Summary: The errors that infiltrate the Faith are often characterised as teaching that attempts to present "something more." The Faith is simple and complete, requiring no addition from the fertile imagination of any person.

“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. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 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. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” [1]

“Mo’ Better Blues” is the title of a movie directed by Spike Lee and released in 1990. Though I have never watched this particular movie, and I truly know little of the plot other than what I might have read in various reviews, I nevertheless find the title striking, suggesting people’s never-ending search for “something more.” As such, the title is representative of various heresies resident or tolerated among the churches today.

The Faith has been under assault from earliest days, and the doctrines of the Faith have been defined for us today through repeated challenges arising from error which attempted to insinuate itself into the fabric of the Faith. John demonstrated the focus of his love to be Christ, a focus which is not apparent among many evangelicals of this day. One such place where the apostle of love revealed his devotion to present a pure bride to Christ at His return is found in his second general epistle. That missive has at its heart a deep concern for the spiritual welfare of the saints, and the major threat to their continued well being at that time were “deceivers” capable of duping believers.

John wrote this particular letter to caution believers against a specific, particular error which was at that time invading the Zion of God. His words, as is often true of Scripture, serve to warn against even broader dangers throughout the intervening years between that day in which he wrote and the present day. The particular pressing danger that threatened John's first readers was the presence of a multiplication of “deceivers” identified as individuals refusing to “acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”

THE DANGER —John’s warning presents what constitutes a most intriguing description. Here is what I mean by that statement. There are several points of considerable interest I am compelled to point out before we venture into the broader, more general aspects of this warning. The Greek word which is translated “deceiver,” is Planos. This particular term in the Greek tongue describes an individual who leads others into wrong action and not only to adopt a wrong opinion. The aged saint used the verbal form of this same word in his first letter, writing “I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you” [1 JOHN 2:26]. Later, in that same missive, John would write, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous” [1 JOHN 3:7]. With these words, the Apostle of Love was demonstrating that his concern was not merely transient, but that he considered the saints at risk.

Additional evidence of John’s concern for believers, even the saints who were then potential and in the distance for John, is found in an untranslated word found in the Greek text. The Greek word hoti is usually translated “because.” The inclusion of this word serves as a graphic reminder that what follows is intimately related to that which has preceded. In the text before us today, John has just been admonishing his readers to “love one another,” to “walk in love.” The evidence of love for one another is witnessed in our love for the Master—love that is demonstrated through obedience to the Master. In that first brief missive, you will recall that John had spoken of “false prophets.” He wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” [1 JOHN 4:1].

Take careful note that in that same letter, John also spoke of “antichrists” whom he identifies with these “deceivers.” In that letter, remember that the Apostle of Love wrote, “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” [1 JOHN 2:18-19].

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