The doorbell rings. As the last chimes echo off our living room walls, our heart begins to flutter, because we have caught a glimpse of our soon-to-be guest. If we open the door, we will be face to face with a Mormon, a Jehovah Witness, or another cult member intent on spreading ‘another gospel.’ With just seconds to go, we must make a decision. We know our God is a God of truth and that the truth will set us free. But, we also know that the missionary on our doorstep is probably much more knowledgeable about religion than we are. Thus, we feel a very real tension. We fear that we could do damage to the Gospel by either ducking into the back bedroom or by inviting the cult member into our home.
Thankfully as with all topics, the Scriptures speak to this issue with clarity. We do not have to worry about what we should do or should have done. The Bible tells us explicitly what to do when false teachers ring our doorbell. We lock our door. In 2 John 10-11, we read,
“If anyone comes to your and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”
There is a line of demarcation when it comes to cults and churches. We are to embrace those embrace Jesus as their savior and to reject all who reject God. John labels the person who denies the deity of Christ and Jesus’ saving work on the cross as “the deceiver and the Antichrist.” The images of Left Behind aside, I do not think any of us would want THE Antichrist in our homes. We would not invite him in to eat a cookie and to share some lemonade. And, we should not welcome little anti-Christs into our home. Jehovah witnesses are not just confused; they are deadly. To associate with them is to risk are very spiritual well-being.
We will gain nothing from arguing with false teachers and prophets except perhaps an inflated since ego. Most likely, our reasoning will not convince them because the Holy Spirit has darkened the eyes and minds of the false teachers standing on our door step. We can do nothing to win them to true faith. And we are not called to be their savior. Jesus is. And the false teachers have already rejected the one true God. For this reason, Paul echoes John writing,
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
We have nothing in our biblical message that appeals to the false prophets, but they have plenty of errors that appeal to our fallen nature. We share their sinful appetites. Instead of feeding our appetites, wisdom demands that we flee from sin. As Paul writes again in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘“Bad company ruins good morals.”’
Instead of welcoming false teachers into our home, the Gospel demands that we give false missionaries the cold shoulder. In so doing, we proclaim that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. We proclaim that they are in error. We proclaim through our actions that we value the one true Gospel above all else. Our rejection of is not harsh or unloving. Remember Paul’s words from Galatians 1:9:
As we have said before, so I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to one you received, let him be accursed.
According to the ancient writer and theologian, Irenaeus, the apostle John once encountered a famous heretic in a Roman bathhouse. Instead of greeting the man and reasoning with him over the Gospel, John turned around and ran out of the building, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of truth, is within.”
If the apostle John fled from false teachers, who are we to invite them in to our homes?