When is it time to separate from other Brethren or false teachers?
This is a very hard subject I believe for all of us. Especially as a woman, my feelings and sensitivity towards another get in the way. I feel very sorry for them and I don’t like to see anyone excluded from anything. I think on former friends I have separated from with great pain, but it is for the gospel’s sake, (I pray that they will come to a knowledge of the truth – 1 Tim 2:1-6). I think how I would personally prefer to do it, but how I feel may not line up with the Word. And I am sure I have let certain people stay too long in my life for the sake of misunderstanding what unity means. I don’t know how many have suffered because of me not obeying what the Word seems to say regarding addressing anyone who willfully or even unknowingly lead others astray. They say they don’t teach, yet they instruct others through private messages and phone calls. Should we just turn a blind eye for unity? I am not talking of those willing to hear from the Word regarding their error. I am talking of those who do not answer direct questions, are vague, and cannot give you a straightforward gospel. They eat like a canker. But may the Lord’s Word speak alone, not me, because you should not listen to me or think of me beyond what is written — pray, search and ask the Lord just to show you what is truth (Acts 17:11), that is a noble thing.
Dear Pastors and Teachers
I insert this section as a quick note to pastors, teachers, or authors who quote others. Most people assume you quote one that they can reasonably expect to be sound and that you know this to be so IF you quote them favorably.
PLEASE — If you know you are quoting one who is an Arminian, or a Calvinist, or anyone who preachers another gospel — PLEASE, do warn your audience of his error. PLEASE distinguish (as Paul did when he quoted a poet on Mars Hill) that it was one of the THEIR OWN, not one of us. PLEASE do PUBLICLY withstand even brethren who are not walking uprightly regarding the truth of the GOSPEL (Gal 2:14). It’s hard enough for us to do it, but if you will not, how badly will the truth be affected?
Pastors are to take heed to the doctrine, saving both themselves AND their hearers (1 Tim 4:16). I beseech you, (the Holy Spirit does also through the Word in Romans 16:17-18). Please AVOID these people, please do not quote them. But if you must, please warn of their error. We can all make mistakes, but if one calls us on it, let’s go back and fix them publicly for the love of Jesus and the love for His body. There is untold damage down by sound pastors who quote Spurgeon, Luther, Wesley, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Tozer etc. I know firsthand of the damage — I have years of a shipwrecked life, a wasted life (it feels like). I used to have a library most theologians would covet. The Lord took care of my initial ‘library’ in a flood, my second gathering of books over the next 10 years in a storm. About then, I started to learn to ‘prove all things’ even though I further amassed a library that had more error, albeit not as easy to spot. Proving all things means to test/examine the doctrine with that which is good (or at least how I see 1 Thess 5:21 when it comes to error). What a boatload of sorrows I began to avoid. Pastors, please again — Be discerning. The Word is exciting, use it more so people can discern between error (Heb 5:12-14, Acts 17:11)! If you quote men, using them without warning of his errors (which you admit you know about), you can be guilty of someone else being led astray, back into bondage, or worse — a lost person might hear their gospel, which is another. Thank you for your time and prayerful consideration of this.
Marking and avoiding one you know and love…
Because of the recent conversation between two that I know — (an older woman and a younger man regarding the gospel), I felt this need to be discussed once again. The younger was correct, the older woman steadfastly denied her error by incorrectly using passages, (along with unkind and offensive words). But this is not how an apt teacher will try to recover someone from error (2 Tim 2:23-26). Do they have sound speech that cannot be condemned? Do they consider you noblle for questioning them with Scripture?
I tried to study His Word (with His approval in min), in order to see what it says on those who will not hear and continue to go about teaching others error, (whether publicly or not). In fact privately is the worst, because those teachings many times go unnoticed and cannot be ‘tested’ or ‘proved’ by others (1 John 4:1, 1 Thess 5:21). This is a good and noble thing we do (Acts 17:11 – assuming it’s done with the right motives and speech) — His Word, not our subjective opinions or traditions.
