In my sermon last Sunday I argued from 2 John 1:5–7 that love among Christians is a great protection against deception. John wrote, “Love one another. . . . For many deceivers have gone out into the world.” So I take it that love helps protect us from these deceivers.
I said that I saw four reasons in 2 John that love functions this way. But I only had time to describe two of them in the sermon. So here are the other two.
1. Love takes seriously all the commandments of God.
Verse 6: “This is love, that we walk according to his commandments.” John had said this in 1 John 5:2, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”
This doesn’t mean love has no affection for people. But it does mean love has clear direction from God. John agrees with Paul that we should “love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10). But Christian love is more than affection. It is an affection for people who share a commitment to all the commandments of God that apply to us today.
Christian affection is Christian and affection. It has Christian content. And it has emotion. What binds us with other believers is that we share a heartfelt allegiance to what God tells us is good for people — his commandments. We don’t invent the ways of love. We learn them from the word of God.
A community of people who love each other like that will not be easily deceived. For example, when their culture tells them that the way to love is to embrace so-called same-sex marriage, that community will say, “No, God knows what is good for people. We will love people his way.” And their love for each other deepens and sweetens their allegiance to stand together in “all the commandments” of God. It protects them from deception.
2. Christian love is based on the Truth that is “with us forever.”
John says, “I love [you] in truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever” (2 John 1:2). Our love for each other is grounded in two things: 1) truth abides in you and me; and 2) truth will be with you and me forever.
This is unusual. I take it to mean that Christian truth is always more than convictions, which we hold in our minds and hearts; truth is also Christ himself — Truth with a capital T — who is not a conviction in our minds, but a real person with us forever in the community of love. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Which implies, then, that my love for other believers is rooted not only in our shared truth about Jesus, but also in the presence of Jesus himself as the central person of this fellowship. And as such what binds us together in love is the deepest possible shared affection for our supreme Treasure, Jesus Christ.
So when deception tempts us to see any person or any activity or any treasure as more desirable than Jesus, the very love that we have for each other will protect us from that deception, because that love is a shared affection for the one who is more desirable than anything deception can offer.