Steven Deaton

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Voices from the Past

Seek and Destroy

"But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire" (Deuteronomy 7:5).  This is what the Lord commanded of Israel as they were about to enter the promised land.  All substance and shadow of idolatry was to be found and annihilated.  If it was done, blessings would follow.  If not done, Israel would be cursed.  We know from reading the history of Israel, they failed to do their duty, were afflicted by their enemies, as well as internal trouble, and ended up in captivity.

The Lord gives Christians the command to seek and destroy as well.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in god for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

This is a command to attack error.  The Spirit also commands, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:11).  There is to be no sharing in evil, but that is not all.  There is no position of neutrality, nor mere avoidance of evil.  Rather, it must be confronted and exposed.

Many Christians do not like the idea of confronting and exposing sin.  They do not like it because of what it means — trouble, heartache, and pain (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23-33).  For some reason, many think not doing their duty will end up pleasing God.  This is what king Saul thought as he spared Agag and the best of the flocks (1 Samuel 15:1-21).  God, through Samuel, condemned Saul and revealed the severe consequences of his sin (1 Samuel 15:22-23).  It was then left to Samuel to hack Agag to pieces (1 Samuel 15:32-33).

Not only do many Christians not like to confront and expose sin, but they also criticize those who do, especially when names are named.  Yet, Paul warned Timothy of various men by name (1 Timothy 1:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:16-18; 4:10, 14).  He also identified specific groups of men as being evil workers (Philippians 3:1-2).  Are we to condemn Paul for such actions?  Are we to criticize Samuel for hacking Agag to pieces?  Or, should we hold them in high esteem for their faith and fidelity to the Lord; for their willingness to fight and get bloody?

We ought not to pretend evil is not around us.  It is around us in the world, including denominations, and must be attacked.  More and more denominations are accepting rank worldliness, from gambling and drinking to homosexuality and abortion.  God condemns such things in His Word, and it is incumbent on Christians to do the same (Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 4:3-4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8).  When a preacher or any other Christian identifies individuals or groups involved in worldliness, we are not to condemn, but commend him.

Evil is not only around us, it is among us.  More and more Christians are going astray from the path of truth.  Preachers, elders, and Christians in general are ignoring, condoning, or partaking in sin.  Members involved in worldliness are not chastened (2 Timothy 4:2-5).  Preachers and elders resent being questioned about their beliefs (1 Peter 3:15).  Those who teach error are praised and used for meetings or lectureships (2 John 9-11).  When a preacher or any other Christian identifies individuals or groups involved in such things, we are not to condemn, but commend him.

We are to seek and destroy error.  Why?  Because error condemns the souls of men to an eternal hell and is an affront to the Holy God of heaven.  If we will be blessed, we will confront and expose evil.  If we fail, God will curse us.  Therefore, be determined to "destroy...break down...cut down...[and] burn" all that is contrary to the will of God.

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