How do we answer others who we believe are teaching a corrupted gospel?
We don’t judge by the appearance, we should only use the Word (righteous judgment) to examine doctrine. We need to be sure our doctrine is sound by testing it with the Word and in the multitude of sound counsel. And if they refuse to hear, I believe they need reproved by the Word. If they still refuse, we need to withdraw.
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
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Jn 7:24
When and why should we separate from one we believe teaches a false gospel?
For me, I am a little quicker if it is a pastor or teacher. I will often contact them if we haven’t already had contact. But if their error is public, I do not need to. However, I still try. A majority either will not respond, or worse, respond with the most venomous of behavior and name calling.
If one who is misleading others will not listen, and continues to insist that their understanding, their experiences, their feelings, are to be the standard of truth, what then? What if they refuse to have their doctrine publicly examined by others? (I believe mine as well as other’s doctrine regarding the gospel is extremely important). We need to decide if we can walk together with someone if they teach another gospel, or one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. Or they add works to the gospel or preach another Jesus. (Several people came to, or were approached, by this woman on the same subject — see the prior ‘Fruit Inspector’s’ post. Several sound believers refuted her with the Word in great length and patience. She publicly suggested persecution, cliques picking on her unkindly, or even saying we ‘took grace too far’ (again in secret) instead of using His Word to publicly answer before all). This was because she insists on certain proofs of behavior (backdoor loadship). So many were made to stumble. I believe we are shown we must separate in order to not allow their teachings to mislead others. Not easy, not pleasant.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Eph 5:11
When and why should we mark and avoid someone? As much as we might love them or like them, we cannot allow them to deceive others with these thing that are contrary to what is in His Word. They have brought in these divisions and generally are unwilling to allow their doctrine to be publicly examined. Posting what they do believe, leaving out what they don’t believe (that one cannot be saved if they do not do, X, Y or Z. This IS works salvation).
Again 1 John 1 is not a test of eternal life, it is a test of fellowship. King David was saved and a murderer as was Moses. Solomon was a terrible womanizer who went into apostasy. I don’t want to say more of the saints, but you get the picture.
All of us should allow others to question our doctrine and be open to listen to the Word vs. our own private interpretation.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Rom16:17-18)
It should be done out of love for the body and obedience to His Word, so that others aren’t misled. It’s even in the hopes they might come back to the truth. But don’t let others beguile you with ‘enticing words’. Some think that they can lead others back to the truth, all the while keeping them as friends as these same people gather followers after themselves. We all need to be careful to guard ourselves from being caught up in the error or introducing their error to others by giving place to them – Gal 2:4-5.
The Bible doesn’t say if you feel you have enough discernment, stick around and see if you can win them over when they are doing this. The reason we withdraw is so they may not be able to muddy the truth of the gospel, nor make other’s faith shipwreck by leading them astray.
For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. Col 2:1-4
We do not give subjection to them for even an hour, so the truth of the gospel will continue in other’s lives. And that is so we can see people come to know the Lord, because it is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 1:18). No matter our feelings we must continue doing this (2 Cor 11:1-15)
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Gal 2:4-5
QUOTE — Tom Cucuzza said this in the following sermon entitled “It’s All of Christ”:
We must protect the gospel. Now, what is the gospel? It’s the good news that God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay for all of our sins and that He came back from the dead to prove it was done, and that all who would simply put their faith in Christ and Christ alone receive eternal life.
Now, if there is only one plan of salvation, which the Bible says that is true, if there is only one gospel, which the Bible says that is true, then the truth needs to be protected.
We cannot give false teachers a place – and you’ll notice what he said – not even for an hour. Now, that’s not being mean-spirited, that’s just standing our ground. That’s having the courage to say: “Excuse me, not here. That message is not welcome here.”
There are those who are saved and yet are confused about this issue. And they are -many times – just because they haven’t learned, they haven’t been taught better – they are saying things that aren’t true, but it hasn’t occurred to them that what they are saying is not true. What do we do with them? We teach them. We kindly teach them. We take them alongside and we show them the way of God more perfectly. Alright? There is that ministry. Every man is a ministry. We need to see that.
