Topic - The Harsh Reality - To Judge or Not to Judge
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10 - KJV)
For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:17 - KJV)
For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14 - KJV)
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14 - ESV)
The righteousness of God (has been manifest) through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His Grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24 - ESV)
Didn't God Instruct Us Not to Judge One Another?
"...Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment." (II Chronicles 19:6 - KJV)
In the world today, the admonition not to "judge" is frequently used to place a virtual gag order over those who would speak up against popular and accepted world practices. Even some Christians will use a "don't judge" stance when erroneous teachings and ministries in the church are examined. In fact, many false prophets are using Scripture references like "touch not my anointed" and "do my prophets no harm" in order to protect their doctrines and actions from exposure. The word "judge" has been so perverted, that to "judge" anything, is now considered by many to be anti-Christian behavior, and anyone who does so is likely to be labeled as an "accuser of the brethren."
Well, what does God have to say on this subject? Is it true that Christians are told not to judge? The simple answer is no. In fact, according to Scripture, those who do not judge are more likely to be led astray by false doctrines and are less effective witnesses for Christ.
What Does It Mean to Judge?
Webster's defines the act of judging as "to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises." Simply stated, judging is simply the process of evaluation that people naturally employ everyday to make determinations of what is true: we judge when we need to leave to arrive on time to a particular destination; we judge what we should wear based on what the weather is for the day; we judge the credibility of others, etc.
The problem arises because judging can be subjective. In other words, your judgements are based on your perceptions, motives, and understandings. This is why two people can judge the exact same situation and come up with different determinations. Since the judgments of man are therefore rooted in the "opinions" of man, no man's judgements can be taken as absolute or complete truth. This is the implied accusation behind every admonition not to judge. "Who are YOU to judge? What makes you think YOUR judgements are sure?"
Who is Supposed to Judge?
We know from Scripture that God is the Judge of all (Genesis 18:25; Judges 11:27; I Samuel 2:10 Psalms 50:6; Psalms 96:13; Psalms 98:9; Isaiah 3:13; Isaiah 33:22; Jeremiah 11:20; Ezekiel 18:30; Ezekiel 33:20; Hebrews 12:23; I Peter 1:17; Matthew 12:27). God is set in position as our Judge because He is all-knowing, He is Truth. As such, God's judgements are righteous and true (John 8:26; Romans 11:33; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 19:2).
Although God alone is the Judge, this does not mean that only God judges. In fact, the Word of God says that God enables man to judge, commands man to judge, and is pleased with those who seek to judge righteously.
Scriptures clearly show that throughout time God has imparted to man the authority to judge (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:16; Deuteronomy 16:18; Judges 2:16-19; II Chronicles 19:5; Ezra 7:25; Isaiah 1:17; Ezekiel 23:45; John 7:24; Romans 2:27; I Corinthians 2:15; I Corinthians 6:). In Zechariah 3:7 God states that He gives those who obey Him the authority to judge, "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." There are also additional references in Scripture to this process of judging that may not specifically use the word judge. For example, in the original languages, the words translated as judge in Scripture are also translated examine, search, discern, ask, question, contend, esteem, and determine.
In the Old Testament, God specifically identified those who were set in positions as Judges over His people as chronicled in the Book of Judges. We also see that one responsibility of the prophets was to declare God's judgment to the people (Judges 4:4; II Samuel 12:1-12; Micah 3:1-8; Malachi 4:4; Hosea 6:5). In Ezra 7:25, it states that those who judge serve two purposes: 1). To judge those who know the law; and 2). To teach the law to those who do not know.
Scripture also shows that God considers the exercise of judgement to be evidence of our seeking truth (Jeremiah 5:1). The fact that the desire to judge righteously is highly esteemed by God is clearly illustrated in I Kings 3:9-13. In verse 9, King Solomon asks, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" We see here that Solomon asked God for discernment to judge between good and bad. This request not only pleased the Lord, but God blessed Solomon greatly for asking for the wisdom to judge.
