Many Christians attempt to silence those of us who try to warn the flock of predators by accusing us of committing a greater sin than the wolves we’re exposing.
With an arrogant smirk, these wolf defenders say something like “I don’t think you should be so judgmental, have you prayed for them? I think you need to just pray for them.”
Those who are exposing false teachers and their unbiblical teachings are the ones seen as divisive and stirring up strife, rather than the actual peddlers of error who masquerade as teachers of truth and promote heresy.
Often these wolf defenders are unwilling or too lazy to evaluate every teaching by searching the Word of God in order to distinguish between truth and error and lies fabricated by men and demons. So, their first response is to offer trivial, fleeting prayers.
Let me say, there’s nothing wrong in praying for a wolf if you feel led of the Holy Spirit to do so. Although, I must say I have never seen a true shepherd kneel to pray when the wolf is attacking his sheep. Sometimes prayer is not enough. Just praying for false teachers and deceivers has profound spiritual consequences for those who are under their influence. While you’re praying, these vulnerable and weak ones will be destroyed by the wolf.
In Matthew 7:15 Jesus calls false teachers ‘ravenous wolves who come to you in sheep’s clothing.’ The word ‘wolves’ is an idiom for false shepherds who disguise themselves to look like sheep. Church elders [pastors and teachers] are to alert fellow believers when those who claim to speak for God take verses out of context, redefine words from their original meaning and ignore grammatical accuracy. It is not enough that we broadly hint about who these men and women are. These false teachers must be clearly identified as they are a danger to the young lambs who are spiritual infants unskilled in the Word and easily deceived because they have not yet learned the cunning strategies of Satan.
When the Israelites were standing on the shore of the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was rapidly approaching them, Moses told the people to lift their voices to God and He would deliver them. But look what God told Moses in Exodus 14:15-16 ” “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 But lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.”
In other words, God says “This is not the time for prayer; this is the time for action.” Prayer is good, but there are times when we must ACT. Someone put it this way: “Prayer not backed by resolution is nothing more than a spiritual filibuster.”
Pastors have a responsibility to oppose false teaching whenever it arises.
Titus 1:9 says pastors must not only teach sound doctrine but be able to ‘refute those who contradict.’ But confronting false teachers is not the responsibility of the pastor alone. Every Christian has the responsibility to discern and confront error, warn others of these heretics and identify them by name. It is the responsibility of every Christian to expose the purveyors of poisonous doctrines whether it emanates from spiritual leaders or professing believers who teach contrary to God’s Word.
Why are we afraid to judge, expose error, and rebuke false teachers publicly and call them to accountability? Why are we allowing them to spread their deadly heresies and decimate the flock of God? Why is there a conspiracy of silence among many believers?
In 3 John 8, John exposed Diotrephes to the entire church for causing dissension and abusing his position of authority. In the 10th verse, John says when he visits the church, he will publicly rebuke Diotrephes for his actions. In the book of 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul names a number of false teachers by name:
1:15- Phygellus & Hermogenes
2:17 – Philetus & Hymenaues
3:8- Jannes & Jambres
4:14 -Alexander (the coppersmith)
Jesus publicly and directly confronted and corrected the religious hypocrites and false teachers of his day and warned them of the consequences of their error. He did not shy away from calling them exactly what they were; hypocrites, blind guides, wolves and brood of vipers. He did not plead with them privately but openly rebuked them and warned their followers about their false doctrine, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger” (Matthew 23:4).
If God meant for us to spend all of our time praying, Jesus would have spent all his time praying for people instead of teaching them and warning them to reject these false teachers who promoted deadly man-made theology. There was an angry confrontation between the greedy and corrupt money changers in the temple courts when Jesus overturned their tables and drove them out in the presence of a large crowd of pilgrims.
In Galatians 2:11 &14, Apostle Paul opposed Peter ‘to his face’ and ‘in the presence of all’ for not being “straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” Error always has to be addressed publicly, where the error was preached publicly. Pastors who will not “refute those who contradict” are not qualified to be a pastor. Those who persist in false teaching must be opposed, and if possible, brought to repentance.
It is a dereliction of duty to resolve only to pray for them rather than to protect your fellow believers from being led astray by their error.
You are not walking in love when you say nothing about those who distort the gospel of Christ and deceive others. If you saw a rabid dog, wouldn’t you do more than just tell others that you saw one? Wouldn’t you tell them specifically what the dog looked like and where you last saw it? Wouldn’t you describe the behavior that made you conclude it was rabid? Or would you just say, I’ll go home and pray about it and see how God is going to handle this situation?
Praying is essential, but God expects us to do more than just pray. Love is an action. We can’t sit idly by and watch while people are spiritually endangered. Failure to expose the deceptive lies and warped agenda of Satan is indicative we ourselves are self-deceived and indifferent to the eternal consequences false teachers and those willing to embrace their false ideologies will suffer.