Proverbs 8:12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions [properly, the knowledge of God]. 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. 8:14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. 8:15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. 8:16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Proverbs 9:1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
We have seen the benefit of godly counsel; now we will discuss the wrong kind of counsel, what it is and how it is very prevalent even among the Ekklesia.
There is good counseling and there is bad counseling; how can we tell the difference between counsel that is sound and wise and the kind of counsel that only tells us what we want to hear?
As God’s called out children we must learn the wisdom to discern between good and evil.
How do we discern when someone is not offering godly counsel and/or is using flattery to try to manipulate us to serve their own purposes rather than to serve God’s purpose? And how do we make sure that we do not do the same when we are advising or counseling others?
The definition of flattery from Dictionary.com is:
1. To try to please by excessive and undeserved complimentary remarks or attention.
2. To praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively.
3. To represent favorably; gratify by falsification: The portrait flatters her.
4. To show to advantage: a hairstyle that flatters the face.
5. To play upon the vanity or susceptibilities of; cajole, wheedle, or beguile: They flattered him into contributing heavily to the foundation.
6. To please or gratify by compliments or attentions: I was flattered by their invitation.
7. To feel satisfaction with (oneself), especially with reference to an accomplishment, act, or occasion: He flattered himself that the dinner had gone well.
Flattery is a form of deceitful manipulating by telling a person things that the flatterer thinks the person wants to hear, in order to manipulate him into doing what the flatterer wants him to do.
When people fall for this kind of manipulation it is because humans naturally want to be held in high esteem by others and/or they want to be told that they are good.
People just like to be praised and lauded and they want to be told only things that agree with their current approach to life. Flatterers use this human weakness to get from others what they want.
When it comes to listening to evil counsel: most people have their own opinions on how they should live their lives and do not want to be told that they are wrong, but as God’s people we should be asking: how does God want us to live our lives?
There are many people who claim to be followers of Christ but who are not that concerned about wanting to know what God teaches and what He requires of His followers. Why? Because people want to feel good about the messages they hear and they do not want to hear how they need to change things in their lives to be right with God. They would rather listen to flattery than to be told that they need to change.
Deep in their hearts people really do not want to change anything about themselves so they only want to hear things that make them feel good about themselves. This has been the case throughout the ages beginning with Adam and Eve. So this is not a new problem because this problem has always been around for ages. Notice what God says through Isaiah:
Isaiah 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things,speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 30:11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
Biblical Examples of Bad Counsel
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
When we think of someone who flattered to get his own way for political reasons Absalom, David’s son comes to mind. He used evil counsel to win the people’s hearts in preparing them to rise in rebellion with him against his father David. Absalom used political strategy and flattery to win the people over to his side for many years.
2 Samuel 15:2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.
15:3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. 15:4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!
15:5 And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. 15:6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
In 1 Kings we read that when Solomon died his son Rehoboam became king of Israel. The people of Israel led by Jeroboam came to Rehoboam and complained that Solomon had laid burdensome taxes upon the nation and they vowed that if he would lighten that burden he (Jeroboam) and the people would gladly serve him as their king.
1 Kings 12:1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king. 12:2 And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;) 12:3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,
12:4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee. 12:5 And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.
Rehoboam sought the counsel of the elders who had served his father Solomon when he was king; the older men advised him to listen to the people and to be considerate by removing the heavy yoke imposed by King Solomon. They reasoned and advised him that if he were to listen to their requests to lighten their tax burden then the people would be his loyal servants.
1 Kings 12:6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people? 12:7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
But Rehoboam wanted a second opinion and so turned to the younger men who had grown up with him to seek their counsel. They advised him to answer the people with harshness and to tell them that he was going to be even tougher on them than his father had been; rather than lighten their tax load he was going to add further to their heavy burden.
1 Kings 12:8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: 12:9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
Rehoboam did not listen to the counsel of the wise men but rather followed the advice of the foolish men who counseled him to be even harder on the people and show them who was boss. The younger men did not counsel wisely at all but flattered the king with a sense of self-importance and a need to rule with a prideful attitude and with a firm hand. Because Rehoboam listened to their bad counsel the the nation of Israel has been divided ever since.
1 Kings 12:10 And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.
Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the wiser old men and followed exactly the counsel of the younger men and he told the people:
1 Kings 12:11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. 12:12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.
12:13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; 12:14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Rehoboam’s answer infuriated the people of Israel and the ten northern tribes rebelled. They said that they would no longer have Rehoboam as their king and they made Jeroboam their king instead.