In the New Testament, we continue to see that God expects us to exercise judgement. Jesus Himself criticized the Pharisees for being unable to judge the spiritual things of God and the importance of judging spiritual matters continued to be stressed throughout His disciples' ministries (Matthew 16:3; Luke 12:56-57; John 7:24; Acts 4:19; I Corinthians 2:15; I Corinthians 5:3; I Corinthians 6:2-5; I Corinthians 10:15; I Corinthians 14:29; Hebrews 5:14). Further, we are told that it is to our shame if there is none among us who can judge the things of God. God also states that judgement is considered one of the weightier aspects of God's law, even more than offerings (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:14).
When citing God's "command" not to judge, people often refer to Matthew 7:1, however, let's look at the complete Scripture in context. "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)
Jesus clearly says do not judge so that you will not be judged, but to whom is He speaking? He identifies His audience in verse 5 with the words "Thou hypocrite." Jesus is not forbiding Christians to judge (unless He is calling every Christian a hypocrite). He is warning that we will be held accountable for what we know. In other words, if we know enough about sinful behavior to tell others that it is wrong, then we have no excuse as to why that sin would be present in our lives. This is consistent with Paul's advice in I Corinthians 11:31-32 that we judge ourselves first so that we will not be judged. As Jesus says in verse 5, we should cast the beam out of our own eye and then we are in position to point out the fault to others.
In truth, God does not forbid us to judge, but He sets up conditions wherein we must judge.
How are We to Judge?
The primary stipulation given for Christians regarding judging is that we are not to proclaim our own judgements (based on our opinions) but to pronounce the judgements of God (based on truth). Jesus serves as the best example in this manner. "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." (John 5:30)
Here Jesus confirms that all true judgement comes from God alone, but He also sets forth the criteria for what constitutes just judgements. Jesus says that because He places His will in subjection to God the Father, He is able to hear God's words and be sent by God to pronounce His judgements. Again in John 8:15-16, Jesus asserts that only judgements that come from God are true, "Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me."
This is the pattern for how we are commanded to judge righteously, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24). We must have our will in subjection to God's which enables us to know God's words and allows us to be sent by God to others with His message.
Scripture also shows that God has given us His Spirit to specifically fulfill these purposes in man (among other things), thereby allowing righteous judgements to be pronounced by man.
* The Spirit Engenders Obedience to the Father
In Acts 5:32, we see that having our will in subjection to God as our Father is a requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit, "And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." Also Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:6; I Peter 1:22; and I John 3:24.
* The Spirit Reveals God's Words to Us
We are also told that the Holy Spirit will reveals the words of the Father to us as He leads us into all truth. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." Additional references include John 16:13; Luke 2:26; John 14:26; Acts 13:2; I Corinthians 2:10-14; and Ephesians 1:17.
* The Spirit Sends God's People to Accomplish God's Work
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19. Also Acts 13:4)
* The Spirit Places the Words of God in Our Mouths
"For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." (John 3:34). There are other references like Matthew 10:20; Matthew 12:18; Luke 12:11-12; Mark 12:36; Mark 13:11; Acts 1:16; Acts 2:4; Acts 2:17; Acts 4:31; Acts 21:11; Acts 28:25; I Corinthians 2:4; I Corinthians 2:13; and II Peter 1:21.
The Word of God also states that one of the gifts of the Spirit is that of discernment (I Corinthians 12:10). In fact, this is the same discernment that is cited as an evidence of one's maturity in God in Hebrews 5:12-14, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Through the Spirit of God, man is able to hear God's words and proclaim His judgements righteously. "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (I Corinthians 2:15)
What Are the Restrictions on Judging?
Although Scripture shows that God expects, equips, and commands man to judge, there are stipulations that govern this decree.
We must not be hypocrites when judging others.
