Scripture certainly has many references about the reality of false teachers and those who harm the church with lies and errors but lately it has become fashionable to be the defender of error leaving many Christians proclaiming “the not truth” rather than the truth. While error is certainly something that should always be discerned and corrected, there are clear biblical guidelines on what this looks like. Primarily, there is a GRAVE difference between the “evil” false teachers of Paul’s day and the ignorant, confused, or “still learning” Christians among the church. Scripture reveals that the false teachers are actually false converts who pervert the Gospel and blaspheme God while causing undue harm to the body of Christ and to the name of God. MOST others fall into the category where I have lived most of my life: incorrect understanding of doctrine.
The cause of this ignorance and error is vast but for the most part as a culture Christians no longer study the bible but rather read articles, watch videos, make assertions, and become ditto heads. I can say this because it was the majority of my early ministry days and by the Lord’s grace, He has spared me the grave and gross stupidity I once had because He opened my eyes to the authority of Scripture and has caused me to be careful as one who will give an account for EVERY word I speak on His behalf. It should be noted that of ALL the instruction given the church in the New Testament, most of the damage done, most of the rebuke, most of the correction given deals with the false “living” of professing Christians who neglect the power of the gospel of Grace by their continued sin and it is this that causes some of the greatest harm to the church. The damaging affairs are compounded when Christians begin to embark on a crusade of self-righteous expression and forsake the commands of Christ to make disciples by teaching them all Jesus has taught instead of the antithesis. (Caveat: I am not saying that there is no room for calling out heresy, false teacher and the like, but it cannot be the mantra of one’s ministry and be biblical)
Back to the point that Christians among the church are brothers and sisters who have been purchased by Christ and all belong to the other in responsibility and affection. So, as family we are to be invested in the needs of others and often times those needs are to grow in our understanding of Grace, Doctrine and Scripture. So, as we live together for God’s glory when we see error we are to be patient, correct gently, give answers with respect as teachers and friends who care and not as task masters who “know better” and Lord over others with our superiority. After all, if it were not for God the Holy Spirit giving us wisdom we would be – and have been – just like them.
Sadly, much more damage is done to truth by those who act wickedly and have no real evidence of love for others. Patience is always called a virtue but in reality it is a revelation of the fruit of God in one’s life, so in matters like this it gives us the opportunity by God to invest in each other and show others the truth as we have seen it through the scripture. We are to have a unity of faith in Christ and have a unified understanding of all things related but because everyone is not immediately gifted with divine knowledge and wisdom we have to bear with each other as we all grow as others have to bear with us. Scripture teaches that we who are spiritual are to correct others in sin, lead others in service, out do others in love, overwhelm others in faith and generosity and express a concern that is explicitly supernatural in nature.
So, the next time I hear you all blabbing about something incorrectly I won’t cut out your tongues but rather take up the charge to walk as your brother with you and begin to guide you to the truth. In turn, please don’t cut mine out either… I just got it reattached… and sadly, they were wrong. 🙂 However, when I or others come bold against the truth… well, we have to rebuke it sharply and remove it from among us if repentance isn’t found and the truth isn’t sound. Seems like I have said these things before…
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:1-11)
For His Glory by His Grace,