Because Rehoboam listened and followed the evil counsel of his peers, the nation of Israel split in two nations: Judah and the Ten Northern Tribes and they have not united back together since that day.
1 Kings 12:15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 12:16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. 12:17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.
After Jeroboam became the king of the newly formed nation of the Ten Tribes of Israel, he reasoned in his heart that if the people were to be allowed to go up to Jerusalem to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord, (to keep the feasts) it may be that they would be convinced to go back to Rehoboam’s rulership.
1 Kings 12:27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
And this king too took evil counsel! The Bible does not say who he counseled with but the end result was to form a plot that would evoke the people of the northern tribes to turn their backs completely on the God of Israel their Creator God who had delivered their forefathers from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and with whom they had made a Covenant to worship and to obey only Him.
1 Kings 12:28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
The king set up two calves of gold; one in Dan and the other in Bethel and then commanded the people who had come out from Judah to worship these false gods in lieu of the God of Israel.
Jeroboam was counseled to use crafty political strategy to insure that he remained king and that the people would not turn back to Judah by giving them new gods to worship. In addition, he set up a different priesthood who were not of the tribe of Levi and changed God’s festivals; both the location and the dates. All of these changes were to suit his own wicked purposes.
There are many other accounts in the Old Testament of bad counsel and the consequences of following such counsel. But there are also many warnings in the New Testament that teach us that there would be very dangerous wolves in sheep’s clothing amongst God’s people right up until the return of Christ. They too would use flattery and bad counsel to turn people from God and from serving only Him. The writers of Scripture teach us that we must use wisdom in choosing who we will listen to and who we will allow to teach, counsel, and advise us.
Elymas the Sorcerer
When a leading deputy wanted to hear Barnabas and Paul’s Gospel message, another man (a sorcerer) tried to turn the deputy against believing in the words of Paul with bad counsel. How many of us have friends or even close family members who try to turn us against God and try to discourage us from living wholeheartedly in obedience to all of God’s commandments and ordinances? Paul spoke out very sharply against this man; he held nothing back and even cursed him with blindness. This may seem very unloving and even harsh but God backed Paul up by performing the miracle that helped convince the deputy to believe.
Acts 13:7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
13:11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 13:12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Simon the Sorcerer
Another example is when Peter severely rebuked Simon for his covetousness and the sin of wanting to buy with money the gift of the Holy Spirit; this was after Simon supposedly became baptized into the faith. Peter exposed him for what he was and counseled him that he needed to repent of having a wicked heart for wanting to be able to impress others with the same kind of miracles that the apostles were doing by purchasing God’s power. This was a type of bribery to get Peter to do what Simon coveted after.
Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
David warns us in regard to listening to or speaking with flattering lips.
Psalm 12:1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 12:2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. 12:3 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: 12:4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?
It Is The Truth That Sets Men Free
The apostle Paul explains in many places in his epistles that the brethren are to teach and to exhort others to live according to God’s truth and righteousness including when it may be painful to speak that truth.
When we are willing to hear what God’s Word (or hear others when they speak the truth to us) has to say and are willing to change from going our own way to going the way of God, it is very liberating indeed. It is the truth that sets people free (John 8:32) meaning that it is believing in and keeping the truth that liberates us from the lies and the ways of Satan.
The whole world lies under the sway of the evil one (1st John 5:19). God sent His Son to reveal the truth to mankind and in doing so Jesus sets the captives free (those who have been held in bondage to Satan’s lies all of their lives) if they listen, believe in Him, repent, and then follow in all of His ways.
This was the basis of Jesus’ ministry on earth when He was here as a man: to speak and to demonstrate the whole TRUTH of GOD to mankind. When Jesus was twelve He told His earthly parents that He must be about His Father’s business. It is the whole Word of God that sets men free and that has been God the Father’s and His Son’s mission from the time of Adam and Eve’s rebellion when our first parents chose to believe Satan’s lie rather than to believe what their Creator had told them.
At the beginning of His ministry Jesus stated what His mission was to be on earth as a man. During His ministry He trained others to teach and to preach the way of salvation so that after His resurrection and ascension to His Father their work would continue right up to the end of this age.
The following is Christ’s mission statement and should be the mission of all those whom God calls; they too are to help in His work of teaching and proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world. God the Father and His Son are still working through their disciples on earth to help the poor and the brokenhearted (those who are sincerely repentant) to be set free from their captives by teaching them the Gospel of how they can be saved.
Luke 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
4:18 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.