God states that when we judge others for committing sins that we partake in, we are condemning ourselves. (Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37-42; Romans 2:1-5; Romans 2:20-23) This is clearly depicted in God's judgement of David for the killing of Uriah. The prophet Nathan approached David for judgement regarding a story of a rich man that had stolen from a poor man. Yet, after David pronounces his judgement, Nathan's words were "Thou art the man..." (II Samuel 12:1-7) This is what God is warning us. We will be measured by the same yardstick with which we measure others.
We are also told not to judge according to appearances or by the
7:24; John 8:15; James 2:1-4)
This means that sound judgement cannot be based on what we see, hear, or think. Since God's thoughts and ways are higher than ours, He is not bound by our perceptions, opinions, or prejudices. This again is a confirmation that God alone is The Judge. Our judgements must therefore be based in His word in order for them to be true.
We are not to judge others regarding legalistic adherence to
Such as holyday (holiday) observances and what to eat or drink, for such are only matters of faith (Romans 14:1-23; I Corinthians 8:7-13; I Corinthians 10:28-33; Colossians 2:16-23). Scripture states that in Christ we have liberty which frees us from the law of sin and death (Luke 4:18; Romans 8:21; I Corinthians 10:29; II Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 2:4; Galatians 5:1, 13; James 1:25; James 2:12; I Peter 2:16). This is the same liberty that allows Paul to say, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." (I Corinthians 10:23) Although the Son has made us free, we can only walk in this liberty to the degree that we have faith in God. This is why we are told to be "fully persuaded in our own minds" because "whatever is not done in faith is sin." (Romans 14:5, 23) If someone - whom the Scripture describes as having weaker faith - chooses to adhere to such ordinances, they are doing so as unto the Lord. To judge them is to place a stumbling block before them because you are attempting to get them to commit what in their minds is sin. (Romans 14:13; Romans 9:32) This is why we are warned, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." (I Corinthians 8:9) Likewise, those who are walking in the liberty of Christ should not be judged by those who choose to adhere to such ordinances. As stated in I Corinthians 10:29-30, "Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?" Those who make judgements in these areas are mistaking matters of faith for matters of doctrine.
We should not judge anyone's eternal destiny.
Although we will judge the truth (in ourselves, in others and in doctrine) based on the Word of God, only God can bring about the consequences of His judgements: justification for the righteous and condemnation for the wicked (I Kings 8:32; II Chronicles 6:23). I Corinthians 4:3-5 states, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." Here Paul says that although he will be judged by his brethren, justification can only occur from the Lord and will only be known at Jesus' second coming. God alone knows the end of the matter from the beginning.
We should not base judgements on malicious lies or evil
"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?" (James 4:11-12) To speak evil of in this Scripture is the Greek word Katalaleo which means to malign, vilify, or traduce. It means exposing someone to contempt or shame based on false witness. This is why James says that such judgements are actually judgements of the law, because false testimony is a perversion of the law. Obviously, we should not judge others under these conditions. It should also be noted that these are the circumstances under which Jesus was judged by the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 26:59-66; Mark 14:55-64). They sought false witnesses by which they could judge Him for blasphemy. Further, we are warned that as Christians, we should expect to be subjected to these same "evil" judgements by the world. "Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ." (I Peter 3:16, also I Peter 2:12)
Why Are We To Judge?
According to the Bible, the act of judging righteously is a benefit to the individual Christian and to the body of believers as a whole. Judging helps to sanctify the individual believer, prepares us to do the work of God, protects us from heretical doctrine that jeopardizes our faith, makes us an effective witness for Christ, and is a demonstration of God's grace to others.
