Discover more from Heaven On Wheels
Let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning
1 John 2:24 The best way to protect ourselves against deceit is to abide in the original message of Jesus
Photo ©2023, Steven Sande.
“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”
1 John 2:24 NASB1995
When the first epistle of John was written, it was assumed that the readers knew John’s gospel and that their faith in Christ was certain. However, as with any institution of man, the early church was starting to fall away from the belief in the incarnate Christ — Jesus, the son of God and a man — into gnosticism. This philosophy stated that all that was matter (solid stuff) was evil, that spirit was good, and that knowledge (gnosis) allowed man to rise to the spiritual.
This, in turn, led to two false theories that were starting to make the rounds when John wrote the epistle sometime between 85 - 95 AD: Docetism, which stated that the human Jesus was actually a ghost or spirit, and Cerinthianism, which held that Jesus was sometimes human, sometimes divine. One of John’s purposes in writing the epistle was to tell early Christians that things weren’t as complex as all this, to set boundaries on what constitute faith, and to give them assurance of their salvation through Jesus Christ.
False spiritual teachers were a huge problem in the early days of Christianity (Barb is currently working on the Book of Galatians, an epistle warning churches in Galatia against requirements to follow rabbinical law). There wasn’t a complete New Testament for believers to refer to, so many believers began following pretenders who set themselves up as leaders and taught their own ideas about Jesus. In part, John’s epistle was written to set the record straight on the identity of Jesus from someone who had worked side by side with Him.
John went back to the basics of faith in Christ, helping the readers answer the question are we true believers? John told the readers that they could tell by examining their own actions. If they loved one another, God was present in their lives. If, on the other hand, they were selfish, didn’t help one another, or fought with each other, they didn’t really know God.
John wasn’t saying that the believers had to be perfect; instead, he recognized that belief involved admitting our sins and seeking the forgiveness of God. Getting to know God took dependence on God for cleansing us from guilt, as well as admitting and making amends for our sins against others.
This epistle a plea to the John’s intended audience that they should show their love for God and Jesus through obedience to His commandment to love each other and to the scriptural commandments. At the time it was written, the early church was in crisis, and the Book provides a warning to watch out for the gnostic deceivers who were denying the Incarnation of Christ — that He had not actually come in the flesh.
These deceivers were deviating from a basic doctrine of Christianity, and denying the humanity of Jesus. John’s writing shows his concern that believers should be aware of the false teachers and to ignore them — in other words, they should use discernment in who to follow as a spiritual leader or teacher.
John tells the readers of the epistle that love isn’t an emotion or feeling, but obedience to the commandments of God. Jesus Himself had emphasized the importance of the commandments, particularly the “first and greatest commandment” — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5). The second commandment was love for one another, as Jesus taught and was documented in Matthew 22:39 — “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus told His followers that He had not come to abolish the Old Testament law of God, but rather to fulfill the law by providing Himself as the means of fulfillment.
What can 1 John teach modern Christians? That it is exceedingly important to check everything we read, hear, and see that claims to be Christian against the Scriptures. Why is it so important to do this? Because one of Satan’s greatest tools is deceit.
Churches and denominations are sometimes taken in by new doctrines that appear to be Scripture-based but are in fact departing widely from God’s Word. Discernment is very important, especially in today’s world when a message from a deceitful and influential religious leader or denomination can spread to the entire world in seconds. If that message doesn’t line up with Scripture, it is false, not of the Spirit, and should be discarded at once.
In today’s verse, John reminds us that the best way to protect ourselves against deceit is to abide in the original message of Jesus (that “which you heard from the beginning”). Humans have a tendency to be attracted to things that are new and different, because we’ve been programmed to think that new is better. In terms of truth, new isn’t better — it’s usually deceitful.
To abide in what is from the beginning, we need to study and strive to understand the Word of God as captured in the Bible, then go one step further — to live in the truth of Jesus Christ. Letting the truth of Jesus (as learned through the message of the apostles) live in us gives us the way to abide in (dwell in, so to speak) the Son and the Father.
I’ll end this devotional with a few wonderful quotes from Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
“We abide in him, not by a physical law, as a mass of iron abides on the earth; but by a mental and spiritual law, by which the greatness of divine love and goodness holds us fast to the Lord Jesus.”
“You are to take care that you abide in Christ as much as if all depended upon yourself; and yet you can look to the promise of the covenant, and see that the real reason for your abiding in Christ lies in the operation of his unchanging love and grace.”1
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Father, I pray that the grace you extended to me when I confessed my faith in Your Son Jesus Christ remains with me for eternity. My prayer is that my relationship with You continues to grow, and that You will help me to live and act upon the teachings of Christ. As Your Word remains in me, I remain in You. AMEN.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org.
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon "The New Park Street Pulpit" Volumes 1-6 and "The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit" Volumes 7-63 (Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1990)