Discerning Good and Evil

Walking in the Truth
3 John 1:1-4 ESV

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

So many people in America today who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not walking in the truth, and it breaks my heart. So many who profess to know and to love Jesus, and who profess to have been cleansed from their sins are living not much differently than those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ at all. It is largely indistinguishable between the church and the world anymore. And that is horribly sad.

So, it is indeed a joy to see when a believer in Jesus Christ is walking in the truth, and is on fire for Jesus Christ, and is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, not in absolute perfection, but consistently, persistently, as a matter of life course (of practice). It is a joy to see our brothers and sisters in the Lord following Jesus with wholehearted devotion.

Not only do we have joy in our hearts for them, knowing that they are where they ought to be, doing the will of God for their lives, living for the Lord, serving him, and walking in his truth, but it encourages our hearts, and it helps to strengthen us in our walks of faith because they are busy sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they are encouraging the body of Christ.

A Faithful Thing
3 John 1:5-8 ESV

“Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”

It is a good thing to do good to others, and it is a faithful thing and a good thing when we help and encourage our fellow believers in Jesus Christ, even if we have never met them before and they are strangers to us. Whatever their needs may be, it is good if we are able to minister to their needs as God leads and guides us in what is best for them.

I believe this is specifically referring to financial assistance, as these believers in Jesus were doing the work of the ministry, and they needed financial assistance. But in our day and time, at least here in America, we need to exercise much discernment in giving to various preachers and ministries for there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there.

But there are many ways in which we can support and encourage those who are doing the work of the ministry. We can pray for all our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ (the whole counsel of God), and who are sharing the truth of God’s word even against great opposition from those who are fighting against the truth.

If we have a way to communicate with them, we can encourage them with Scriptures, and with testimonies of love for God and steadfastness in faith in doing the will of God and of God’s provisions of grace and mercy and strength and wisdom to persevere even in the face of much opposition. And we can let them know we know what they are going through and that we care and that we are with them in spirit.

Opposition to the Truth
3 John 1:9-10 ESV

“I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.”

If we are following Jesus Christ with wholehearted devotion, if we are sharing the truth of God’s word, even with the church, if we are doing the will of God, and if we are loving others the way in which Jesus loved the people of this world, we will be opposed. Jesus said the world will hate (despise, reject, and persecute) us, and that includes the worldly church.

Some will hate and persecute us because we are teaching what Jesus and his apostles taught that we must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. For, the popular teaching today is that Jesus forgives us our sins and now we can live however we want without guilt.

And those who hate (despise, reject, and persecute) us include pastors and elders of “churches” who are teaching a diluted gospel which appeals to human flesh, and which permits its followers to keep on in their sins. They are also those who have turned the gatherings of the church into businesses, and they are marketing them to the world just like businesses, and therefore they have compromised the truth of the Scriptures to attract the world.

And if we are standing on the truth of God’s word, not in an obtuse way, but with the wisdom and grace of God, and with the strength and courage of God’s Spirit living within us, and if we are sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit, and we are saying what the Lord leads us to say, in appropriate ways, we will be put out of some “churches”, too. They will ask us to leave.

Good and Evil
3 John 1:11-12 ESV

“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”

So, the encouragement for us here today is that we not imitate evil but that we imitate (emulate, reproduce) good. And evil and good are defined by God and by the word of God and not by other humans who may or who may not have the mind of God in such matters as good and evil. For today many are calling evil good and good evil.

So, when this says here that whoever does good is from God this is not speaking of “good deed doers” who go around doing good deeds. Even the wicked and the unrighteous can do “good deeds.” For, the good that we ought to do is to forsake our sins, follow our Lord in obedience, do his will, submit to his Lordship, and love (obey) God and love others as God loves.

So, to emulate good and not evil is to obey our Lord in what his word teaches we ought to do, and it is to not do what his word instructs us not to do. For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (Titus 2:11-14).

Here I Am, Lord

By Daniel L. Schutte

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them –
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart

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