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                      "THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN"

                    The Spirit Of Diotrephes (9-10)

INTRODUCTION

1. In our study of Third John, we have noticed the commendable spirit
   found in Gaius...
   a. The truth was in him - 3Jn 3
   b. He walked in the truth - 3Jn 3-4
   c. He demonstrated love and hospitality towards the brethren and for
      strangers - 3Jn 5-6

2. Unfortunately, another man mentioned in this letter did not possess
   the spirit of Gaius...
   a. His name was Diotrephes
   b. And John felt it necessary to relate what Diotrephes had done, 
      and what he (John) would have to do in response - 3Jn 9-10

3. While there are many people today who possess the spirit of Gaius,
   and bless the Lord's church accordingly, it is not uncommon for 
   "The Spirit Of Diotrephes"...
   a. To be found in some churches
   b. To tear apart the love and unity that ought to prevail in every
      congregation

4. That we might be on guard against "The Spirit Of Diotrephes", in
   this lesson we shall...
   a. Identify exactly what characterized the spirit of Diotrephes
   b. Consider how it was so contrary to the principles taught by our
      Lord and His apostles

[We begin, then, by noticing that "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" was one
of...]

I. DESIRING PREEMINENCE (9a)

   A. IN THE CASE OF DIOTREPHES...
      1. John wrote that he "loves to have the preeminence"
      2. The word "preeminence" in the Greek is "philoproteuo" 
         {fil-op-rote-yoo'-o}
         a. It means to be fond of being first
         b. I.e., ambitious of distinction; love to have the 
            preeminence
      3. It was his love of being first (a sin in itself) that led to
         other sins that he committed
      4. Unfortunately, Diotrephes failed to consider that "sin" is
         spelled with a capital "I" (i.e., "self" is at the root of all
         sin)

   B. THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES...
      1. When the mother of James and John expressed a desire for her
         sons to be given preeminence, Jesus taught the principle of
         humility and service - Mt 20:20-28
      2. He did so again as he spoke out against the scribes and 
         Pharisees - Mt 23:6-12
      3. Paul taught that in matters of honor we should give preference
         to one another - Ro 12:10
      4. Indeed, we must not have the sort of selfish ambition found in
         Diotrephes, but the humble servitude found in the mind of 
         Christ - cf. Php 2:2-8
      5. Whereas "sin" is spelled with a capital "I", the cross is an 
         "I" that has been crossed out! (i.e., denying "self" is a 
         cardinal principle of Christianity)

   C. HOW ABOUT TODAY?
      1. We live in the "me generation" where the spirit of Diotrephes
         reigns supreme
      2. It should not surprise us, when the church is so often 
         influenced by the world, to hear people say:
         a. "But I want..."
         b. "But I think..."
      3. But there is no room in the kingdom for the "me first" 
         mentality; where it exists, more sins and problems are bound
         to follow

[We see that to be the case as we notice that "The Spirit Of 
Diotrephes" was also one of...]

II. REJECTING APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY (9b)

   A. IN THE CASE OF DIOTREPHES...
      1. John writes simply: "[he] does not receive us"
      2. It may seem incredible that one would refuse to accept and 
         submit to...
         a. The disciple whom Jesus loved!
         b. An apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ!
      3. But because of his love to be first, there was no room in 
         Diotrephes' heart for someone over him in matters of authority

   B. THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES...
      1. It is important that we appreciate the proper chain of 
         authority in the kingdom...
         a. As Creator, God inherently has all authority
         b. However, the Father has delegated all authority to His Son 
            - Mt 28:18; Ep 1:20-22
         c. Jesus in turn has delegated authority to His apostles - Jn 
            13:20
            1) He sent the Holy Spirit to assist them, and guide them
               into all the truth - Jn 14:26; 16:12-13
            2) Thus they could speak and write with the authority of 
               God behind them - cf. 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13
      2. This is why we find that the early church "continued 
         steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." - Ac 2:42
 
   C. HOW ABOUT TODAY?
      1. The spirit of Diotrephes appears to reign unchecked in those 
         churches that reject...
         a. The authority of the apostles in preference for the 
            authority of their own councils, synods, or conferences
         b. The clear teachings of the apostles concerning such issues
            as homosexuality, women preachers, etc.
         c. Apostolic precedent (whether by command or example) to 
            authorize any church practice that suits their fancy
      2. And the spirit of Diotrephes reigns supreme in the lives of
         those professing Christians who reject the apostles' call for
         holy and sanctified living...
         a. So they can choose their own sexual preference and 
            lifestyle
         b. So they can put their own personal interests first, before
            the kingdom of God

[Yes, living in a narcissistic society such as ours, it is not uncommon
to find the spirit of Diotrephes present in so many peoples' lives.

