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Doctrine that Divides

September 4, 2017

A primary tool in the debates over morality is control of the terminology used. It is no coincidence that those in favor of abortion are called pro-choice nor that they call pro-lifers anti-abortionists. The issue is often framed in terms of women’s rights and health. How we talk about stuff matters. How we talk about things shapes the way we think about it. Calling someone an abortion provider conveys something far different than calling him a murderer of babies. The terms shape thinking.

This is true within the church as well. In today’s church culture those who insist on sound doctrine are considered to be divisive and unnecessarily contentious. Those who embrace doctrinal vagueness and openness are said to do so to promote unity and grace in the church. Despite the popular nomenclature the Bible teaches something quite different about doctrinal rigidity.

The impact of false teachers on the church is horrible. The effects of apostates and heretics upon American Christianity has been catastrophic. The doctrine of the false teachers was described in Acts 15:24 troubling and turning away Christians. False teaching shipwrecks faith and blasphemes the name of Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:19-20) False teaching overthrows those who receive it. False teaching breeds ungodliness and spreads like a terrible infection. (2 Timothy 2:14-15) When it comes to the clear doctrines of the Bible Christians cannot agree to disagree. The church of Jesus Christ cannot join hands with teachers of all sorts and stripes. God’s church must affirm truth. God’s people must defend truth. The church must be protected from error.

Romans 16:17-18 says, “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.”

Those who teach false doctrine are the ones who create division and cause harm to the church. False teachers do not serve the Lord. They do not love him or His church. They love the satisfaction of their own desires. They use their convincing, appealing speaking to deceive many. New believers are susceptible to the manipulations and deceptions of these doctrinal charlatans. False teachers are not to be tolerated. They are to be marked out, removed and avoided. Christians who love one another will oppose false teachers. The loving Christian will not give false teachers an audience. He will give them rebuke.

Those who defend true doctrine are defenders of the church and of unity. This is what Paul is telling Titus, the churches on Crete and all New Testament churches. “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;” The opposition of false teaching and the rejection of false teachers is essential for the good of the church, the protection of Christians and the repentance of the false teacher.


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