Here are three areas in which Jesus expects you to
Every Christian has a duty to confront evil. There are at least
1) The evil that you come up against
in your own life. Hidden sins have to be exposed, brought to
the light, and renounced. We took a brief look at some of that vast
subject in the previous pages.
2) Evils that you see in the
Church around you. This is particularly true of evils tolerated
or condoned in the group where you are nourished spiritually.
As a member of the body of Christ, if
the Spirit of Christ is in you and alive, you have a duty to judge
in the Church. Paul obliquely reminded the Corinthians of this. He
wrote, “Do you not judge those who are inside?” (1 Cor 5:12.)
If you don’t confront sin where it is
openly exhibited and tolerated, you are encouraging demons in their
activity, NOT the Spirit of God. More about this later.
3) Then there is another big area of
evil that you are to confront. You are expected to contend for
the truths that Jesus passed on to us as His beloved. And that
does not mean just pay lip service to them. Jude expressed the force
with which you need to do this. He used the words very
diligent and earnestly:
Beloved, while I was very
diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I
found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend
earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to
the saints (Jude 3).
In most churches, there is little
diligence or earnestness to contend over such matters. They are left
to the pastor, or the church hierarchy to handle. “After all, we are
just members,” most people opine – meaning that they think they
don’t have any say in such matters and that it would be wrong for
them to contest what ‘the church’ or the ‘leadership’ teaches.
Nothing could be further from the
truth! This lukewarmness has firmly locked many in Satan’s arms.
Not Abrogating Your Responsibilities
Let’s take a closer look at what our
duty is, as followers of Jesus, in this regard, so we bring Him the
glory He deserves (Jn 15:8).
1) In your own life
The hidden sins of the
spirit in people are what God sees as more damaging than the sins
you might see ‘on the outside’. You may see a person breaking the
Sabbath by going shopping, or to a concert. But God sees the
resentment, unforgiveness, or greed in you that you have learned to
live with for years! And that sin of the spirit is far more damaging
than a person doing something like the above when they are not yet
aware that such is inappropriate.
Do you know that God considers deceit
more harmful or pernicious than sexual sins committed out of
weakness? If you don’t believe me, read the list in Proverbs
6:16-19. I’ll list them here for speed:
Pride; lying (deliberate
falsification out of wrong motive); murder (including hatred);
inner motives of malice or wickedness; lack of hesitation to do
evil; ‘stitching’ someone up by lies; causing disharmony among
brethren (gossip is a killer in this category).
Those are seven heinous sins – the
worst in God’s rulebook! Yet sexual indiscretions are not among
them. I’m not playing down their evils. Don’t get me wrong. Sexual
sins cause havoc in society. They are among the most widespread
cause of misery, and God doesn’t tolerate them. But the way most
humans approach sin, some of the seven sins above are often regarded
as far less bad than sexual ‘mistakes’.
The first one, pride, is nearly
completely over- looked! It is well underestimated. Yet it was the
root of original sin. It caused Lucifer to lose his position and
become the enemy of God (Is 14; Ezek 28). Other sins of the spirit
are in the same league. I mentioned some of those on page 6, column
You must confront these attitudes
vehemently in yourself, for Jesus will not live in you unless you
do. However, the rewards for accepting this challenge and earnestly
combating such evils are immense:
If you abide in Me and My
words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall
be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you
bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples (Jn 15:7,8).
Those underlined words are no light
matter! He wants zeal. Complacent lukewarmness repels Jesus.
Remember also that Jesus said:
He who does not love Me does
not keep My words (Jn 14:24).
So, you are on trial now, to see how
much you love Him. Remember also that Jesus inspired ALL the New
Testament, so even though Jude, Peter, John, Luke and others wrote
the words, Jesus inspired them and stands behind them. Your duty
is to live by them. The earnestness with which you do, shows how
much you love Him. And that is what causes fruit to be born in your
Many Christians profess to love
Christ, but deny Him by their deeds. They prefer to let fear, doubt,
apathy, laziness and other sins reign in their lives, than to take a
bold stand for truth, uprightness and integrity.
Now let’s move on from the personal
front, to the fellowship front.
2) In your fellowship group or church
It takes guts to confront
wrong, when you see it taking place in the body. It’s not easy. A
lot of people shy away from saying anything. They fear to tread on
people’s toes and hurt their feelings.
But that’s fear of man, not fear of
God. Fear of man brings a snare (Prov 29:25). Fear of God brings
release and victory (Prov 3:7,8; Ps 112:1; Ps 34:7-9).
If you see an evil being tolerated
‘in the Church’, it is your duty to do something about it, not
Your first responsibility is for the
spiritual well- being of your brother or sister, so you should go to
them first (Matt 18:15-17) and see if you can help them as Galatians
6:1 and James 5:19-20 outline.
