Error surrounds us. From the first, since the days of Jesus, false teaching has spread its wings. How should we react to it? There are extremes. One can see nothing but an enemy. Another ignores it, wanting to emphasize only the positive.
While we follow the truth in love, we must also maintain balance by warning and exposing error. Here’s why.
I. Because we are our brother’s keeper
When God asked Cain about his brother’s whereabouts, he replied, “I don’t know! Am I my brother’s guardian?” Genesis 4.9. In a real sense, we are guardians of the welfare of our neighbor. To love another is to look after his well-being.
In the body of Christ, God gave us responsibility for one another. Many of the New Testament letters seek to steer God’s children away from grace-removing error. Christians are charged to correct and admonish one another, Galatians 6.1. The Bible exists, in part, to correct and admonish, 2 Timothy 3.16-17.
II. Because error will not keep its distance
False teaching spreads. It is never static. It seeks openings to enter and spaces to fill. It is an active influence. Jesus called it leaven. If it is not actively resisted, it will encroach upon our hearts and infiltrate our congregations.
Any doubts ought to be removed by listening to Paul in Acts 20 or Peter in his second letter, on the resurrection. In his first letter, John was vigorous in his opposition to error about Jesus’ incarnation. James gives no quarter to faith-only doctrine, James 2.
When it appears, false teaching must be met head-on. If we wait until it penetrates the church of God, we will have given it a foothold.
III. Because we have the example of Christ and his apostles
Jesus excoriated the Jews for refusing the truth and embracing the lies of Satan, John 8. He warns still from heaven, Hebrews 12.25. The apostles confronted error in practice and teaching, Acts 5; Galatians 2.
They all tell us to do the same as they were doing. We must look at the lives of teachers to determine their truthfulness, Matthew 7.15-23. We must test the spirits (teachings), 1 John 4.1. We must prove all things, 1 Thessalonians 5.21. The rebellious, idle talkers, and deceivers “must be silenced” Titus 1.10-11.
If the truth
If the truth frees, error enslaves. If the truth saves, error causes one to be lost. If the truth unites, error separates. If Jesus is the truth, Satan is the father of lies, and those who embrace and propagate his lies must be resisted and exposed.