God's Sword of Truth - The Word
Today, many believe that it is wrong to judge and expose erroneous and ecclesiastical teachings. Liberals, evangelicals, charismatics, and fundamentalists all proclaim that it is wrong to denounce, find fault or warn of false doctrines. These same "false teachers" with monopolistic agendas of undoctrinal theology and unrighteous zeal, seek to discredit those who are 100% faithful to the bible and Christ's Word.
1. CAN WE JUDGE?
The answer is yes!
Two of the most commonly misused verses in the bible are, "judge not that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7:1) and "Let us not therefore judge one another any more" (Romans 14:13). The first verse talks about hypocritical judgment. The second, about judgments of those weak in faith. Neither should be confused with warning judgments for correction.
Brethren, how can we know who are false teachers and false prophets unless we judge them by what the Word of God says?
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). In this verse, our Lord commands that we are to "judge righteous judgment", which is judgment based upon the Word of God. If judgment is made upon any other basis other than the Word of God, it is a violation of Matthew 7:1. Webster's Dictionary says that a judge is "one who declares the law". The faithful Christian must discern judging on the basis of God's inspired law, the Bible. The faithful Christian must discern or judge on the basis of God's inspired law, the bible or Christ's Word.
Christ's Word consists of spiritual letters of guidance, instructions and guidelines of right and wrong, good and evil. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God (through the Holy Spirit), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). A person who is able to discern good and evil has at least one of the major marks of spiritual maturity. Those who are unwilling or incapable of discerning or judging between good and evil are in this manner revealing either their disobedience or their immaturity.
Yes, we can judge, but we must be spiritually minded first. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God; which also things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual; but the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned; but he that is spiritual, judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man" (1 Cor. 2:12-15).
2. CAN OR SHOULD WE EXPOSE FALSE TEACHERS?
The answer is yes!
False teachers are free to spread their poisonous doctrines today because there is a conspiracy of silence among many Bible believers. Christ even told us to expect them, "And Jesus answered, and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you for many shall come in my name saying I am Christ (the religious, Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Presbyterians, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Church of God, etc. etc.) and deceive many" (Matt. 24:4-5).
John also warned of false teachers in his second letter to the church at Corinthians, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works." - (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of his day), "a generation of Vipers" (Matt. 3:7). Jesus also called the Pharisees "Vipers" (Matt. 12:34). To many evangelicals, charismatics, and fundamentalists, this would be unacceptable language today, but it is biblical language and it came from the mouth of the Son of God. Christ even forewarned us about these types by saying, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8).
Standing face to face with these false teachers, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, called them "hypocrites", "blind guides", "blind", whited sepulchers", "serpents", and "ye generation of vipers" (Matt. 23:23-34).
Yet today, we are told to fellowship (revival) with men whose doctrines are just as scripturally unsound and corrupt as those of the Pharisees. We are also told by many, not to rebuke, reprove or reproach them for their scriptural compromise.
Scriptural compromise is when anyone deviates from teaching 100% TRUTH of the New Testament of the Word of God.
3. ONCE WE JUDGE & EXPOSE, THEN WHAT?
The answer is we are to TRY them.
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). All teachers and their tenet should be tried according to the Word of God (KJV, New Testament only). The church as Ephesus was commended because they had "tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars" (Rev. 2:2). The church of Pergamos was rebuked because they tolerated those that held "the doctrine of Balaam", and "the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate" (Rev. 2:14,15). It is never right to tolerate false teachers, but they are to be tried by the Word of God, and exposed. Of course those who want to disobey the Word of God will seek by every means to avoid this teaching.
We are to MARK them and AVOID them. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" - (Romans 16:17). Those whose conduct and teaching contradicts the Word of God are to be marked and to be avoided. This required discernment and judgment is the light of the Bible. The ecumenicalists, new evangelicals, and compromising fundamentalist will resist any effort to obey this Scripture. They cannot be marked and avoided unless they are judged according to the Word of God.
We are to REBUKE them. "Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13). This was written to Titus because there were those going from house to house and subverting whole houses with false doctrine (v. 10-16). Oral Roberts, Robert Schuller, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn and others are subverting whole houses with their false doctrine today. Are we to sit silently by, while they do this, without rebuking and admonishing people to avoid their teaching? NO, the faithful servant of the Lord is to be "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." (Titus 1:9).
We are to have NO FELLOWSHIP with them. "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them"- (Eph. 5:11). Reprove means to censure, condemn, find fault, rebuke and to refute. How can we obey this Scripture unless we try them by the Word of God?
We are to WITHDRAW from them. "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us" (II Thess. 3:6). We are to withdraw from those whose doctrine and conduct does not conform to the Word of God. The context clearly shows that obedience to sound doctrine is what Paul has in mind, for he says, "If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet, count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (II Thess. 3:14-15). Paul admonishes Timothy to "withdraw thyself" from those who "consent not to the wholesome words...and to the doctrine which is according to godliness". (I Tim. 6:3-5).
We are to TURN AWAY from them. Concerning the last days, he says that some will have "a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away" for such people are "never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:5,7). How can we turn away from them if we do not identify them, and this requires that their message be compared to the Word of God. It is the business of the true preacher to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2). This is usually an unpopular and thankless task but it is the duty of the God-called man.
We are NOT to RECEIVE them into our house. "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed, for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 10, 11). There is no doubt about who John is speaking about, it is "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ......" (v. 9). By radio, TV, music and literature, false prophets are brought into the homes of many Christians today. Brethren, this ought not to be!
We are to REJECT HERETICS. "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject" (Titus 3:10). We should reject those who deny redemption by the blood of Christ. There are many who deny this or some other doctrine of the Word of God. If they will not respond to being admonished, then they are to be rejected.