The whole world lies under Satan’s deception and all men and women are in need of being set free; it is only through God’s Gospel message and Christ’s sacrifice for mankind that humanity will be delivered from Satan’s bondage if they repent and embrace all of God’s ways.
1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Growing Up [Maturing] In Christ
In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul tells us that it is speaking the truth in love (not speaking of smooth things) that will help the brethren know the truth of God. It is when the brethren are taught the truth and they abide by it that they are enabled to grow to the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
What does this mean to “Speak the Truth in Love”? The Greek word that is translated “speak the truth” is alétheuó (Strong’s # 226) and means more than speak, it means embody, speak truth, do truth, live truth.
The Greek definition of “speak the truth: from Word Helps and Strong’s Concordance: alétheuó comes from 225 alḗtheia (from 227 /alēthḗs, “true to fact”) – properly, truth (true to fact), reality. Definition: truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness. (Word Helps, Strong’s Concordance)
Paul is admonishing us to live, speak, and embody God’s reality, and by doing so we exemplify his divine, unselfish, sacrificial [agape] love. When we seek counsel from men, it must be by those who are willing to speak the truth in love; and when we counsel others we must speak the truth in love as well.
In ancient Greek culture, alḗtheia was synonymous for “reality” [as the opposite of illusion, i.e. fact] speaking reality (truth) into a person’s life, making a record of what God deems is truth (reality, fact). (Word Helps)
It is vitally impotent that we receive and also give counsel that is truthful (as God defines truth) so that we live in God’s reality rather than the illusion of truth that is in the world.
In Ephesians 4:15 Paul isays that we must speak the truth in love and according to the Greek definition of agape love. If we are speaking the truth according to agape love then our speaking (counsel) will be for the affection, benevolence and charity [agape love] of the people we are speaking to and that we must always present the reality of what God deems as truth.
What is the context of Paul’s admonition to “speak the truth in love” and how is it to benefit those whom he is writing to? Ephesians 4:11-13 is the setting from which he says this; and the rest of the section further explains what Paul is referring to:
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Paul begins this section about speaking the truth in love with this verse that lists the offices that God gives to some and then follows up in the subsequent verses with an explanation of the purposes and functions of those whom God has gifted and placed in these various offices.
The people who serve diligently in their respective positions are not only gifted by God to perform their duties, but they, in turn, are a gift to the Ekklesia if they are faithfully carrying out their God-given responsibilities. They are a gift to the body of Christ because of the role that they play in helping others to grow spiritually through their preaching, teaching, admonishing, and administrative works.
But the work that they do is also supposed to help and protect the believers to avoid the pitfalls of succumbing to false teachers and false doctrines (and their false counsel). All of these functions include speaking and teaching sound and wise counsel from God’s Word.
What does Paul say is the purpose and function for which God places these persons in their respective roles?
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
The teachers and pastors (and the other offices) are to faithfully minister to and edify their brethren by their preaching, teaching, exhorting, so that the members of the Ekklesia may come to the complete knowledge of the truth; and thereby all be in perfect unity with Christ who is in perfect unity with His Father. The goal is that all of God’s people would be taught so as to be in perfect unity with Jesus Christ.
The various people who are appointed by God for these offices are also to protect the brethren from cunning crafty false ministers and their false teachings who sneak into the assemblies to deceive so as to gain a following for themselves and to take the members away from the truth of God.
Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
This admonition can be compared to a sailboat which has no keel to keep it balanced; when strong winds come along it will be easily tossed to and fro and taken off course. Without a keel the boat is just pushed and blown about whatever way the wind blows.
A person who is not grounded in sound doctrine and without the spirit of truth as his guide is like a sail boat without a centerboard and he is easily blown off course; listening to anything that sounds good or makes him feel vindicated in his false beliefs (or teachings that somehow appeal to his emotional needs). False teachers or false ministers can easily sway or redirect such people from God’s truth.
One such teaching in the world and in many religions is a kind of sentimental soft love that has no real substance. This leaning is very much promoted by the mainstream Christian organizations and has crept into some of the Ekklesia.
The idea is that God overlooks our sins if we have love and organizational unity and if we are doing good works. This way of thinking sets the adherents up by making them feel that they are pleasing to God as long as they are being kind and affectionate to others and doing what it takes to keep the peace in their fellowship (going along, to get along).
Yes, we are to be kind to everyone but our emphasis should always be to seek God’s righteousness and oneness with Him first; we must not think that He will overlook our sins just because we seek to get along with others who are not in unity with the things of God.
