Tolerating evil



Unfortunately many believers tolerate both evil things and the wicked. What do I mean by that? I mean that they allow some people to do evil things and to teach things contrary to the sound doctrine. Let me give you some examples, so that you may understand what I mean.

If a believer, who is a divorcee, remarries; if a believer commits fornication; if a believer steals; if a believer smokes cigarettes; if a believer goes to the beach to amuse himself; if some sisters come to the place of worship dressed indecently; if a believer plays the clown; if anyone teaches that hell does not exist, or that man does not have a soul, or that we can’t eat pork or rabbit, or that we are allowed to eat blood, things offered to idols, and things strangled, or that young people can have sex before marriage, or that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the new birth, or that a woman can teach the Word of God, those who tolerate all these things react saying: ‘Let no one say a word, let no one rebuke, let each of us mind his own business and keep his opinions; let us avoid any discussion and strife. God accepts us as we are, who are you to judge your brother? Do you think you are holier than him?’ and so on.

Brothers in the Lord, let no one of these people deceive you, because they have ceased to love righteousness and truth for a long time and they don’t know any longer what is the difference between enduring the evil things which people do against us and tolerating the evil things, between rebuking one’s brother and judging one’s brother. I warn you in the Lord not to tolerate any sin nor any heresy because God does not take pleasure in such a conduct. In other words, God wants evil things to be exposed and those who do evil things to be rebuked, God wants heresies to be refuted and those who teach them to be rebuked. When someone sins or teaches a false doctrine, God does not want you to keep silent, in order to avoid discussions and being persecuted by those who are self seeking and walk disorderly, but rather He wants you to open your mouth and raise your voice against what is contrary to the sound doctrine. That’s what the Scripture teaches us. I will give you some examples.

The Lord rebuked the angel of the church in Thyatira because he tolerated Jezebel, as it is written: “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20 – NIV). Notice that in that Church the pastor allowed that woman to teach heresies and to commit fornication and he said nothing against her. What did the Lord do? Did He close His eyes, as that pastor had done? No, for He rebuked that pastor because of his tolerance. However, the Lord Jesus, on the other hand, commended the angel of the Church in Ephesus because he could not tolerate the false apostles, as He said to him: “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false” (Revelation 2:2 – NIV). Therefore, those who sin and teach false doctrines must be rebuked and not tolerated; on the contrary, those who have a different opinion from ours about a day or a food must be tolerated, as it is written: “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things” (Romans 14:1 – NKJV – Read all the fourteenth chapter of the epistle to the Romans).

Paul says to Timothy: “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20 - NKJV) and: “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2 – NKJV), and again: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia – remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies …” (1 Timothy 1:3-4). As you can see, a servant of God must not tolerate those who sin and teach false doctrines, nor must he pretend nothing happened, nor must he allow believers to behave as they like or teach what they like in the midst of the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth. He must take a clear position against every form of evil, so that the Church may be kept pure and blameless and believers may know that they are not free to do evil things and to teach strange doctrines.

A believer must be so zealous for the House of God that when he sees that someone is trying to introduce bad habits or strange doctrines, his zeal moves him to raise his voice against such things and against those who are doing this work of the devil in the midst of the flock of the Lord, to keep these people from spreading these evil things.

Now I am going to cite some examples taken from the Scriptures, which show how the zeal for the House of God, and thus for righteousness and truth, manifests itself.

When Jesus saw that the House of His Father had become a den of thieves, He made a whip of cords and He drove those who sold oxen and sheep out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned their tables and He said to those who sold doves: ‘Take these things away!’ (John 2:13-17 - NKJV).

When Paul at Antioch saw that Cephas compelled the Gentiles to follow Jewish customs, he rebuked him saying to him: “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews” (Galatians 2:14 – NKJV) and some other things.

And I could cite also the examples of the prophets who were persecuted and killed because they exposed the wickedness, the injustice and the lies of the people, but I stop here because I think you have understood that in the house of God both evil and those who do evil things, both lies and those who tell them, must not be tolerated at all. Beware of all those who tolerate evil things and of those who do evil things.