From time to time, there are certain individuals who express a concern about identifying and exposing those who teach doctrines contrary to the Law of Christ. Sometimes the thought might be that by doing such, matters might get worse. While that may seem true in the immediate future, we must never stop taking a stand against error, and those that teach it.
The apostle Paul was not afraid to identify, by name, those who were contrary to sound doctrine. On one occasion, while writing to Timothy, Paul mentioned, “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:18-20). It is shameful, but some people would reprimand Paul for having the audacity to do such. I can almost hear the naysayers claiming that “you will run them and/or their family off”. Others might say something like, “you are just going to cause trouble”. Thankfully, Paul did not let those possibilities stop him. Why would I say “thankfully”? Because, by identifying false teachers, Paul allowed the church to know ahead of time of the dangers that were present. Instead of allowing brethren to be influenced negatively by Hymenaeus and Alexander, Paul made sure that brethren understood the issue on the front end.
When Paul wrote another letter to Timothy, the apostle again mentioned the man Alexander. On this occasion, Paul indicated, “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” (2 Tim. 4:14-15). This reference allowed Timothy to understand, and be on guard, for the works of Alexander. If Paul had refused to identify the coppersmith, then there was the possibility that Alexander could have infiltrated the minds of Timothy, and other Christians.
Another specific instance of identifying and naming a troublemaker is found in what we call Third John. The apostle mentioned, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 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” (3 John 9-10). By identifying Diotrephes, by name, it allowed the faithful brethren to be aware of his dangers.
With those examples, there are also general references expressing the issue of false teachers and false doctrines. Paul also wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Rom. 16:17-19). Paul also mentioned, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:3-5). Then, there is the instruction of John, who indicated, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
The amount of false teachers is not smaller than it used to be, but rather the number is astoundingly large. We should never shy from identifying, and exposing, the false teachers and the dangerous doctrines. If we refuse to do such, then false teachers will continue, unabated, to influence and corrupt the minds of many. We should exhibit an unwavering faith and commitment to the Lord and His truth! ~ Corey Barnette
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