It’s sometimes hard to know how to respond to false teaching. Some of us have never seen a controversy we didn’t like. Others of us tend to shy away from controversy and don’t want to address false teaching even when we should.
The book of Jude is a helpful resource. Here are some lessons I’ve been learning from Jude on how to respond to false teaching.
Don’t major on controversy.
Jude addressed false teaching, but it was his second choice. He “was very eager to write to you about our common salvation” (Jude 1:3). Because of false teaching, he was forced to change his topic. It’s a good reminder to us to major on the gospel as our first choice.
Address false teaching when it happens.
Jude didn’t shy away from addressing false teaching. He tackles the issue head-on and shows us that the pattern of rebellion and unbelief in Scripture repeats itself (Jude 1:4-16). Jude seems to be convincing his readers that they should take false teaching seriously. When it happens, we need to name it and deal with it.
Expect false teaching.
Don’t be surprised when it happens. We’ve been told to expect it (Jude 1:17-19). It’s going to come from people within the church.
Secure your own positions.
Keep yourselves in the love of the one who is keeping you (Jude 1:20-21). Our first response should not be to go after the false teachers. Our first response should be to examine ourselves and build ourselves up in the faith.
Reach out to false teachers and their victims.
Jude identifies three categories of people who are affected by false teaching. Each category requires a different approach (Jude 1:22-23). Some have doubts; some seem to be buying in; some are in deep. Our response should be to reach out to them. It may be that God can restore them through you.
Praise the God who can keep you.
I love that Jude ends by reminding us that God is “able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24). The danger is real. We should be appropriately scared (Jude 1:23). But God is able to keep us. Our proper response is praise (Jude 1:24).
It’s a good guide to how to respond to theological controversy whenever it happens.