Steven F. Deaton
To the stable, solid, sober Christian, it would be a shock to receive a meeting announcement from the congregation where Timothy labored, informing them that next week Hymenaeus and Philetus would preach the Gospel of Christ, even though they would not mention the resurrection. We could believe it if it came from the church of which Alexander the coppersmith was a member, but not from the faithful companion of Paul. How could it be that after receiving a letter warning him about these two false teachers that Timothy could help spread their influence (2 Tim. 2:17-18)? This is impossible to believe.
Unfortunately, while we cannot see the above happening there are some that have trouble recognizing this type of problem today. Some brethren (elders, preachers, and others), will invite men to conduct a meeting who either teach error or uphold the hands of those who do, so long as they do not bring up the error.
Why is this happening in light of such plain teaching of the scripture (2 Jn. 9-11; Eph. 5:11; Tit. 1:13)? God's word repeatedly warns us not to accept those who are not sound in the faith. When we do such, we are partakers of their evil and help to spread their cancerous philosophy, even though they may not preach on it at the time.
The objection may be raised that some who teach the truth are being unfairly treated because of their association with others. To which it must be replied, what type of association do they maintain? Is it one where the man who believes the truth exhorts and rebukes the one who does not, or is it an association in which the man who believes the truth lacks the backbone to exhort and rebuke (2 Tim. 4:1-5; Eph. 6:10)?
Some might recall the charges against our Lord, "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them" (Lk. 15:1-2). The implication was, Jesus was a sinner. However, notice that Jesus clearly dispels any room for doubt that he approved of the sinfulness of his company. He said they were "lost," "dead" (separated from God), and "sick" (spiritually corrupt) (Lk. 15:4, 24, 32; 5:27-32). Jesus' association with the Publicans and sinners was not one wherein he condoned their error. He did not join with them in a scriptural circumcision and sacrificial service while remaining silent about their iniquity. Likewise, when the Lord visited Zacchaeus, he was condemned (Lk. 19:7). Yet, we see that the Lord does not begin to explain how Zacchaeus was a fellow Israelite brother, and was a man of great wealth who could do much good with that wealth (large contributions, help the poor). No, the Lord lets it be known that Zacchaeus was lost, but could be saved (Lk. 19:9-10). Unfortunately, some brethren today will go in with "sinners and Publicans" without one word of rebuke for their error. They will commend the preacher, who is in error on fellowship or marriage, divorce, and remarriage, for all the good work he has done in years past. When a man's evil association is pointed out, he cries, "Oh! but brother so-and-so is such an honest and sincere man. He has reached his convictions through years of hard study. I cannot condemn him for that."
There is a principle taught by the Holy Ghost that says when one touches an unclean thing, then one is unclean (Hag. 2:13-14). Further, He says, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Cor. 6:17). Therefore, those who receive, approve, accept, or fellowship, one that teaches false doctrine, are unclean themselves, and those who receive the ones who do the approving are unclean. The point is, just because you are the third or fourth person removed from the one who teaches false doctrine does not mean you are guiltless if you hold up the hands of those who compromise with false teachers (Rom. 1:32). In other words, you do not have to be in direct contact with the false teacher in order to aid his cause.
How is it that a faithful child of God can endorse one that boldly or cowardly supports those in error? It is high time that we cease to coddle those who teach error and others who approve of them. We are not saying it is required to break fellowship at the "drop-of-a-hat." Rather, after patient study and prayer with the ones in error, be man enough to TAKE A STAND! (1 Cor. 16:13; Eph. 6:13).
e-mail this author at SFDeaton@compuserve.com
Return to Watchman Front Page
return to May index