In this 2nd Chapter of Malachi, God, through his prophet, turns his attention to the priests of of the temple. God rebukes them for not being careful with how they represent him before the people - particularly with their teaching. Further, Malachi focuses on one devastating result of the priests not leading the people properly: casual and frequent divorce and re-marriage to pagans. God pronounces judgement on the people and their descendants who violate their marriage covenant. How did things deteriorate so miserably? And more important, how do we guard against going down the same path?
After their return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple, the people of Israel are spiritually lukewarm and disinterested in God. As a result, they fail to honor God and worship Him with reverence. Even the priests lack devotion and respect for the Lord. And as a nation they are languishing in self-pity. The prophet Malachi was sent as a wake up call to Israel to call the people back to the proper worship of the LORD as Father, Master and King and be renewed in their understanding of God's love for them.
John's third letter is meant to be an encouragement to Gaius and also a warning. A man, Diotrephes has risen to a position of authority in the church and is harming the the church. He is filled with personal ambition, inhospitable, authoritarian in his leadership and slanders the Apostle John. He stands as the antithesis of biblical leadership. There is no room in the church for this kind of leadership.
John writes again to the same congregation for which he has much love and tender affection for. He writes to warn them about specific deceivers that have gone out and are seeking to infiltrate the church. The church must be on guard against any person or doctrine claiming to go ahead, progress or advance the original message of the gospel delivered once for all to the saints. For such persons who would disseminate such a message, indeed a false gospel, we, individually and corporately, must have nothing to do with them.
John has written that the church might be assured of their salvation and confirmed in their understanding of the gospel. He now concludes that though the world is in the control of the evil one, the church- which finds its origin, being and life in Christ- is secure as it is protected by Christ.
When we have assurance of our salvation, knowing that we are His children, we can have confidence in prayer. We can rejoice that all of our requests that are according to his will shall be answered! God will even use our prayers for a wayward or backslidden brother or sister as the means of reviving them again and restoring them in faith.
Our text this week paints a picture of what Christian community ought to look like and how we can achieve it. Colossians 3:12-17 points to our motivation and model for right conduct within the family of God and also shows us the only means by which we can hope to grow into the kind of community God desires.
As we come to the conclusion of John's epistle, John shares the purpose of his letter, that 'you may know that you have eternal life'. John desires to affirm the faith of those in the church and he wants them to have certainty, confidence that they are in Christ and have received eternal life. God has given them eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ. If we have faith in the Son, we have received eternal life.
In our text today, John uses courtroom terminologies as he summarizes his case that Jesus is God. Using words like testimony and witness further prove to his readers that what John is stating is fact beyond any doubt. Today we will explore these truths and understand why it is so important to have a right understanding of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished on our behalf.
As long as we live on this earth, we are engaged in a spiritual battle; a battle for our faith, the allegiance of our hearts, even our very souls. Scripture speaks frequently and directly about the spiritual battle we are engaged in. And John specifically encourages and instructs the church how to overcome the world.