What a most glorious thing it is to do, this raising up to a new day and recognizing the many blessings of the Lord our God. Just turning our thoughts heavenward in the early morning is a most comforting and joyous thing to do, giving attention to our blessed Lord and Savior.
Do not be deceived! That has been my theme this week. We must never think that the church is immune to false teaching, to false teachers. And we who are in Christ, who have been equipped with the sword of the Spirit, must never be caught off guard to think that heresies come from outside the church only. As the Scriptures teach, there have been and there will continue to be those within the church who seek to distort the gospel message, who seek to upset the faith of many, who seek to attack the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), who seek to undermine the truth.
Satan and his demons have used the vain philosophies of this world to form a school of thought within the church that Christians are never to be seen as confrontational, that they are accepting of all people no matter what doctrine they may espouse. Well brethren, that was not true in the early church and it is not to be the case in the church in our day, churches where the Bible is God’s authoritative word for doctrine and practice.
The apostle Paul wrote to his young co-worker Timothy and dealt specifically with false teachers who were part of the Ephesian church, naming names, calling them out, telling the young pastor to deal with them.
“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected , concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (I Timothy 1:18-20 – NKJV)
Paul commanded “Timothy” to “wage the good warfare.” You see, there is a constant “warfare” going on between good and evil, between God and Satan, between the church and the world, between those of “the faith” and those who seek to oppose “the faith,” between those who uphold the truth and those who seek to subvert it.
Two men, “Hymenaeus and Alexander,” were within the church, probably, based on the letters content, were elders, teachers. “Concerning the faith” they had “suffered shipwreck” and they were seeking to undermine “the faith” of those who made up the church in Ephesus. The apostle Paul did not want “Timothy” to run away from such men or compromise with them or allow them to continue in what they were doing but rather to meet the heretics and their heresies head on . . .
“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” (I Timothy 1:3-5 – NASB)
A couple of Sundays ago we had a young man attend our Bible study group. He was a person with much to say on almost every matter that was being taught that morning. I noted that he carried no Bible with him and it was obvious from his input that the beliefs he was espousing were not in keeping with “the faith” as so delivered in the Scriptures. I challenged him! I sought, in the short time we had, to dismantle his “myths,” his “speculations” with the counsel of God’s Word. As so instructed in the Word I was not going to allow him to “teach strange doctrines.”
Do not be deceived! The truth, “the faith,” as so delivered in the Word of God, has been entrusted to us and it must be defended. And you and I are called to be equipped to meet head-on those who would seek to undermine it, especially those who would do so from within the church body itself.
Again, in his second letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul commands us,
“But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth . . . (who) upset the faith of some.” (II Timothy 2:16-18 – NASB)
The “warfare” is very real brethren. And “men who (go) astray from the truth” are very real, and they dot the congregations of true believers everywhere, given over to “worldly and empty chatter,” and “strange doctrines.” They must not be allowed to “upset the faith of some,” for “their talk (can) spread like gangrene,” something, that in our calling as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (II Timothy 2:3), we are not to allow to go unchecked.
Have a good day brethren . . . and I would strongly encourage you to be oh so diligent in equipping yourself to be biblically discerning so that you are not deceived by a world and its god who constantly war against the truth, against the faith.
(NOTE: Interesting contrast: Islam arms itself with weapons of this world in their waging of warfare, of jihad. Christians arm themselves with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.)