The question I want us to ponder today, is what do we do when we see the excellencies of God being undermined by false teaching? The common view in our culture today is that we should tolerate the false teaching and not speak up. This is the head in the sand approach.
I get why people advocate this position. There is no doubt that remaining silent produces the least conflict. It is the easy road. But is this what the Bible teaches? Are Christians purchased by the blood of Jesus for the purpose of tolerating false teaching? Here are some text to help us with that question:
“Therefore do not become partners with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:7-11
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” - 2 Timothy 4:2-4
“As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” – 1 Timothy 5:20
“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. “ – Galatians 2:11
“If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” – Ezekiel 3:18
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” – Colossians 1:28
“But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them…” – Acts 15:1-2
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” – Jude 1:3
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. “ – Galatians 1:8
In addition to these explicit versus we should also look to Christ. Did he look for common ground? Did he ignore the false teaching and put his head in the sand? No. Read Matthew 23. I won’t quote it because of its length, but in that chapter we find the most confrontational words in almost all the Bible. Jesus calls out the false religious teaching of his day and calls them hypocrites, blind fools, white washed tombs, and brood of vipers. He then says that their teaching makes people twice a child of Hell.
This is the Jesus of the Bible. This is the One we are to follow. One who stood for truth and did not tolerate false teaching, He exposed it for what it was. He did not look for middle ground, He stood His ground. What was the consequence of his lack of tolerance? They killed him.
Our purpose as Christians is to proclaim, not ignore. If a false gospel is being taught, or the excellencies of God are being twisted, it is our responsibility to expose, correct, rebuke, reprove, exhort, oppose, contend, debate, and warn.
If we obey our commission, what will be our fate? You may be crucified socially, professional, or even physically. If so, then so be it. Let us be like the Apostles, when upon being arrested and beaten after speaking truth, “[rejoiced] that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41).