A Weekday Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church. Find another day here.
Monday May 11, 2020
1 John 2:26-27
I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
The summer before I received my driver’s license, in order to make sure I knew what I was doing, and to receive a discount on our car insurance, my parents signed me up for a week-long defensive driving course. The class met in a small office building near our home and was full of other soon-to-be drivers. Through 8 hours of watching videos and listening to lectures in a classroom, we were taught the theory of about how to safely operate a motor vehicle including, among other things, how often to check our rear and side-view mirrors (every 7 seconds) and properly angle the wheels when parking on a hill (a very common occurrence in Pittsburgh). Unlike many of my fellow classmates, I actually paid attention for the majority of the mostly monotonous lessons, and the basic principles I first learned in that class have helped to keep me safe on the road for nearly two decades. However, even for the most attentive student, learning the theory of how to drive in a classroom and getting behind the wheel of a car are two very different things.
When a child first goes out on the road, they must be actively supervised by an experienced driver to ensure that they do what they are supposed to. Because even the slightest, most innocent mistake with a multi-ton vehicle can result in dire consequences for all involved, the supervisor should strive to avoid introducing unnecessary additional stress into the learning process by remaining visibly calm whenever possible. In a two-parent household, typically one parent is better equipped for handling the tension of putting their life in the hands of an over-eager teenager, and my household was no exception. Without mentioning names, nearly all of my hands-on learning came courtesy of one my parents. On one of the few times that the other parent took the passenger seat, I was moving through an intersection only a mile from our home when, without warning, they emphatically commanded me to stop. My crime? Progressing through a “Yield” sign without first coming to a complete stop with no oncoming traffic approaching. It was then that I discovered, to my dismay, that my instructor, who had been driving for over three decades, did not fully comprehend the rules of the road.
This now-humorous story would not have been so funny if the driver behind us had not quickly executed an evasive maneuver to avoid rear-ending us, and it serves to highlight the force of what John was saying to the church in Ephesus: discernment is vital. While not intentionally trying to deceive, the information I received that day from my parent was both wrong and dangerous. Those receiving John’s letter had not only heard the gospel of Jesus, but they had also received the Holy Spirit as a result of their faith in Him. Now, John was not saying that they never needed to listen to the instruction of others but that, because the Spirit now resided in them, they should not mindlessly defer to everyone. In John 14:26, Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Through the Spirit, they had the ability to receive and be reminded of the Lord’s instruction directly and also discern true from false teaching for themselves.
Christians today still have the ability and responsibility to ensure that the instruction they follow is in line with what they received about God from the beginning. God does not use bait-and-switch tactics to get us to naively commit our lives to Him before changing the rules once we have come to faith. The truth that we received when we first came to faith is the same truth that will guide us all the way home. Contrary to what many had in the early church had come to accept, and sadly what many believe still today, our salvation is entirely dependent upon God, at no stage in our Christian faith does our standing before God ever rely upon our own efforts. The primary way we can know this to be true is the Spirit of God, which still speaks to us today, as 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, through the God-breathed Word. Scripture, and Scripture alone, is the ultimate standard by which all other messages are measured. The Apostle Paul writes that even if an angel from heaven, a beautiful being of brilliant light, were to hand-deliver us a gospel that is at odds with the one we heard from the beginning, that salvation is by faith alone through Jesus alone, they will be accursed. Regardless of how insistent, well-intentioned, or attractive a message initially appears to be, it must pass the test of the Word. The Scriptures not only contain the truth, but they are the truth: God loves us, He sent His Son for us, so that through His Spirit that we might abide in Him even today. This is the gospel; it is no lie.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You never change. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Your instruction is wise and true, never failing us even for the slightest moment. Help us to believe and understand the gospel which we have heard from the beginning. Forgive us for the times that we have failed to use the tool of discernment that You have given to us in Your Word. Fill us with Your truth today we pray, Amen.