It is amazing to me how few Christians know their Bible regarding the topic of public rebuke and censure of brethren in sin—and especially that of ministers in error. After all, there are copious Scriptures on the topic throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul in particular detailed this topic within his epistles. Christians read these passages everyday… so why have not more believers contemplated their significance and application within the modern Church?

In fact, surprisingly, many will often will attack those who are attempting to apply these Scriptures to a specific situation which certainly calls for it. Labeling them as “critics” or “spreaders of strife,” such people will misapply the principles of public censure and rebuke against to those who are righteous… in DEFENSE of the ones in error. This is an obviously bizarre twist of both Scripture and circumstances, I know… but I have seen it done time and time again. Such twisted behavior is especially prevalent whenever a “popular” or charismatic minister is the topic of the public rebuke—and/or when people’s own agendas and “hero worship” cloud their good sense and proper judgment.

On the other hand, it is not surprising at all that believers are “in the dark on this topic” because many ministers teach doctrines convenient to their own agendas, and prefer to avoid teaching believers truths that might be applied against them. Never mind the fact that the honest pastor would actually have fewer problems in his/her church if they properly taught on the subject of Church discipline and public accountability of all believers—including preachers. Never mind the fact that such teaching is critical for the spiritual growth of believers—and inoculation of the church against both heresy and the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who are often prowling for new victims.

No, many preachers (including pastors) are more inclined to shy away from such obvious doctrines of Scripture. Rather, many ministers often prefer to favor unbalanced teaching of biblical topics (particularly “tolerance,” “love,” “forgiveness,” and “submission to authority”) in an effort to avoid having people confront them on various issues ad nauseam. In fact, many preachers go to great lengths to avoid passages in the Bible that discuss confrontation of sin and public accountability.

In truth, many ministers are tired of people “messing with them” and “rebuking” them left and right (which often happens to us preachers when ignorant people want to make “big deals” over very small doctrinal differences). So these defensive ministers bend their teaching in such a way as to squash such “disrespect” and “disorder” in the Church (i.e. to keep the weird people off their backs). So it is understandable how some ministers can in self-interest find themselves stressing only “one side of the coin” within their teaching. However, this tendency is itself in GREAT error, and even leaves the ministers more vulnerable to temptations—as they can too-often end up using such distorted teaching to cover their own sins.

ALL ministers should be applying a balanced approach to these biblical topics in their teaching— one which quells error to the extremes in either direction (i.e. errant over-rebuke on one extreme, and the errant ignoring of obvious sin on the other). Otherwise they will likely eventually fail the self-imposed standard of integrity that the apostle Paul espoused as an example of all HONEST men and women of God in ministry:

But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]. (1 Corinthians 9:27, AMP)

Paul not only taught that brethren in sin should be held accountable by the Church, he also maintained that same standard for ministers—including himself. Thus, Paul also had a self-imposed reason to strive for purity and holiness within both his own heart and the conduct of his own daily living: To avoid public embarrassment and reproach for being found a hypocrite.

Now, let me emphatically note that NO Christian or minister is immune to the temptations offered daily by a world in gross darkness (and the devil who controls it). However, a holy reverence for God—coupled with the knowledge that one will be held accountable by the Body of Christ once their sins are discovered—can have a POWERFUL deterrent effect that can keep the believer (and minister) on the “straight and narrow path” rather than giving in to the enemy’s solicitation:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14, NIV) Further, once a minister (or believer) is held accountable for such sins by the Body of Christ, it begins a process that will hopefully lead to their FULL REPENTANCE—and their subsequent restoration to pure living and profitable ministry.

Related Posts:

False Teachers: Naming names, is that biblical or loving?

Justin Peters ‘Wrong To Name Names on Revelation TV’

A Call for Discernment – Justin Peters

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part 1

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part 2

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part 3

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part 4

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part 5

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part 6

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part  7

Naming names: Is it biblical? – Part 8 – THE CONCLUSION

The marks of false ‘christian’ teaching and teachers (Interlude) – My reason for doing this

The marks of false ‘christian’ teaching and teachers  – The Conclusion

  1. Andy says:

    Alan, continuing on from my comments on your previous post, I agree that we should speak out against serious deceptions such as the prosperity gospel. I think there needs to be much more of this. But what I don’t like is when people fail to recognise that there are various different but equally valid interpretations of the Bible and say that anyone who disagrees with their particular view is a false teacher. For example, take the calvinist/arminian question – if you look hard enough you will find websites condemning the alternative viewpoint as heresy. It does the church no favours when one part of the body treats another part in such a disrespectful manner.

