26. Teaching

Meditations in 1 John : 26 : Teaching

1 John  2:26,27   I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.

It is always a funny thing about people who fall off the rails morally or intellectually; they always seems to want to convince others to think and act the same way as them. Maybe it is a sub-conscious form of justifying what they are thinking or doing, trying not to be different but getting others to be like them.

That was how it was then in John’s time. There were people who had veered away from the apostolic teaching, bringing their own slant to what had been taught in the  church by the apostles, but now that ‘different slant’ brought a different God, and a different gospel, and from John’s clarity he can see that these people were trying to lead astray those left in the church.

When the apostle Paul met with the elders from Ephesuson the beach, he warned them Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30). There is that same thing that John had said previously, “They went out from us.” (2:19) This is the sad thing about all this; so often Satan is able to take those in the church and then through them bring deception and division. So often the danger doesn’t come from outside the church; we are aware that unbelievers will be against what we believe, but when it comes through people who had been in the church, now bringing “a different teaching”, that is so much more subtle and potentially dangerous.

Now he encourages those who are left in the church: “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you.”   He’s already spoken about this and we’ve considered it in some detail before, but now he just reassures them about it. It’s all right, he is saying, you’re still in the church, you still have the presence of the Holy Spirit within you, you haven’t fallen out of fellowship with the Father and the Son, you’re still all right.

Then he says something that could be easily misunderstood: “you do not need anyone to teach you.”   Now does this mean they no longer need teaching, these people still in the church? No, because disciples go on needing teaching throughout their lives, but the point he is making is that they don’t need NEW teaching. They don’t need to hear something beyond the apostolic teaching they have received about the Gospel. If you come across someone who purports to be bringing something IN ADDITION to the Gospel revealed in the New Testament, know that they are not of God. If it is the Gospel PLUS something else, know that they are wrong. This is why we know that the Mormon church fits in here because whenever you talk with them, they may say they believe the Gospel but they are not happy with just that. It has to be the Gospel PLUS the Book of Mormon. False teaching!

Note what he then says: “But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him. Let’s examine that in bits. First, “his anointing teaching you about all things.” The fact that you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit means that He will show you what is right and what is wrong. This is not about Him adding anything to what you find in the Bible, but it is about Him conveying through your spirit, an awareness of the truth of things before you. Someone new appears in church, and you find yourself feeling uneasy about them. The Holy Spirit is giving you the gift of discernment and revealing there is something about them you need to be careful about. Someone, a guest speaker, comes to the church and as you listen to his teaching, again you feel uneasy about what you are hearing. This is simply the Holy Spirit pointing out there is error in what he is saying. In case this all sounds very negative, let’s give another illustration. A difficulty arises in life and, as you pray, you suddenly get an insight as to how to deal with it. You apply it and the difficulty is overcome. It was just the Holy Spirit within you giving you the gift of wisdom, to know how to deal with it. In each case He is ‘teaching’ you, and we need this again and again in life in these many different forms. It is not adding any new teaching to the Bible but just making it real in everyday circumstances.

Then he says, “as that anointing is real, not counterfeit.”   That is a truth you need to know and it will then help you because, speaking of the Holy Spirit, he then says, “it has taught you.”   Look, he is saying, you know the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit and you know the reality of it; it isn’t something made up, conjured up, formulated, stirred up, pretended, unreal or counterfeit. It is the real thing. You know the experiences we’ve just been talking about, how He has revealed what is wrong, shown what is right, and shown you the way ahead. You know the reality of all this, you know He is real. Therefore, in the light of all this, “remain in him.”   You don’t need anything else; you don’t need some other additional teaching or additional experience beyond that which you find in the apostolic teaching (of the New Testament, as it came to be.) Just rest in Him, rest in your experience of Him, remain in Him, and be content with what you know and have experienced and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Ok?  Ok!

8. Uncovered

MEDITATIONS IN ISAIAH – No.8

Isa 3:18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces

Deception is a deadly thing. Jesus once told a parable about a rich farmer who kept building bigger and bigger barns to store his wealth (crops), and who concluded, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (Lk 12:19) but he didn’t realise he was at the end of his wasted life: “But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Lk 12:20). Affluence is very deceptive. It can make us feel secure and in our (false) security we forget God and forget our spiritual wellbeing. Before we know where we are, disaster strikes and our lives collapse (see also Jesus’ parable of the two house builders – Mt 7:24-27).

After the verses we considered in the previous meditation, Isaiah goes on to speak against different groups of people. As we noted he speaks against a general group first of all, the wicked: “Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done.” (v.11). Now we tend to think that ‘wicked people’ are really evil, but I suspect from what follows that it would include large numbers of our own society. “Youths oppress my people.” (v.12a) In some parts of Western society, certain parts of towns are ‘no-go areas’ because of youth gangs. “Women rule over them.” (v.12b) When God had ordained men to take the lead, the prophet speaks against the women who had taken control. How many people would this word upset today in the West? “The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people.” (v.14). Young people and then women and now leaders come under God’s spotlight.

See how the Lord comes to them: “The LORD takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.” (v.13). Our guilty consciences may make us feel that this is a bad picture but it is a picture of the Lord who comes to assess guilt or innocence and it is only the guilty who have cause to fear. Justice is about fair and rational assessment of the truth. The innocent have nothing to fear. Indeed the innocent can rejoice that injustices are about to be dealt with!

Sometimes people have funny feelings about God’s judgment, speaking harshly about Him, but look at see what He is moving against: “It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” (v.14,15). His vineyard is a picture often used of the nation, God’s people. He is speaking against those who have robbed from the poor, who have trodden them down. Wouldn’t we all cheer at this?

But then he comes back to the women: “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.” (v.16). These are the affluent women of Jerusalem, the modern affluent girl power, full of pride, sexual desires and indifference to God. Affluence, we said above, is deceptive and these women are typical of the attitude of the people of Jerusalem and Judah. They think they are something and they care nothing about the poor who were referred to earlier. Ms Materialist cares nothing about God – or about others. Self-centredness is the name of the game.

Now we have considered in previous meditations the Lord’s intent, which is to draw His people back to Himself. In their folly they have made themselves weak and a prey to other nations and other ideologies, which is why they worship idols from elsewhere. The only way to bring them to their senses is to strip away their finery, strip away their material wealth and wellbeing. We can often cope with a reduction in our wealth, but the removal of our wellbeing really brings us down and brings us to our senses. So how is the Lord going to deal with them? Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.” (v.17). Oh my goodness, He’s going to attack their beauty and their makeup! He’s going to remove their fashion accessories by which they hold so much store! See verses 18 to 23 for a list of their finery with which they adorn themselves and which deceive them into thinking they are great and they are secure. He’s going to remove it all to bring them to their senses!

We need to understand here, or remind ourselves if we took in the previous meditations, that the Lord’s intent is to bring this people into a place of real blessing, instead of this surface, counterfeit. It is not only what people look like on the outside that makes them rich, it is what they feel like on the inside, how they think of themselves, of God and of others. A self-centred, self-serving people are not rich, however many bits and pieces they have to adorn themselves or their homes. It’s not wrong to have money and possession, but if we obtain those at the cost of losing our soul, we have indeed become very confused and deceived. In the materialistic day in which we live, we would do well to really thing about these things!