When Never Becomes Now
By: Sandra Hastings, 1.cbn.com
The young man was enthusiastic, energetic, and highly motivated. He was determined to stand true to his leader regardless of the cost. Confident in his own ability, he boasted, “Even if all the others desert you, I will never!”
Yet, only a few hours later, this young man hung his head in shame when he heard a cock crow. He had not only deserted his leader, but he had denied three times that he even knew him. What Peter thought would never happen became reality.
We raised our two daughters to love the Lord and I was sure if they married young, active, Christian men, they would surely live happily ever after. My children would never experience divorce. However, as time went on, their marriages encountered major problems and both my daughters went through the heartbreaking devastation of a divorce. My emotions recoiled in protest. What I had believed would never happen, became reality.
How many of us have said a particular situation or event would never happen to us or to those we love: addiction to alcohol, pornography or drugs, sexual abuse, divorce, an incurable disease, criminal behavior, missing in action or an affair? The list is long of those things which we hope will not and somehow refuse to accept could happen to us personally or to members of our family, and yet, they happen.
I realize many factors contribute to the above scenarios, but I do want to draw our attention to one in particular. We are involved in a serious, spiritual war. This is not a fantasy or the imagination of fanatics. It is reality.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV)
Our enemy Satan with his angels, though created beings, are more cunning and powerful than we are and have one plan in mind — destruction. Satan is out to destroy testimonies, marriages, families, churches, and lives. To accomplish his plan, he cunningly lays traps, waits for the perfect opportunity and preys on our weaknesses and blind spots.
It is easy for us to become busy and preoccupied with life — to become confident in ourselves. However, when this happens, we let down our guard, and our enemy has an open door to attack. As a result, life can take an unexpected turn and we experience like Peter, “never” becoming reality. In our selves, we are no match for our enemy.
The good news is we don’t have to rely on ourselves. We have Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to help us (James 4:6-8). Our Lord provides the spiritual armor we need and gives us the weapon that can defeat anything our enemy throws our way. This weapon is the Word of God and we need to have it in our hearts and minds, sharp and ready for action (Ephesians 6:13-17).
Although our enemy is ruthless, we do not need to be afraid. It is needful for us to take the battle seriously, never to forget we have an enemy and learn to daily put on our spiritual armor. As the rapture draws closer, our enemy grows stronger. May we heed Peter’s warning to us:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith …” (1 Peter 5:8-9 KJV)
May we claim the victory that is ours.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37 KJV)
So let’s begin with Jesus. Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” And the word beware means all of us should be alert, but especially shepherds, to identify not just false teaching, but false teachers, whose ways are subtle. They’re clothing themselves with lamb’s wool while they’re wolves.
And Paul used the same Greek word for beware in Acts 20:28–29 when he said, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. . . . I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the.”
“In order to protect the flock, we should expose false teachers and minimize the spread of the gangrene.”
Jesus used the same word again in Matthew 16:6, but he got more specific: “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Paul had the same kind of group in mind and the same kind of error in mind in Philippians 3:2 and 3:18: “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” And then verse 18: “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Then in Romans 16:17, he warned, “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”
Call Out Evil Doers
By: John Piper, desiringgod.org
Avoid, Rebuke, Call Out
To avoid them, you have to know who they are. You can’t avoid somebody if you don’t know who they are. This idea of identifying and avoiding shows up in 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 John 10. In other words, Christians, and shepherds in particular, should be discerning and alert to behavior and teaching that dishonors Christ and destroys people — and not treat it in a casual or harmless way.
And then in 1 Timothy 5:19–20, Paul went beyond just “avoid them” to “rebuke them publicly.” So, speaking of elders who persist in error, he said, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin” — and that can be sin of false doctrine or sin of evil behavior, anyone who does not accept correction — “rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear..”
And then Paul went on and actually named destructive false teachers:
- “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:10).
- “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15).
- “By rejecting this [faith and a good conscience], some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander” (1 Timothy 1:19–20).
- “Their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus” (2 Timothy 2:17).
Paul names at least six false teachers that the church should watch out for.
