Judging, Naming Names, and Satan’s Tactics.

wolf in Sheep's clothingBe careful when people try to convince us that it’s not our place to judge or name names against false teachers.  Satan twists the word of God (See Matt. 7:1-5 in context) to try and get the people to never exercise judgment.  

Jesus says,

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”  Matthew 7:15

John tells us,

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits to see if they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). 

How can we warn people of false teachings without naming these teachers as well?

Paul says,

“MARK THEM which cause divisions and offenses CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17) and called out false teachers (2 Cor. 11:13; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; 2 Tim. 4:14).

False teachers have an enormous craving for popularity.  However, those who contend for the truth will not be very popular. We are told we are “divisive,” “hateful,” “intolerant,” “close-minded,” “mean-spirited,” “unkind,” etc. etc..  I would rather warn people about the false teachings and name them who teach it, if I have to.  I have been known to “rock the boat” at times.  It’s not because I enjoy rocking it, it is because I have a love for the truth.  I no longer have to fear man.  Some may be blinded by their friendships to stand against wrong. It is very easy to remain silent than to speak up.  Speaking up will cost us.  It may cost us our friendships and our families.

Will we settle for peace at any cost?  Even at the cost of truth?  People cry, “Doctrine divides, what we need is unity.”  The Gospel may be diluted, attacked and denied but there are those who know they cannot just sit back, but must contend earnestly for the faith.

We are held responsible by our Master to proclaim the whole counsel of God, and this includes warning others of false teachings and those responsible for teaching them. (Isa. 58:1; Ezek. 33:7-9; 34:1-10; Acts 20:26-32; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 2:17-18).

I do not believe it is wrong to identify false teachings, along with naming the teachers.  Jesus had no problem pointing out the group of Pharisees and Sadducees who were misleading the people. The Lord wants to protect us from false teachings.  

Many may think that naming false teachers is speaking evil of them.  There is a difference between speaking evil of someone and exposing them.

Paul listed at least 8 evil doers and identified them by name in 2 Timothy:

* 1) Phygellus 1:15
* 2) Hermogenes 1:15
* 3) Hymenaeus 2:17
* 4) Philetus 2:17
* 5) Jannes 3:8
* 6) Jambres 3:8
* 7) Demas 4:10 (apostate)
* 8) Alexander the coppersmith 4:14

Word of Caution

Beware of Satan’s tactics as well because the war is in the arena of beliefs and ideas.  How do we defend truth, and what is our defensive and offensive weapon? 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph.6:10-17)

Our offensive weapon?  It is taking the shield of is “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

We must not cherry pick certain verses to prove something that is not the complete truth.  An example of this is the teaching of Once Saved, Always Saved.  There is eternal security for the believer, but under certain conditions.  We cannot choose several verses of Scripture to prove something while ignoring scores of others.  We must seek the whole counsel of God for God will not contradict Himself.

If we say we are led by the holy Spirit, we cannot come to radically different conclusions.  We are told,

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Cor. 10

We can, by all means, have differences on the minors, but never should be where it concerns the fundamental doctrines (teachings) such as the fallacies taught today.  They are:

  • Sin is an inbred disease people are born with.
  • Jesus is your substitution and suffered the wrath and penalty of God in your place, by becoming sin for you.
  • God transferred Jesus righteousness and obedience to you when you believed by faith.
  • Not only your past sins are forgiven, but your FUTURE sins are also forgiven in Christ.
  • There is no sin you have to stop doing to get saved and no sin you have to stop doing to stay saved.
  • Salvation in Christ is based on you trusting in His provision, not on you doing anything.
  • Faith in Christ makes the law void.
  • Judgment will be determined by faith alone, not by anything you do.
  • Christians sin daily in thought, word and deed, but are not held accountable to God because He sees Jesus instead of you.

When we counter the fallacies above and try to get the person to take the whole word of God into consideration, beware of Satan’s tactics against you by his servants who use trickery and every kind of deceit, and Scripture itself to try and silence those who contend for the truth.   Here are some of his tactics that a brother has well stated:

1.  Ad Hominem, which means, Attack the person rather than the argument. By shifting the focus away from the actual issue to some weakness (or supposed weakness) in the one making the argument, the false teacher can put his opponent on the defensive. If he’s successful in doing this, he won’t have to answer the argument.

2. Intentionally misrepresenting an argument (and the one making the argument) in order to make it easier to answer (straw man). This can be done by re-defining words or phrases (equivocation), or taking statements out of context. False teachers do this with the Scriptures and with the words of those doing the correcting. Again, if successful, he won’t feel obligated to respond.

3.  Red Herring, which means – Shifting the issue  The false teacher simply changes the topic and never deals with the arguments before him. Oftentimes he’ll speak of how “mean-spirited” and “unkind” his opponent is for questioning his beliefs. There are too many who want to teach whatever they like without being called into question.

4.  Ad Verecundiam, which means – Appeal to false authority. Jesus has all authority in religion (Matt. 28:18), and it is to the word of God that we are to appeal. This trick replaces the word of God with the words of men. Oftentimes it is a well-respected preacher or commentator that is quoted as authoritative. (There is nothing wrong in quoting men who state something particularly well. The sin is in doing away with God’s word as our final authority.) Again the Scriptures are our final authority. Those who find no authority in the Scriptures must turn to other sources.

5. Appeal to tradition. In other words, “We’ve always done it like this” (See Mark 7:13).

 Conclusion:

Learn to recognize these tactics.  Let us magnify the truth by appealing to God’s word for the whole truth.  We must be as the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  Act_17:11

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