A few days ago the subject came up when speaking about those who have false doctrine in his or her church affiliation. This could range from something extremely serious such as the Deity of Jesus to something comparatively minor as cessation of the ecstatic gifts of the Holy Spirit to free will acceptance of Jesus as Saviour. This topic ran along the course of trying to determine whether these folk were even saved. The discussions with those who hold to false teaching usually go pretty bad and certainly causes the one in error to dig in the heels and any hope of conversation ends. This is tragic and is not at all what scripture presents as the way to handle error.
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ESV
Indeed we are to take false teaching seriously. Due to being sinner and saint a true believer in our Lord can fall easy prey to false teaching. These teachings do endanger the soul of the believer. The more serious doctrinal errors can lead to huge despair and a wandering away from the faith. Even if a person stays in the faith, and many do, throughout the rest of his or her life they will certainly not enjoy the fullness of peace our Lord has for them. But to look down our noses at them and tell them they must agree with us or be lost is not the way to go about it.
However, the Christian is also a new creature. A new heart was placed inside this person which never sins and always has sound doctrine. Through patient bible teaching this person can, with the Holy Spirit using the word, begin to see the fallacy and embrace the truth. This can happen quickly or over a long period of time. This may follow sharp responses and sometimes a loss of relationship which can be heart rendering especially if the person is a close friend or family member.
Matthew 12:18 Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope. ESV
We see prophesied in the above quote from Isaah how Jesus was to handle false teaching in the lives of His believers who were trapped in the false religion of Judaism. This was not the fear of Isaac of old as the false teachers claimed but was as perverted as too many parts of Christianity today which also teach that thru our effort we can become a Christian, remain in the faith or gain greater reward in heaven. Indeed the teachers of these false religions received harsh rebuke but it was laden with scripture not with character attacks.
Those trapped by these teachers received gentle teaching. How many times did the disciples not get it before Jesus was crucified and after his Ascension? The bible is loaded with reports of it. Jesus did not take the chance of breaking weak faith nor snuffing out smoldering faith. His whole purpose was to call sinners to repentance and faith in the promise associated with his perfect life, crucifixion and resurrection.
The Holy Spirit is not waiting in the hallway for us to generate high drama in order to work. He works through the word in the ears of those who have received faith. Let us not appeal to the flesh with this type of behaviour but learn scripture to teach in context to show our brothers and sisters what a wonderful faith we have been given. We are given tasks to perform not things to accomplished. If the Lord so desires we will see the light dawn in these people’s lives and nothing is a precious as that. It is all in his hands and thankfully not in our hands.
In the name of Jesus. †