There is a great debate in the church world today concerning judging, exposing error, naming false teachings and false teachers. The writers for this website take the position that it is biblical to engage in all of the above. The purpose of this article is to examine the scriptures so we might present a completely sound biblical basis for our beliefs.
We should all realize if Satan was bringing in false doctrine, and both he and the false doctrine were easily identifiable, we wouldn’t have to worry. But, the nature of deception is that one does not realize he or she is being deceived. We must always keep 2 Cor. 11:14 in mind: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” The enemy of our souls knows exactly how to appear absolutely beautiful and good. Remember, he was once Lucifer.
Here are a few statements from an article in the Berean Examiner I thought were helpful concerning this topic. It reads: “No matter how much love and humility Bereans have, they tend to take a lot of arrows from their own when contending. Many times when those who stand firm in God's Word as truth are told they have a critical spirit, it is because we have stepped on the tender toes of a teacher that is teaching the opposite of what biblical Christianity teaches. We are told that they are humble people with good hearts, and we need to stop bashing them. May I suggest that these well-meaning scolders are possibly venting at the wrong people? The real dividers in the Church can be found in Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Also, Acts 15:1-2, “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, ‘Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.’ When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” The article mentions two more scriptures. One is Philippians 3:2, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision (or circumcision).” The second scripture is 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
The statement, “And Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them” means they were having a pretty heated discussion. But, Paul and Barnabas would be called “haters” today for being so unkind in the eyes of the “love everybody, sing “whatever will be, will be”, and pat everyone on the head” crowd. Then, we see that those preaching the false teaching which said Christians had to be circumcised, were not pampered or coddled. They were lumped in with evil workers. And, this article just makes such an excellent point, that why aren’t people getting upset at those preaching the false doctrines, instead of those pointing out the false doctrine?
We can look around at society and realize that political correctness rules the day and many are afraid to speak up for fear of being called unkind, a bigot, or a hater. And, it’s not that we are seeking to be called any of these things, but in Matthew 10:22 we see Jesus’ warning, “And you shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” My prayer is that all believers will have their eyes opened to certain things happening in the church world; that they will understand how important discernment is; and that they will realize we are individually responsible for what we believe meaning that we will never be able to blame a pastor, a spouse, a friend, or anyone else if we are believing false teachings. And, that in order to do these things we have to judge, expose, and name false teachings and false teachers.
We must stop and realize that we make judgment calls all day long. On any given day, we may make a decision about what we’re going to wear based upon what the local weatherman said that morning, or we may make a decision about shopping in a particular store based on what a friend said about it. The examples are endless. But since we are discussing biblical matters, what it really comes down to is, we must make biblical judgments. In John 7:24 we read, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
This verse means we are to make judgments based upon the Word of God. When a person hears a television preacher, their own preacher, or a friend say, “The Bible says such and such; God wants us to do this or that; this way or that way is how to get saved,” should we automatically believe what is said? No, we’d better not automatically take anyone’s word if we care about our souls. What we must do is take what we hear and check it against scripture. Now, this requires people to dust off their Bibles and get into God’s Word. In Acts 17:10-11 we see an example of people who were noted for studying the scriptures: “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These (speaking of the Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” This will take some time, of course, but it will be time well spent. These brethren had the Apostle Paul speaking to them and they were fact-checking, as it were. If they did this concerning him, how much more so should we do this today when every time we turn around we hear some new false teaching?
Now, I would like to consider Matt. 7:1 which is a scripture people seem to know if they do not know any other one besides John 3:16. And, of course, this is the one which says: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Now, a big problem people have with a lot of scriptures is they like to use them out of context. Some people may not realize when the Bible was originally written, it was not divided into chapters or verses. A man named Stephen Langton actually divided the Bible into chapters in the year A.D. 1227. Then, Robert Stephanus (Stephens), a French printer, divided the verses for his Greek New Testament in 1551. So, when people read today they may think a new thought is being expressed, because there is a new chapter or new verse, and that may not have been intended. Reading a verse in context simply means we read the verses before and after. Sometimes we may even need to read an entire chapter or more. It just depends.
