Our church just finished reading through the book of Revelation together. In chapters 2-3, God lists seven different churches along with what was good and bad about each one.
The church at Ephesus was commended for testing “those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false” and for hating “the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:2-7) But they were rebuked for having “abandoned the love you had at first.” They were admonished to “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.“
The church at Pergamum (2:12-17) was commended for holding fast to their faith and not denying God’s name, yet rebuked for having some who held to false teaching. They were warned to repent, or “I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth,” previously identified as His Word. The church in Thyatira (2:18-29) was commended for “your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance” but rebuked for allowing false teaching.
God is love (1 John 4:8). And Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
God wants us to love Him with our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). He searches mind and heart (Revelation 2:23).
Truth is so important to God that all the prophets and almost all the epistles warn against false teaching. Sound doctrine is brought up again and again. In fact, Paul instructs:
If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)
You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:5)
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:11)
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. (Titus 1:11-14)
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:19b-20)
Wow, some of that sounds harsh. But how loving is it to let people go on in a false doctrine themselves or lead others astray? Spurgeon once said, “To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus.” Paul aims for restoration as much as possible: “Warn him as a brother,” “that they may be sound in the faith,” “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
We get into trouble if we stand for truth without love, if we use truth as a steamroller or sledgehammer, with pride in being “right.” “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
But we also get into trouble if we tolerate any behavior or aberration of doctrine for the sake of love. We need to be gracious, to give people time to grow, to realize we all make mistakes and stumble.
And we have to be careful that the truth we stand for is the bedrock truth of the Scripture: the gospel, the deity of Christ, the verity of the Bible, etc. There are many other areas where good people can differ, but we too often elevate those and defend our views on them with more vehemence than we do the fundamentals.
But if someone’s lifestyle and teaching contradicts the clear Word of God, we have to take our stand with God. The prophets and the apostles proclaimed truth and exposed and corrected errors and false doctrine. Every book of the Bible proclaims truth, and almost every one warns about those who would corrupt it.
We can’t follow the “nice” (to us) parts of Scripture and leave off the rest. All of God’s Word is inspired.
May God give us wisdom and grace as we walk in truth and in love.
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Hearth and Soul, Senior Salon, Remember Me Monday,Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Recharge Wednesday,
Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire.
Links do not imply 100% agreement.)