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 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 among the brethren?
Truth is sharp and biting when exposing 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 by boldly speaking truth.
It may be easy identifying truth, 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 someone who was acting in habitually sinful behaviours?
Maybe someone has confronted you?
The truth is, it is not easy either way.
Scripture has some clear principles and guidelines in confronting sin among fellow believers.
We must always be ready defend truth and expose false teaching, lifestyle behaviours 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 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, discern the lies and warn your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because 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 behaviour 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. Over time the carpet will become too small compared to all the mire being put under it. The problem compiles even more when the religious masses are muzzled by their church leaders. The result is that the carpet starts to fester, smell and rot. The carpet becomes stained with pervasive smell of mold that creates a foul, incessant spiritual atmosphere. They love to pay for 'Mr. Clean' to come in and solve their problems and whitewash their situation. However, if the carpet isn't cleaned thoroughly by the standard of God's word, the effects of the situation become even more dire creating disaster for many believers. This why today there are no shortages of scandals in the false church system. The aftermath of allowing sin leaves many people disillusioned in their faith. All this could have been avoided if there were enough willing to boldly stand on the word of God and do something about it.
The Holy Spirit can give us discernment and wisdom in these matters.
Do we not all have access to Scriptures to define our standards?
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
Unfortunately, the ruffled feathers of opinion often take precedence over biblical truth. May we be bold enough to take a stand on what it means to be holy and righteous before God.
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 clear to avoid those who teach or embrace false teachings contrary to Scripture. We are also to separate from those who say they follow the ways of Christ, but deny God with their lifestyle of disobedience. If we take God's word seriously, it may be a severe stance that we must take.
Are you willing to count the cost for Christ and his brethren?
In the man-driven church system today, it seems that the truth of God’s word is missing because there are not enough people willing to stand on or defend truth. We must be willing to study and understand Scripture with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is only then we will be able to confidently and courageously stand on the solid foundation that Christ has laid. Truth is a very important matter to God and we should take sin seriously just as He does.
Naming names, describing falsehood, taking a stance and refuting lies are all examples straight from Scripture.
Unfortunately, inconvenient truths have been sidelined so that ears can be tickled instead.
“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. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all dependent on the solid food of truth in our walk of faith.
Have you ever questioned a spiritual leader’s conduct based on the standard of Scripture?
This often arises when a scandal, lifestyle error or false teaching that surfaces that provokes a flurry of opposing opinions on the character of the person when caught in sin.
Think about the following 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.'
Right here is an example where compromise and ignorance has replaced biblical truth.
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?
Does the good nullify that something bad happened?
These are classic examples and behaviours that many approve of those that continue to give credibility to immoral behaviours. The issue here is that many professing believers are trying to play God with their own mutated form of 'godly standards' rather than being obedient the standards found in God's word.
When we have the Holy Spirit within us, there will be a 'red flag' or check in our spirit that pops up inside of us giving an inclination that something is not right. We may not get all the full details, but we have a notion and a conviction from God. With a little research and prayer, the Holy Spirit may reveal the truth of the matter.
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 Christ.
Is Biblical truth relative?
Is our morality individually and socially determined?
Is moral law determined by church clergy?
Taking a Stand
The corrupt church system has a soft 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. Morality must be weighed and tested through the lens of God’s absolute truth and standards, 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 for lawlessness. Choosing truth is a life free from the bondage and oppression of sin by what Christ has done.
God has given us the freedom of choice. Let us choose too abide in Christ and be obedient to the faith.
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 system regarding morality and why do they have such passive position on it?
There are many who profess to follow Christ, but are habitually living in a sinful lifestyle. Among the ekklesia of Corinth, Paul addressed these type of behaviours.
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 absolutely no doubt immorality is going on and is most likely the tip of the iceberg. This person probably has had a history and pattern of continuing in immoral behaviours. In verse 2 above it states, 'And you are proud!' which means the Corinth ekklesia were not taking an active role in the matter.
Today, the social media mediums like Facebook and Instagram 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 their posts. A picture can tell a thousand words. Our secular society feeds off the sinful nature of Hollywood stars and applauds them for it.
Those in the counterfeit church system do the same thing in their venues.
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 as we must show grace.'
This sounds good, but if someone has no intention of changing their sinful lifestyle behaviours and it is revealed publicly over and over again, then why would anyone be embracing someone who is willfully sinning?
This is what the many like to call 'unconditional love.' It is a banner they love hold up high as tolerance of sin is considered a virtue. This is their error because it should be through grief and mourning that compels us to expose and expel the sinful person from our midst.
No wonder we hear of so many incidents of sexual abuse and infidelity in the man-driven church system. It is allowed to run rampant. Usually, when someone gets caught in sin, the tables are turned on the one exposing it.
Paul was actively involved among the ekklesia even though he was at a distance. He was united with his brethren in is spirit. We can learn from his example by his communication. In Paul’s case, it was writing a letter (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 behaviour 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 supposed special positions within the man-driven church system will compromise moral principles in order to save their title and their paycheques. They bow away from conflict or turn the tables and call the one upholding God's standard the 'divisive' one.
We must put on the full armour of God because we are in a battle against principalities and powers. At times standing fro truth may open up a whole can of worms, but Christ already warned us that to follow him will bring persecution.
'If your brother sins against you,' it is meant for the people in the body of Christ, not for those who don't claim to follow Christ.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the ekklesia? 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 the power of the Holy Spirit the old is transformed to the glory of God.
We are called to be lights, just as Christ is in this dark world.
Have you ever had to stand up for God's truth against sinful behaviours?
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