Solomon declares that “a good name is better than precious ointment” (Ecc. 7:1). He wrote identical words in Proverbs 22:1. What makes a good “name” so important? Why would we want a good “name”?
First, understand that a good “name” speaks of a good reputation. What do people see when they see me? Be honest! Do people see a hypocrite or a genuine person? Do people see someone trying to serve God or self? It is a true statement that our actions speak louder than our words! Yes, we are known by what we do (Prov. 20:11; Matt. 7:16).
What are you doing? Do your actions match your speech? Do you tell people not to steal, even though you steal (Be it money, time on the job, dishonest on taxes, etc.)? Do you tell people not to commit adultery even though you are doing it (If you have never committed the act, remember adultery is possible in the heart, too, Matt. 5:27-28.), do you tell people to keep God’s law while you are breaking it? These are a few ways that we can be hypocrites and ruin a good name (Rom. 2:21-24).
Many seem not to care about their name or reputation, and yet, Solomon points out that there is something valuable in it (Ecc. 7:1; Prov. 22:1). What are we doing to preserve and grow the good name we have as citizens in our community? People need to know that we are honest, trustworthy, and kind people. Do folks know this about us? Men like Cornelius (Acts 10) and others stand out in my mind as having a good reputation among men, and this reputation has lasted through the years. Abel had a good reputation, and by it, “he being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
The best reputation we can have, however, is when we accept the name of Christ (Mk. 16:16; Acts 11:26). “There is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ lived for 33 years on this earth and had the best reputation of all. Though He was unjustly taken and killed, all recognized He died innocent of any crime and free from all sin (Matt. 27:19; Lk. 23:4, 14; Jn. 18:38, 19:4, 6; I Pet. 2:22). He then invites us, those who have sinned and marred our reputations, to accept His good name and be free from sin, giving us the ability to start over (II Cor. 5:17). We put to death the old man of sin and rise up a new man, ready to do the Lord’s will (Rom. 6:3-6). We can honestly say that we have a new life. There are things I used to do that I do not do anymore. At the same time, there are things I used to avoid and scoff at that now I do wholeheartedly! This is such a radical change that our Lord compares it to a birth (Jn. 3:3, 5)! The result is a new and better reputation than I ever had, and I don’t intend to ruin it. I understand that this “good name” (Christ’s name/reputation) is better than precious ointment, riches, or anything that this world has to offer (Prov. 22:1; Ecc. 7:1). It is for this reason that all I say and do is done “in the name of” (in connection with the reputation of) Christ (Col. 3:17)! I strive daily to do nothing that would mar Christ’s reputation that He has offered to me.
Would you like to have such a good reputation? Do you realize that the only way this is possible is to start over? In Christ, you can have such a beginning! If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), and are willing to repent of your sins (Lk. 13:3). If you will confess your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10) and then be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), you can be saved (Mk. 16:16)! You can have a new start (II Cor. 5:17). You can have a new name (Acts 11:26), which means a new reputation and a new beginning.
Start over today and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way. Become a Christian and see this wonderful reputation, and know that it is worth preserving, protecting, and promoting through the rest of your life! This “good name” is the best name! Become a Christian today.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In the context of II John 11, we learn that whoever teaches false doctrine does not have fellowship with God (II Jn. 9). At the same time, it is not right for those who hear the false doctrine to accept the person and act as if nothing is wrong (II John 10). If someone bids “Godspeed” (KJV) or “Greets” (ASV, Darby, ESV, NET, RV, etc.) the false teacher, this person is just as guilty in the eyes of God. Other Bible versions use the terms, “participates,” or “sharing” for “partaker” in II John 11. I think this helps us understand what John was teaching. Not only is it wrong to teach false doctrine, but it is also wrong for those hearing false doctrine to stand by and allow it to be taught without opposition (II Jn. 10-11)!
The apostle Paul showed us the right response when he said that when Judaizers came in to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,” they gave place “no, not for an hour” (Gal. 2:4-5)! Later, Paul would withstand Peter “to the face, because he was to be blamed” for the hypocrisy he perpetuated (Gal. 2:11). Paul would also write (by inspiration) a warning similar to John’s to the Romans. After listing the sins the Gentiles had committed through the years, he ends chapter one by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32). In other words, not only did the people committing the sins deserve death (Jas. 1:15), but those who approve of what is done (applaud, ISV; consent, ASV; delight, Darby) deserve the same punishment! This sounds like John’s warning in II John 11.
The stand taken by Paul and John while they lived, and encouraged in their epistles (Rom. 1:32; II Jn. 9-11), serves at least two purposes. One purpose is obvious, and that is to save those who are affected by false doctrine, including myself! Remember, to bid “Godspeed” means I am also partaking (II Jn. 11)! If I do not take a stand, or if I bid “Godspeed” to a deceiver, then many more will be deceived. The second purpose is closely linked to the first. This is that by standing, we are also trying to win the soul of the false teacher. When we stand opposed to someone because of his false teaching, we need to make sure and check our attitude. Is our response motivated by hatred of the person or the doctrine? There is a difference! If I am trying to win an argument, I very well may lose the soul. If I am trying to win someone’s soul, I will win the argument by default. What John shows me is that I not allow what some call “love” to silence my tongue! I must speak! I must warn!
