Contend for the Faith
First of all Jude wrote, "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people." (Jud 1:3).
It was initially Jude’s intention of writing to the Church about salvation, but instead he felt compelled to urge them to contend for the faith. He was urging them to strive for the faith, to use earnest efforts to defend and preserve it. He was speaking about contending for the faith against certain ungodly persons, who had crept into the Church unnoticed, and introduced destructive heresies. That was important enough for Jude to change the topic of his letter. Contending for the faith was more necessary at that time than learning more about salvation.
Publicly Reprove Sinning Elders
Secondly, the apostle Paul instructed Timothy, "But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning." (1 Tim 5:20). This is a very clear instruction from the Holy Spirit to reprove sinning elders before everyone. The reason for such public reproof is so that others may take warning. Other elders will be more careful not to make the same mistake, knowing they will be publicly reproved. And other disciples will be warned not to follow such an elder. If such people are not reproved, or if the reproof is private, rather than public, then others would not be able to take warning.
Expel the Wicked Person
Thirdly, when there is sin in the camp, we are supposed to purge ourselves from evil. Paul said, "God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked person from among you.'" (1 Cor 5:13). He was specifically referring to a man in the Corinthian church who was calling himself a brother in Christ, and yet was committing sexual immorality. We are not to tolerate sin in the Church, such as false teaching, but to judge those inside the Church and expel them.
Mute Dogs That Cannot Bark
If all shepherds of the Lord’s flock chose to ignore false teachers, wolves would overrun the church. We would all pay no attention to them and let them devour the sheep, while we look the other way.
Paul warned the Ephesian elders against wolves during his final visit with them saying, "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock." (Ac 20:29). The savage wolves would only come after Paul left, since he would never tolerate them like so many people do today. These men are leading people down to hell, and some pastors prefer to stand by idly. That reminds me of dogs that don't bark.
Isaiah prophesied, "Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep." (Is 56:10).
I think one of the reasons the Church has gone astray, and so many Christians have been deceived by cults, is because the shepherds fail to warn the flock. Imagine a shepherd who is supposed to be tending the sheep, and when wolves come into the flock, he leaves them alone, doesn’t chase them off, and doesn’t warn the sheep of their presence. The wolves would take the liberty to carry off sheep any time they were hungry, and eventually the whole flock would be destroyed. What kind of shepherd would that be, who did not fight against the wolves to protect the flock? But that is what shepherds are like when they neglect to warn the flock about false teachers. If people knew that aggressive groups like the Mormons (Latter Day Saints) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are cults, and that they are teaching falsely, then fewer people would be deceived by them.
Refute Those Who Contradict Sound Doctrine
In Paul's epistle to Titus, he gave the qualifications for an elder, one of which was that an elder must be one who is "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." (Tit 1:9). He made it absolutely clear that an elder must refute those who contradict sound doctrine! Any elder or pastor that does not do so is not fit for service.
Deceivers Must Be Silenced
In that same passage, Paul said, "For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain." (Tit 1:10-11). He warned Titus that there are many deceivers, who must be silenced. Any elder or pastor who refuses to silence deceivers is neglecting his duty.
Again, Paul warned, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Eph 5:11). He did not simply say to avoid deeds of darkness, but to also expose them. Therefore, it is a sin to fail to expose sin.
The early church definitely exposed false teachings. One particular example was the first Church Council in Jerusalem, in which they exposed the heresy of Judaizing, or requiring Gentiles to adopt Jewish customs when they turned to Christ (Ac 15).
Paul devoted one of his epistles to exposing such things and said, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1:6-9)
Rescue Those Staggering to Slaughter
Even godless people can see the harm that destructive cults are doing. For example, there is even an atheist I know, who can see the dangerous nature of the JMS Cult, and he is helping people escape from it. Meanwhile, there is Christian pastors I know who says we should not bother to expose this cult or any cult, for that matter. He says it is “not our job” to do so. I think that it is a judgment against the Church when even the atheist can see the harmful nature of the cults, but the very shepherds of God’s flock refuse to do so.
The Scripture says, “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, ‘See, we did not know this,’ Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Pro 24:11-12)
There are many other Scriptures that instruct us to identify and expose false teachers, rather than ignore them.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1Jn 4:1)
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Mat 7:15)
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” (2Jn 1:10-11). For this reason, I will not even allow a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon into my home, when they come to my door.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” (Eph 5:6-13)
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” (2Pe 2:1)
“And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2Pe 2:3)
“These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” (2Pe 2:17-19)
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.” (2Pe 3:17)
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2Co 11:13-15)
“Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2Ti 3:5)
“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” (1Ti 6:3-5)
The Lord warns shepherds who do not attend to His sheep, for He says in His Word, "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares the LORD. (Jer 23:1-2)
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.” (2Th 3:6)
“If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2Th 3:14-15)
“But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.” (2Co 11:12)
"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Mat 18:15-17)
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2Ti 4:2)
Putting it All Together
The Scriptures are clear that we must refute, reprove, rebuke, expose, expel, avoid, and keep away from false teachers. They must be silenced. We must beware of such men and guard against them. We must not receive them, welcome them, or be partakers with them. We must rescue those people that they are deceiving, who are being taken away to death, who are staggering to slaughter. In fact, we are to stay away from every brother, who does not live according to the pattern of teaching we have received from the apostles. We must take special note of that person and not associate with him. That includes keeping away from any pastor that disapproves of exposing false teachers and their cults.
I do not spend all my time, or even most of my time, hunting down every single heresy and exposing it. But when I come into contact with it directly, because I encounter someone teaching falsely or encounter a destructive cult that is affecting the flock I care for, or is affecting me, then I address it. I maintain that, according to Scripture, we should certainly contend for the faith and expose false teachers, especially when we have occasion to do so.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
Author's Note: I recommend you read the following articles: Purge the Evil from Among You, Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, Pagan Symbols of the Popes, Pope Frances Supports Homosexuality, Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols, and The Rise of Antichrists. I also recommend my daughter's poem, The Dazzling Wine of Deception. You may access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org