Friday, June 12, 2015

Should we love false teachers?

It's always nice to talk about love and tolerance. We know that God loved the world. He loves His Son. We are told to love each other, that is how they will know us (John 13:35). But sometimes love is not appropriate or warranted. Do I mean this, really? Well, we know we are supposed to hate sin. We know there are six things, no, seven, that the Lord hates. (Proverbs 6:16-19). We hate sin so much we're supposed to kill the old man in us. (Colossians 3:5). We don't endlessly give the Gospel to those who hurl it back, those hurlers are called swine. So when it comes to love, we know we don't 'love' everyone or everything, at least not according to the romantic or secular definition of love. So here is the question: are we supposed to love false teachers?

At The Berean Call, the question is posed:
To the world it might appear that all is well in the Christian realm. Much-beloved speakers hold forth from the pulpits of some of the largest churches in the world. Believers and nonbelievers alike buy their books, avail themselves of their programs, and utilize their methodologies. One might come to the conclusion that Peter must not have been referring to the church in our day regarding false teachers. Tolerance is the word of the day. We hear admonitions on a regular basis to "just get along" with those of opposing faiths. "Love" reigns supreme.

But what is this "love" of which they speak? What about those who identify a false gospel or a false teacher among some of the popular speakers these days? Does this "love" still apply to those who expose the ones who are actually deceivers among the flock?
A dear sister in the faith posed the question to me. To love those who are deluded and cannot understand the Word and care for them and not be critical. I thought about it for a long time, because I love poorly and I'm always appealing to the Lord to teach me love better.

So I began to think hard, should we love false teachers? Are they to be pitied? I decided, no. Though I value the opinions offered and they DO make me think, I don't necessarily always agree. I'd like to offer an alternate view about how far not to go in pursuing love, and to offer a different perspective of what love actually is.

If we read Jeremiah 14:16, there is not even a hapless non-believer who accidentally can't understand God's truth and accidentally follows false prophets because they don't know better. They DO know better. God said He will pour out their evil upon them because they knew better but followed false prophets anyway. 2 Timothy 4:3 also puts the blame on those who choose to follow false teachers because they wanted their ears tickled, so they went out and accumulated for themselves false teachers who told them what they wanted to hear.

But back to the false teachers themselves. I reserve my highest caring in this situation- for Jesus. We do care for the state of our neighbor's souls, and we do care for brethren, but in all this let us not forget caring about Jesus.

I care about His name and what people do in His name. The harshest criticism in the Bible from everyone, (Jesus, Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, John, James, Jude, etc) was aimed at those who pervert God's word. It is not a situation where we say "poor, poor false teachers. Let's understand them and open our hearts to them and care." I do hope they are saved someday, but beyond that they get no caring from me. I am highly CRITICAL of them in righteous indignation. Here is why-

The Bible tells us they do it on purpose. They disguise themselves- that isn't an accident. (2 Cor 1:13). They do it for greed. (1 Timothy 6:5). They do it to put us in bondage again. (Gal 2:4). They do it because they hate Jesus and love themselves. (1 Tim 6:4). They do it because they enjoy lying. (2 Peter 2:1).

These false teachers are already cursed and destined for hell. In the essay "The Pathology of False Teachers" we read,
Unfortunately, their prognosis is not hopeful. Their spiritual condition is terminal. Those who are deprived of the truth are headed for judgment. Hebrews 6:6 solemnly warns of such men that “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.” Peter says that they bring “swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Peter 2:1). The severest hell will be reserved for those who, having been exposed to the truth, turned away from it (cf. Hebrews 10:26–31).
The goal of the false teacher is not to create an environment of love, but to feed his ego and fill his pockets.
~John MacArthur

You notice they don't pervert Buddha's words. They don't pervert Allah's words. They don't pervert Shiva's words. They choose to pervert Jesus' swords for gain, for fame, for an audience, and all the other reasons. I am critical of that because I care about Jesus.

The Berean Call again:
Every epistle in the New Testament was written to correct error in the church. Did Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude not understand that to correct those who were in error was in truth a failure to love them? Did they believe that it was none of their business to bring correction to the false teaching? Do we consider them divisive for confronting error and holding fast to the truth? No! They boldly addressed the error and at times even named the offenders.
No, I do not love false teachers. I do not care about false teachers. I care about Jesus. I love His followers. Tim Challies said in his essay 7 Marks of a False Teacher,
False teachers are concerned with your goods, not your good; they want to serve themselves more than save the lost; they are content for Satan to have your soul as long as they can have your stuff.