Sadly, we live in a time when men are afraid of confrontation. We have a society that recoils at the thought of standing for the truth, but ironically is quick to criticize and belittle anyone who does! We are told that retreat is courageous. This is wrong. Christians in our time who claim to wear the armor of Christ (Eph. 6:11-19), tend to forget about the sword. Yet, the sword is a part of our armor! The sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) is not a defensive but an offensive weapon. With it, we take the fight to the enemy (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12)! The sword is not for cleaning your fingernails, or picking your teeth! With the sword of the Spirit, we stand against “the wiles of the devil” and do not give submission, “no, not for an hour”!
When we read II John, we learn that we do not give “Godspeed” (greet, participate, or share) with false teachers as if to “go along and get along.” Remember, souls are at stake, and they are too precious to leave to the “wolves” (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31)! At the same time, standing against the wolves who teach false doctrines may open their eyes to the truth. This is our goal -- to bring lost souls to the Father (Jas. 5:19-20). When we do not partake or share with false teachers, we will cause them to stop and consider what they are doing. No, not everyone repents at this, but folks need to know where we stand. Let them be warned in love and truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11). Let us stand with a pure conscious, knowing that false teachers will face God in judgment, having at least been warned. Who knows, but you are in the kingdom “for such a time as this,” and your warning might save a soul from death? One thing is certain: silence in the face of false teaching and pretending nothing is wrong will do nothing to remedy the situation, nor will it save a soul. It only makes things worse!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin” is a vivid description of false teachers (II Pet. 2:14). It reminds me of the description of the people before the Flood when “every imagination of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). To have one’s eyes “full of adultery” is a poetic way of saying these people see the perverse in everything. Purity and innocence are gone from them. Sin has perverted their minds.
This statement, “cannot cease from sin,” doesn’t meant they physically couldn’t stop sinning. They could change if they desired (II Pet. 3:9). It means that these folks won’t stop. They have “exercised” their hearts to where they think of only the wicked, the ugly, the sinful, the impure, the dishonest, and the godless. It has become such a habit for them that it is like “second-nature.” It’s like breathing to them. Paul similarly described the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32. Do you know people like this? Have you seen people like this in the mirror? I pray not!
It is these people that Peter says promise folks “liberty” though “they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption” (II Pet. 2:19)! These people are in bondage to their sin and wickedness, and they want others to go with them down the same road! This is the nature of those in bondage to sin. They don’t want people “judging” them, but joining them! They don’t want people to instruct them in the way that is right and cannot be wrong (Rom. 1:16-17; Jn. 8:31-32). They want consequences ignored as they think about all the “freedom” and all the “fun” they are having in sin!
As an example, this is the practice of any alcohol ad. The commercials focus on the “fun-times,” or the “sophistication,” or just quiet introspection as one thoughtfully drinks alcohol. At the end, we read the disclaimer to “Think when you drink” or a reminder to have a designated driver, or there is the fine print where a toll-free number for “A.A.” is offered. Why the disclaimers? I thought alcohol brings good times and sophistication! Why a designated driver? Doesn’t alcohol make you smart? Apparently, alcohol promises one thing (liberty) but brings something else (bondage). If you are not sure about this, ask why it is that alcohol commercials never include winos or the people whose marriages were destroyed because of alcohol. Why do we never see ads showing the people having “DT’s” when coming off of a weekend bender? “When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Prov. 23:25). This is the mantra of the addicted person, i.e., the one who is fooled into thinking he is free when he is actually in bondage.
Other examples of spiritual bondage abound, but the point is that a man can sin so much until it is “second-nature.” He can lie so frequently that he no longer knows what the truth is! Someone who cannot cease from sin is in slavery and needs to get out! The only One who can free us from the bondage of sin is Christ (Jn. 8:31-32, 36). He makes it possible for us to “escape the pollutions of this world (II Pet. 2:20). The question is, will we accept His cure? He sacrificed His life for all (Matt. 20:28), but not everyone accepts it (Matt. 7:13-14, Acts 17:30-34).
What will you do? Will you continue in bondage, or will you accept freedom in Christ? When we believe on Christ (Jn. 8:32), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3, 5), confess our faith (Rom. 10:10), and are baptized, we can be made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:17-18; Acts 22:16). The sin that was once “second-nature” we can drop and can accept true freedom in Christ! Why are you waiting?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When Peter spoke of the false teachers “among you” (II Pet. 2:1), he warned that these people would “with feigned words make merchandise of you” (v. 3). This concern about false teachers has been repeated since the gospel was first preached! In Matthew 7:15, Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Similarly, Paul warned the Ephesians about the “grievous wolves” that would come, “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). Paul also warned the Colossians, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). The term “spoil” in this text carries with it the same meaning as the term “making merchandise” from II Peter 2:3.
