One of the greatest protections these days for false teachers are otherwise sound teachers who do not think they should "name names." We often hear the familiar refrain about how we are supposed to reach out to them privately or pray and leave it up to God. The first error is in conflating the protocol for when a brother sins against you and when you are dealing with a false teacher. There is no biblical instruction to reach out to the wolf privately and ask him to stop being a wolf. Why? Because the wolf does not matter to God -- the sheep do. As we just saw the error is in assuming everyone is our brother and refusing to see the false brothers in our midst. Likewise, there is zero biblical instruction to pray for wolves. According to Scripture their destruction is from long ago and not idle.
Anytime there was cause to name names, Paul did so. Alexander the Coppersmith, Hymenaeus and Philetus were called to very specific account for their heresies and inconsistencies with the Gospel. As we see here, so was Peter! In this account, Paul explains that Peter was behaving as a hypocrite. He had no problem eating with the Gentiles until some folks from the circumcision party showed up and then he withdrew. The result is others followed his lead and withdrew as well, separating out the Gentiles from their Jewish brethren. Jesus spoke extensively against hypocrisy. It is also one of the top reasons why the unsaved do not come to church. They view Christians as Peter refusing to eat with the Gentiles.
Notice here that Paul did not address Peter privately either. In front of all he corrected him. There is nothing wrong with transparency, especially in the leadership of the church. Quite frankly we need more of it today. I went to a very good solid, Gospel church for over a decade and still whenever someone public fell from grace we never heard it addressed from the pulpit. I remember when Ted Haggard, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals was caught doing crystal meth with male prostitutes. All we heard was to not cast stones or judge his situation! The hypocrisy needed to be called out. The world sees a church that has no problem extending their judgmental finger at sinners and screaming repent unless they happen to already be inside the church. Then we should just pray for them. No.
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. -- Galatians 2: 15-16 (ESV)
Justification. One of the pillars of our theology. God requires sinless perfection. We are the opposite by nature and nurture. The Old Covenant required a blood sacrifice because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Paul reminds us all that we are not justified by works of the law. No one in fact can be justified by the works of the law. We are only justified through faith in Jesus Christ. The punch line for the Galatians is in their willingness to appease the Judaizers they yoked themselves back to the law and as we will see in later chapters rendered Christ useless to them in doing so! You cannot mix the grace of God with the law.
When it comes to salvation that is. Do not miss this because it is why so many have fallen for the deception of Joseph Prince. Prince mixes the eternal with our current state. When we stand before God to be judged we will either be held to the letter of the law or we will be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no third option. In Galatia, the Judaizers had convinced the congregation that in order to be saved, one must still be circumcised. By doing so they forfeited the grace of God that could save them. The greasy grace of Joseph Prince however, teaches that believers do not need the law now, before judgment. Beloved, the law of God is not a bad thing. God laid the law down for our own good. Thou shall not commit murder? Probably a good idea. No coveting avoids envy. No anger avoids hatred. The problem is not with the law -- it is with us because our sinful nature is so depraved we cannot possibly keep the entire law. Does that mean we discard it for this life? Hardly. Jesus Himself said that not one dot in the law shall be done away with until He returns. It still serves as guardrails for the Christian life. At a bare minimum we know being in step with the law is pleasing to God so shouldn't we at least be trying? Becoming more and more Christlike is not moving further away from His law!
But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. -- Galatians 2: 17-21 (ESV)
If we insist on being judged by the law then God will oblige and we will nullify the His grace. The work of Christ on the cross is no small matter. It is our sins He bore there. We were crucified with Him but without the actual pain and punishment. In doing so we died to the law as it relates to judgment. The indwelt Holy Spirit should prompt us to want to obey the law because we know God has it for our good and because we now see sin as the Father sees it. Carrying these lessons forward we need to be mindful of infiltrating Judaizers in our church and the body of Christ as a whole. They are false brothers. We need to stop evaluating people based upon how sincere they seem and start using the bible as our only plumb line. Who is it that is my mother and brother except they that do the will of my Father?