1 Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.
The word that caught my attention in this was “command.” We don’t think much of commanding in churches today, and churches that use that kind of language are quickly labeled cults. However, I think this is a trick of the devil. Humanistic command/control systems can and often do become demonic, but in trying to avoid that we throw Biblical authority out the window, and there too the devil rushes in to fill the vacuum. There are teachers “in the wild” today who are teaching all sorts of unBiblical heresies, but no one commands them to stop. I could list several teachers and several heresies, (the lists would overlap) but that wouldn’t be beneficial. Actually, “heresy hunters” can do a lot of damage, ripping up wheat along with the tares. (Matthew 13:29-30) However, going to someone personally, explaining the situation to them Biblically, and if they are stubborn, commanding them to quit, doesn’t seem to happen very often. The problem is that “heresy hunters” generally attack the people rather than refuting the false teaching. That can actually push people into the heresy because they are wanting to defend the person. When we focus on people rather than on truth, we make all sorts of mistakes.
In Systematic Theology class in seminary we were told to pick a topic for the term to write three papers. The first was to compare two opposing viewpoints, the second was to refute one of those viewpoints, and the third was to express and explain the viewpoint with which we agreed, on layman’s terms and without footnotes. I chose Cessationist and Charismatic as the two viewpoints, refuted a book by Merrill Unger that argued the Cessationist position, and finished up with a paper on “The Use of Tongues in Ministry.” That probably made some waves in the Southern Baptist seminary I was attending, and it left my professor thinking I was Assemblies of God. However, I still have good friends who hold to the Cessationist position, and I seek not to attack them personally. I’m not in the Assemblies denomination, or some others that have invited me, because I don’t believe any particular spiritual gift is “defining evidence” of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, I have good Christian fellowship with people of many different denominations, some of which teach things I would never allow to be taught in this church. Since I do most of the teaching in this church I’m not in the position of Timothy, much less Paul, but I am still to exercise the authority God has given me to build people up. (2 Corinthians 10:8) Failing to do so leaves them at the mercy of the lies and tricks of the devil, and I am held responsible. (Ezekiel 33:7-9)
Father, I’ve had an uneasy relationship with the spiritual authority You have placed in me, as You well know. Help me exercise it as You desire and intend, to tear down the lies of the devil but not those who have been deceived by those lies. Help me set people free by Your truth spoken in love, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!