Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. -- 2Timothy 2: 23-26 (ESV)
I did a devotional awhile back discussing my weakness for fruitless arguments. I was involved in several Facebook groups that I thought held similar views on discernment and false teaching. Unfortunately, they were vehicles for church hurt individuals to pretend they did not need anyone as they cast stones at the bride of Christ. Let me be clear, the apostate church does not serve God but there is always a remnant beloved. We preach discernment so that some may come out from the darkness and be liberated by the Gospel. The further these groups devolved the more we began to see that there are just too many people who claim the mantle of Jesus Christ but refuse to accept teaching or correction.
I remember one devotional I had written about a certain denomination and a reader emailed me on the side to say that this particular denomination actually had two factions and I had assigned the false teaching to both essentially when only one believed in it. I had not known this and when I researched it I discovered my reader was correct. I immediately posted a retraction and corrected the devotional. My delicate sensibilities are not the issue -- only the truth of the word of God is. People ask me all the time how I would feel if someone criticized me. First of all that happens all the time, and secondly, if I am speaking incorrectly about what God has said I welcome any correction. From my true brothers and sisters I expect it. I say these things as a backdrop to a recent conversation I had with another self-professing Christian on a "Christian" website. In this new world of malleable truth and shades of grey it is interesting to watch deception in action and what we need to guard against in our own discussions with people. The point is not to embarrass this person or point her out so there will be no link and I will change her name to Betty. Let us reason once more beloved:
"Satan is wasting his time? I don't think so. Neither does Jesus, who said the devil is here to steal, kill, and destroy." - Betty
"That verse is not referring to the devil but false teachers" - Anthony
Now the truly sad thing is that it appears that Betty and I agree substantively on the subject that was at hand. That said, one of the most commonly butchered verses is John 10:10 which says the thief comes to steal kill and destroy. This conversation should have lasted two minutes but our pride would simply not allow it. The bottom line is she claims that Jesus said the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy and there is zero question that He said no such thing. He said the thief comes to do this so the only question we must answer is -- who is the thief? The surrounding context is about Jesus being the true shepherd and how the false need to climb over the fence to gain access to the sheepfold. There is zero question that Jesus is saying the thief are false teachers. He is the true shepherd who brings the true Gospel. They are the false shepherds who lead the sheep astray with a false gospel. Betty was having none of it though:
"I think it can apply to all unbelievers, as in the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:1-3." - Betty
"That is incorrect when taking the verse in context." - Anthony