I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. – 2 John 4-11
The kind woman invited me to come to her home as she entertained some Mormon missionaries. They had visited her and her husband and she assured me, “They’re so nice and polite. I’d love for you to meet them.” I was happy that I went; their message is about a different Jesus than the Jesus to which the Bible gives witness. Their message of salvation was – in the end – one of works. They professed that some sins (murder, for example) are unforgivable. She should have taken the warning of John to heart: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or even give him a greeting.”
The words, “do not receive him into your house,” seem overly harsh and unnecessary. But there is a real danger is that a false teacher will lead this dear lady and her children away from the truth. John makes this point: “Watch yourselves so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but win a full reward.” It was actually happening before my eyes in that situation.
There was a real danger that she would abandon the teaching of Christ, and therefore not have God. These nice young men were leading her away from the true Jesus, Son of God, Savior of the world.
Some believe that religious talk about God is all the same. But religious talk is not evidence of true saving faith. The weakest faith that clings to Jesus will save us. But faith that denies the incarnation of Jesus, his suffering, death, and resurrection is not saving faith. John wants to make sure that these beloved people are not led away from Jesus.
But wait. There’s more. It might also be that by receiving these false teachers into one’s home, we give false witness to others. Had the woman and her husband been swayed to become Mormon, who knows how that witness might have been used.
It would be wonderful if there was no deception; no need to brace ourselves against people with evil intent. But next time you close the door on door-to-door missionaries, you might not be doing a bad thing – though it certainly feels like an unloving thing to do. The potential danger is not only to you, but to those who see and misinterpret your actions. Such might well be called a tough love for truth.
One final note here: this is not to say close the door on anyone who comes to you with a religious message. Love compels us to love and receive those who come legitimately in Jesus’ name. John’s message of caution should never be used as an excuse for unkindness or a charitable attitude toward others – only a warning against those who would lead us away from Christ.