When it is found in the lives of Christians, things can get ugly rather
quickly.  As we see in our text, "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" can 
manifest itself in Christians by...]

III. SPEAKING EVIL OF BRETHREN (10a)

   A. IN THE CASE OF DIOTREPHES...
      1. John relates that Diotrephes was guilty of "prating against us
         with malicious words"
      2. The word "prating" in the Greek is phluareo {floo-ar-eh'-o}...
         a. It means to be a babbler or trifler
         b. By implication it means to berate idly or mischievously
      3. The word "malicious" is poneros {pon-ay-ros'} and means
         "hurtful, evil"
      4. Diotrephes gave little concern, then, about how he spoke with
         evil and hurtful words concerning his brethren

   B. THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES...
      1. We will be judged for the idle words that we use - Mt 12:36-37
      2. We are commanded not to speak evil of one another - Jm 4:11-12
         a. To do so is to speak evil of the law of God!
         b. To do so is to set ourselves up as judges
      3. While it may be necessary at times to "rebuke" our brethren
         (cf. 2Ti 4:2)...
         a. We are given the proper tools (i.e., the Scriptures 
            themselves) - 2Ti 3:16
         b. We are instructed how to approach those in error - 2Ti 2:
            24-26; Ga 6:1

   C. HOW ABOUT TODAY?
      1. Does not the spirit of Diotrephes manifest itself when 
         Christians engage in malicious gossip?
      2. Does not the spirit of Diotrephes reign when overzealous and
         self-appointed "guardians of the faith" lambaste their
         brethren with whom they differ?
      3. Indeed, it is often the desire for preeminence that prompts
         Christians to reject apostolic teachings concerning brotherly
         relations and to engage in malicious prating

[The use of malicious words are not the only weapons used by those
possessed by the spirit of Diotrephes, however.

If in their love for preeminence they have actually gained positions of
influence, it is not unusual to see "The Spirit Of Diotrephes
manifested in...]

IV. ABUSING CHURCH DISCIPLINE (10b)

   A. IN THE CASE OF DIOTREPHES...
      1. Not content with using prating with malicious words,
         Diotrephes is described as one who...
         a. "does not receive the brethren"
         b. "forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church"
      2. In two ways, then, he was abusing church discipline...
         a. Refusing to associate with those worthy of association
         b. Using it as a weapon to manipulate others to do what he
            wanted

   B. THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES...
      1. Jesus taught there might be times when church discipline is
         necessary - Mt 18:15-17
      2. Paul described such a time on two occasions, and gave
         instructions for carrying it out
         a. When a man was living with his father's wife - 1Co 5:1-13
         b. When Christians refused to work - 2Th 3:6-15
      3. So there are times when we must "put away from yourselves that
         wicked person"
      4. But there is also the possibility of abusing this method of
         church discipline, as in the case of Diotrephes

   C. HOW ABOUT TODAY?
      1. That church discipline could be abused back then, means that
         it can be abused today
      2. This is not to be an excuse to never exercise church
         discipline, but to do so carefully
      3. Just because another church has carried it out against someone
         does not mean they did so properly...
         a. It may have been prompted as part of a power play by a
            "Diotrephes"
         b. The ones being withdrawn from may be innocent
         ...thus the need to exercise discretion and to know the facts
         before accepting the disciplinary action of another church

CONCLUSION

1. "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" can be summarized as one of...
   a. Desiring preeminence
   b. Rejecting apostolic authority
   c. Speaking evil of brethren
   d. Abusing church discipline

2. One must not have all four of these to be guilty of sin...
   a. Any one is an abomination before God!
   b. Any one can destroy brotherly relations!

May John's description of "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" serve as a 
warning for us!
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