Examples of Confronting Error in the Body of Christ
Have we forgotten what truth really means in the body of Christ today? Taking a stand and defending truth, unfortunately, and most of the time, causes dissension and disagreements among believers.
How about a public rebuke, is that a proper response in condemning error and heresy?
Truth is sharp and biting when exposing, or addressing the error of unrighteousness with the solid truths of God's Word.
“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. - Matthew 12:34
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." - Matthew 3:7-10
These are strong words of condemnation. The interesting thing here in these two passages is that John was actually following Jesus’ example (first passage above), by speaking truth in a very bold manner.
It may be easy identifying truth when studying Scripture, but the hard part is addressing and exposing what is false. Often the fear of divisiveness can deter many people from making a stand for what is right.
Have you ever confronted a "Christian" who was acting in habitually sinful, or unbiblical manner; likewise, has someone ever confronted you? The truth is, it is never easy either way.
The Bible has some clear principles and guidelines in confronting heresy in the church. We must always defend truth and expose false teaching, lifestyle, and hypocrisy.
This command I entrust to you, Timothy,my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. - 1 Timothy 1:18-20
You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. - 2 Timothy 1:15
Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica - 2 Timothy 4:9-10
Paul is an example to us all that we can name and expose those who are in error.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. - Matthew 18:15-17
Describing and Exposing Falsehood
But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. - 2 Timothy 2:16-18
It is important to know the Word of God, to see the lies, and warn your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The truth matters.
Sometimes the nature of the error requires a bolder/aggressive stance in order to "stomp out the fire before it spreads."
Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. - 2 John 1:9-11
For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. - Titus 1:10-11
Many people and families are often hurt and devastated because of the sinful behavior and rebellion in the body of Christ. These people must be stopped and silenced before their yeast spreads like wildfire.
Collateral damage often occurs when people ignore important issues that needs to be addressed by sweeping them under the carpet. Often, the "carpet" is too small compared to the "mire" being put under it. The problem compiles when the masses buy into the chicanery of church leaders and their minions. the result is that the carpet starts to fester, smell and rot. The once beautiful carpet is now stained, there is a pervasive smell of mold, which creates a foul, incessant spiritual atmosphere. If the carpet isn't cleaned thoroughly, thrown out, or replaced, the effects of the situation become even more dire, fueling the spiritual death and disaster for many believers. There are no shortages of church scandals and the aftermath that leaves so many people disillusioned. This possibly could have been avoided by those who where willing to boldly stand on the Word of God. The Holy Spirit can give us all discernment and wisdom in handling a situation and addressing (nipping it in the bud) these issues before they get out of hand. Do we not all have access to Scriptures to define the standards? Do we filter it through other's opinions, or twisted ideology?
"Destroy the flower of transgression before it buds."
The LORD said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,“Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. - Amos 7:8
“I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level; then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters will overflow the secret place. - Isaiah 28:17
I know so many individuals and families who are disillusioned, confused, and are trying to recover from this type of damage to the point where they have lost their faith because of the soft and compromising stances on Biblical truth.
"The ruffled feathers of opinion often have precedence over Biblical truths."
Refuting the Lie
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. - 2 Thessalonians 3:6
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. - Ephesians 5:11-13
Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. - Titus 3:10-11
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. - Romans 16:17-18
Paul makes it pretty clear to avoid those who teach or embrace false teachings contrary to Scripture. We are also to separate from those who say they are “Christian”, but deny God with their lifestyle. If we take what the Bible says seriously, it is a pretty severe stance that we must take.
Are you willing to count the cost for Jesus Christ and His Body (the Ekklesia)?
Most of the time, if not always, it is not going to be easy going through situations like these.
In the system of the modern church today, it seems that the truth of God’s Word is missing because there are not enough people willing to stand up to defend truth so that it does not sit on the sidelines. We must be willing to study and understand what God is saying in His Word. With God grace In obedience we can confidently and courageously defend and stand on His solid foundation. Truth is a very important matter to God; we should take heresy seriously, just as He does.
Naming names, describing falsehood, taking a stance, and refuting lies are all examples straight from the Bible. How often have you seen these Biblical examples done in the church system today? Unfortunately, biblical truths have been sidelined for the entertainment part of the program.
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” - John 8:31-32
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12
Don't let fear "muzzle" you, but in faith, be bold and be confident that truth of God's Word cannot be shaken and will prevail in these last days. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all dependent on the solid food of truth, whether we like it or not.
Have you ever questioned a spiritual leader’s conduct or lifestyle when there is Biblical error?
This often arises when a scandal, lifestyle error, or false teaching etc… surfaces that provokes a flurry of opposing opinions on the character of the person when caught in sin.
Read this next text and think about it for a second:
“I am not in full agreement with this person’s lifestyle or all of his teaching, but he does a lot of good in the community and leads people to the Lord.”
What I am stabbing at here is that compromise and ignorance is replaced for Biblical truth. Again, think about this next phrase for a second:
“A thief was caught breaking in and stealing large sums of money from local businesses, but he is a gentle and kind person to the elderly and is a wonderful family man.”
