Why do you at times point out and identify the sins of others and the ungodly conduct of persecutors? Does this contradict biblical teaching?


The Bible teaches us that we must be willing to forgive and forget, upon repentance. The Bible does not teach us that we must overlook and ignore ungodly conduct of those who reject God and persecute His people; especially, when it has relevance and important bearing on other Christians. The Bible even tells us that sometimes, some need to be admonished—even in public, if necessary—to prevent that others follow their wrong example.

For instance, in Titus 1:10-14, Paul warns Titus not to tolerate those in a certain nation who oppose him:

“For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.”

Today, a minister would face immediate persecution if he were to make such an assessment about an entire nation; but so be it, if it’s the truth, which was undoubtedly the case when Paul wrote these words, under godly inspiration.

Paul was not too concerned with lawsuits for libel and slander, when naming hostile individuals, when he felt that it was necessary to warn fellow Christians of their dangerous conduct.  We read in 2 Timothy 4:4-15:

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.”

As a warning to others, Paul also named some Christians who had turned away from the faith. We read in 2 Timothy 1:15:

“This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogones.”

He even went further and named some whom he had to disfellowship or excommunicate, because of their opposition to the teachings of God. In 1 Timothy 1:18-20, he wrote:

“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage a good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

At times, Paul enjoined the ministry of a local congregation to disfellowship a sinner who publically violated God’s law, without naming him specifically, since everyone knew him and the troublesome situation. (Temporary) excommunication was necessary in that case as his conduct had negatively affected the entire local membership (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).

In other situations, Paul admonished openly and publically two female members in one particular congregation to change their conduct towards each other:

“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntche to be of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).

In still another circumstance, Paul recounted in his letter to the Galatians a public controversy between Peter and himself, stating this:

“But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to  be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles, and not as the Jew, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?…” (Galatians 2:11-14).

John the Baptist confronted Herod publically for living in sin (Mark 6:18).

Jesus Christ was never shy when publically confronting the hypocritical Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees for their hostile rejection of God’s Word. He called them “hypocrites”  (Matthew 16:3) and warned His disciples not to follow their doctrine (verses 6, 12). He was especially outspoken in His lengthy admonitions, as recorded in Matthew 23, calling them “hypocrites” (verses 13, 14, 15, 27, 29), “blind guides” (verses 16, 24), “fools and blind” (verses 17, 19), and, finally, “serpents, brood of vipers” (verse 33).

Later, Peter rebuked openly the high priest, the rulers, elders and scribes for having crucified and rejected Jesus Christ (Acts 4:1-6, 9-11). Peter and the other apostles repeated the same charge in Acts 5:24-30, saying that they had “murdered” Christ (verse 30).

Subsequently, Peter rebuked openly and publically the sorcerer Simon Magus, who had even been baptized, warning him to repent of his wickedness, and stating that he was poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity (Acts 8:20-23).

Later, Paul rebuked openly Bar-Jesus or Elymas the sorcerer, because he was seeking to turn the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, away from the faith. Paul minced no words, when he stated that the sorcerer was “full of deceit and all fraud, “ continuing: “…you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:4-10).

It is true that we are warned not to bring railing accusations against, or speak evil of dignitaries (Jude 8-10). This is foremost to be understood as a warning against speaking evil of angels (compare Revelation 13:6). But we must also be careful not to speak ungodly and incorrect words against human authorities. Paul called unrighteous Ananias a “whitewashed wall, “ but regretted his comment when he was told that he was speaking to the high priest, quoting Exodus 22:28, stating that we are not to speak evil of the ruler of the people (Acts 23:3-5).

Still, this does not mean that we should ignore, condone or even justify wrong conduct of our rulers, as we are commanded not to call evil good, and good evil. Rather, we are commanded to show the people their sins, which includes the rulers of the people (Isaiah 58:1-2), and to expose wickedness.

In the near future, as Revelation 11 explains, two powerful witnesses of God will proclaim His Way of Life and oppose and rebuke two human instruments of Satan—the beast and the false prophet—as well as the entire Babylonian system that they will represent. They will not shy away from their duties, although it will lead to their death, and we, as Christ’s ambassadors, must likewise prepare the way for His Second Coming, preaching the gospel “to open [the people’s] eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith” in God and Christ (Acts 26:18).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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