Judge Ones' Self
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17)
Judging ones' self with the Word of God is a key part of the process of sanctification through which every believer proceeds. This is why we are told to examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith. (II Corinthians 13:5) This is not simply an act of casual reflection. God is charging us, "Judge yourself to see if you really are what you claim!" Does the fruit of our lives attest to the words of our lips? Although we proclaim to be Christians, do our day-to-day lives line up to the Word of God? Christ has come in direct opposition to the god of this world, the Father of lies. To combat the lies, Jesus presents us with incorruptible Truth. It is only by submitting to this Truth that the Spirit of God can be a lamp unto our feet, searching out our souls and turning our stony hearts into hearts of flesh. (Psalms 119; Acts 26:18; Romans 15:16; Ephesians 5:26-27; I Corinthians 6:11; II Corinthians 3:3; I Thessalonians 5:23; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2, 22)
Sanctification is not a one time, immediate change that occurs when we accept Christ. It is a process of being cleansed through the washing of the water by the word whereby we can be transformed into the image of God as we walk in relationship with Him. It is this process of judging ones' self that prompted David to cry out, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23-24)
As we judge our own selves in the light of God's word we continue in the process of sanctification, which is the will of God for every Christian. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour." (I Thessalonians 4:3-4) In fact, the Apostle Paul said that if we would simply judge ourselves, we will not be condemned when God judges us. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (I Corinthians 11:31-32)
Not only does judging one's self keep you in a place of being sanctified by God, it is only then that we are made fit for the Master's use. "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (II Timothy 2:21)
Today, the judging of doctrine is predominately taking one of two extremes. Many refuse to judge anything for fear of being called divisive. Still others cause senseless disputations by making everything a matter of doctrine; judging others in legalistic areas that are not germane to salvation. However, Romans 16:17 makes it clear not only what constitutes a division, but how to treat those who cause them.
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
First, this Scripture does not say to simply mark those who cause divisions or offenses (although this is what many who will say not to judge would like us to believe). It says to mark those who cause divisions or offenses by espousing doctrine that is contrary to Scripture. This is an important distinction because it implies that there are divisions or offenses that are not contrary to Scripture. In fact, Scripture itself can be such a division or offense. We are told that the Word of God is a sword dividing the wheat from the chaff, both within the inner being of an individual and between individuals. (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Matthew 10:34-36) Further, both the written and the incarnate Word of God are referred to as a rock of offense (Romans 9:33; I Peter 2:7-8) Every Christian needs to settle in their minds that the Word of God will be considered divisive and offensive by those who rebel against God. If you have determined that you will not "judge" so as to avoid these accusations, then you have essentially chosen not to be a witness for Christ.
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (I Timothy 4:16)
In the above Scripture, we are warned to "take heed" for not only our own selves but for the doctrine. In other words, God is saying to pay attention to, watch out for, take care of the doctrine. Why? Because not all doctrine is sound doctrine. In fact, we are told specifically that devils also have doctrines. (I Timothy 4:1; Revelation 2:14-15; Revelation 2:24) It is precisely because there are these other "gospels" that we are warned to hold fast to what was given to us originally. (II Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7;Titus 1:9; II Peter 3:1-13; I Timothy 1:6-7; Romans 6:17; Acts 2:42; Revelation 3:3) Yet, the only way that we can hold fast to the Gospel is if we can discern or judge between the true and the false. (Hebrews 5:13-14) Once again, the Word of God is presented as the standard for such an evaluation (Romans 6:17; Romans 16:17; II Thessalonians 2:15; I Timothy 1:3; II Timothy 1:13; II Timothy 3:13-17; II Timothy 4:2; II Peter 3:1-13; II John 1:10; Titus 1:9; Matthew 15:3-6). Why is judging doctrine so important? Because there are doctrines that can jeopardize your faith and even your salvation. "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (II John 1:9-11)
I Timothy 4:16 also states that it is not only important to take heed to the doctrine but to continue in it. This is precisely the type of problem that the Apostle Paul was addressing in Galatians 1:6-7, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." We are further warned that in the last days these doctrines of devils will be more prevalent and persuasive than ever, even to the point of deceiving the elect of God - if it were possible to do so. (Matthew 10:11; Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; II Thessalonians 2:3; I Timothy 4:1-5; II Timothy 4:3-4)
Lastly, I Timothy 4:16 reveals that by taking heed for and continuing in sound doctrine we will not only see salvation ourselves, but so will those to whom we witness. Conversely, as supported in II John 1:9-11, not continuing in sound doctrine results in us believing and spreading a perverted gospel that is powerless to save.