This kind of sentimental love (a form of flattery) appeals to the emotions and can easily sway us if we are not grounded in God’s Word. Many false teachers and even whole religious organizations emphasize this kind of love rather than the agape love of God which is the keeping of all of God’s commandments. This false love is a very subtle form of flattery and we must be discerning as to what real love is.
2 John 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
False teachers and their false doctrines were beginning to infiltrate the Ekklesia even in Jude’s and the other apostle’s day, and this infiltration has continued down through the ages right up until the modern times we are living in.
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (See the whole epistle of Jude).
2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 1:9 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.
We need to guard God’s truth at all times to keep us from being misled by the deceitful teachers that abound all around us in our present evil world and who have even subtly crept into the midst of the Assemblies.
God’s minsters are to “speak the truth in love,” by which they are to teach, exhort, admonish, warn, (which is what godly wisdom counsel is) and, yes, sometimes to correct and rebuke when necessary. Paul did all of these things powerfully and faithfully in his role as a true apostle.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in [agape] love.
Paul tells us that we not to stay spiritually immature but rather we are to grow up in Christ. Those who are young in the faith and still lack knowledge of God’s Word are especially vulnerable to bad counsel; but then there are those who have been in the faith a long time but have become stuck or have allowed themselves to follow after deceitful cunning teachers and have stop growing.
It is easy to be become tossed about, blown here and there by teachers and counselors who appear to be godly on the surface, but are in fact cunning deceivers. These deceitful workers are skilled in crafty scheming and they are able to sway people from the truth and lead them down false paths if the people are not on guard to them.
These false ministers and leaders would rather teach their own false traditions of men rather than the sound doctrines of God’s Word and they use flattery and trickery in order to do this.
That is what has happened in times past and is still happening in the today. Instead of embracing the sound doctrine as contained in the Holy Scriptures and as taught by the apostles, we have become stuck in the falsehoods that have crept in over the centuries and even in our recent history.
Many have for a long time now, and even still are, following after certain men who have set themselves up over us and have gained control over most of the Ekklesia with their false doctrine. The Primacy of Peter doctrine that most have embraced makes it hard for people to break free from following after such leaders.
This doctrine is especially enslaving for it teaches that to disobey the leaders that have been placed in authority over us is to disobey God. The stronghold effect of this teaching keeps many of the brethren in bondage to false teachings and to the corporate organizations (and their leaders) who are still misleading the Ekklesia to this day.
The Primacy of Peter doctrine teaches that the members must look to the leadership of a particular group to tell them what is right and wrong and that it is wrong for them to check for themselves from Holy Scriptures God’s teachings apart from church leadership.
This doctrine instills fear for it falsely propagates that members must not question their group’s leaders and if they do leave the group they will most likely lose their salvation.
This paralyzes the members who are then afraid to ask questions or to speak out against false teachings. Most people in the groups are afraid to take a stand and obey God; rather they listen to and obey those who are lording it over them and are teaching things contrary to sound doctrine.
We need to always prove whether the things that we are being taught are true or not. Even today we need to check up on all the things that we are being taught and prove the things that we believe from the Holy Scriptures for ourselves and not just depend on men to TELL us what the Scriptures teach.
1 Thessalonians 5:20 Despise not prophesyings. 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
We are to ONLY listen to those who “speak the truth” in love and follow them ONLY as they follow Christ and the whole counsel of His Word (1 Corinthians 11:1).
When we are diligent in seeking God’s truth from his Word about any given subject; studying, meditating on it and applying it to our lives, this is what matures us in the faith. God’s Word (which is truth) is somewhat like our keel which keeps us going in the right direction and keeps us from tipping over and then drowning in false doctrines and traditions of men.
By speaking the truth in all things and speaking according to God’s Word when we counsel each other, even when it might be painful to tell the truth, is what helps prepare the Ekklesia to become developed into the full measure of the stature of Christ; and in this way she [the collective body of Christ] will eventually become a mature spiritually fit Bride for Christ.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
In the following verses Paul goes on to give more instructions in how the brethren are to live godly lives. He warns God’s people to not live according to the ways of unbelievers (which can include false teachers amongst us who are not godly examples for the Ekklesia or teaching the whole truth of God) and then further explains how we are to be renewed spiritually in our minds by putting on the “new man” and therefore live a life of holiness and righteousness.
Paul then concludes his instruction about this subject by saying that we are to put away lying and to speak the TRUTH to our neighbor (the word “neighbor” represents all people). Speaking the truth is what constitutes love for our neighbors: godly agape love, the kind that is the keeping of all of God’s commandments.
Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Defending the Truth
Brethren, many, if not most of us, have been taught and are still being taught that it is wrong to “judge”, or to say anything negative, or to expose those who are sinning. We are not being taught or encouraged to speak up to defend the truth as taught in the Bible when we see that the truth is not being taught by our leaders.
We are told that we are in rebellion against God if we speak out to warn others about false leaders who are harming and/or taking advantage of the brethren. We have been told that if we speak out against sin in the ministry in any way that we are like the complainers and murmurers that this verse talks about:
2 Corinthians 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
We have all heard ministers and leaders tell the story of Korah and his rebellion in Numbers 16 and compare those who speak up for biblical truth and righteous purposes with those who went against Moses. But this is a twisting of the Scriptures for we are to always defend what God says is truth no matter what.
Yes, it is wrong to gossip and slander others and speak disrespectfully to those in authority (or to anyone for that matter). It is wrong to judge others in a way that is a form of condemnation; and we are to always try our best to treat others with kindness and respect for their person-hood; and again we refer back to 1st Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) that gives us spiritual guidelines on how we are to treat others even when they are sinning.
Paul instructed the brethren how we are to be subject to those who are in authority and who are teaching the whole counsel of God and who are not leading God’s people astray. Those in authority are to serve as good examples for others to follow.
Titus 3:3 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
God hates gossiping, slandering, flattery, falsely speaking evil of others, spreading lies and falsehoods; this too is evil counsel. Rather, we are to speak the TRUTH to all; in order to help bring all to sincere repentance and so as to save them. Speaking the truth to all is an act of love which may save many by bringing them to sincere repentance. Paul devoted his whole life to declaring the true counsel of God and he too is a good example for us to follow.
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
To “speak the truth in love” is not about the kind of speaking which God says is sin; many Scriptures tell us that gossiping and slander by spreading false tales in secret is evil or to judge others by condemning them is clearly wrong.
God says that we are to declare the truth openly and to judge righteously, meaning we are to judge the situation and to judge as to whether there is sin involved and then rebuke the sin. But only God can judge someone’s heart and intent.
Proverbs 16:27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. 16:28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer [telling false things in secret] separateth chief friends.
Proverbs 20:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
Psalm 34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
It is never wrong to judge someone’s conduct to judge whether or not it is according to the standard of God’s laws or to correct those who are sinning; or to warn against false teachers and false prophets! We are even commanded to judge but in the way that God tells us to.
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
We are to judge all things as to whether those things are in alignment with the righteousness and holiness of God; and when someone is warned and they still will not listen to godly counsel we are to remove ourselves from them.
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
We as the called out children of God are to speak out against wicked things. Isaiah tells us we must speak up and seek justice for the defenseless (the innocent) which is in essence speaking up to protect others from lies and falsehoods (and bad counsel).
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Solomon tells us to speak up for those who are unable to defend themselves, those who are desolate and have no protection from the deeds of the wicked.
Proverbs 31:8 Open thy mouth for the dumb [for those who cannot speak for themselves] in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction [for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless].
In Leviticus 19 we are told that we are to rebuke our neighbor to correct him or her when they are sinning. Here God is saying that if we do not rebuke our neighbor for sinning, we are actually contributing to their sin; for if we fail to rebuke them, then we become enablers if we do not do what we can in warning them to stop sinning.
Leviticus 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him [We are to rebuke sin and not allow our neighbor to continue in sin uncorrected, to help him understand that he is sinning so he can repent and not continue in sin].
If we do not rebuke sin, then we have become responsible for the unrebuked sin.
This corresponds to what God says to Ezekiel. Like Ezekiel, the Ekklesia is also appointed to warn against sin and false doctrine; they must preach the whole counsel of God giving others the chance to hear God’s message, repent and therefore be saved.
Ezekiel 3:17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 3:19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
3:20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 3:21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.
And because there have been so few in our recent history in the Ekklesia willing to speak out against sin, false doctrines, the Primacy of Peter philosophy, the traditions of men that are upheld in lieu of sound doctrine, and setting our leaders and their corporate entities up above God; the scattered divided condition of the church stays the same, and in fact, it is getting worse because these things are being allowed to grow like a cancer.
Many false teachings have been brought into the Ekklesia over the years and still proliferate to this day. The following are some Scriptures showing how the apostles spoke out and how they did not mince words when it came to exposing sin and falsehoods, naming names, warning brethren to be aware of certain men, and in some cases in bringing scathing rebuke on certain ones who were openly trying to dissuade the brethren.
