Does contending for the faith and bringing correction have to be divisive?
Jesus said, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division” (Luke 12:51-53). His ministry brought division wherever He went (John 7:43; 9:16). It was separating those who wanted to pursue the truth from those who did not and wanted to keep the error that their religious leaders were teaching them. Separation becomes THE Issue in the end just as it was in the beginning.
Inconsequential differences should not be issues to divide over. There are minor points that should not be treated the same as major points. If everyone believes and adheres to and practices the core doctrines that make us Christians, holding to the Christian distinctives, we have unity and peace with one another. The minor points should not get in the way of our fellowship and maintaining our unity.
But we have to accept the fact that God’s truth divides. False teachers will purposely try not to be noticed, and will bring division in the Church by distorting and departing from the Word, while at the same time speaking some of it accurately. They cause division by introducing new teachings that opposes the apostle’s teaching, which often has them make followers of themselves.
Jude makes it clear those who cause divisions do not have the Spirit of truth. To notice this one must use discernment that brings into question something that can, or, already has divided the Church from the doctrine we are to practice. Pointing this out is not making division, but helping people recognize that division is already occurring and trying to avoid further departure from the Scripture that can bring harm to the sheep. It is to bring people back into the truth.
Now I want to present a subtlety that often gets confused. There sometimes is a difference between someone in error and blatantly teaching heresy. Error can be identified when someone holds to something that is wrong and they do not know it is wrong. However when you go to correct them by the Scripture and they refuse the truth then this error they hold becomes divisive, heresy.
They understand they are departing from what’s plain in Scripture to teach something unique.
What we find is that there is often money involved in their teaching or prophesying what is false.
Peter mentions the one who prophesied for money “They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:14-15)
Jude says the same thing and mentions the same one who prophesied for money Jude 1:11 have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit.”
Error- plane (plan'-ay);feminine of 4108 (as abstractly); objectively, fraudulence; subjectively, a straying from orthodoxy or piety:
Rom. 1:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked”
How do we prevent this from happening? The next verse tells us, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
I Jn. 4:6 “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
Those who are of God love the truth, listen to what is written.
James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
This can be a believer as well as an unbeliever.
Whereas in Titus 3:10-11 it instructs “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition,
knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”
There has always been a certain amount of disagreement in the Church, this is to be expected on peripheral matters. 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 says, “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions (heresies) exist among you; and in part, I believe it. For there must also be heresies among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.” To test what is said gives approval of those who are correct in doctrine and helps us identify whom we are to separate from, who are wrong in doctrine.
Divisions- schisma from 4977; a split or gap ("schism"), literally or figuratively: KJV-- division, rent, schism.
This is about the main core teachings that were delivered by the apostles.
The Apostle Paul commands believers, “Now I urge you, brethren, NOTE (identify) THEM who cause divisions (heresies) and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. For those are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).
Why would Christians participate in wrong teaching that leads away from Biblical practices? They often have nothing to base teaching on to know that it is wrong. Unfortunately many have not learned right doctrine so they have no basis to know when they have departed from it, as they themselves are not walking in it.
When we read of people’s names identified with Heresy that are written in the Scripture we must assume the apostles said even more than this publicly. Proverbs 27:5: “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.”
Peter wrongly influenced others publicly, so Paul openly questioned Peter, a leader of the church - Paul corrected and rebuked Peter publicly for his compromise of doctrine (Gala.2).
Charles Spurgeon stated “Neither when we have chosen our way can we keep company with those who go the other way. There must come with decision for truth a corresponding protest against error.”
We are in perilous times not because we have too much judging, but too little. We put up with a lot that we should not, we allow spiritual falsehood to work among us and sometimes we mistakenly (and intentionally) call it God’s work. If Churches would stop the wrong doctrine that’s come in they might get stronger, healthier. But the longer they allow it to continue the further they get away from the truth and eventually find themselves against it. Serious issues face the church just as they do our country. Those who have integrity stand up and question what is wrong.
If these men who claim to be so Spirit filled, so talented and gifted in the Spirit why are they found to be yoked with false teachers? Why do they accept what is false? Let me explain why? They do not care for the doctrine delivered in Scripture, that is why they do not adhere to it, and they have no intention of doing so. They are moving in a spirit that is disconnected to the word, it is all about their intentions, their desires. They want to heal, they want to produce miracles, they want to change the world and make it a better place. Apparently everyone of these revivalists touch are touted as healed in some way or another. Grandiose goals with no gospel presentation. The people they come in contact with walk away not knowing a thing about Christ but only heard his name.The Bible describes the Spirit as one of grace and truth. The emphasis of the Holy Spirit is on—POWER. It is Power with a purpose. When Jesus first gave the Spirit to the church he said this:
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The word witness is actually martyr. Consider yourself dead and Christ will give you life.
Later we read “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33)
The greatest area of compromise today is befriending those who teach error, or blatant heresy. They are adversaries to the truth. We are not to allow these people a platform to speak in the assembly of the church. Christians are told, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We are not to appear with them on speaking platforms nor give an appearance of approval lest we cause others to stumble. That includes being on the TV networks TBN and Daystar which so many have done these days because it promotes their ministry. First of all, it’s not your ministry, it’s the Lords and we never see the Lord fellowshipping the false religious teachers of his day but correcting them and rebuking them publicly.
We are to have no partnership with them. Paul says stop having fellowship. V.13 “…for whatever makes manifest is light.” Instead reprove (Gr. Elegcho), means to find fault with, to call to account, correct openly, denounce, (John 3:20), to expose; convince the people that they are wrong; by bringing it to the light. Our Biblical answer is to be Jude 1:3: “contend earnestly for the faith.” It means to speak up about those teaching falsehood and misleading others inside the church. Truth confronts error for it to be known to the sheep. By pointing out the error you show a love for the truth, you also show a love for the sheep.
Instead of being bold for the truth, many have learned to tolerate lies. Authentic love means loving people enough to challenge them with the truth, it’s not water boarding, its brotherly love, it is loving as Christ loved.
If the people that are being corrected would respond in love, there might be progress, but as long as they resist we must point out their spiritual errors.