Noting the dividers and offenders

“17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who 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. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” – Rom 16:17-19 NKJV

In the interests of both defending and contending for the faith, I would like to address some recent criticisms leveled at those in the discernment community for their “naming of names”.  When one is operating as a guard or watchman, to protect innocent believers (sheep) from those either straying from the faith or teaching distorted truth (savage wolves), they are admonished to “note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine…” )Rom 16:17.  The Word of God sets the precedent in both the Old and New Testament of naming the names of those who do so.  This is an example to us of how to handle apostasy.

1.  Cain — Gen. 4 — Cain was jealous and envious of his brother Abel, beset by sin, and eventually hated and murdered him.  His way is described in the Book of Jude and applied to false teachers present today.

2.  Nadab/Abihu — Lev 10:3 — These sons of Aaron were irreverent in their approach to God, disobeying His commands regarding the incense to be burned before Him.  They were killed and un-lamented as an example to those who would approach God in this manner.

3.  Korah — Num. 16:31 — These sons of Korah were jealous and spoke evil of Moses and his brother Aaron, accusing them of pride, while they themselves were revealed as the arrogant ones.  They foolishly accepted the challenge of Moses to make a stand against him before God, were rejected by the Lord, and were both swallowed up by the earth and burned with fire.  Many false teachers today will “perish in the rebellion of Korah” as described in the Book of Jude.  In short, Jude describes these false teachers as those who turn the grace of God into licentiousness, speak evil about what they do not know, and in what they do know they are like natural brute beasts.

4.  Balaam — Number 23,24 — Profiteers, like Balaam, run greedily after money.  Elsewhere in the New Testament, they are described as those who believe that godliness is a means of gain.  There’s enough said about these, as they are rebuked for their excesses, at the expense of the body which is exploited by their false teaching and taught to be motivated by material prosperity.

5.  Hophni and Phinehas — Eli’s sons in I Sam 2:22-25 simply made the LORD’s people transgress.  They fell into sexual sin and also loved the things of this world.  Their lack of true faith and favor was evident when they went into battle against the Philistines and lost both their lives and the Ark of the Covenant.

6.  Absalom and Ahithophel — 2 Sam 15:1-12 The rebellion of Absalom, who drew to himself David’s counselor Ahithophel, reveals the ambitions of a proud and unrepentant man who drew many away from God’s anointed.  Jesus, the Messiah, is the Son of David, yet man likes to have the preeminence.  Many false teachers lift up themselves and draw many away from the faith, even those who should be wise like Ahithophel, a trusted adviser of David.  Absalom made himself judge, and stole away the hearts of many.

7.  Ahab/Jezebel — I Kings 16:29-33 — Ahab did more to defy the LORD than any of the kings before him and married a false priestess, Jezebel.  When pagan practices are introduced into the Body of Christ, there is only destruction ahead.  Both Ahab and Jezebel were killed.  See Revelation 2;20-23.  Contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, and “Christian” yoga are only some of the examples of the modern church allowing occultism into the fold.

8.  Hananiah — Jeremiah, in chapter 28, was resisted by this false prophet.  He caused the people to believe in the lie that they would not remain in Babylonian captivity nor be judged for departing from God.  When false teachers do not teach the truth about consequences, they are turning the grace of God into licentiousness.  God’s mercy and patience should not be confused with acceptance of sin, only His desire that all men confess and forsake their sin, be granted repentance, and escape the captivity of the devil.

9.  Amaziah — Amos, in chapter 7:10-17, was resisted by this false prophet.  He commanded Amos not to speak/prophecy against the unrighteousness leaders and pagan priests in Israel.  When men of God are criticized for standing up for righteousness and speaking out against sin, they are being resisted by the enemy.  Dividers and offenders often are offended by the preaching of the true gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit, Who has been sent to speak of sin, righteousness and judgment.

10.  Caiaphas — Matt 26:1-5, 57-68 Caiaphas, as high priest, represented those during Jesus’ time on earth who denied the Redeemer.  Peter speaks against those who deny the LORD who bought them.  They are offended by the Blood of Jesus and the Light which exposes the darkness.  They are hypocrites who introduce their leaven of false teaching into the Body of Christ.

11.  Annas, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander — In Acts 4, these leaders commanded the Apostles not to speak at all nor teach in the Name of Jesus.  Peter stated that it was better to obey God than them.

12.  Bar-Jesus/Elymas — Acts 13:6-12 — This sorcerer withstood Paul and sought to turn Sergius Paulus away from the faith.  Similar to those that teach that there is more than One Way to the Father, these sorcerers still exist today to promote a denial of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

13.  Alexander — Acts 19:33,34 and 2 Tim 4:14,15 — Alexander the Jewish copper smith enjoyed the profits that came from molding idols of Diana out of copper.  He seemed to be a convert at first, but eventually returned to idols.  He resisted the Word of God.

14.  Phygellus/Hermogenses — 2 Tim 1:13-15 — turned from the pattern of sound words.  There is a pattern of sound words and doctrine laid out in the Scriptures for us to follow.  When one both turns from this patter and teaches other to do so, Jesus said it would be better for them to tie a stone around their neck and jump into a lake.

15.  Hymenaeus/Philetus — 2 Tim 2:14-19  Paul warns us that profane and vain babblers who have strayed from the truth will grow worse and worse in these last days.  They cause others to fall by taking their eyes off of the hope of the resurrection, overthrowing their faith.  When too much emphasis is placed on vain and fruitless arguments about words, the vision of the church is lost.  Intellectuals who spend all of their time in theological discussions but never exemplify their faith in loving actions can fit into this category.  If we love Him, we should obey Him by committing ourselves to the Great Commission.

16.  Jannes/Jambres  — 2 Tim 3 — These sort creep into househollds and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth.  They resist the truth and are related to the occultic sorcerers in the courts of Egypt.

17.  Demas — 2 Tim 4:10 — These love the world and depart.  We are admonished that if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.  All that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life — will be burned in the judgment.  From this prospective, true believers should be seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

18.  Diotrephes — 3 John 9-11 — The proud love the preeminence and do not receive the true brethren, discouraging others from doing so as well.  They speak with malicious words and imitate what is evil.  However, he who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.

In conclusion, let us all be, as Jude described, earnest contenders for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  Be on the lookout, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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