Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Who AM I?

Meditation for the week of December 9, 2012

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:11)

John, the aged apostle, must have been grieved to see the churches of God become organizations that men of ambition used to control people. True religion is to take care of the orphans and widows and to stay unspoiled by the world (the society that Satan is controlling).  See James 1:27.  People who are really controlled by the Holy Spirit have themselves under control.  They worry about their own sins. When a person who is in fellowship with the Lord and who is serving Him preaches about sin, that person always includes themselves in the preaching.  They know that they may not have committed the sins that they are condemning, but in the right circumstances they might have done so.  They also know that while they may not have committed some of the grievous errors of our present society, they have committed sins of other kinds that may even be acceptable in the eyes of their peers, but those sins are sins nevertheless.   By contrast, evil people often use the sins of society to control people and to advance their own ambitions.  They tend to use religion as a club to keep others in subjection.

Three men are involved in John’s letter.  Gaius is the one to whom the letter is addressed.  He wants to do right, but needs John’s encouragement.  Diotrephes is the evil influence in this church who wants to be in charge.  Demetrius is one that Paul knows has a good reputation and whose example should be followed.  So John encourages Gaius to imitate Demetrius and not to follow a man like Diotrephes who is only masquerading as a Christian to promote himself rather than promoting the Lord.

In Matthew 7, the Lord says that we will know false prophets by their fruits.  They will come in sheep’s clothing, that is they will look like meek believers who need a shepherd, but all the while they are hungry meat-eating wolves out to destroy the work of the Lord.  This verse really does not tell us how to recognize the saved and the unsaved in general, but it tells us how to recognize false prophets.  Diotrephes should have been easy to recognize as one of these prophets.  A person who claims to be speaking for God but who is really promoting his own selfish ambitions, is from a “bad” tree.  Just as a wolf is a ravenous wild animal, these people are self-centered, covetous and controlling. They are dividers and not uniters.  They can’t help themselves because they “have not seen God.”  They have never humbled themselves. They are not “born again (John 3:7).”

Why do men like Diotrephes seem to have such control over the true Christian?  First of all, Christians are likened unto sheep and sheep are easily led astray.  Secondly, these men rule out of fear or out of flattery or both.  People are afraid to rebuke them particularly when the Bible tells us to obey our elders.  But just like we are to obey the rulers of our land until they REQUIRE us to do that which is contrary to the will of the Lord, we are to obey our elders until they start REQUIRING us to support evil as well.  Sometimes when someone who claims to be godly says things in an authoritative manner that we know to be wrong, it is hard for a true believer to accept the fact that this person really should not be imitated or followed.  After all shouldn’t we esteem others “better” than ourselves (Philippians 2:3)?  Just as Satan knew how to misuse Scripture to test the Lord, these people often do the same thing.  They know all the Scriptures on forgiveness and obedience and use them as a club to control their followers.  In my experience, first they flatter, then they will lie and if those things don’t work, they will confront.

Christians are not to take up arms and fight physical battles, but we are to prayerfully fight spiritual battles.  In the world today, there are many popular preachers and leaders claiming to do the Lord’s work.  When I listen to them, I ask myself, “Do I want to be like these men?”  If my answer is “No,” I simply try to avoid them since we are called to separate from the world and not to reform it.  If they are in a position to directly affect my life, I try to reason with them.  But where I see them leading others astray, I try to separate myself from their influence.  But I don’t try to develop a group of my own followers to help me destroy them.  Judgment of that nature is the Lord’s business, not mine.

Even the early new testament church had people that were “problems”.  Can you imagine a man having the “chutzpah” to speak maliciously against the Apostle John?  Hopefully, something like that would never happen in one of our churches.

Bruce Collins

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