The greatest deterrent to false teaching is for both the elders, and the churches under their charge, to be thoroughly saturated with the knowledge of the truth of God. Obtaining that truth is as close to us as our bible. Some try to persuade us that we can not possess all truth, that the truth is unattainable. They will contend that we can agree on the gospel, baptism and the Lord’s supper. However, all else is so indefinitely spoken, and agreement therein of such little consequence that every man is free to their own interpretation. To this conclusion I say, “Not so”!
In the first place, Jesus taught that we can know the truth (Jn. 8:32),and that those who were of the truth would hear him (Jn. 19:37). Paul argued conclusively, that through him, revelation was made and that when we read we can perceive his understanding in the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:1-6).
This means keeping sound men in the pulpits of churches (2 Tim. 2:2), faithful men who will open their Bibles and expose the text of Scripture to their audiences. Like the prophet of old: To the law and to the testimony – Line upon line; precept upon precept. In this way disciples can be grounded to the point that error will have no appeal to them. It also means supervising those who participate in the Bible classes. Elders should be informed at all times of just what is being fed to his flock.
A second thing to be considered is the fact that whatever justifiable action that elders may take, must be done with firmness and conviction. Note that when Paul spoke of the Judaizers he said, “. – . to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” In consideration of Peter’s error, he “resisted him to the face for he stood condemned.” A look at the second chapter of First John will reveal just how that apostle dealt with the false doctrine of the gnostics. First, he acknowledged that his brethren could and did know the truth (v. 21). He then pointed out that there were some who would lead them astray (v. 26). Then, of those false teachers he said, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us” (v. 19). He then identified them as antichrist and their teaching as a lie. Brethren, when dealing with error, do not be afraid to employ the level gaze and pointing finger as did Nathan (2 Sam. 12). It is better to expose them with a “You are the man” than to expose the flock to their devilish ideas.
Conclusion: Yes, we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free (Jn 8:31). However, until we open our hearts and minds to the truth, the truth will imprison us. Until we study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly discerning the word of truth, the truth will be our enemy (2 Tim 2:15). Unless a church has qualified elders who know the truth, are able to teach the truth, and are strong enough to enforce the truth, that church will fall victim to wolves in sheep clothing (1 Tim 3:1-13 f; Acts 20:28-30).