So, I infer from Jesus and Paul and Luke and John that false teaching and destructive behavior are present dangers in this fallen world for the church. And all of us — especially shepherds, pastors — should be alert and discerning to identify, and in appropriate ways, expose. In order to protect the flock, we should expose them and minimize the spread of the gangrene (as Paul calls it).
Now, in 1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul is talking about how the Corinthians should assess Paul and Cephas and Apollos, because the people are choosing sides and boasting in their favorite teacher. He says,
I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one [Paul, Cephas, Apollos] will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:4–5)
“The best protection against the darkness of error is the light of truth.”
So Caden is asking whether the words “do not pronounce judgment before the time” should keep us from identifying false teachers or from naming them. I don’t think so. “Don’t pronounce judgment before the time” means “Don’t do what only Christ can do at that last day — on the day of judgment.” Don’t presume to know the heart like Jesus will know the heart on that day. Only Christ “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”
But for now, our job is indeed to do mouth judgment, writing judgment, behavior judgment — not a heart judgment, but mouth and writing and behavior judgment. When a mouth speaks unbiblical, destructive teaching, when a blog or an article or a book publishes unbiblical and destructive teaching, when a body — a human body, a physical body — behaves with unbiblical and destructive behavior, in all these cases, we are to be discerning. And according to Ephesians 5:11, we are to expose the error. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” “Censure them; show them to be wrong” is what the word elegchō means.
Five Factors for Calling Out False Teachers
So the question is how and when — not if. And here I think the Bible calls for wisdom, rather than telling us who and when and how. The question we ask is this: How can we best — in our situation, with our gifts and our responsibilities — help the most people believe and live the most truth, and how can we protect the most people from destructive beliefs and behaviors?
And here are five factors perhaps to consider when deciding whether to name a false teacher publicly.
- The seriousness and deceitfulness of the error.
- The size of the audience. Is it growing?
- The duration of their ministry. Did they make one blunder or are they constantly doing it?
- The vulnerability of the people for whom you are responsible.
- The role you have in influencing shepherds who really need to be discerning for who the false teachers are.
When you do name a false teacher, it’s best to do it in a setting where you do more than name-drop. You explain the error, you give reasons for rejecting it, you communicate complexities, you set a tone of longing for truth and love — you’re not just slinging mud.
The last thing I would say is to let your teaching be so powerful in clarifying the greatness and the beauty and the worth of God’s truth that your people will smell error before it infects their lives. The shape of error is always changing. You can’t preach enough negative sermons to stay ahead of it. And you don’t have to. The best protection against the darkness of error is the light of truth.
By: L.B. Cowman
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning (Job 42:12).
Through his griefs Job came to his heritage. He was tried that his godliness might be confirmed. Are not my troubles intended to deepen my character and to robe me in graces I had little of before? I come to my glory through eclipses, tears, death. My ripest fruit grows against the roughest wall. Job’s afflictions left him with higher conceptions of God and lowlier thoughts of himself. “Now,” he cried, “mine eye seeth thee.
And if, through pain and loss, I feel God so near in His majesty that I bend low before Him and pray, “Thy will be done,” I gain very much. God gave Job glimpses of the future glory. In those wearisome days and nights, he penetrated within the veil, and could say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Surely the latter end of Job was more blessed than the beginning.
–In the Hour of Silence
“Trouble never comes to a man unless she brings a nugget of gold in her hand.”
Apparent adversity will finally turn out to be the advantage of the right if we are only willing to keep on working and to wait patiently. How steadfastly the great victor souls have kept at their work, dauntless and unafraid! There are blessings which we cannot obtain if we cannot accept and endure suffering. There are joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are revealings of Divine truth which we can get only when earth’s lights have gone out. There are harvests which can grow only after the plowshare has done its work.
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seamed with scars; martyrs have put on their coronation robes glittering with fire, and through their tears have the sorrowful first seen the gates of Heaven.
I shall know by the gleam and glitter
Of the golden chain you wear,
By your heart’s calm strength in loving,
Of the fire you have had to bear.
Beat on, true heart, forever;
Shine bright, strong golden chain;
And bless the cleansing fire
And the furnace of living pain!