So, applying this concept to Matthew 7:1, after reading “judge not, that ye be not judged”, we continue with verse two and read: “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete (or give out), it shall be measured to you again.” Then, in verse three: “And why do you behold the mote (one reference I checked said this is speaking of an irritating particle) that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?” Verse four: “Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?” And, now really getting to the heart of the matter, in verse five we read: “You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then you shall see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye.” So, by reading more than just a single verse, we can see that verse one is referring to hypocritical judgment. We are not to call anyone out for a sin or a false teaching if what we’re doing is much worse or we can rightly be labeled hypocrites.
Concerning Matt. 7:1, we also need to read verse 15 of the same chapter. Here Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing... ". Now, let’s use some common sense here. How can we determine who is a false prophet unless we judge them? We must compare what these false prophets are saying to what the Word of God says, as I mentioned earlier. Another scripture I would like to mention here is 2 Cor. 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” Well, how are we to know what to separate ourselves from if we are not allowed to judge?
We read in I Cor. 5:1-13 of a situation in which the Apostle Paul told a congregation they were to judge a fornicator in their midst. Paul "judged" (verse three) the man even though he was absent, and he told the Church at Corinth that they were to "judge" (verse 12) those that were within. The Greek word for "judge" is the same here as in Matt. 7:1. Paul did not violate "judge not, that ye be not judged," in judging the man, or in instructing the Church to judge also. All of this judgment was according to the Word of God. Someone might say, “Well, that’s talking about sin and not false teaching,” to which I would say that false teaching is a terrible sin which affects the false teacher and also thousands, and sometimes millions, of others. It’s breaking the first commandment – thou shall have no other gods before me –by misrepresenting God’s Word and the ninth commandment of not lying.
When it comes to specifically naming names some people just get so uncomfortable. However, people would be glad if someone named the name of a person who had poisoned the water source to the city in which they lived. How much more important is the spiritual well we drink from than our physical source of water? Others will say, “Let’s just expose the false teaching, but not the teacher. ”In some cases, that may be appropriate. But, very often, people know individuals before they know what they teach. If we asked someone on the street, “Have you heard of Joel Osteen?” they will most likely say, “Yes.” But, if we ask, “What does he teach?” they’re not as likely to know that unless they attend his church or view his sermons online. What it comes down to is do we care about those who are being deceived by the false teachers? Some seem to care a whole about the one preacher and not at all about all those being deceived by him. And, of course, we care about that one preacher, but we don’t keep silent just for his sake. Sad to say, the damage being done to congregations around the world by false teachers is overwhelming.
Some people will still make excuses and say things like “You don’t know their hearts.” Well, Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” So, while we can’t know everything there is to know about someone, we can know a lot. We can know if they are committed to preaching the whole counsel of the Word of God. We have only to look at their websites to tell if they are a seeker sensitive church; if, for example, they play clips from super popular movies and try to pull out biblical themes. To which I always say; here’s a novel idea. Pull the biblical themes out of the Bible itself!
Then, others will say the Bible says to go to a person privately, and it does say this concerning one brother sinning against another brother. In Matthew 18:15 we read, “Moreover if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone: if he shall hear you, you have gained your brother.” However, this is not the same thing as teaching error to thousands of people. If the error has been taught publicly it needs to be corrected publicly so those who have heard the false teaching can have the chance to hear the truth. Sadly, so many fall into preacher-worship. Many preachers are so charismatic; so engaging; are such good storytellers, and so forth, that people just fall under their sway. Now, of course, just because someone hears that the teaching they’re under is false, this doesn’t automatically mean they’ll walk away from it. But, at least they’ve been told. The seed has been planted. The person must study and seek the Lord himself or herself.
