“Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”
Verse 8 contains John’s second warning. This is a warning about rewards.
Look to yourselves,
This is an exhortation to the “elect lady” and her children. “Look” is in the present tense, indicating that we are to be continuously on our guard against false doctrine. No believer who wishes to stay on his spiritual toes wants to be tainted to the slightest degree with false teaching. This is especially true in widespread defection from the faith. It is easy to get caught up in the crowd.
Mt 24:4-5, “And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 ‘For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.’”
The verb “look” means to have spiritual perception and carries a more intent, earnest seeing or contemplation – take heed. Believers need to watch out for spiritual disaster. They are not to be blind to spiritual deception.
that we do not lose those things we worked for,
Compromise with false teaching leads to a loss of reward. Loss of salvation is not in view here, but the loss of reward.
The existence of error demands self-examination.
There is an issue in which each Christian should be duly concerned about himself – the area of false doctrine. Participation in false teaching negates reward in heaven. Any departure from the faith results in regrettable loss of reward. Christians need to place themselves under continuous guard against this. If we do, we will protect our spiritual gains here on earth.
Any true Christian who gets involved with a cult will lose his reward. He will not lose his salvation but his reward. He did not work for His salvation, so he cannot lose it. He did not work for it in the first place, so he cannot lose it in the second place. However, since he did give effort for his reward, he can lose reward. Anything he deserves, he can lose. He will throw away all his service for the Lord. Everything from that moment on is wood, hay, and stubble.
We Christians cannot afford to relax our vigilance against false teaching. If we do, we may lose reward. Our eternal life is eternally secure, but our reward is not. We want our fruit to last eternally.
Co 2:18, “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind…”
There are many religious “sweet talkers” out there. They will seduce you if they can. They will beguile you, hoodwink you, bamboozle you and fool you. If you cave in to them, you will lose your reward over there.
2 Co 13:5, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”
1 Ti 4:16, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
Re 3:11, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”