The Test of Sound Doctrine

1 John 2:18-27

Signs at the ballpark, see in person or on televised games: John 3:16 for years; some time ago replaced by Matt. 7:1. Underlying mindset: ok to love, everyone wants that; not ok to discriminate. Many of you might nod in agreement, believing we shouldn’t discriminate. Well…. God does, the Bible does, Jesus did, the apostles did, in fact it’s commanded that we do so. First verse of text from last week demands it: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

To live by that mandate, it’s necessary to discriminate: to see and distinguish and differentiate between what is of the world, what is of the Father. Notice how John sets up test of worldliness: in context of love, must make judgment, must discriminate between what is pleasing to God and what is not. Certainly our discrimination must have right basis – God’s truth revealed in God’s Word. And… have responsibility to handle and use God’s truth wisely according to his direction. But don’t throw baby out with bath water, don’t leave your brain on the pillow when you get up. Living the Christian life according to God’s standard requires discernment, discrimination between right and wrong, truth and falsehood.

John gives final test of true Christianity: sound doctrine. What a professed Christian believes is the truth is important and has consequences, now and for the next life. Important now – governs how that person behaves day-to-day; important for next life – indicates ultimate destiny.

Believe Bible is God’s authoritative inerrant and infallible Word, cover to cover: governs how you live and indicates destiny of eternal life.

Believe there is another source of authoritative revelation that proclaims truth contrary to Bible: likewise governs how you live and indicates destiny of eternal condemnation.

Nature of assault on truth identifies times in which we live; John’s teaching informs and instructs us what to expect, how to cultivate and nourish sound doctrine that people of God not be deceived.

A. why it’s important v.18

it’s the last hour

no coincidence that numbers on calendar changed with entrance of Christ into world

first advent is hinge pin that separates two leaves of world history

much of OT looks forward in anticipation to coming of Redeemer, Messiah

NT looks back at first advent, looks forward to second advent

two leaves: former days, latter/last days

second advent is next day with star on God’s calendar

return of Christ is next big thing

Bible’s use of “last days” language means we shouldn’t expect any earth-changing intervention by God until Jesus comes back

know it’s coming, how it’s coming, not when

if God is God, means he makes & keeps promises, too many instances in Bible declare Jesus’ coming again to misunderstand them

Jesus himself declared he would return without warning, suddenly, like stroke of lightning (Matt. 24:27)

return will occur at time only God knows: hasn’t told when, doesn’t expect us to try to figure out

know where we are on the calendar

by attacks on truth regarding Christ

if Jesus the Christ hadn’t already come once, no one would bother to deny, dismiss, or distort truth about him

no one would try to oppose him, compete against him

particularly important to get it right now

have full extent of God’s revelation – entire testimony of apostles and prophets plus witness of Lord Jesus himself

no excuses for getting the basics, foundational truths wrong

“By virtue of being born again we have all begun to know God and have an understanding of his nature and actions. We all have a theology of sorts, whether or not we have ever sat down and pieced it together. So, properly understood, theology is not for a few religious eggheads with a flair for abstract debate – it is everybody’s business. Once we have grasped this, our duty is to become the best theologians we can to the glory of God….

Getting doctrine right is the key to getting everything else right. If we are to know who God is, who we are, and what God wants of us, we need to study Scripture. That means its teaching as a whole, and that means doctrine. This holds true for every single area of the Christian life, worship, witnessing, discipleship, Christian relationships, daily work; at every point right living begins with right thinking.” Bruce Milne, Know the Truth

B. how it’s misused v.19-22, 26

every belief system, every worldview shows understanding of, starting place in sound doctrine

by what it affirms, what it denies

doctrine divides (19)

believers from unbelievers

those determined to oppose Christ and his gospel will only sit under faithful preaching/teaching so long

leaving because of particular “doctrinal differences” shows lack of regeneration, regardless of appearances

NOT believers from one another

true Christians should be united because of their doctrine

Eph. 4:3-6endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

false doctrine denies (22)

truth about the person and work of Jesus


he’s not God, just an exalted being – Jehovah’s Witnesses

perfect man who attained godhood – Unification Church

brother of Lucifer – Mormons

major prophet but not divine – Islam


his death provides opportunity for man to earn his own salvation – JW’s

was to restore original relationship between God & humanity by marriage – Unification Church

suffered only for Adam’s sin – Mormons

messenger who taught prayer and brought the gospel – Islam


created by God – JW’s

simply a man – Unification Church

spiritual & physical offspring of God by procreation – Mormons

miraculously born of a virgin but God is not his Father – Islam

you all know the truth (20-21)

indwelling Holy Spirit teaches and testifies of the truth of God’s word

know truth well enough to spot blatant denials of sound doctrine

false doctrine deceives (26)

if it weren’t for God’s overruling protecting hand, even elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24)

not all false doctrine as outrageous as examples, at least to start

may have large helpings of truth, a little bit of error, lots of right-sounding persuasion

especially dangerous when it comes from someone we thought was “one of us”

defenses will be down, volume reduced on discernment alert

poisonous error has so many mutations / variations, only sure preventive is sound doctrine

door at back works in both directions

John speaks of those who left the church to promote false doctrine

must be on guard against those who would come into the church and promote false doctrine

C. how it’s cultivated v.20, 23-27

basic understanding / knowledge of sound doctrine doesn’t just happen

requires ministry of Holy Spirit and means – Spirit doesn’t customarily work in a vacuum

instructed in the truth (24, 26)

truth has source – God’s Word – and destination – abiding in you

vehicle is faithful teacher of the Word who communicates the truth

those given by Christ to his church to edify (build up) the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12)

Bible wasn’t intended as stand-alone resource

nourished by the word (25)

pastors / teachers not intended as stand-alone resource (saints either; takes more than one to make a body)

remember source, where we find promises of God, truth that leads to eternal life: the Bible

we don’t have unlimited storage capacity – must continually refresh our supply of spiritual truth

accompanied by the Spirit (20, 27)

pastors/teachers and Bible not intended to be sole resources

true understanding requires teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit

all three have been given to body of Christ for her good; to disregard any one of three is dangerous and insulting to Christ

D. why it’s important reduxJohn 6:67-69

difference between death and life

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

true of all forms in which Gospel is communicated

without Father and Son, Gospel is empty, meaningless

no more than works righteousness of a sort that condemns

If people of God are to reach the world for Christ, the message of Christ and Gospel we take to the world must be a true one. For those who sacrifice much for sake of Christ, must be the real deal for whom they sacrifice. Otherwise, benefits never leave this life; our goal is to invest in heaven, must be always working toward that end.


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