“They went out from us, but they didn’t belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.”
The Apostle John is identifying the false teachers, heretics and those who apostatise the faith. They show up in the church of Jesus Christ and make a fuss about a new doctrine or a new concept, and then leave. They do not accept the doctrines of the faith as laid down in the Scripture, but try to put new ideas out or re-interpret the old doctrines to suit their own ideas or to gather up a following. They are empire builders who want acclaim and to see their ideas flourish and have people following them. Many people do and we have examples of that in the plethora of churches that have grown up around women and men who seek fame and fortune. Some have found their success and have their reward in this life.
Those who do not love the Lord will eventually leave to find something more suitable for their tastes…
Others sit in churches that are dead and when the life of the Spirit comes they do not recognise it and refuse to respond to the challenges of God to involve ourselves with other people and reach out and identify with the outsider. Error can come in from outside of a church and it can certainly grow within it in the cold hearts towards God and other people. Church becomes a social club really easily of we are not on our guard with evangelism and the clear preaching of the gospel. It is easy to sit in church and atrophy and never get involved in anything challenging or sacrificial. We become tasters of sermons and snobs towards the outsider. We have cold hearts and unloving attitudes, even towards other Christians that we consider different from us. We are intolerant to everything, not just doctrine, but other peoples’ legitimate choices.
Many have left church for something more real and better because of the falsehood that has infiltrated the organisation. People want real experiences of God and a reality of knowing Him, that He promises in the Scripture.
Beloved, let us keep error out of our Christian walk with God, either outside or inside church.