My daily reading and my church’s Bible reading plan (2 different things) have a certain parallel that I found interesting.
In Numbers, God tells Balaam that when he goes with the men of Balak (who wants Balaam to curse Israel),
“You must only do what I tell you.” (Numbers 22:20)
When Balaam seemingly goes with the intention of circumventing that order, God stops him and warns him again,
“I came out to oppose you, because I consider what you are doing to be evil…Go with the men, but you are to say only what I tell you (22:32,35).
And so when Balaam meets Balak, he tells him straight out,
“Look, I have come to you, but can I say anything I want? I must speak only the message God puts in my mouth.” (22:38)
When Balaam then goes to hear from God, God sternly warns him once again,
Return to Balak and say what I tell you. (23:5)
Balaam, of course, is commanded to bless Israel and so he does. And when Balak complains about it, Balaam replies,
Shouldn’t I say exactly what the Lord puts in my mouth? (23:12)
The same thing happens a few more times until Balak finally gives up and sends Balaam away.
What does this have to do with II John?
John told the church,
Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t greet him; for the one who greets him shares in his evil works. (2 John 9-11)
Different context, of course, but the same idea: It is very unwise to go beyond the words that God has given us. And if we do, we just may find ourselves in opposition to God.
How faithful are we to God’s Word? Do we take into our hearts teachings that stretch his words far beyond what he intended? Do we take into our hearts teachings that are in absolute contradiction to his Word?
That’s a dangerous place to be, as a teacher or as a listener.
We who are teachers cannot simply say anything we want. We must only teach the things that God has said. To do more than that puts us in a very precarious position. If we stretch God’s words or flat out contradict them, it may make us popular with the people around us, but it will also put us under God’s judgment. And if our listeners buy our poison, they’ll fall right along with us.
That’s why it’s important for everyone to test everything they hear, and never accept any teaching that goes beyond or contradicts the Word of God.
Let us ever be careful to remain in the teaching we have received from Christ.