3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 1:11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. 1:12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
2 Timothy 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 2:17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
2 John 1:9 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. 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…
Paul describes the kind of counsel he provided the brethren and this should be our example of how we treat and counsel each other:
1 Thessalonians 2:3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 2:6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. 2:7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
When Paul heard the reports of evil-doing in the congregation at Corinth he quickly dealt with it so that it’s effects would not cause even more damage. He not only protected the church from the effect the sin was having on the members of the congregation because they were condoning it, but he also openly rebuked the sinner and pronounced judgment on him.
Latter this church member did come to his senses and repented and he was welcomed back into the fellowship. If Paul had been too timid to deal with a sinning brother, the effects of this vile sin would have continued to fester amongst the members and this person would have never been given the incentive to see his sin for what it was and then have opportunity to repent.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
1 Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.
In the Gospels there are many examples of Jesus speaking out and He never hesitated to rebuke those who were wicked and sinning and/or full of hypocrisy.
Mark 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 7:10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
7:11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
7:12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
When Jesus beheld the money changers making the Temple into a place of merchandise, He not only rebuked them but also drove them and their livestock out of the Temple and turned over their tables and spilled out the coins. It was because Jesus was filled with a righteous zeal for His Father and for the sanctity of God’s Holy Temple that caused Him to speak out; not only speaking out, but doing something about stopping the dishonest money changers from desecrating something that was supposed to be regarded as Holy.
John 2:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 2:16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
When we listen to, or tolerate, evil counsel or teachings that are not in accordance with the truth of God we are making God’s spiritual Temple a house of merchandise and allowing the desecration of His Spiritual Temple.
We need more godly men in the Ekklesia today with this kind of zeal for the truth of God, willing to speak out against injustices and wickedness when they spot it in our assemblies. We need servants that alert and warn us of those amongst us who say that they are our authorities and that they should be obeyed and followed rather than pointing the people to God the Father and to His Son Jesus Christ.
Please read the whole discourse in Matthew 23 of how Jesus spoke up to the hypocritical religious leaders of His day and read the things that He called them. He spoke the truth and exposed them for the corrupt leaders that they were and told them that they were “hypocrites”.
He rightly stated that they were not teaching or leading those who were under their authority properly the righteousness of God; but rather by their false teachings and by their example they were making their subjects “children of hell”.
Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
In Matthew 18, Jesus instructs believers in how they are to approach and deal with a brother that is sinning. If that brother humbly accepts correction and then repents, then we have saved our brother; but if not, then Jesus tells us what we and the assembly are to do to get sin out of the church.
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Along that same line, the Bible tells us in many places how we are to deal with sinners in similar fashion. By going to our brother and then speaking to them, we not only stop the sinning from being in our midst and from possibly corrupting others; but we are also to try to help restore the sinner to righteous living again and thereby saving him from God’s wrath.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
James 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love. 37:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
If we have been shown the truth in certain matters and we withhold that truth knowing that others will be harmed because of their lack of knowledge in those matters, we share in their guilt by contributing to the harm that is being done.
Proverbs 24:11 If thou forbear [neglect] to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; [are in danger of being slaughtered] 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, [God, who guards your life] doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
An analogy of this is walking by our neighbor’s house and seeing billowing smoke coming out of the basement windows and then not running in to warn the owners that their house is about to burst into flames. If we neglect to tell them what we know and they burn up because they were not warned, we are held accountable to God for doing nothing. Or it can be likened to seeing a mugger waiting in the shadows and then seeing some innocent person about to walk into that area that puts him in danger of being attacked by the mugger and not crying out to warn the unsuspecting person.
God’s people are called to become the very sons of God and we are to become righteous as God is righteous, to love as God loves, and we are also called to help our brethren attain to righteousness whenever we can. Godly counsel helps us to do just that.
It is not easy to take a stand and to speak out against sin, especially when it involves those we love dearly and we do not want to offend them. But to rid the church of sin and false teachings we must do it. This is wisdom and this is what God’s Word teaches.
Like a cancer; in order for the body to begin the healing process the cancer has to be eliminated, either by cutting it out or by shrinking it to nothing through strong medicine. And it can be very painful for both the ones that speak out and for the ones that receive the truth about what they are doing wrong or what they are believing that is not according to the clear teachings and the truth of the Bible.
We all know that those who do take a stand will receive backlash for doing so from those who refuse to hear the truth, who refuse to look at what has happened in the church, who do not want to be told that their leaders are wrong and that those leaders are not teaching according to sound doctrine.
