2 John 10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (NKJV)
The Apostle John instructs the “Lady” (verse 2) that love and obedience are not sufficient in the absence of truth. She had practiced hospitality (love) in accordance with Christian commandment (obedience) but John tells her not to receive those who bring a false doctrine (truth).
Love, obedience and truth are the three pronged criteria for balance in the Christian life. All three must exist.
John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (NKJV)
Truth is what brings meaning and value to love and obedience. Love without truth is dangerous because it lacks discernment and may passively promote things God has not approved. It is popular today to downplay the importance of doctrine and standards of behavior (holiness), all in the name of love. Obedience without truth is futile because we may be sincerely doing the wrong thing, evidenced every day by millions who follow false religions.
1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (NKJV)
Love is our motivation. Love is the foundation of all things Christian. God IS love. Love is not a characteristic of Him, He embodies what love is.
Obedience without love can be legalistic and a futile attempt to gain God’s favor. Truth without love is just an academic exercise of knowledge that reaches the head, but not the heart. Truth without love is merely academic exercise.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
1 John 3:24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (NKJV)
Obedience demonstrates our love to God, is evidence of our salvation and reflects our submission to a Holy God. Love without obedience is lip service. Truth without obedience is merely head knowledge.
Love, truth and obedience are three standards that all of our Christian beliefs and activity should be measured by. Disregarding or over-emphasizing any of them, leads to the divisions and fads that are so common today.
“Love only” produces a powerless, wishy-washy, standardless Christianity. “Truth only” cultivates an elitist academic religion where debate, discussion and the latest ideas replace service and good works. “Obedience only” leaves us with a dead, legalistic Christianity bordering dangerously on earning your salvation by keeping a checklist.
Examine your own walk of faith. Is any part out of balance? Do you obey God’s word? Do you love with God’s love? Do you measure all things with God’s truth?
Lord God, we pray for wisdom and discernment so we may have balance in our Christian walk. Let us learn to love in spirit and truth; obey the truth in love; and pursue truth applied with love in obedience. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: What happens when one of these three are ignored, or gets over-emphasized? Are you afraid to confront sin because you “love” the person? Do you hear the truth but don’t obey it? Do you obey God feeling like you have earned favor from Him?
Application: Learn to cultivate a mindset that filters your Christian walk equally through the filters of love, truth and obedience. All three must exist in balance in true Christianity.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?