Do we pick and choose what is right or wrong; also, does the good nullify the bad?
These are the types of oxymoronic terms that “Christians” tend to use to stand by and give credibility to their false leaders, even in the midst of a clear immoral breach of conduct. The issue here is that many professing "Christians" unknowingly are trying to play God with their own mutated form of godly standards, rather than being obedient the truth that is in Scripture.
I believe if we have the Holy Spirit in us, there will be a “red flag” or check that pops up in us, which is an inclination that something is not right. We may not get all the full details of it, but we have a notion. This is most likely a conviction from God. I believe with a little research and prayer, the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of the matter to you.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ - 2 Corinthians 10:5
“So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. - Matthew 23:28
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! - Galatians 1:6-9
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination. - Proverbs 28:9
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. - Titus 3:5
Biblical compromise does not fit with the true character of Jesus Christ.
- Is Biblical truth relative?
- Is our morality individually and socially determined?
- Is moral law in the church declining?
Taking a Stand
I believe that the system of the modern churches today have a softening stance on sin to the point where truth has become relative.
What has happened to believing in an omniscient and omnipotent God, who is the source of absolute unchanging, eternal and moral principles?
But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. - Galatians 2:4
But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. - Galatians 2:5
Are we making up our own interpretations of moral law?
We should know that it’s not ours to make as true Christians. Morality must be weighed and tested through the lens of God’s absolute truth and standards (the Word of God), not our own.
Do we really want to justify our relativism before the absolute and holy justice of God, who makes no other interpretations other than His own?
The true Gospel talks of grace, but requires a choice whether or not to face the eternal judgement of lawlessness. Choosing truth is a life free from this bondage by what Jesus Christ did for all of us on the cross.
God has given us the freedom of choice; let us choose the gift (Jesus Christ) that God has given to all of mankind and abide in His grace and be obedient to His truth.
“It is an offence to God, yourself, and others when you commit treason against the commander of the moral vessel of truth, within the body of Christ”
What has happened in the modern church regarding morality and why do thay have such passive position on it?
There are many who profess to be "Christians," but are habitually living in a sinful lifestyle. In the church of Corinth, Paul addressed these type of behaviors.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? - 1 Corinthians 5:1-2
Read the first four words, “It is actually reported”, which means something of fact has "come out in the laundry.”
Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. - 1 Corinthians 5:3-5
You see, the immorality is reported, and even though Paul is not there, he makes a judgement on the evidence. The fact is, that there is no doubt immorality going on, which is most likely the tip of the iceberg. This person probably has had a history and pattern of continuing in immoral behavior. In verse 2 above it says, “And you are proud!,” which means the Corinth Ekklesia were not taking an active role in the matter. The social media mediums like Facebook and MySpace is an avenue where people publicly display their lives in front of everyone. It does not take long to discern a person’s lifestyle choices from these websites. A picture can tell a thousand words. Our secular society feeds off the sinful nature of Hollywood stars and applauds it for doing so.
The church can unknowingly be doing the same thing under a different mask.
Here is a famous phrase used by ministry leaders when dealing with an immoral person, “We must deal with this person in a loving way,” "We must show grace".
This sounds good, but if someone has no intention of changing their sinful lifestyle, and it is revealed publicly over and over, why is the church embracing the sinner, and there he remains one? This is what the church calls “unconditional love”, a banner they hold up with pride. This is error; it should be through grief and mourning that compels the Church to expose and expel the sinful person.
No wonder we hear of so many incidents of sexual abuse and infidelity within the church. It is allowed to run rampant, and if someone gets caught, they are moved and sometimes promoted to another Church to infest their behaviors there. The Churches of men accept all when they should have excommunicated and charged the offender, plus warned others within their community. It is a moral obligation to do so.
Paul was actively involved among the Ekklesia, even though he was at a distance; he was there is spirit. We can learn from his example by communicating, which in Paul’s case, was writing a letter to the church (1 Corinthians 5:1).
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. - Matthew 18:15-17
When someone has a history of sinful behavior among the Ekklesia, it was assumed that confrontation and the evidence of the matter has been established.These are the hard decision that the body of Christ are obligated to make.
"A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy." - Proverbs 29:1
Taking a firm stand for righteousness is not an easy task. Unfortunately, many with positions in the church will compromise morality in order to save their title, or bow out of conflict rather than doing what is right. We must put on the full armor of God because we are in a battle against principalities and powers for the righteousness of the Lord. Yes, it may open up a whole can of worms, but we must fight the fight for our faith and for the follower's of Jesus Christ.
The Ekklesia are obligated and required to discipline the offender because of the choice the person has made.
“If your brother sins against you,” is meant for the people in the body of Christ, it is not intended for those who are not.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you. - 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you” - Ephesians 5:3-14
The prayerful outcome in all of this would be that the sinful nature is destroyed through repentance, and through the grace of Jesus Christ, the old is transformed for His glory!
"We are called to be lights, just as Jesus Christ is, a shining light in this dark world."
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