Because of this many of us hesitate to go to our leaders or to our friends when we see the errors for what they are and we hesitate to speak up; it is only natural to not want to be ostracized and mocked for speaking the truth. Many of he brethren have already been disfellowshipped from groups for stepping out in faith to obey God rather than the men who say that they are our leaders.
Most of the brethren just do not want to “rock the boat” but if by rocking the boat it will get the boat back on course (at least for the few who will listen) that is a very good and loving thing to do.
We Are Our Brother’s Keeper
Long ago one of the first sons of Adam, Cain, murdered his brother Abel and then was asked by God where his brother Abel was. Cain answered back with a brazen lie that he did not know and then added insolently “am I my brother’s keeper?”
Genesis 4:9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
There is some truth to what Cain had said for we cannot control all the things that threaten the safety and well-being of others at all times and each person is responsible for taking care of himself in most respects.
But we are our brothers’ keeper in the sense that we are not to harm them in any way or to commit violet crimes against them as Cain had done to his brother; and we are not to allow others to do harm to them if there is any way we can prevent it. We are also to do good to our neighbors and love them as we love ourselves.
This kind of being the “keeper” of our brothers and sisters is what God does require of us, especially those He has called and is training to be kings and priests in His future Kingdom. We are in training to truly be mankind’s righteous and loving guardians and teachers, and God only wants those who truly love their fellowman enough to give counsel of the truth to be the leaders and rulers over the earth when His Kingdom is established.
God does desire that we fulfill the role of being our brother’s keeper in the sense of fulfilling the royal law of love and warning others to turn from the sin that is destroying them.
The called-out people of God are called to be the keepers of their fellowman in two ways: first we are not to do anything harmful or to try to take advantage of others. This includes harming them with our tongues or words in the form of gossip and slander, (which is secretly lying about others) or with false teachings, or verbal abuse of any kind; and second they are to be keepers of their fellowman by giving them godly counsel and warning them to turn from the sin that is destroying them.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul explains how the Body of Christ (the Ekklesia) is like the human body and is made up of many members, all of whom are important to the function and well-being of the Ekklesia and we are to care for one another.
The writers of the New Testament continually encouraged the brethren to love one another (with the agape love of God) and that is what we must do; by constantly edifying each other (which includes speaking the truth) with our words and thereby building up the Body of Christ. That is what it means to speak the whole wise counsel of God; that is part of our calling.
Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
1 Thessalonians 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
Sometimes true godly love must warn, admonish, reprove or exercise correction. However, the correction is always to be done in the spirit of agape love with the goal of reconciliation of the sinning parties with God and each other.
Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
2 Timothy 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 3:14 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. 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
And as quoted earlier, Matthew 18:15-17 teaches the proper protocol of seeking the restoration of and reconciliation with a sinning brother.
Paul wrote to the brethren who were of the Thessalonian congregation which is written for all of us, that we are to follow certain instructions for those who do exhort and admonish according to what God says to do: “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)
As fellow laborers and as believers, we are to be our brother’s keeper and show agape love toward them in building them up and edifying them, and sometimes correcting them to help them remain faithful to God’s Word and to stay on track just as Paul wrote to the Romans.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Romans 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 1:23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
This is AGAPE LOVE: that God’s people, those who are the followers of Jesus Christ, desire that all men will be saved (just as God the Father and His son Jesus do) and are willing to tell them their sins and that they are following the traditions of men rather than adhering to the Sound Doctrines of the Holy Scriptures.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
And when we speak the truth in love we are doing God’s work here on earth exposing error and stating what is true, and for all those who listen, we are giving them the chance to come to the true knowledge of God as well to the saving of their souls (their eternal lives). We too are, in effect, setting captives free when we do so!
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Do we love the truth? Do we love to hear the truth and love learning about what God has to say is TRUTH. Much depends upon how much we really do love the truth; our eternal destiny will be determined by whether we listen to God’s truth or listen to lies. Let us love the truth, obey the truth and speak the truth so that we and others can be saved by God our Father through His Son who is the way, the truth and the life.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
We are at a pivotal time in the history of mankind just before the tribulation is about to begin (perhaps within the next few years or so, only God knows) but we see the signs of the time and know we are close. God is calling to those He has called out from the world, (from spiritual Egypt) “will you now come out from the false traditions and the errors that have become so embedded in the Ekklesia since the time of the original apostles?”
