Receive Him Not
Recently, I was asked to explain 2 John 1:10-11. Some think that this scripture is incongruous with our faith. Here it is:
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
As you know, the whole purpose of 2 John is to warn “the elect lady” (the Church). A main caution concerns the practice of extending hospitality to drifting ministers who hold unbiblical or confusing doctrines. The risk was too great that young Believers would be easily swayed by false teaching. So, John drew a hard line between the Truth and anything that was contrary to the Gospel of Christ.
Giving a platform to false teachers to minister, or to financially support them, is to become a part of their unacceptable ministry. This is even more true today. I believe “receive them not into your house” includes all forms of media. Immature Believers unwisely support ministries that are unaccountable to proper authorities. This can lead to divisions in the church.
You may ask, “then who reaches the teachers?” Of course, God can use anyone, but know this: When a person becomes a “false teacher,” they come under one of these two main categories. 1. They mistakenly think they are right because they are either poorly trained, or are unable to grasp spiritual truth. 2. Or, they are demon-filled and are on a spiteful mission to confuse and hurt the Church.
If you think you can correct a false teacher, you will need the Mind of Christ and a clear mandate from the Holy Spirit who alone reveals the heart and intentions of a teacher.
Many well-intentioned young Believers have thought they could correct a false teacher, only to learn that they were over their head in parsing theology, doctrines, and Biblical controversies. As a long-time pastor, I have found that it is difficult to root out false teachers, EVEN IN THE CHURCH. They can be very deceptive, and are often fused into a sub-culture of the church. John was right. Most Believers should stay away from false teachers lest they pollute their own mind.
Who will reach false teachers? More than likely, God has already sent strong warriors to reach the false teacher, but they have probably been rejected. If you really care about a false teacher, make the teacher's spiritual rescue a matter of systematic prayer.
Loving the lost is our mandate. In the New Testament, Jesus sent his well-trained spirit-filled disciples two by two. Together there was strength. Today, most Believers reach the lost through their church. Accountability and support are there. And through church ministry teams, many can be won to Christ.
There is much wisdom in 2 John. Be wise. Be careful.