To God, it matters, a lot, what and who you approve of. Perhaps, these days, indifference prevails among most people. Since we hear and see much that goes on around the world via the Internet, most people just shrug. “If they want to do or teach that, it’s their business.”
But what happens when it’s on our own turf? What to do when they come into our congregation? Or, to bring it into the age of the Internet, when someone joins and posts their teachings to your Facebook group?
The apostle John had a reply for people in the first century that still applies today.
Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.
2 John 11 NLT
“Such people” refers to false teachers. To even mention “false teachers” seems such an old-fashioned and unwelcome idea today. The whole idea of truth and falsehood has changed in most people’s minds. But not in God’s. Jesus’ statement that the truth liberates still stands, Jn 8.31-32. So if that’s still true, lies and false doctrine still enslave.
The encouragement John referred to was the welcome and receiving into one’s home of the false teacher and thus the support one gives to him. John doesn’t want us to help the false teacher. Don’t give him an opening. Don’t let him spread his teachings where you are. Cut him off.
How does that work today when hardly anybody opens the home to outsiders? Maybe it applies to what you and your family watch on television or the internet. To posts or videos you share with friends. It applies to whom you allow to come teach in your congregation.
Ah, someone says, but he’s not going to teach on the things he wrong about, but about other topics where he’s an expert.
So do you get up before the congregation when he’s introduced and say, “Hey, brethren, this guy is a false teacher. He’s wrong about subjects A and B. But he has something good to say about subject C. So give him your attention here.”
Nobody’s going to do that. So when you have him in your congregation, you’re telling people implicitly that this teacher can be trusted. You have given him welcome. You have recommended him. You’ve just approved a false teacher.
John says not to support such people. Don’t let them in.
Take these drastic steps, first, because we are responsible to God for using our means to support the truth. If we are guided by the Spirit of truth, and have been given the message of truth, it’s our job — nobody else will do it — to support the proclamation of the truth. (That’s the message of 3 John: Do it even in the face of opposition.)
Don’t support the false teacher, second, because giving him approval, tacit or explicit, chips away at God’s truth in our own souls. It makes us a tad less certain about what we believe. It bends our belief system. Supporting the false teacher makes us more flexible when it comes to false doctrine. So, down the road, we’ll take a wrong turn somewhere.
In matters of truth, neutrality is not an option. We’re either supporters of truth or supporters of false teaching. Either we promote the gospel or we buy into another gospel, which is no gospel at all, Gal 1.6-10. Your approval of a distorted gospel makes a difference to God, to the eternal destiny of many, and to your own soul’s salvation.