Jesus called false teachers broods of vipers and hypocrites. (Mt 23:33)
So did John the Baptist in Mt 3:7
Paul said they were cursed. Twice in 2 sentences. (Gal 1:8,9)
Paul said their talk is gangrenous. (2 Tim 2:17)
Jesus called them ravenous wolves (Mt 7:15)
John called them deceivers (2 John 1:7)
Jude calls them ungodly perverters (Jude 1:4)
Peter called them depraved, disobedient, and destined for hell (1 Peter 2:8, 2 Peter 2:1,2)
John called them antichrists (1 John 2:22)
Never mind the harsh language from God in the OT against false prophets.

So. Were they wrong not to "love" the false teachers?

Indeed, we are told repeatedly we are to mark them, avoid them, not listen to them, close the hospitable door on them, put them out, warn them, keep away from them, give them to satan, but nowhere does it say to love them, care for them, or pity them.

Indeed, John advises the elder lady and her children not to even allow false teachers into their house NOR give them a greeting! If we do, God considers that we are participating in their evil deeds. (2 John 1:10). The John MacArthur Commentary on 2 John 1:10 says this-
Irenaeus relates that the church father Polycarp, when asked by the notorious heretic Marcion, "Do you know me?" replied, "I do know you, the firstborn of satan." (Against Heresies, 3.3.4)

John himself once encountered Cerinthus (another notorious heretic) in a public bathhouse in Ephesus. Instead of greeting him, however, John turned and fled, exclaiming to those with him, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of truth, is within." (Against Heresies, 3.3.4)

Charein, (greeting) means 'Rejoice' It was a common Christian greeting, conveying the joy believers had in one another's presence. But it is an affirmation of solidarity that is totally inappropriate for false teachers, who have no part in the truth of genuine Christian fellowship.Such emissaries of satan must be exposed and shunned, not affirmed and welcomed.

False teachers like to decry such treatment as harsh, intolerant, or unloving. But love forbids dangerous spiritual deception to gain a foothold among Christians. John's pastoral admonition is perfectly consistent with Jesus' denunciation of false teachers as ravenous wolves, thieves and robbers, whose only purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. The church cannot aid or abet such spiritual outlaws by doing anything that would acknowledge them as Christians. The one who does so, even by doing something as seemingly innocuous as greeting them, participates in their evil deeds by helping them to further their deception.
I reserve all my criticism, judgment, and righteous indignation for the false teachers, and all my love for Jesus the Man-God, His people, and His revealed word. During the few times I've had opportunity to engage directly with a few of the false teachers I've written about, I hope I was lovingly showing them the error of their ways. THAT also is love, though the world doesn't call it love. Love is to admonish and correct so hopefully they do not persist in their tragic path, or worse, taking others with them.

Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
Source
Here are two resources on the subject:

How to Treat False Teachers
The Danger Facing the Church
Love also comes out of sincere faith, not the hypocritical faith manifested by false teachers. Faith that has no pretense creates love. A false teacher has a dirty heart because it's never been cleansed by the true gospel of faith in Christ. A false teacher has a guilty conscience because his impure heart triggers it. But his conscience may have reached the point where it's so scarred that it's lost its sensitivity. And a false teacher has hypocritical faith. He's a phony--he wears a mask. That kind of life will never produce the love of God. The goal of the false teacher is not to create an environment of love, but to feed his ego and fill his pockets.

A Final Warning: Beware of False Teachers
Lesson 107: A Final Warning: Beware of False Teachers! (Romans 16:17-20)
Years ago, a seminary professor told his class at the beginning of the semester that they would work together on one major project during that semester. They would move systematically through the New Testament to categorize every area of truth and determine how many times each area is addressed. Their goal was to find what one thing is emphasized more than any other in the New Testament. When they completed the project, they were amazed to see that warning against false doctrine is emphasized more than any other thing, even more than love, unity, and experience (Renald Showers, in “Israel My Glory,” [April/May, 1995], pp. 24-25). I have not verified their conclusion, but they’re probably right. ...
J. C. Ryle was a champion for the truth in the Church of England during the 19th century. I’d recommend that you read him. In Warnings to the Churches ([Banner of Truth], p. 110), he wrote about how difficult yet necessary controversy in the church is. Then he added, “But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation.” After acknowledging that many would view what he writes as exceedingly distasteful, he states (p. 111), “Three things there are which men never ought to trifle with—a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin.”

