To be bold in exposing and refuting error, it sounds so simple. This is in my opinion where many pastors, and Christians for that matter, lose focus on what God has called them too. Call the reasoning what you want: inclusively, fear of man, lack of understanding, lack of boldness … but the big picture here is that Paul calls Timothy to be bold in correcting the error that is being shared in the church.
Paul was constantly refuting error, every one of his letters was to correct some viewpoint or point of action that the early church had adopted. Heretics and heresy filled the early church, and it is not any different today. At times and during different seasons people will enter into the church and start to teach and expound lies. Sometimes this is out of their lack of understand of the truth of the Word of God, sometimes it is due to incorrect teaching and training that they have receive. If the person is teachable, correct and teach them the truth of the Word, using the Word and asking the Holy Spirit to correct their heart and mind.
But at times people will enter in and the hearts desire that they have is to hurt the church, these people have to be confronted, and removed from the church. This is why Christ told us how to discipline each other. In the passage in Matthew 18 the process is shown to us and the reality is it can go all the way to removing someone completely from the fellowship of God’s people! Until we as leaders begin to actually embrace this system, we will always have people standing on soap boxes shouting about all sorts of things drawing God’s people away from the central truths of Scripture. The task of the leader is to be bold, refute error and get people to step off of those soap boxes so together we can all point to Jesus Christ and the work of salvation, reconciliation, regeneration, atonement, and propitiation that He has done for us. Everything else flow out of those truths and realities. So take a look at the following ten passages and how Paul called Timothy to be bold and brave in exposing error for the health and well-being of the church.
- Correct those teaching false doctrine and call them to a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith – 1 Tim. 1:3-5
- Fight for divine truth and for God’s purposes, keeping his own faith and a good conscience – 1 Tim. 1:18-19
- Recognize the source of error and those who teach it, and point these things out to the brethren – 1 Tim. 4:1-6
- Hold tightly to the truth and guard it – 2 Tim. 1:12-14
- Flee the love of money – 1 Tim. 6:7-11
- Fight for the faith against all enemies and all attacks – 1 Tim. 6:12
- Be gracious and gentle in confronting the sin of his people – 1 Tim. 5:1-2
- Refuse to be drawn into philosophical and theological wrangling – 2 Tim. 2:23
- Understand that Scripture is the basis and content of all legitimate ministry – 2 Tim. 3:16-17
- Teach and preach principles of true godliness, helping his people discern between true godliness and mere hypocrisy – 1 Tim. 5:24-6:6