The church is becoming more lax in its attitude toward error, both within and without.  As we examine what is going on, we see too many are willing to compromise.  In many congregations elders and preachers are afraid to take a stand on anything.  They are afraid they will lose friends, offend relatives, and become unpopular.  However, it should be understood that there is no saving power in error, regardless of who it is that pronounces a “blessing” on it.  It is like poisoned food or water.  It fills the hungry and quenches the thirst of the thirsty, but then it destroys them.  In view of this, we want to examine what our attitude should be toward error and be encouraged to turn back to the truth from which we have moved, if we have done so.

THE CHURCH IN THE WORLDLiterally the church, as the ekklesia of God, is the “called out” from the world.  It is therefore separate from the world and worldliness (2 Corinthians 6:17; 1 John 2:15-17)).  It is in the world, but not of the world, as seen in the words of Jesus in John 18:36.  As the church, we cannot isolate ourselves from those of the world as we must be among them in order to bring them to salvation (Matthew 28:18, 19; Mark 16L15, 16; Luke 19:10).  But, even as we do so, we must be careful to shun the evils that those of the world are participating in.

The terms used in the New Testament to describe the church help us to see its position in the world. It is viewed as:

                                    Light and salt – Matthew 5:14-16

                                    Saints – 1 Peter 2:9; Titus 2:14; 1 Corinthians 1:2

                                    A glorious church – Ephesians 5:25-27.

The “fight” that the church is involved with today is both an inward and outward one.  We must have the proper attitude toward this fight against error.  But what is that attitude to be?  No doubt we need to look to the Bible to see the answer to that question.

WHAT IS THE FATHER’S ATTITUDE? – It will help us to understand what our attitude should be when we note what the Father’s attitude is.  From the Scriptures, it is easily seen that He is against those who teach error (Jeremiah 23:30-32; Romans 16:17).  He demands that His children condemn error (2 Timothy 4:1, 2).  He demands that we refuse to endorse those in error (2 John 9-11).  Further, He demands that we test preachers to verify that what is being taught is true to His Word  (1 John 4:1).  And,He pronounces a curse upon those who teach error (Galatians 1:6- 9). 

WHAT IS CHRIST’S ATTITUDE? – The New Testament provides us with ample evidence as to the attitude that Christ has toward error (Matthew 7:15; 15:7-9).  Although speaking primarily concerning the writings of the book of Revelation, we find the whole principle as viewed by Christ summed up in the closing few verses of the book (Revelation 22:18, 19).  As we see His attitude, if we are truly seeking to be like Him, then we will put forth effort to develop the same attitude that He has.

ONE’S ATTITUDE TOWARD ERROR MAY BE DETERMINED BY ONE’S ATTITUDE TOWARD TRUTH – To understand this, we begin by asking a couple questions. First, do we love God’s Word?  And secondly, do we love truth?  Consider the following passages in view of these questions (Jeremiah 20:9; Psalm 119:11, 104; Proverbs 23:23). When we study the life of the Apostle Paul, we see that he loved the truth, and it was seen in his life (Acts 17:16, 17, 22, 23).  We must grasp the fact that for us to please God, we must also love the truth in a similar fashion.

TRUTH AND ERROR DO NOT HARMONIZE – A careful consideration of the Scriptures reveals the fact that there is no harmony existing between the two (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  When we look at passages such as Exodus 32:26, we note that Moses did two things that showed the fact of the lack of harmony between truth and error.  We note that he drew lines of distinction and he condemned the people for their error.  It is important for us to see that if we are not in harmony, we cannot have agreement with one another (Amos 3:3; Daniel 6:4, 5; Acts 13:10).

THE CAUSE OF CHRIST WILL MAKE PROGRESS WITH A RIGHT ATTITUDE – The early Restoration Movement, like a giant army, made progress by conquering all its foes.  As more life came to the Movement, denominational life slowed down.  Tragically, though, on the other hand, as digression and compromise came, the Restoration Movement lost ground. The results of this are various religious movements today that border on being the true church.  But that is as close as they are to the truth, on the border.  Since I was a child, I recall having heard it said, “Close only counts in atom bombs and horseshoes.”  Although other things might be added to this list, the matter of being close to the truth, but not embracing the truth, is not one of them!

As the church, we need to maintain a proper attitude and be willing to take a stand on the firm foundation of God’s eternal Word.  When we do so, we must stand against digression, error and worldliness in all forms.

Christ is not personally here to convert the world as He was in the early years of the first century. Now, He depends upon us for the conversion of the world, the overthrow of error, and the maintaining of purity in the church.  Not only does He depend upon us for these things, He will hold us accountable if we fail to do so!

 

 

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