If we don’t know the truth and we don’t live for the truth, and we aren’t the pillar and ground for the truth, then the church has a deficient immune system. We lack discernment. And if we lack discernment, we’ll die from a thousand illnesses. . . . We can’t have an open door to those who deceive by misinterpreting and misrepresenting the truth. Of all things to be protected, the truth is most important.
That urgent call for discernment, discipline, and a vigorous defense of the truth comes from John MacArthur’s sermon “The Primacy of Truth.” In this short but powerful message, John considers where God’s Word ought to figure in the priorities of His people.
Set against the backdrop of the apostle John’s second epistle, John MacArthur looks at the world of the New Testament—particularly the biblical mandate for believers to be hospitable. As he explains, the church’s emphasis on hospitality created an opportunity for false teachers.
They could make a good living as an itinerant preacher leaching off people everywhere they went, and saying just enough to seduce people into thinking they preached the truth. And then preying on the gullible Christians who were loving them in a kind way, and getting a hearing for their lies and bringing corruption and distress into the church.
Second John is a call to turn away from those who corrupt the truth of God’s Word and confuse His people. It places the highest priority on the purity of the church and the protection of biblical truth. In the same way, John MacArthur charges his listeners to carefully guard themselves from the influence of false teachers and their heresies.
Sound doctrine is always the test of fellowship, always. The truth, listen carefully, is never served—the truth is never honored; the truth is never respected; the truth is never aided by those who deny it or those who attack it. Nothing is gained by being exposed to error. . . . You cannot hold up the truth and welcome in those who seek to destroy it. So if we get a little defensive around here about protecting the truth, you will understand our mandate. The truth matters more than anything else, people. If the church loses the truth, it isn’t the church.
“The Primacy of Truth” is a call to live according to Paul’s exhortation to the church at Rome.
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18)
God’s people need to take His Word seriously. They need to protect it—and themselves—from the bewitching influence of false teachers and their satanic doctrines.