Look Out

2 John 7-11

 

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. NKJV

The Winter 1991 issue of the University of Pacific Review offers a chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster:

There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were "playing around" with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would "free wheel" when they took the power off it.

Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems.

One by one the computers would come up and say, "Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!" And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world.

The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others. -- Tom Tripp in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

It is foolhardy to not pay attention to warnings. Especially if these warnings come from God's Word.

  1. A stern warning. "Look to yourselves"
    1. Look We need to be watchful
      1. There was but one crack in the lantern, and the wind found it and blew out the candle. How great a mischief one unguarded point of character may cause us! One spark blew up the ammunition and shook the whole country for miles around. One leak sank the vessel and drowned all on board. One wound may kill the body, one sin destroy the soul. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
      2. Steve Green, who sang six years with Bill and Gloria Gaither, tells about getting to know some of the work crews in the large auditoriums where their concerts were held. The Gaithers prefer concerts-in-the-round, which means extra work for the "riggers," who walk the four-inch rafter beams--often a hundred feet above the concrete floor--to hang sound speakers and spotlights. For such work, understandably, they are very well paid. "The fellows I talked to weren't bothered by the sight of looking down a hundred feet," says Green. "What they didn't like, they said, were jobs in buildings that had false ceilings--acoustical tile slung just a couple of feet below the rafters. They were still high in the air, and if they slipped, their weight would smash right through the flimsy tile. But their minds seemed to play tricks on them, lulling them into carelessness."
      3. Satan's business is not so much in scaring us to death as persuading us that the danger of a spiritual fall is minimal. No wonder Peter advised us to "resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9). -- Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1.
    2. Satan desires for us to suffer loss, "that we do not lose those things we worked for "
      1. It is possible to labor for many years, only to loose it all.
        1. Our works will be tried by fire to determine their true nature.
        2. 1 Cor 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. NKJV
        3. 1 Cor 3:11 For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have--Jesus Christ. 12 Now anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone's work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. 14 If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames. NLT
      2. Satan appeals to our sensual desires to lead us away from God. Acts 5:3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? NKJV
      3. Satan tries to take advantage of us in the ways of our flesh. 2 Cor 2:10 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. NKJV
      4. Satan is always seeking to deceive the saints. 2 Cor 11:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted--you may well put up with it! NKJV
      5. It is possible for us to give Satan an opportunity to damage our Christian character. Eph 4:26 Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. NKJV 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. NIV
      6. Or all we need to do is follow the crowd, In a recent NCAA cross-country championship held in Riverside, California, 123 of the 128 runners missed a turn. One competitor, Mike Delcavo, stayed on the 10,000-meter course and began waving for fellow runners to follow him. Delcavo was able to convince only four other runners to go with him. Asked what his competitors thought of his mid-race decision not to follow the crowd, Delcavo responded, "They thought it was funny that I went the right way." Delcavo was one who ran correctly. In the same way, our goal is to run correctly--to finish the race marked out for us by Christ. We can rejoice over those who have courage to follow, ignoring the laughter of the crowd. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness ..." (2 Tim. 4:7-8). -- Loren D. McBain, Mesa, Arizona. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.
      7. Paul was constantly concerned that the labor he performed for the Lord by be countered by the works of Satan.
      8. 1 Thess 3:5 That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the Tempter had gotten the best of you and that all our work had been useless. NLT
      9. Oh Christian do you not realize that Satan would ruin us and cause us to loose our reward.
      10. We are no better than Peter whom Satan desired to sift, and did quite well I might say.
    3. To become entangled and give ourselves over to the leading of Satan is sure to cause us loss, "but that we may receive a full reward"
      1. Satan understands that we are forever saved but he also know we still have the weakness of human flesh in us.
        1. He tries to use whatever he can to lead us astray.
        2. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. NKJV
        3. But one of the chief things is the false teaching of those John calls deceivers.
      2. The readers are warned to take heed that the deceivers do not undo the work which the apostles and evangelists had done, so that they might receive a full reward. Full reward. No element lacking in rewarding of God's people in the life to come. (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)
      3. Paul lived his life in such a way as to receive a full reward and encouraged others to do the same.
      4. 1 Cor 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. NKJV
      5. 2 Tim 2:5 Follow the Lord's rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize. NLT
      6. The Olympics are taking place and the Gold metals are being awarded.
        1. But you know that there may be some who after they have prepared for years.
        2. After they have subjected themselves to hour of rigorous practice.
        3. Even after they have finished the race and won.
        4. They may loose their reward for they did not abide by the rules.
      7. Are you living life by God's rules or your own.
      8. Are you calling the shots, doing your best to have life your way.
      9. Or are you concerned aboput finishing the race that God has called you to run.

By 7 p.m. on October 20, 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics Stadium, it was beginning to darken. It had cooled down as well.

The last of the Olympic marathon runners were being assisted away to first-aid stations. Over an hour earlier, Mamo Waldi of Ethiopia had charged across the finish line, winning the 26-mile, 385-yard race looking as strong and as vigorous as when he'd started.

As the last few thousand spectators began preparing to leave, they heard police sirens and whistles through the gate entering the stadium.

The attention turned to that gate. A sole figure, wearing the colors of Tanzania, came limping into the stadium. His name was John Steven Aquari. He was the last man to finish the marathon in 1968. His leg was bandaged, bloody. He had taken a bad fall early in the race. Now, it was all he could do to limp his way around the track. The crowd stood and applauded as he completed that last lap.

When he finally crossed the finish line, one man dared ask the question all were wondering. "You are badly injured. Why didn't you quit? Why didn't you give up?"

Aquari, with quiet dignity said, "My country did not send me seven thousand miles to start this race. My country sent me to finish."

So it is with God. God didn't just send you to start this race. He didn't just send you to begin a noble task or a noble relationship. God sent you both to start and to finish. -- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today, Tape No. 155.

What has God called you to do? Will you finish the race He has set for you?

Will you finish the race but loose the reward?

Many of you saw the movie Chariots of Fire back about ten years ago. It was the true story of Eric Liddell, a man who ran for Scotland, then went on to become a missionary. You may recall that he refused to run on the Sabbath, forfeiting some of the awards he probably would have won in the 1924 Olympics.

Well, there was another scene in that movie that may have appeared like Hollywood fiction, but it was also true. One year before the pivotal event in the movie, Eric Liddell ran in a meet between England, Ireland and Scotland. He ran the 100-, 220-, and 440-yard events.

In the 440, he got off to a bad start. When that gun sounded, there was a lot of shoving to get in front to the inside lane, the advantageous position.

Liddell tangled feet with J. J. Gillies of England and tumbled to the track. He sat there dazed for a moment, not knowing whether he could get up, when the official screamed, "Get up and run!"

He jumped to his feet and took off after the pack, which was now a full twenty yards ahead of him. In a quarter mile, that's a big distance to try to make up. In his unorthodox style of running he took off after the pack. He pulled into fourth place ten yards behind the leader, J. J. Gillies.

With forty yards to go, he pulled into third place, then second. Right at the tape he passed Gillies, stuck his chest out, won the race, and collapsed to the track in total exhaustion. Medical personnel had to assist him off the track that day.

An article appearing the next day in The Scotsman newspaper said, "The circumstances in which Liddell won the race made it a performance bordering on the miraculous. Veterans whose memories take them back thirty-five years and in some cases longer in the history of athletics were unanimous in the opinion that Liddell's win in the quarter mile was the greatest track performance they had ever seen."

There's something glorious about getting up off the track after you've been knocked down and running again. Win or lose, you didn't stay down. -- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today, Tape No. 155.

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com