Malicious Words – III John

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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I have a pastor friend who once shared his heartache. It was his assessment of one glaring problem in so many who understand the distinctiveness of the Apostle Paul’s ministry. This pastor had endured savage treatment by a local church and witnessed repeated viciousness among believers from across the country. He said, “I know we have the right message, but there is something fundamentally wrong when our sound doctrine does not demonstrate itself by genuine consistent love between believers. As a group, we seem to be often missing what doctrine is intended to produce: love, godliness, and harmony between believers.”

In III John, the Apostle John wrote to Gaius, a Jewish believer in a church who was awaiting the Second Coming of Christ to establish the Millennial Kingdom. This epistle informs us that one from this assembly, Diotrephes, was strongly opposing the ministry of John the Apostle. He was doing so by “…prating against us with malicious words” (vs. 10). The word “malicious” means “to be hurtful in effect or influence.” Apparently, this man was knowingly saying derogatory and untrue things about a spiritual leader, John, whom he should have been humbly following, supporting, and promoting. His motive was transparent too. John said he was one “…who loveth to have the preeminence among them [in his sphere of influence]” (vs. 9). Spiritually-rebellious bullies, backbiters, gossips, and slanderers seem to frequently find their way into “Christian” circles. So aggressive was this man’s evil activity that when others did not comply with the venom he was spewing, he would aggressively cast “them out of the church” (vs. 10). The Lord Jesus had taught His disciples: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). The words and actions of Diotrephes demonstrated a glaring lack of love, humility, and harmony that was surely a very negative testimony to the lost that would hear of these things. John told Gaius not to be swept up in this carnality when he said: “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good…” (vs. 11).

Dear Christian, Satanic and carnal influences have many times repeated “malicious words” in Christian churches and organizations. Don’t be a participant by listening to or repeating hurtful things about others. We must uphold the standard of Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may ministry grace unto the hearers.”

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."