There is a wishy-washy concept in
most minds about it being ‘wrong to judge’ another. This is based
upon a misunderstanding of what Jesus meant in Matt 7:1. But what
Jesus said there was in the context of hypocritical fault-finding,
not in matters where wanton sins are being tolerated and not dealt
In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, we have an
explicit statement about the judging that NEEDS to take place within
the fellowship of believers for spiritual health to be maintained.
Do read it.
I have explained in other articles
such as Should You Judge In The Church?, about this essential
duty, so I won’t repeat that here. However, below is an apt summary
comment on 1 Corinthians 5:13.
Whereas God judges those who are
not a part of the church, He has delegated responsibility to the
church to exercise its own discipline. Exercising the ban... is
the method of discipline, provided the attempts described in
Matthew have been executed first (Matt 18:15-17). The ban should
be the decree of the whole church together (1 Cor 5:4). A study
of the NT reveals a number of habitual, visible unrepentant acts
which clearly call for church discipline: (1) sexual immorality,
(2) covetousness, (3) idolatry, (4) reviling [slander], (5)
drunkenness, (6) extortion (1 Cor 5:11), (7) disorderliness /
laziness (2 Thes 3:6-12), (8) false teaching (1 Tim 1:18-20),
(9) divisiveness (Titus 3:10-11). (Footnote on 1 Cor 5:13, NKJV
Believer’s Study Bible.)
[Man’s] Government is charged
with jurisprudence in civil matters. In the ecclesiastical
arena, each local congregation must assume the exercise of its
own discipline. Jesus provided a programme whereby the local
assembly could protect its own sanctity and admonish an erring
brother. The system involved three possible encounters with a
brother overtaken in a fault. After the individual approach by
one brother, one or two additional brethren are to be taken to
confront the wayward brother. Only if this failed was the matter
to be brought before the entire congregation. Furthermore, the
last action involved two steps, the first being an appeal and
admonition from the church, and the second, the exercise of the
ban. The entire procedure is designed to prevent this exclusion
from the church. Few cases would ever proceed beyond the first
and second provisions. Even when a case demanded the ultimate
drastic action of exercising the ban, the intent was redemptive.
The disbarment from fellowship would hopefully awaken the
rebellious person. On the other hand, the reputation of God’s
people would be protected if no disposition for repentance was
forthcoming in the erring brother (cf. 1 Cor 5:1-13; 2 Cor
2:5-11; Gal 6:1,2). (Footnote on Matt 18:15-17, NKJV
Believer’s Study Bible.)
3) For truths that Jesus has given us
As mentioned on the
previous page, there is an injunction in Jude 3 which you must obey.
Like the one in 1 John 4:1 about testing the spirits, it is rarely
kept. You are to contend for truth – for the faith Jesus gave.
Do you know what the word contend
means? It means you are to confront heresy when you see it, and use
all the force at your disposal (not physical force, but spiritual
force) to counter wrong teaching.
One dictionary defines contend
as “to engage in a quarrel”. And you are not merely to do that
casually, or with apologies, respecting contrary opinions, with
guarded words, softness and lashings of tact – the way most
politicians and even ecclesiastics try not to offend others. John
the Baptist got the accolade for the most approved contender of his
time (Matt 11:11).
And look what he said to the
religious leaders! He verbally whipped them in contending with them
(Matt 3:7-10). So did Jesus! (Matt 23.) So, don’t be afraid of what
others think. Be afraid of what God thinks, and muster the zeal to
contend as you should.
Jude says you are to contend
earnestly. Not half heartedly, not timidly, not apologetically,
The vivid expression epagonizomai
(Gk) is translated “contend earnestly” and is related to the English
word “agony”. The term is associated with strife and combat of a
most vigorous and determined variety. The present tense of the verb
indicates that the Christian struggle is to be continuous. Jude
believed that the foundational tenets of the Christian faith were
under attack. Nothing but vigorous counter-contention would be
sufficient. (Footnote on Jude 3, NKJV Believer’s Study Bible.)
The record we have of what former
prophets said gives us a good example of how to do it (Is 58:1).
It is because few believers obey
Jude’s words that the visible Church you see is riddled with error
and protected by wrappings of hypocrisy.
When you point out openly the sins
and heresies of church leaders, you are not reviling (1 Cor 5:11).
You are doing what is right. Reviling is slander. When you speak the
truth – no matter how unpleasant it is to others’ ears, especially
church leaders! – you are not reviling, but contending. You will
invariably find them slandering YOU for speaking the truth!
Why is the light-bringer repelled?
Because of the motives of ‘wolves’, hiding behind ecclesiastical
garb, who serve only themselves (Jude 12-19), and because many
‘sheep’ don’t see through them.
Malcolm B Heap