As we all know, Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Not only was this Incarnation a great expression of love, if we are thinking scripturally we will come to see it as the very definition of love. And notice that this definition, in order to be a true definition, must be an incarnate definition. It must be a definition in 3-D.
“And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 5–7).
Summary of the Text
Incarnational love is the way in which we must walk. John beseeches the unknown lady to whom he writes in this way. He pleads with her, not as though there were some new commandment. Rather, he pleads with her that we all continue to love one another. This is the same commandment that we have had from the beginning (v. 5). This is the commandment; this is the law of Christ. This is what love foundationally is—walking in the commandment. And what is the commandment? That we walk in love (v. 6). This is to be done with a basic wariness about deceivers. There are many deceivers out and about, many deceivers have entered the world. How are they to be identified? They are the ones who refuse to confess something—they refuse to confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Such a one is a liar, a deceiver, a false teacher, an antichrist (v. 7).
Imperatives Flow from the Indicative
Let us begin with a brief grammar lesson. An indicative statement is a statement of fact. The door is open. This is simply a fact. We do not know who opened it, only that they did. When an indicative statement is made, the only thing you can do with it is believe it, or not. You either believe or refuse to believe it. The only thing you can do is confess it, or refuse to confess it. And the one thing you cannot do is obey an indicative statement. You cannot, in response to the door is open, spring up and say that you will open it right away. At least not without a great category confusion. You will only confuse yourself, and you will do nothing to the door.
This is not to say that there is no relationship between indicatives and imperatives. If someone were to tell you the door is open, and then command you to acknowledge that the door was open, this would be a command—an imperative—that presupposes knowledge of the facts, knowledge of the indicative.
Now according to our text Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. This is a staggering fact, but still a fact for all that. Believe that He is come in the flesh is the imperative. Apostles and ministers, evangelists and church planters, not to mention all Christians, are all commissioned to go out into the world with a simple two-part message. 1. Declare the grand indicative; 2. Command all men everywhere to believe and confess the truth of what was just declared.
Love and Lies
From the day that sin entered our world, love has always been understood in contrast to its opposite. When God cursed the serpent, He established the antithesis between the seed of the serpent and the seed off the woman (Gen. 3:15). As long as God has a people that He is calling from this fallen world, the antithesis must be understood by all who would be faithful to Him.
In the Incarnation, God’s Son entered the world. It is striking that the same expression is used of the deceivers. They too have “entered the world,” many of them. Many deceivers come, and they come not confessing.
This means that there is no confession of the truth, no love of the truth, where there is not a rejection of the lie—a rejection of those who will not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Prov. 8:13, ESV).
You cannot love the wheat without hating the tares. You cannot love the patient without hating the cancer. You cannot love the sheep without hating the wolves. You cannot love the truth without hating the lie.
Confessing, Walking, Obeying, Loving
See how all these things are bound together. Those who do not obey the commandment are those who do not walk in love. Those who do not walk in love are those who will not confess the reality concerning of Jesus.
Before walking in love, walk around it first. Take it in. What I mean is this. Look at what it means to walk in love. It means to confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This confession of the stupendous indicative cannot be made without finding yourselves immediately in the midst of loving your brothers and sisters.
What did walking in love mean for Jesus Christ? For Him, walking in love meant being God come in the flesh. For us, walking in love means confessing that this is who He is.
The love of God is the mirrored side of the law of God. James tells us that the law of God is like a plate glass window, and not like a series of French panes. If you break the law anywhere you have broken the whole thing (Jas. 2:10). But the glory of the new covenant is this—if you keep the gospel at any point, you have kept all of it.
No one is saved by a partial Jesus, and no one ever had a partial Christ. If you have Jesus at all, you have all of Him. And if you confess Him, you love Him. If you love Him, you are walking in Him. If you have the commandment at all, you have had it from the beginning. Salvation is a grand mystery, but one thing we can say about it is this—it is never parceled out. It is not distributed with a tea spoon.
The most miserable Christian who ever lived, provided he is a Christian, has no less of Jesus than the saintliest Christian ever. And this is because Christ was born in a stable, and He was given for us. All of Him was given for us. And so it is that we are saved to the uttermost.
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).