Distractions of Intellectual Arrogance; 2 Jo 8
2 John 1:8 NASB "Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."
We have seen the distractions of emotion. People are deceived when they are impressed with things other than the Word of God—when we are impressed with our circumstances, with our feelings, with anything other than the Word of God. In contrast, biblical faith begins when the Word of God is more real to us than the details of life, circumstances, human opinions, cultural positions or emotions. The spiritual life is often couched in Scripture in the analogy of a spiritual battle. We have to understand that just as we fight a spiritual battle Satan is out to deceive and distract the human race through all kinds of false philosophical concepts and religions, and at the core of them is the idea that man really isn't that bad, that he can balance out whatever mistakes he makes by good deeds.
The problem that John faces with his church in Asia Minor is the problem of Gnosticism. In his day Gnosticism was just a hodge-podge of a lot of different ideas. Basically, how Gnosticism came into effect was from different influences—from Persian dualism, from Judaism, from Christianity, a large influence from Greek philosophy and also from the Greek mystery religions and Greek mysticism. All of this produced something called Gnosticism. Sometimes it is difficult to get a handle on Gnosticism because it was a syncretistic system that merged together something from everything so that everybody could find something they liked and could be attracted to. In many ways it was not too different from what became known as the New Age movement in the 1980s.
In human thinking there are three basic ways of coming to knowledge: rationalism, empiricism or mysticism. In rationalism there is the faith in human ability to accurately analyse reality. Starting from principles of reason alone man is going to be able to come to an ultimate understanding of the universe. In empiricism the ultimate source isn't reason, it is sense perception, faith in human ability to properly interpret those sense perceptions. The method is the independent use of logic and reason for both of those. The combination of rationalism and empiricism produces modern scientific methods, modern evolutionism, and this appeals to many people because of its intellectual stimulation. But it is a pseudo-intellectualism and it is a distraction from God and it is a way to explain reality apart from God. That always breaks down in history and mysticism always takes its place in history. We are in that place in history in our culture where the hope that science offers broke down, especially with the development of the nuclear age, and the result was scepticism, and mysticism grew up and we now live in an essentially mystical society that emphasises mysticism, intuition and emotion. This is the same kind of thing that happened in the ancient world with Gnosticism. It has a sort of pseudo-intellectual appeal but it is completely antithetical to the Word of God. People become enamoured with all of these ideas but unfortunately they never learn to think critically.