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (I John 4:1)
Everyone who claims to be a minister or even a Christian must be believed by virtue of their confession. As brothers and sisters in the Lord, we must not question or judge one another because God alone is our judge. If someone is in error, it is not for us to point it out. After all, no one has it all right and God will correct them if they are wrong. To judge another person is not only unloving, but is against Scripture.
While perhaps not verbatim, the above sentiments are often expressed when the subject of judging one another is raised. Yet these views are not only ludicrous, Scripture directly refutes such claims.
Not Everyone Who Says "Lord, Lord" Is Your
The Word of God continually warns about the presence of false prophets in the world. Even more disarming, Scripture tells us that these deceivers will be mixed in with the church itself. (Matthew 13:24-40; Acts 20:29-31; II Timothy 2:20-21; II Timothy 4:3; II Timothy 3:13; Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; II Corinthians 11:4; Philippians 3:18-19; Galatians 2:4; II Peter 2:1) "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (II Corinthians 11:13-15) God is telling us that there are ministers of Satan in the church who are actually transformed so that they appear as ministers of righteousness! We are even told that some of these false ministers will have Satanic power to perform supernatural signs, wonders, healings, and other miraculous events. (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; II Thessalonians 2:9)
Throughout Scripture, God warns us about these false prophets, false brethren, false apostles, etc. Is His direction for us to accept these individuals without question in a show of love? No. God is no fool and He knows that the intent of these individuals is to pull you out of the faith. (II Peter 2:1-22) The end times, we are told, will be specifically marked by a great apostacy as people are drawn away after false gospels. As a result, God commands us to judge whether they in fact are members of the Body of Christ, discern the signs, try the spirits, examine the fruit and be purged from these! (I Corinthians 5:7; II Corinthians 6:14-17; Ephesians 5:11; I Timothy 6:5; II Timothy 2:21; II Thessalonians 3:6; Titus 3:10) How do we identify false brethren? Because they preach and live a gospel that is a perversion of the Word of God. (Isaiah 8:20) Scripture not only tells us how to identify the false, but it shows us how to recognize the true Body of Christ? We know them by their fruit. (Matthew 7:16-20; Matthew 12:33; Matthew 13:23; Matthew 21:19-43; Mark 4:8, 20; Luke 6:44; Luke 8:15; John 15:1-16; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9-11; Colossians 1:10)
Do You Not Judge Them That Are Within?
As Christians, we are not only engrafted into the family of God, but we are made a part of a spiritual family of brothers and sisters with whom we can fellowship, learn, share, and grow in the faith. We have been birthed into a body of believers who can encourage, strengthen, support, and yes even admonish each other when necessary. "And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another." (Romans 15:14) Webster's defines admonish as "to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner." Although some in the church would say that we should not even do that, there are Scriptures that show this as one of the responsibilities of the church. (Colossians 3:16; I Thessalonians 5:12; Acts 27:9) In fact, we are specifically told to admonish and rebuke those brethren who may be in error (Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15; Titus 3:10; Ephesians 5:11; Colossians 3:16; I Corinthians 4:14; IITim. 3:16-4:2; II Timothy 4:2). "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (II Thessalonians 3:13-15)
The Bible even shows that it is sometimes necessary to specifically name those who are erring in the faith in order to protect others whom they may influence. "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already: and overthrow the faith of some." (II Timothy 2:16, also I Timothy 1:19-20; I Timothy 5:20-21; II Timothy 4:10; Galatians 2: 11-14; II Timothy 4: 14-15; III John 1:9)
When a brother or sister is in error, it is an extension of God's grace and mercy to have another member of the Body provide correction. This gives the one in error an opportunity to repent and it serves as a witness for others in the faith. Letting a brother or sister continue in error is the most unloving and self-righteous act, because it allows them to continue in something that may result in them falling away from the Lord. Our fellowship with each other is but one of the ways in which God helps to steer us in the right direction when we go astray.
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