9 comments :

  1. Elizabeth,

    You have made an incredibly strong stance in your writing this essay, the previous one (Thursday, June 11, 2015 - Roma Downey), as well as your post essay comments on the Downey essay. I too hold to all that you wrote and without reservation! Frankly Elizabeth you sound just like my favorite pastor/contender John MacArthur! If one is genuinely redeemed then let them take heed to these critical TRUTHS! Saints, I think it is importance to understand the context of what Elizabeth has correctly written. This is not an article on evangelism, nor loving our enemies. It is on the Biblical warnings concerning those whom lead the masses right into HELL!


    Rick :>/
    Metro Atlanta

    PS, VERY WELL DONE Elizabeth! THANK YOU!

    PSS, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry after taking a hard look at Rick Warren and Elton John’s classic snap shot :--) ;--( goodness…

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    1. Brother Rick thank you so kindly for your encouragement. I'm often overwhelmed by the Spirit's gifts and His making time for me to do work in Jesus name. It is all for the glory of God, so I am thrilled and humbled to know that anything I write touches you or others in a way that would encourage or uplift.

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    2. Elizabeth, I to agree with Rick. You are such a blessing please do not stop writing these truth. More and more we need this especially in times like this. You have no idea how many of these articles you have written that I have copied for fear it is removed. I come here everyday as I feel you have such a special Gift God has given you in writing. Praise God for special people like yourself can't wait to meet you one day soon. Thanks again for speaking in truth.

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  2. Every so often I find myself making an attempt to go back and study the many phenomenal blog posts made by you Elizabeth. I just cannot even begin to describe the shear joy it brings to me in my attempts to do so, nor can I come close to communicating the level of frustration I experience within just a few short hours only to realize there is simply no way to come even close to appreciating your efforts and your scholarship.

    Your love of our Lord Jesus is the only thing that trumps all of your efforts and leaves so many of us wanting to listen to more and more of your uncanny knack to spread the Gospel while never compromising God's word for the sake of acceptance. What a glorious gift you have!

    I just wish there was a way for you to catalog your many blogs and make it possible for us to search and research by topic, scripture or author. Maybe someone else will have some ideas about how to accomplish this monumental task. I know there are many here whom agree with me when I say what a great resource it would be!

    God bless you!

    In the meantime, I'll just continue plodding along the ole fashioned way :)

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    1. Gates when I read a comment like yours I just cry. I mean it. I get overwhelmed with it all. I'm first, humbled that Jesus uses me for anything that helps anyone else. Me?! And then I'm relieved that Jesus uses me for anything that helps anyone at all, because His Spirit gave me gifts and His Father gave me time and Himself saved me to do it in His name. With every bone in my body I want His glory magnified, His name honored, His people edified or convicted or strengthened. So when I read your comment I crumble because I know He has used me and I pray He will continue. And it means more coming from someone like you who are so mature, so patient, so gentle, so wise. I'm being really mushy which I hate but in private I want you ALL to know that I am genuinely moved by your encouragement.

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  3. Mark and avoid are pretty clear instructions. Now only if pastors would do as you have done, Elizabeth, as accurately and boldly as you have. It is a non-negotiable for a shepherd to warn the flock of false teachers, and this includes naming names, and explaining out specific heresies. It amazes me that a regular sheep such as yourself is more sensitive to the Holy Spirit than many so-called "men of God". Well said. Well, well said.

    Not for a minute have my husband and I regretted warning area pastors about the likes of Warren, Hybels, and others. For the record, to our knowledge, not one pastor heeded what we said except for an AG pastor, who was very thankful for the information.

    -Carolyn

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  4. I have wondered this and asked aloud the question, "possible or not, is there any Scriptural indication that God may ever save false teachers?" Could they ever repent, ever be restored, ever find forgiveness.

    It almost seems certain that the answer is an emphatic 'no.' The Bible does tell us that God alone judges the spirit -- but then the Bible records God judging the spirit of false teachers and it appears to label them irredeemably reprobate. So it would seem that condemning false teachers as one condemns Satan -- one with no hope of salvation -- is not at least obviously unBiblical.

    Thanks for the treatment of this subject.

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    1. You're welcome.

      It seems that false teachers are perhaps if I read these right, destined for destruction.
      Jude 1:4, 1 Peter 2:8, 2 Peter 2:1, Hebrews 6:4

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  5. It's ironic that the same people who condemn discerning people for calling out false teachers, are the same ones who direct hate at those doing the exposing.

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