“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 Jn 1:4).
There are numerous reasons for responding to false teachers and false teaching but the one that I wish to deal with is because it robs believers of their joy. False teaching often causes people to doubt the Gospel of Christ (there is no joy apart from it) in some fashion and can lead them into dangerous teachings that are a departure from the truth. And when a believer wanders or is exposed to doctrinal error, doubts tend to arise about the content of the Gospel and they are often left confused and joyless.In another manner, false teachers often use common Christian language but blatantly or subtly redefine the terminology. This results in many being left in a state of confusion, while others know something is amiss yet can’t quite put their finger on it. Hence, it becomes quite a joyless time listening to someone when you feel as if you cannot quite trust what they are teaching about Christ, man and salvation.
The book of 1 John was written for precisely this reason. Many had been exposed to false teaching about Christ (denying His humanity and that He is the Christ: 1:1-3 4:2, 2:22), sin (teaching sinless perfectionism: 1:8-9) among other errors. The Apostle in his pastoral love for his “little children,” writes to assure them of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, specifically, because he wants to maintain their fellowship (with him and the Father and Son) and, therefore, their joy to be complete. In order for this to be done John had to deal with the false teaching. He pointed out specifics in doctrinal heresy while reminding them of the pure Gospel.
Doctrinal error never goes away on its own. It must always be confronted and exposed with its proponents. This is the divine mandate in Scripture: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jud 3–4) and the consistent testimony of church history.To tolerate unbiblical teaching for a moment is to invite confusion and joylessness among the people of God. This why Paul says: “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Ga 2:4–5). You would be surprised at how many N.T. books were written to refute false teachers and their doctrine.
When men and women stand up for the truth of God’s Word it’s because they understand what is at stake. Their love for Christ and the brethren moves them to action. They are only doing what they have been commanded to do by their King. Sadly, they are viewed as being “divisive” from some of the very people they are trying to protect. They love the brethren. Something that is an identifying mark of a true Christian. Yet, those claiming to love the brethren are deceiving them and convincing many unbelievers that they are apart of God’s people by some other means other than the Gospel of Christ; they are given a free pass because they know how to emotionally manipulate people. However, it is they that hate true believers that embrace the biblical Gospel, preach it, defend it and call out those that pervert it.
J. Gresham Machen wrote: “… the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology.”
The joy of believers is in jeopardy when false teaching prevails. It cannot be ignored and must be dealt with. Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,