sins on the cross, and rose again the third day. I repent of my sins. By faith I receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior. You promised to save me, and I believe You, because You are God and cannot lie. I believe right now that the Lord Jesus is my personal Savior, and that all my sins are forgiven through His precious blood. I thank You, dear Lord, for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, God heard you and saved you. I personally want to welcome you to the family of God and rejoice with you.
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