Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Be Careful of Old Diotrephes

Temple Baptist Church - 1-6-2016
3 John 9-11

A.  As we study the Book of 3 John, we find the mention of three people: Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius.  Someone once said, “Two good eggs and a bad egg.”  Churches have not changed throughout the centuries as we still have these types of people in the church. 
1.  There are the Gaius people!  Faithful, loving, kind, gentle, serving, and basically trouble free in their maintenance. 
2.  There are the Diotrephes people!  We have disciples and, occasionally devils.  When I say “devils,” it is because they are divisive, disruptive, and destructive.
3.  There are the Demetrius people!  People that have nothing said bad about!  Good, honest people that allow the pastor to pastor.
B.  John is writing to commend Gaius for his godliness and service and but also to warn him concerning his associations in light of apostasy and the end times.  We need to guard our church against those who are self-serving instead of desiring to serve the Lord and others. 
C.  I want to take a short look at Diotrephes tonight.  The Bible gives this man a scrutiny that needs to be looked at closely.  How do you recognize and deal with Diotrephes?
1.  What Diotrephes is!  who loveth to have the preeminence among them”    Diotrephes is actually easily recognized by spiritual people!  Old Diotrephes loves to have the pre-eminence and, therefore, stands out in the crowd! 
a.  They will normally show up only one at a time.  They do not function well in larger churches as those churches have a lot of people sharing the “limelight.”  Diotrephes people normally like smaller churches where they can “waltz” in and immediately be someone important. 
b.  These are often well educated, socially elite people.  Yes, well educated people can be right with the Lord but the Bible says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:  (27)  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  (28)  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:  (29)  That no flesh should glory in his presence(1 Corinthians 1:26-29) 
c.  They are “The kind of people that we are looking for” to the more easily corruptible people.  They are self-serving.  It is all about them!  They have strong, take over personalities.  They will immediately step to the forefront of the church when there are special occasions or activities.  They are normally very talented and love to have their talent praised.  I have seen so many of these families that could be such a great asset to the local church but I have not been able to be their pastor.  I try to use our people who come and have talent to be used for the Lord but that talent is for the edification of the body of the church and for the magnification of our Lord Jesus Christ, not self-exaltation!
d.  What kind of people are we actually looking for in our church?  The Statue of Liberty’s inscription has a short poem written by Emma Lazarus that says,
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
e.  We want sinners that became saints through the New Birth.  We want disciples who are learners.  We want workers who only desire the rewards of the Judgement Seat of Christ.  We want people who will love all of our people instead of just a select few that can be manipulated.  We want people who will love and follow their pastor as he follows Christ.  We want people who put the desires of others ahead of self.  We want people who want Christ magnified instead of self-glorified.
f.  Learn to recognize them!  Your pastor normally knowns them as soon as they walk through the doors of the church.  It is an inward discernment that God gives to His man for the protection of the flock.  God’s man is a “wolf hunter” and is normally good at the job!
2.  What Diotrephes does!  receiveth us not ... prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith” Diotrephes will never allow the pastor to become his pastor! 
Ephesians 4:11-16  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  (12)  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  (13)  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  (14)  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  (15)  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  (16)  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
a.  Diotrephes is his own pastor.  He is his family’s pastor.  God intended for all of us to have a pastor regardless of how spiritual the leader of our home is.  I need a pastor and have one!  These people operate very effectively without a pastor in their lives because they want no accountability to any man.
b.  Diotrephes is smarter than the pastor.  These people are teachers, not students.  They always like to teach others in the church.  They make to themselves disciples who follow them.  They know more about the Bible than God’s man and spend time trying to “help” God’s man doctrinally.  I know that I do not know everything about the Bible but I have a pretty good handle on what the Bible says and teaches.  They spend more time telling the pastor what they know than they do listening to what he teachers.
c.  Diotrephes will never follow the pastor.  They are leaders, not followers.  Before one becomes a good leader, they must become a good follower.  I never questioned my pastor before the Lord called me to preach.  I did not follow them blindly because they were men but I followed them wholly as they sought the leadership of the Lord.  Diotrephes will not receive God’s men.  They are not a friend of the evangelists who come preach.  They are not a friend of the missionaries that come and bless us with their presence.
d.  Diotrephes will eventually raise his voice against the pastor!  Diotrephes begins subtly!  Diotrephes will begin his work of division in the background at the first.  I said that these people are “devils” because only the ones controlled by Satan ever wish to divide a church.  His discontentment with the pastor and how the church is being operated begins with his finding listening ears of the more carnal babes of the church.  Diotrephes is good at locating his followers and will remain at a distance from the more spiritual of the people of the church.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  (11)  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  (12)  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  (13)  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
e.  Diotrephes will become vocal!  Diotrephes will not remain quiet about his intentions forever.  Though he will undermine the pastor subtly in the beginning, the time will come when he will begin to voice his dissatisfaction openly.  Diotrephes is divisive!  “Prating” means a tattler who is mischievous (one who is disruptive, damaging, harmful, or malicious).  “Divide and conquer” is his motto and he is well organized in his attack.  I have heard their voices as they say “Our pastor is a good man but!”  The will of God for a congregation is never to maintain a distance from the pulpit but to love, accept, and follow God’s man.
f.  Diotrephes will run off visitors and even new believers!  I have watched as people within the church have set themselves as the “standard” for new people and the babes in Christ.  As a general rule, old Diotrephes will also be pharisaical!  He/she will be the only one in the local church that lives and acts right.  They will try to enforce their convictions and standards upon the weak.  This will either make the babes in Christ their disciples or, as is normally the rule, run them off.
3.  What to do with Diotrephes!  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
a.  Recognize Diotrephes!  Help your pastor and church by looking over the flock.  Not to be a tale bearer but to help your pastor know when someone is not following the church or pastor.  Every one of you love this church, each other, and your pastor.  We pray for one another; we help to bear one another’s burdens; and we want only the best for our church.
b.  Report Diotrephes to the pastor!  Never take for granted that the pastor knows what is going on.  Make your report known to the pastor and not to others as the best way to work with problems in the beginning is to minimize them.  Once he knows, then you remain silent unless he needs to know of some other development that may not be known by the pastor.
c.  Remain at a distance from Diotrephes!  Evil communications still corrupt good manners.  If “Diotrephes” was right with the Lord, the matter could be easily settled.  I have an “Open Door Policy” and anyone can talk to me about anything.  If we cannot settle it, I will involve my deacons and other good men of the church if necessary.  If you wish, tell the disgruntled that they need to go with you to the pastor.  That normally quietens or stops the problem.   A wise young man once said, “When there is something that you do not understand, there is probably something that you do not know!”  Let God’s man handle the situation!
d.  Follow your pastor and fellowship with those who also follow him!  If you follow Diotrephes, though you may not agree with him, others that are weaker in the faith may follow your example.  Follow the man that God gave to you as your example as long as he follows Christ.  Sometimes, when there is division growing in the church, your pastor will do things that you do not understand. 

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