However, there are those, though, who are fixed on preaching error and teaching error. And when they are approached with the truth – and we try to make that clear – they say: “That’s not true! I don’t believe that. I believe you’re the one who’s teaching falsehood.” END QUOTE
How should we deal with a believer who is doing this?
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…. Gal 2:11,14a
What do you think Paul would have done if Peter and Barnabas had refused to hear him? Were they expected to have a false unity? Just get along? Keep associating with them? Or treat them as the other false teachers? I am not suggesting anyone rush out to identify someone in error, but only after we have seen certain things that show us they are teaching and resistant to hearing others with the Word. Refusing to examine other Scriptures that contradict their wrongly excised verses (i.e. 1 John 3:15 to prove one who had murdered could not be a believer).
QUOTE: From Clear Gospel.org:
Christian Unity and The Gospel Message
Scripture teaches the unity of the church as one of the highest goals toward which the church should aspire (Ephesians 4:3). We believe, therefore, that not every theological dispute merits separation. For example, whether the church of Galatia was located in North Galatia or South Galatia is a valid question, and one that has been explored and debated by theologians, but it is certainly not a question over which fellowship should be broken.
We believe, however, that any area of doctrine even remotely affecting the integrity of the gospel is inherently serious (Galatians 2:11-14), that Scripture calls us to draw the line at the earliest point, and to yield not one inch on matters that jeopardize the integrity of the gospel, a compromise that jeopardizes the eternal life of every man, woman and child on this planet who has not yet heard the gospel message (Galatians 1:6-9, 2:5). END QUOTE
Truth is paramount to our growth and others to come to know Christ. It is how believers are sanctified – Jn 17:17 – (cleansed in this lifetime practically speaking for service and being of use to Him. And it is also how non-believers come to know Him (2 Tim 3:15).
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? Gal 4:16
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24
We don’t separate because of our own opinions or feelings, but because we see that the Word tells us to. By separating we might help show those teaching falsely that they are wrongly dividing His Word. Our desire is they will be converted from their error. Hopefully if they know Him, they and others can remain sound in the faith by being soundly rebuked. It will keep them from coming into judgment if they will listen, and will keep the flock from being introduced to leaven, from being hindered from obeying the truth.
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. Gal 5:7-10
If they will not hear, withdraw. It has been made known by not fellowshipping with them, that they are not one you should listen to. It is for the protection of those who hear them and the body of Christ in general. This is not an individual decision. We are to shun these babblings, in will increase unto more ungodliness, it is like a canker. The Lord makes known these heresies so we know who is and is not approved.
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 Hymenæus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 2 Tim 2:16-18
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 1 Cor 11:18-19
Note the contrast below. The person is noted as a believer, but they walk disorderly, not after the tradition which they received of the apostles. They are speaking of doctrine. If you have gone to them, and they refuse to hear, could it be said they do not consent to God’s Word, His doctrine and therefore we need to withdraw?
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 2 Thess 3:6
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 1 Tim 6:3-5
Which power is being denied above? There is only one way to become godly, that is through Christ — apart from works. Through belief in the truth, Christ becomes our righteousness. They are denying the power of the gospel to save and instead are adding their own proofs, works, experiences, feelings, opinions as the power. The gospel is the POWER of GOD unto salvation. They deny the gospel by adding works on top of, before or after the gospel.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Tim 3:1-5
How long until we know when to turn away from such a one?
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. Titus 3:9-11
Those who have turned from the truth need to be stopped and rebuked sharply, for their own sake and so they don’t mislead a lot of people. But what happens if they don’t hear? Maybe others might be sound in the faith because you did stand and use the Word to rebuke.
For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true.
Therefore rebuke them sharply, → that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. Titus 1:10-14
Doctrine is important, and defending God’s Word is too, it can lead one to salvation.
