Don't Run On Ahead
Children often think they can do anything without getting into difficulty. Going along the road in a family group, they may want to run on ahead. It may not be safe, indeed it could be catastrophic. Their naivety is not wise and they need to be taught how to stay safe. John says that the same thing is true of some young or untaught Christians. Having started in Christ they have an urge to be spiritually adventurous, without checking that they are still within the safety of the apostles’ teaching.
The world is littered with the wreckage caused by ungodly spiritual ideas. They either applaud sin and call it holiness or they pile on extra demands which Christ has never commanded. To follow them is to run ahead in a way that is spiritually dangerous. The word used by John means to push past a safety post, to cross into forbidden territory, to go beyond the mark, to transgress. Sinning is not just doing the opposite of what God commands; it is also adding or taking away from the Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19).
John was clear that such additions and subtractions were not refinements of Christ’s plan; they denied its completeness or sufficiency. The people who recommended such doctrinal alterations were not simply mistaken; they could not know God or belong to Him. By adding or taking away from who Christ is, or from His clear teaching, they proved that they never knew Him (Matthew 7:21-23). Genuine believers reject all additions or subtractions from the gospel and obey the truth. They can be assured that the Father and the Son have made their home in their heart (John 14:23).
Human pride never thinks that God has got it right. Either He is too restrictive or He offers us too much freedom. It is dangerous to allow false teachings to infect your faith or the faith of your children. The safely test is always the same: are these teachings true to the apostles’ explanation of who Christ is and what He has said, or do they either add or subtract from it? We must keep coming back to the apostles' teaching to check (they are Christ’s authorised interpreters – Acts 1:8). If any teaching does not agree with the Bible, reject it. To give or receive false teaching is to run ahead of the Lord and fall. So, simply trust what God has said and obey it.
© Dr Paul Adams