    The other thing is that we are all sinners, and our understanding of the faith is imperfect. When we get to heaven, we’ll find that we’ve all said plenty of things that were wrong. This applies to preachers just as much as it does to you and I. There’s a sense in which every preacher is a false one. In order for the term to be meaningful, I think it should only be applied to people who have a consistent pattern of serious error.

    However, what is serious error? It depends what is considered to be the truth, which is not consistent amongst christians… I give up!

  2. Alan Higgins says:

    There are some arguments that I purposely try to stay out of like you said the calvinist/arminian question. Even though I side more on reformed theology, I try not to make it a major argument with my arminian friends. I believe that there are som ethings that we can agree to disagree on but at the same time there are some things that we should not remain silent on as it can be very dangerous

  3. Alan, I agree with your answer. While we can and should choose to stay silent on some discussion, that which alters, even minutely, the gospel for which Christ died should never be acquiesced by true believers who don’t want to make waves or enemies. Jesus and his disciples all spoke against the enemy’s lies which infiltrated the gospel of the time. Paul admonished Peter when he wouldn’t eat with Gentile believers. We must speak the truth in love and not be afraid to stand against those who are giving a false doctrine.

    These prosperity teachers who preach a Christless gospel will pay for their deeds. They grow rich by deceiving the weak!

  4. Andy says:

    Hi Marianne, Can you help me understand what is true and false doctrine? Prosperity teaching is obviously false, but in many other areas evangelical theologians (who know far more about such things than you and I) do not always agree. Likewise, what is the gospel? Using my previous example, to a calvinist, the gospel is TULIP. If I’m an arminian and reject that, in part at least, have I altered the gospel? These are questions I really struggle with, and I don’t have the answers.

  5. Hi Andy,

    I am speaking of blatantly false doctrine which perverts the message of the gospel. For example, prosperity teachers who say God wants everyone rich and everyone well on this earth is not the true gospel. That is not in Scripture. God may choose that i lead a very austere life in his plan for me. That may be what is best. The thorn in my side may be an health issue that I cannot get healed from. That also may be in his plans. But prosperity teachers say that isn’t so but they can’t back it up with Scripture.

    There are always going to be ideas and theories for which none of us will know the total answer. BUT, the message of salvation must never be altered. It is through Christ alone, by Christ alone, from Christ alone! The theory of Calvinisim and Armenianism is not worth arguing over. We are saved by Christ and through his power and not of ourselves. I believe I am somewhere in between both theories but that doesn’t take from my salvation. What bothers me is when people twist the gospel for their own enrichment. That is what I speak about. The Olsteins and others who preach all that Christ wants to do for you but leaves off the cross is heresy! You must preach the whole gospel or it ceases to be the gospel of Christ! Jesus said we WILL suffer for him. I never hear those self-proclaimed teachers talk about that. Then when the God that they preach on doesn’t liive up to getting them money, health, a good life, etc. they fall away from Christ!

    None of us have all the answers, Andy. But we do have the Holy Spirit within us leading us and showing us good from bad.

  6. Andy says:

    Hi Marianne, I like your approach. I agree we should limit our rebukes to the obviously false and deceptive stuff, of which the prosperity gospel is the main example. Debatable areas of christian theology are not in this category.

    • I agree wholly with you, Andy. If we nitpick about everything in the gospel, it takes the focus from Christ and his grace in our salvation. That is all that matters anyway. Good to meet you, Andy! 🙂

  7. Workman says:

    All i ever hear from your kinda people is omg they are false…yes i see you judging. Christ had a keeper of the ‘purse’ if you are in poverty do u really need a money bag holder? Further Christ told his followers that these works and even greater shall you do. Its not nit picking its His own words. Instead of always putting others down do what is demanded study the word for yourself. Choose Life to quote another section of the bible that you should know. And if you be Christs then ye are heirs with blessed Abraham. Please correct me it would mean you actually opened the bible.

    • Alan Higgins says:

      The irony is, the very thing that you have accused me of is what you are guilty of yourself. To say that I am judging, you must have made a judgment to cover to that conclusion. So just to clarify this, because Jesus had a purse holder, that means his disciples were rich ??

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