By Marsha West
Some professing Christians become infuriated when a “watchblogger” 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.
For example, when I expose Rick Warren’s latest effort to unite with globalists,Catholics, Muslims, New Age/New Thought occultists, and when I examine his health plan and his penchant for twisting Scripture (he often uses it as a tool to cover his own ideas with a pretense of divine authority), complaints come pouring in by the truck load. Many of his defenders write to set me straight on what Scripture says about “judging him.” Others scold me for not giving him credit for all the good he has done, as if doing good deeds, meeting felt needs and ignoring doctrine and creeds is biblical.
Invariably someone will cite Matthew 18:15-17 :
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 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.
And then they’ll ask if I’ve gone privately to Rick Warren to correct him. My response is “Of course not!” Why? For the reason that Christian celebrities like Rick Warren are generally not accessible. 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 those of us who write anything negative about 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. In Galatians 2:11-14 Paul stands up to the highly esteemed Apostle Peter! He even got in Peter’s face for fearing false teachers. What resulted from Peter’s “fear of man”?:
And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’ (bold added)
In context the Matthew 18 passages (above) addresses the ways in which the leadership must go about disciplining a brother or sister in their church who has fallen into sin. It also provides the proper steps to take before excommunicating someone who refuses to repent. First, we are to go to him in private and if he refuses to repent we are to go a second time taking with us two or more witnesses. If he still refuses to repent, the pastor must go before the church and proclaim his sin. Ouch!
It’s essential that elders are involved in the process.
Likewise, the passages in Matthew 18 don’t apply to doctrinal issues nor do they apply to Christians who have put their work before the world. A person’s willingness to do so makes them fair game for anyone who wishes to scrutinize and even criticize his or her work. Consequently, Christians who can’t stand the heat should get out of the kitchen.
But I’m drifting from my point.
When believers make a judgment, we’re not to judge self-righteously. Moreover, we’re not to judge a person’s heart or motives. Those who do are sinning.
Because I name names I’m often accused of being judgmental. All I can do is respond with Scripture:
The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)
What? You mean the true believer has the mind of Christ? Yes! This is a difficult concept to grasp to be sure, so I’ll point you to Matthew Henry’s commentary:
The apostles were not guided by worldly principles. They had the revelation of these things from the Spirit of God, and the saving impression of them from the same Spirit. These things they declared in plain, simple language, taught by the Holy Spirit, totally different from the affected oratory or enticing words of man’s wisdom. The natural man, the wise man of the world, receives not the things of the Spirit of God. The pride of carnal reasoning is really as much opposed to spirituality, as the basest sensuality. The sanctified mind discerns the real beauties of holiness, but the power of discerning and judging about common and natural things is not lost. But the carnal man is a stranger to the principles, and pleasures, and actings of the Divine life. The spiritual man only, is the person to whom God gives the knowledge of his will. … And the apostles were enabled by his Spirit to make known his mind. In the Holy Scriptures, the mind of Christ, and the mind of God in Christ, are fully made known to us. It is the great privilege of Christians, that they have the mind of Christ revealed to them by his Spirit. They experience his sanctifying power in their hearts, and bring forth good fruits in their lives. (bold added – Source)
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 the authority to judge words and actions – especially when the teaching is unbiblical.
How do we know when someone’s teaching is unbiblical? That’s easy! Test his teaching against the Word of God and if it doesn’t line up with what’s in the Bible, then what’s being taught is not from God! And if what’s being taught is not from God it’s from another source – the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places!
Bible teacher and expositor John MacArthur cautions:
It should be noted that [Matthew 7:1-5] has erroneously been used to suggest that believers should never evaluate or criticize anyone for anything. Our day hates absolutes, especially theological and moral absolutes, and such simplistic interpretation provides a convenient escape from confrontation. Members of modern society, including many professing Christians, tend to resist dogmatism and strong convictions about right and wrong. Many people prefer to speak of all-inclusive love, compromise, ecumenism, and unity. To the modern religious person those are the only “doctrines” worth defending, and they are the doctrines to which every conflicting doctrine must be sacrificed. (Source)
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?”
Christians who fail to grasp the notion that those who are Spirit-filled have the mind of Christ is mind boggling. Only believers can make this claim – no one else can. And that includes Ms. Spirituality herself, Oprah Winfrey! Why? Since Oprah is unregenerate she cannot possible understand spiritual truth because her heart is darkened!
God’s ways and His Word make little sense to the unsaved. Listen to what Paul says:
The natural person [unregenerate] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
There is no other place we can learn about the things of the Spirit of God except in the Bible. Moreover, the Bible’s the final authority in all matters of faith. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we’re told that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” And 2 Peter 1:21 says “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Although every page of Scripture is God-breathed, a growing number of Christians choose to reject hard to understand Bible stories and doctrines. Two examples that come to mind 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. Some readers will be surprised to learn that Christ preached more on hell than all the other persons in the Bible put together!
It’s unbelievable how many professing Christians don’t study their bibles. They may attend church regularly but because they’re biblically illiterate they have no clue if the pastor’s teaching God’s truth or outright heresy. In many cases they wouldn’t 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’re receiving good solid biblical teaching. They’ve searched high and low to find a gospel teaching church near their home but there are none. And they’re discouraged. The sad fact is that only a handful of ministers still preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. My advice is always the same: “Don’t give up searching!” But this is a subject for a whole other article so I’ll move on.
As if we didn’t have enough to deal with in the visible Church, a large number of ministers and so-called Bible teachers in churches and on the airwaves are selling a false gospel to consumers. 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. “Super Apostle” C. Peter Wagner is the head of the NAR and there’s a swarm of so-called apostles and prophets worldwide. The wolves and wolverines in this movement believe they possess the same gifts as the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles.
Again, we’re not to judge a person’s heart or motives, but we can certainly judge the fruit they produce! Jesus himself said:
Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:17-20)
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:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1).
© Marsha West, 2014.