We are to WATCH OUT for those who preach another gospel. Paul warned about those who preached "another Jesus....another spirit....or another gospel" (2 Cor. 11:4). How can we know them unless we judge their Jesus, their spirit, and their gospel by the Word of God? Paul called such preachers "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ" (2 Cor. 2:13). He explains in vs. 14-15 that these preachers are the ministers of Satan. The God-called man must be just as faithful today in exposing the ministers of Satan.
A great number of people today are preaching a perverted gospel. Those who teach salvation by baptism, or salvation by works, or law mixed with grace, are teaching a distorted and corrupt gospel. In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he warned them to "beware of those who preach another gospel" (Gal. 6:1-10). Liberals, evangelicals, charismatics and fundamentalists (and all religions) are all preaching a perverted gospel. They have separated themselves from the truth. Yet, according to them, we are supposed to cooperate, fellowship, respect and accept them and their differing beliefs. If we fail to expose these false prophets, then we have betrayed Christ and His gospel.
We are to SEPARATE from them. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Cor. 6:17). This make it plain. God's people are to come out of apostasy and religious error. How can any Bible believer remain in the National Council or World Council of Churches? How can they remain among compromising evangelicals and wishy-washy fundamentalist?
4. CAN WE PROCLAIM WHO ARE FALSE TEACHERS?
The answer is yes!
A mistaken belief of many is that it is wrong to expose error and most especially to name the guilty teachers, but they are wrong according to the bible. Below are a few examples of why we should name names.A. Paul named Peter publicly. "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed....But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (Gal. 2:11,14). The whole issue revolved around salvation by the law or grace. When the integrity and purity of the gospel is at stake, then we have no choice when it comes to the manner of exposing error and naming names.These same false prophets get rich selling salvation and the Word of God for a price! "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition" (Tim. 6:9). "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:23-24). "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art spiritually wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17)
B. Paul rebuked Demas for loving the world. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4:10). Those who forsake the cause of Christ for worldly living and pleasures should be named and exposed.
C. Paul condemns Hymenaeus and Alexander. Paul told Timothy to "war a good warfare: Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some have 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). God's true servants should war a good warfare, and name those who have departed from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. Paul is not here discussing the faith of salvation, but the faith as a system or doctrine. These men had made shipwreck of it and Paul exposed them and called their names.
D. Paul names Hymenaeus and Philetus. He told Timothy to "study" that he might be able to "rightly" divide "the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some" (2 Tim. 2:15-18). False doctrine overthrows the faith of some, so those who are proclaiming it must be exposed.
E. Paul denounces Alexander the coppersmith. "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). It is clear that this is not a personality problem, but a doctrinal problem. Alexander had withstood the words and doctrine of Paul. He was an enemy to the truth. Spiritual pastors face the same problem every day. They stand and proclaim the truth, then their members hear this truth disputed by radio and TV preachers. Often times, these false prophets are sending their publications into the homes of members of true churches. Then the man of God is supposed to keep his mouth shut according to many. Only a coward will be silent when the truth of the Bible is under attack. A coward, or an individual who had lost their salt (see Luke 14:34-35).
F. John named Diotrephes. "I wrote unto the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not" (3 John 9). He related how this man had prated against him "with malicious words" (v. 10). He further said, "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God, but he that doeth evil hath not seen God" (v. 11). It is not wrong to name those whose doctrine and practice is contrary to the Word of God.
G. Jesus denounces the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew Chapter 23.
H. Jesus denounces the Scribes in Luke 20:45-57 and Mark 12:38-40.
I. Jesus denounces the Pharisees and Lawyers in Luke 11:37-52.
J. Peter exposed "the way of Balaam......who loved the wages of unrighteousness" (2 Peter 2:15). Balaam was a prophet that was in the work for money, just like some of the TV false prophets today. They beg for money and live like kings, while multitudes of innocent people send them their hard earned money. They are always building colleges, hospitals, TV network satellites, and amusement parks that have a water slide for Jesus. And then we are supposed to keep our mouth shut about these religious charlatans. How can we be silent and be true to God?K. Jude exposed "the error of Balaam"(Jude 1:1). John exposed "the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication" (Rev. 2:14). This gets right to the heart of the matter, concerning the doctrine of separation. Balaam never did curse Israel even though he wanted the wages that he was offered to do so. The men of Israel committed "whoredom with the daughters of Moab....and bowed down to their gods" (Jewish History - Numbers 25:1-2). Why did they do this? Because Balaam taught Balac how to break down the barrier of separation between the Moabites and the Israelites. We know this to be so because it is plainly stated in Rev. 2:14 and Jewish History - Numbers 31:16. This sin resulted in 24,000 men of Israel dying under the judgment of God.False teachers are breaking down the barrier of separation between God's people and false religion. There is too little preaching and teaching on the doctrine of separation. Until we get back to teaching the truth about personal and ecclesiastical separation, we can expect the continued widespread havoc that we have today.
It seems to be believed by many that some people are too high and mighty to be named or exposed, men in high places, pastors of large churches, and those with great radio or TV audiences, are supposedly above criticism. Whatever they may do or say, no matter how contrary to the Bible it may be, is supposedly all right. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, it is right to expose error and to name those who are in error. It is right to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). It was once delivered and it has never been recalled for revision. We had better beware of "false teachers....who privily shall bring in damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1). Faithful messengers will warn the sheep of these heretics, and identify them by name. It is not enough to broadly hint of their identity, for the young lambs will not understand and will be destroyed by the wolves.
For more information on this subject, see Righteous Judgement.
All scripture based on the King James Authorized Version or 1611 Bible, New Testament only, otherwise known as THE WORD. All Old Testament scriptural references used in this article is Jewish History, not canonical, and is used as additional references.