A true heretic is a dangerous person—one of the most deadly is the type who is opposed to the gospel of Jesus and passionately seeks to persuade others to embrace a false gospel. Do you know a heretic? How should you show genuine love to that person without endangering yourself and your family? The Bible speaks to such situations, and we would be wise to follow the biblical pattern of love.
Stop Affirming and Start Evangelizing
According to the world, the politically correct method of showing love is to be affirming to all people no matter what they say or do—it’s their life and their choices and we should love them anyway. Friendship evangelism never works. If you think that being a friend to a heretic will lead that person to Christ—you will never see results. The heretic is often pleased with remaining friends in hopes that he or she could chip away at the foundation of your faith. It’s time to stop affirming them in their beliefs and start evangelizing them with the gospel.
To share the gospel involves confronting people with error.
According to the world, this is judgmental and that’s precisely why so many people hate Jesus. Christ didn’t come to make everyone happy, happy, happy. According to Jesus, he came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), but in doing so, he brings division to friendships and families (see Luke 12:49-53). Hanging out with the heretics will never change their hearts. The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). In other words, if you continue in a close intimate friendship without evangelizing the unbeliever with the gospel and confronting them with their error—you’re not showing true love to your friend. True love will lead someone away from an eternity that’s under the blazing wrath of our sovereign God. Do you really love your friend if you refuse to confront them and to point them to Jesus?
Stop the Intimate Friendship
For the sake of your soul, you need to bring an end to the friendship between you and your heretic friend. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, and taught the church to keep their distance from those who claimed the name of Jesus but denied him in their manner of living (1 Cor. 5:11). You can do this in several ways, but perhaps the best way to do it is to be honest. You can sit down across the table from your friend and explain how their heresy has divided your friendship and that you will no longer be able to remain close friends.
Doctrine matters and false doctrine divides.
In this meeting, you can take time to share the true gospel and plead with your friend to embrace Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. However, the breaking of the relationship is necessary for the sake of your spiritual wellbeing. Don’t have an elevated opinion of yourself—yes you can be fooled too. Remember, Paul scolded the church at Galatia for being fooled by the heretics. Robert Thomas, former professor at The Master’s Seminary once wrote the following:
People don’t often go heretical all at once. It is gradual. And they do not do so intentionally most of the time. They slip into it through shoddiness and laziness in handling the word of truth… All it takes to start the road to heresy is a craving for something new and different, a flashy new idea, along with a little laziness or carelessness or lack of precision in handling the truth of God. All around us today are startling reminders of doctrinal slippage and outright failure. In case after case someone who should have known the truth of God better failed in upholding that truth. [Dr. Robert Thomas, “Precision as God’s Will for My Life,” (pamphlet, The Master’s Seminary, 1989)]
In Matthew 24:24, we find these words, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” If Satan desires to lead astray—even God’s elect (which is not possible), that goes to show you how persuasive he will be in all of his attacks on the gospel of Jesus. Beware of this as Satan and the demonic spirits labor to oppose the gospel of Jesus and his Church.
The intimate friendship should come to an end, not just for the sake of your soul, but for the sake of their soul.
The heretic needs to know that heresy divides friends and that the relationship will never be as close as it once was because of the false gospel. We are created with a desire for intimacy and close friendships. Christians find this fulfillment in the church, but unbelievers find it (on a much lower level) in the world. One of the elements of church discipline is to put a division between the members and the offending member who is being excommunicated in such a way that the person can feel the distance between himself and the church of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 5:5). This is God’s plan for church discipline, and the individual should know they have been turned over to Satan.
The world has one way to show love, but it’s not real love at all. True love will point people to Jesus and then continue to remain close and intimate friends with others within the body of Christ. Pray for the soul of your friend who refuses to bow to Jesus. Pray for God to open this person’s eyes to the truth.
Josh Buice, deliveredbygrace.com