There is a difference between those who deny Jesus completely and those who teach a different gospel. We are surrounded every day by people who are simply ignorant of anything to do with Jesus. All they know is that a bunch of people worship him as a god and that he was killed on a cross. The fact is they are too busy with life to care to know anything else. Some only know him as a curse word, an exclamation at the end of a sentence to emphasize a point. These are not the people the Scriptures warn us to not associate with. Indeed, these are the very people we have been sent to. We are meant to set aside our sensitivities, accept them for who they are, and demonstrate by word and deed the difference Jesus’ love makes in a person’s life.
It is the second group of people, those who teach a different gospel, that we are warned about. These are the people who use half truths and half lies to manipulate people into believing and doing what they want. Sometimes authentic Christians use these same methods which also throws the truth into doubt. We need to make sure that our methods of presenting the gospel is honest, straightforward and leaves people with a choice because it is a choice that has been given to them by God.
The Apostle John, along with the other writers of the New Testament, was very concerned about this group of false teachers and he warned against them in his second letter in the same way he did in his first:
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7)
A great false teaching that was causing a lot of problems at the time of John’s writing was that Jesus was not flesh but was pure spirit made to look like flesh. Jesus did not really suffer and die but he only looked like he did. Today it is the opposite teaching as false teachers put forward the idea that Jesus was not God at all but only a great prophet of many great prophets who all point the way to the one true god. There is this crazy false teaching that is becoming very popular, made popular by such false teachers as Oprah, that there are many ways to eternity and all religions point in that direction. It is an intoxicating notion for those who are seeking enlightenment and it is an easy way to skirt the more difficult questions of life and eternity. It is amazing how many Christians will quote the words of Oprah and other false teachers like her. We all need to heed the warning of John:
Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (2 John 1:8)
Pay attention! Do not put your brain in neutral. Just because it sounds good doesn’t mean it is good. Most of these teachings speak to the natural desires of our human nature. I would love to see world peace and all the ills of this world healed. So would our Father. But the only way it could ever happen is if all the darkness contained in the heart of Man was to be cast out and the only way that can happen is by a transformed heart and the only way a heart can be transformed is by the work of the cross. It is the entire reason Jesus died and it is our entire mission to tell the world. False teachers present a false gospel to meet the same goal. It is the temptation that the enemy presented to Jesus to circumvent the cross. He offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would only bow to Satan. The enemy still holds out that same promise if we would only bow our knee to him as so many are doing. Through his false prophets he is saying. “You can complete the mission without the cross”.
These are the people, the false teachers that we are warned not to associate with:
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. (2 John 1:10-11)
Yet this is exactly what we are doing as we turn on the television and welcome these people into our homes. There are millions of people who would argue against me because they revere some of these teachers. They welcome them into their home every day. They share their teachings with their friends. They have become their disciples while still claiming to be followers of Jesus. The Scripture makes it clear; if you are included with them you are also included in their wickedness.
No wonder the Church has a hard time moving forward, with so many double minded Christians, people following two masters. Eventually they will have to choose one and the odds are for the one who speaks more to our human nature. This isn’t a game. It is a serious thing as we are messing around not only with our eternity but with those who we influence. We need to make sure we are standing solidly on the Word of God. We need to stop being so lazy, accepting things by word of mouth instead of investigating it for ourselves. We are told to test every spirit. As John said, let’s make sure we do not lose what we have worked for. After all this time, let us not throw away our eternity on half-baked ideas that attract our human nature in the same way that candy attracts children. Do everything you can to stand, and after doing everything, stand!