Another argument I have heard is if someone finds a church that preaches salvation and it’s a good Bible-believing church, they don’t have to worry about ever being deceived. And, that might be true in some cases, but we have seen how subtle, how sly, how crafty, is the enemy of our souls. We have seen how error comes in on the back of truth. There is a major ministry right now teaching the Cross and grace and a lot of what they are saying is correct. But, they are also saying a Christian doesn’t have to repent once they’ve been saved. They are saying that 1 John 1:9 (If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness), doesn’t apply to saved Christians. And, that is obviously, just rubbish! We merely have to ask – who wouldn’t want us to repent – God or Satan? The answer is clear. In this situation, concerning this false teaching, all we have to do is go straight to God’s Word to refute this error. In addition, we can look at other things a preacher teaches for clues about the veracity of a particular teaching we hear by him. In this case this preacher is in the Word of Faith camp, so we can easily recognize that God is not going to show someone who teaches major error like this a new understanding of a foundational concept such as repentance.
Concerning naming names and confronting people, we know Jesus had no problem in this area. In Matthew 23:23-24, we see where Jesus called the Pharisees “hypocrites, blind guides, whited sepulchres, serpents, and ye generation of vipers.” I don’t think He was too worried about hurting their feelings. The Apostle Paul is very clear about dealing with those who are teaching false doctrines. In various scriptures he says we are to mark and avoid, rebuke, have no fellowship with, and withdraw from. I don’t think Paul believed in political correctness in any way, shape, or fashion.
Let’s examine the scriptures. A couple of these were mentioned in the video, but they bear repeating. In Rom. 16:17 we read, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.” In Titus 1:13, Paul says, “Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” Eph. 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Reprove means to speak out boldly against. In 2 Thes. 3:6 we read, “Now we command you brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” So, if anyone came preaching a different doctrine than Paul did, and Paul preached Christ Crucified according to 1 Cor. 1:23 and other verses, then Paul’s instructions were to withdraw from these brethren.
Here are just a few scriptures where Paul named false teachers specifically. In Gal. 2:11 and 14 we read, “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” So Paul confronted Peter, he rebuked him, and Paul did so in front of others. In 2 Timothy 4:14-15 Paul says, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.” So, Alexander was called out for teaching in opposition to something the Apostle Paul taught. We have Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:16-18, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” Paul does not hesitate to name names and when we think about it, these men and any others mentioned similarly have been identified, rebuked, and marked for everyone who has ever read these scriptures to note.
Here is a scripture in which the Apostle John named someone causing problems in the church. 3 John 9 “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
Here is some information concerning Balaam and those who called him out from the av 1611. org site: “Moses called the name of Balaam. (See Num. 22-25). In 2 Pet. 2:15, Peter exposed “the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; Balaam was a prophet that was in the work for money, just like some of the TV false prophets today. They beg for money and live like kings, while multitudes of innocent people send them their hard earned money. They are always building colleges, hospitals, TV network satellites, and amusement parks that have a water slide for Jesus. And then we are supposed to keep our mouth shut about these religious charlatans. How can we be silent and be true to God?” Jude exposed "the error of Balaam " (Jude 11). John exposed "the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication" (Rev. 2:14). This gets right to the heart of the matter, concerning the doctrine of separation. Balaam never did curse Israel even though he wanted the wages that he was offered to do so. The men of Israel committed "whoredom with the daughters of Moab ... and bowed down to their gods " (Num. 25:1,2). Why did they do this? Because Balaam taught Balac how to break down the barrier of separation between the Moabites and the Israelites. We know this to be so because it is plainly stated in Rev. 2:14 and Num. 31:16. This sin resulted in 24,000 men of Israel dying under the judgment of God.”
There are several other examples, but I hope the reader can understand from these mentioned that it is all right to name false teachers. I must say, I truly believe it is the work of the enemy to make people feel guilty about calling out false teachers. Some are even saying it glorifies the devil if we discuss false teaching because people are talking about that rather than the truth. But, if true believers refuse to discuss the error it is free to run rampant through the church world and so it has done.