Dealing with False Teachers
Do you know someone in the Church with beliefs that you do not think are in accordance with God’s Word? Have you done anything about it? Are you doing anything about it now? What should you do? Are they keeping their beliefs to themselves or are they sharing them with whatever audience they can muster? What is their attitude and behavior about studying the matter? These are all questions that need to be asked when dealing with beliefs that conflict among brothers and sisters in Christ.
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
We are beyond the age of the miraculous, but the above verse has meaning. When there is a strange teaching that does not appear to jive with the Bible, we need to look closely at it. We need to examine the scriptures as the Bereans did with Paul (Acts 17:11). Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) and so ought we to do the same with our brothers and sisters, examining ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24).
When someone sins against us, we go to them (Matthew 18:15-17). When a man sins, he does not do so in a box affecting none. He sins against the body of Christ, the Church (I Corinthians 12:26). When this is known by others, we admonish them (2 Thessalonians 3:15) because we love them and are concerned for their souls. We call the brother or sister to repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-26). We study with them defending the truth (1 Peter 3:15, James 5:20). If we do not do approach them, shame on us (James 4:17).
If the brother does not listen to us, we involve others. If he refuses to listen to the others, we take the issues before the Church (Matthew 18:15-17). When is a matter taken before the Church it is because a brother has an attitude and behavior that says, “I will not listen!”. If that brother does listen, he may disagree initially, or for a long period of time. Strong convictions are not easily dropped. However, one who desires to do the right thing listens and considers what is said (Proverbs 10:8). Elders who counsel others regarding sinful behavior are often believed by the uninformed to act too slowly. What they are exhibiting instead is the fruit of the Spirit – patience (Galatians 5:22-23).
Sometimes, there are certainly false teachers in our midst (2 Peter 2:1). We need to be vigilant to uncover the truth to questionable teaching (James 1:19-20). We must not be apathetic such that we endanger our souls and others (2 Peter 3:17). Is the individual sharing false teachings with others, unrelenting, unrepentant, and ignoring pleas to relent (I Timothy 6:3-5)? Is he forging onward despite admonishment and risking the possibility of division (Titus 3:10-11)? Then let him be cursed (Galatians 1:8-9). Withdraw from him and save your soul and that of others (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7).