When we remember the broader context of II Peter, we can see why Peter was motivated to preach and remind the folks of the truth. He knew false prophets were active. This is the tragedy that faces us. As soon as the gospel is preached, there is a warning concerning false teachers! This fact shows us just how hurtful and deceptive Satan is. You see, as soon as something beautiful comes along, Satan is ready to ruin it. He did this in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-6), he did it through false prophets (Matt. 7:15; II Pet 2:3; etc.), and he still does it today. He wants us “drawn away” from God and drawn to his kingdom (Acts 20:28; Jas. 1:14-15). Satan has his false teachers promise us freedom (II Pet. 2:19), but they are trying actually to make us their “spoil” and enslave us in sin.
How can I know who the false teacher is? I will know when I see someone who is willfully teaching a doctrine that is opposed to the truth -- a “damnable” or destructive heresy! This is not someone who has a different opinion or a “quirk,” (Rom. 14) but someone who is teaching a doctrine opposed to the Lord’s word and wants you to go with him! Listen to Solomon, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov. 1:10)! The warning against listening to false teachers was given in Deuteronomy 13, and it needs to be heeded still today (Rom. 15:4)!
False teachers are not your friends! The false teacher tries to endear himself to others, but he is merely using “feigned words,” misleading words, lies, or perverse teachings, to “draw away disciples,” and make “merchandise,” or make you a “spoil.” The false teacher may come along to tell you that he has “discovered” something that no one else has seen in millennia. Why, he has seen through the religious “fog” and has discovered something unique, special, and it will put you closer to God than you have ever been before (see: II Pet. 2:19). If you would only listen to him and follow him, then you could be smart, too! Don’t stay in ignorance, but accept this “truth” that has been hidden, or lost for ages! This is but one example of “feigned words,” and simply put, you are nothing more to the false teacher than something to conquer. You do not have value in the eyes of a false teacher. Your worth is gauged by what you can do for the false teacher rather than what you can do for God!
Don’t become the “spoil” or “merchandise” of a false teacher! Instead, submit your life to the inspired Word of God (II Pet. 1:20-21) and follow it all of your life (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 5:9). See the blessings that come when we listen to God instead of man (Jer. 10:23; II Tim. 2:15; Eph. 3:4)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Many today treat sin as nothing. Some tell us that sin is non-existent. Others treat sin as a fairy tale to scare children. Many people act as if they have “outgrown” sin, and they live their lives oblivious to the harm they are doing to their souls and the souls of others. Proverbs 14:9 declares, “Fools make a mock at sin ….”
When it was known that Haman’s law was in force, Mordecai “cried with a loud and bitter cry; he even came before the king’s gate … clothed with sackcloth” (Est. 4:1-2). He later told Esther how her life stood in jeopardy along with the rest of the Jews (v. 13-14). They faced death from a bitter enemy all because this enemy allowed his pride, envy, and anger to influence his decisions. Mordecai didn’t treat Haman’s actions as a joke or a fairy tale.
Sin is no joke (Prov. 14:9)! It is not silly, nor is it something where one gets a “slap on the hand” or has to sit in the corner to make things right. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and it is high time we realized how dangerous sin is! We see a picture of the horrible nature of sin when we read Mordecai’s response (Est. 4:1-2). He and his nation were going to suffer because of a man’s sinful action if something was not done quickly.
The same is true today. We stand in spiritual jeopardy because of sin (Ezek. 18:20). We have sinned because we have given in to our lusts and acted in ways we ought not (Jas. 1:14-15). What are we doing to correct the situation? Did we notice that after Mordecai cried, he got busy! We need to do the same thing.
Once we realize that we have sinned, we need to act to be free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). I am impressed that in the New Testament when we read where people understood the heinous nature of their sin, they moved quickly to get out of it. They didn’t wait, but went “the same hour of the night … immediately” (Acts 16:33) to correct their error. This was not an accident but was the result of preachers telling them that they needed to act quickly (II Cor. 6:2). “Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” is the message of the gospel (Heb. 3:7-8, 15)!
Do not wait until tomorrow or farther into the future. We have no lease on life (Jas. 4:14; Ps. 90:12). We must act quickly. The true face of sin is horrible. It is far worse than the physical death that Mordecai dreaded. Sin leads us to an eternal death where there is nothing but darkness, pain, and suffering for eternity (Matt. 22:13, 25:30; Rev. 14:10-11).
Mordecai hoped a change of the law might save them. In like manner, a “change of the law” (Heb. 7:12-14) has made all the difference for us. Since Christ died upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, we now have a way to become free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). When we follow the Lord’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38), we can be free and do not have to face the consequences of our sin. The true face of sin leads us to an eternity away from the Lord in a Devil’s Hell. The remedy for sin is to be baptized and to remain faithful to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). “Put on the armor of light … make no provision for the flesh” and enjoy the blessings that come in Christ (Rom. 13:11, 14; Eph. 1:3).
Christ defeated sin. Have you done what the Lord wants? The true face of sin is worse than anything you can imagine. Do not go to your grave in sin!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs