Some professing Christians become infuriated when those of us in a discernment ministry has the chutzpah to report on a false teacher by name, as if naming names is unbiblical. High-profile leaders and bloggers who mention heretics by name are often accused of demonizing or judging them.
Invariably someone will cite Matthew 18:15-17:
Whenever I write about a false teacher, I’m frequently asked if I’ve gone privately to that person in an effort to correct him or her. My response is “Of course not!” Why? For the reason that Christian celebrities are generally inaccessible. Many are, in fact, akin to Hollywood celebs. No doubt some of them rationalize that their popularity affords them certain privileges, one of which is to choose not to have a dialogue with anyone who “attacks” them.
Yet the Bible says that those who are in sin (false teaching is sin) must be admonished. In 3 John 1:9 the Apostle John calls out Diotrephes and promises to publicly correct him upon his return; like we see in Galatians 2:11-14 Paul standing up to the highly esteemed Apostle Peter! He chastised Peter for fearing false teachers. What resulted from Peter’s “fear of man”?:
In context, Matthew 18 addresses how Church leadership is to discipline a brother or sister who have fallen into sin and provides the proper steps to take before excommunicating an unrepentant sinner. First, we are to go to him privately. If he refuses to repent we must go to him a second time along with two or more witnesses. If he remains unrepentant, the pastor must go before the church and proclaim his sin. Ouch!
It is essential for Church elders to be involved in the process.
Likewise, Matthew 18 does not apply to doctrinal issues, nor does it apply to Christians who have put their work before the world. Those who go public are fair game. Anyone in the public eye will get scrutinized, even unfairly criticized, for their work. Consequently, Christians who cannot stand the heat should not go into the kitchen.
Making A Judgment
Is it biblical for a Christian to judge another Christians teaching or their actions? I’ll get to what the Bible teaches on this in a moment. But first, we are never to make a judgment without having as many of the facts as it is humanly possible to obtain. As well, we are not to judge self-righteously. Never judge a person's heart or motives because you have no way of knowing for sure what is driving either of these. Moreover, it is always a good idea to examine your own motives. Is there a just cause for judging someone? Do you really want what is best for him or her? Are you driven by anger? Are you getting even? Are you jealous of the person? Your motive must be that you want what is best for him or her. Report only the facts. No gossip. No slander. No twisting his or her words.
In the work I do I often name names. As I previously indicated, when I expose a false teacher, invariably someone will call me judgmental. Whenever that happens I respond to them with Scripture:
What? You mean Christians have the mind of Christ? Those who are regenerate do. To clarify this difficult concept, I’ll point you to Bible expositor Matthew Henry. He writes:
In short, it is the spiritual man (regenerate) who possesses the mind of Christ and has received the knowledge of His will which is laid out for us in Scripture. Therefore, the believer who is truly walking with the Lord— in His will—has been given the authority to judge words and actions, especially when what’s being taught is unbiblical.
How do we know when someone’s teaching is unbiblical? We are to test his or her teaching against the Word of God. If their teaching doesn’t line up with what’s in the Bible, then it’s not from God. And if a certain teaching is not in the Bible? Then it is coming from another source. To be specific, false teaching is inspired by the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places!
Bible teacher and expositor John MacArthur cautions:
In my experience, many professing Christians stubbornly stick to their position that those who expose the unbiblical teaching of Christian celebs are unfairly judging them. So they play the Matthew 7:1-5 card: "Judge not, that you be not judged” followed by a resounding rebuke from verse 5: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye?”
It boggles the mind that Christians fail to grasp the notion that those who are Spirit-filled have the mind of Christ. Only believers can make this claim – no one else can.
God’s ways and His Word make little sense to the unsaved. Listen to what Paul says:
The only way to learn about the things of the Spirit of God is by reading the Bible. For believers, the Bible’s our final authority in all matters of faith. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” According to 2 Peter 1:21 “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Every page of Scripture is God-breathed, yet a growing number of Christians choose to reject some of hard to understand Bible stories and Church doctrines. Two examples are the Creation story in Genesis chapters 1 & 2 and our Lord’s teaching that hell is a place of fire, demons and everlasting torment. Christ spoke more on hell than anyone else in the Bible.
Today a growing number of professing Christians reject much of what is taught in the Bible even though they rarely study it. They may attend church regularly but because they are biblically illiterate, they wouldn’t know if their pastor is teaching God’s truth or filling their minds with outright heresy. In many cases, professing believers would not know biblical truth if it walked up and bit them on the nose!
I regularly hear from Christians whose heart’s desire is to attend a healthy well-balanced church where they can be confident that they are hearing the gospel and receiving good solid biblical teaching. They lament that they’ve searched high and low to find a gospel preaching church near their home, but to no avail. So, they have become discouraged. But the sad fact is that only a handful of ministers still preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. My advice to these people is not to give up searching. Finding a biblical church is a subject best left for another article.
Many ministers and so-called Bible teachers come to us via the airwaves. The term for them is televangelist. The televangelist’s lifestyle is clearly identified by opulence, luxury and riches. They assure viewers that you can live in the lap of luxury like they do if only you will apply certain principles to your life. We also have TV preachers who are CEO’s of mega churches. Worship services are interrupted by commercials for the purpose of promoting upcoming events and to sell their books. Buyer beware! Many TV preachers also sell consumers a false gospel that saves no one. What they offer is a counterfeit Christianity. Front and center is the word-faith/name-it-and-claim-it/prosperity charlatans such as Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar and Joyce Meyer, to name a few.
Be on the alert for the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) a heretical movement that holds to the view that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance such as the prophets and apostles. The late “Super Apostle” C. Peter Wagner headed up the NAR and there are a swarm of so-called apostles and prophets worldwide. The wolves in this movement believe they possess the same gifts as the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles.
Other apostates, false teachers, “frauds, phonies and money grubbing religious quacks to be weary of” can be found here.
Again, we’re not to judge a person’s heart or motives, but we can certainly judge the fruit they produce! Jesus himself said:
Believers who read and study their bibles are far less likely to blindly follow false teachers. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility for mature believers who cease being Bereans to have the wool pulled over their eyes. For this very reason John warned:
This article was adapted from “Does the Bible really say we’re not to judge others?”© Marsha West
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.