But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Tim 3:10-15
Satan is the father of all lies (Jn 8:44). God is not a man that He should lie (Num 23:19). He did not lie when He promised us eternal life before the world began (Titus 1:2). And He has told us when we believe the testimony God gave of His Son that we have (possess/own) eternal life (1 Jn 5:9-13) and we can KNOW that. We are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices, but to be sure we are sharing the pure gospel.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Cor 2:14-15
We love and treasure His Word (Ps 119:140, 162) and we should take heed to doctrine to save ourselves and those who hear us (1 Tim 4:16). We warn so we are not guilty of the blood of men. Instead, commend them to the Word of His Grace (Acts 20:25-32), not the wisdom of words of men (1 Cor 2:1-5) What does the following passage say for us not to do with false teachers (2 John 1:9-11)?
Do we love others as ourselves if we allow them to continue in error or we do not warn about these grievous wolves? How about God (Mark 10:29-31)? Are we loving Him with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength if we allow His sheep to be fed with bad food (Jn 21)? Isn’t doctrine to be tested? (1 John 4:1-6; 1 Thess 5:21, Acts 17:11). Do we just test it then leave the sheep to fend for themselves? Discernment comes by being in His Word (Heb 5:12-14).
Aren’t unbelievers convicted of sin? Does that conviction somehow prove they are Christians?
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Rom 3:20
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Rom 2:14-16
What does the Word say about those preaching a false gospel? (Gal 1:6-11; 2 Cor 11:1-15; 2 Pet 2:1-3). And what should we do about it?
But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 2 Cor 11:12-15
Once again, these people can corrupt others with their teachings. This upsets people to state someone is teaching falsely, (it has been hard for me over the years to speak). Actually much harder when you know the person, versus some unnamed person you have never met.
The believing Corinthians were being led astray by those who made them doubt whether they were going to be resurrected. And Paul is rebuking them for those who do not have the knowledge of God, it is a sin to do nothing about those teaching something ‘off’ about the gospel. In Corinthians 15, they were teaching there was no resurrection, Paul was telling them to stay away from these teachers and why.
What if people before us hadn’t stood firmly for the truth? Where would we be, and how many would have lost their lives because they didn’t hear the truth?
If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 1 Cor 15:32-34
2 Cor 11:3-4 also warns us of putting up with it. Are you allowing this?
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thess 5:21-22
We are to make full proof of our ministry — we are all ministers of reconciliation are we not? (2 Cor 5:18-19). Do we want to stand by and allow others to be turned away from the truth? What are we do do?
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Tim 4:1-5
Stand, be strong, do it in love, speak boldly, and answer with His power.
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. 1 Cor 16:13-14
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Eph 6:10-20
Bottom line. I know it’s extremely hard to think of a sweet, cuddly ‘friend’ as a wolf in that moment. And likely they don’t see themselves as one either. But by associating with wolves, and fellowshipping with them, aren’t we sharing in these evil deeds? We might be guilty of the blood of others (Acts 20:25-32) if they are pulling off people to the side and we don’t name them (warn) and avoid them. How can we withstand their doctrine when they’re doing it privately? How can the young in Christ, (who think we associate with them) discern they are in error? We can’t even know who gets contacted in private by these people we have put up with. But when we find out we can make a stand.
This article was spurred by a recent incident, that had more than one not knowing how to question this ‘spiritually mature older believer’ who they previously believed to be sound (and who still insists she believes in Grace while insisting on proof). Some tried to reason with her and they were unkindly rebuked with this woman’s words. Two went to her to try to work it out with His Word and were rebuffed. A young one was preached what she (thank the Lord) herself knew was wrong and came to others about it (as did the other young one in Christ). Hopefully one day soon this person will be open to hear. But for now, please remember, we need to warn and we need to avoid these people (separate) when they are muddying up the gospel, corrupting minds from the simplicity that is in Christ. We are not to have false unity with them, we need to keep them away from the flock and publicly withstand them so the truth of the gospel will remain.
Love in Christ, Holly