Do we have the courage to change when we do see errors; things that we have been taught for many years that just were not biblical? Will we then have the courage to take a stand for the truth of the Bible, not just because of what any teacher or leader may say or because of what title he may have, but because we have earnestly studied and proven what we believe and practice… from the Holy Scriptures?
There is a growing number who have done just that and are now keeping the new moons, the biblical calendar, refusing to eat out on the Sabbath, etc.; who desire with their whole hearts to obey God rather than the men who say we must obey them rather than to believe what the Bible clearly says.
Will we follow false teachers that compromise with the laws and ordinances of God, who are deceiving the people to stay locked into the errors we have carried over from COG leaders of the past? or will we have the courage to step out and be like the sons of Levi (as it says of them in Exodus 32:26) and say “YES” to God when He asks us “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me” and then take a stand for what we have come to understand as His truth from the Bible regardless of what the elders say or do to us?
If we want to be like Jesus then our spiritual food should be to do the will of our heavenly Father who has called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light”.
John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
We are definitely living in the latter days and we only have so much time left to return with all of our hearts, minds, and souls to learning and obeying the whole Word of God. We are admonished to help all who will listen to do so as well….by speaking the truth in [agape] love and refusing to listen to evil counsel.
In Proverbs, God says through Solomon that wisdom stands in the top of the high places, and at the gates of the city and she appeals to men and women to listen to God to hear His voice and to turn in the way of wisdom, which are all the ways taught in God’s Word; it is the whole counsel of God.
Proverbs 1:8 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? 1:2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. 1:3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. 1:4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
1:5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 1:6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. 1:7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
God’s Word should always be our primary source of guidance, therefore it is vitally important that we write its precepts and laws into our heart by diligent study and meditating upon. If we fill our minds with God’s thoughts then they will become our thoughts; and the more we study and think on the things we study, the more we will come to think as He thinks.
To seek God and His Word every day and to make Him our priority is the only way to become wise; and it will protect us from being led astray when we are presented with false doctrines.
To be made into the image of God takes a life-long commitment and involves much time and effort but there is no other way to know the will of God and to become at one with Him. As we engrave upon our hearts the whole counsel of God’s revealed Word, we must approach it with a resolve to do whatever it says even if it goes against our own desires and against the desires of those around us.
If we feel we need advice about something we need to be very careful. What should we look for in a good counselor? A good counselor will respect the authority of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ in every aspect of living.
A minister or counselor who rejects any part of the Word of God cannot be trusted; beware of any man who interprets the Bible to suit his own ideas and agenda and not according to what God says.
If any counselor says we should obey this person or that person just because that particular person has a title or is highly esteemed and yet does not bear the fruits of obeying God in all things, RUN FROM HIM.
Ministers or elders (or anyone for that matter) who interpret the Bible to suit themselves and promote their own traditions above the Word of God are not safe advisers. Beware of religious leaders no matter who they may be whose ideology or counsel disagrees with the Word of God!
In seeking someone that we can go to for counseling choose someone who is spiritually mature, lives a godly life, and applies the the fruit of the Spirit in everything that he does and says. But even then weigh all advice carefully by the Word of God. God’s Word should always be the final word and we must always obey God rather than any man no matter what that man’s title may be.
Any counseling we receive that advises us to cut corners or to compromise just a little bit should be rejected. God’s Spirit will never guide anyone contrary to what God teaches in His Word, any kind of advice to do so is evil counsel.
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
If someone tells us that God is love and knows that we are weak therefore He will overlook small things or that the law has been done away because Christ kept it perfectly (or kept it for us) therefore we are no longer obligated to keep the whole law, that counsel is evil.
If someone tells us that all we have to do is believe, that it does not matter how we live and that mankind will be saved from sin by faith without obedience to the Gospel, that counsel is evil.
If someone tells us that it is impossible to know the truth and therefore all truth is relative and none absolute; that right and wrong depend solely on each person’s situation rather than the standard that God sets for us, that counsel is evil.
Do not allow yourself to be misled by wicked counsel. That too is the wisdom of God for we must exercise discernment when going to others for counsel.
As the called-out children of God we are to obey God in all things even in the (seemingly) small matters therefore we must ask Him for discernment in order to fulfill His will for our lives. If we are negligent in studying the will of God and just listen to anyone who seems to know things about His Word we will reap the consequences. We are all ultimately responsible for our own decisions that we make and the course that we pursue no matter what.
If we seek the counsel of God and counsel from those who are like-minded in wanting to please only God we will avoid much heartache and the devastating consequences of pursuing our own will and our own way of doing things.
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting.