Doing Much Harm

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: II Corinthians 11:1-20


I.         An article by Michael Kruger, written back in February 2018, got me thinking about how some people leave the church

            A.        The article focuses on Jen Hatmaker, a Texas author and has a TV show. She has taken public stances contrary to the Southern Baptist denomination she grew up in.

            B.        The point being made is that some people aren’t content to leave a church. They feel they need to destroy what they left in order to feel justified in leaving.

II.        That people will leave is a given

            A.        There will be factions, though they should not exist - I Corinthians 11:18-19

            B.        Those who cause division are to be noted - Romans 16:17-18

                        1.         The problem is they will use smooth and flattering words to deceive the unsuspecting

                        2.         They garner a following by telling people what they want to hear - II Timothy 4:3-4

            C.        John warns that people who were against Christ have already started making an appearance - I John 2:18-19

                        1.         Notice that these antichrists had originated within the church!

                        2.         But they left because they were not really unified with the people following the truth

            D.        Paul warned of people who had shipwrecked their faith - I Timothy 1:18-20

                        1.         Paul later mentions Alexander again - II Timothy 4:14-15

                        2.         Alexander did not just leave the faith, he took it upon himself to vigorously oppose the teachings of the apostles.

III.       Tactics

            A.        Flash your credentials

                        1.         The false teacher has to have some credibility in order to get an audience

                        2.         Disguised as false apostles - II Corinthians 11:12-15

                        3.         Claiming to be Jews and servants of Christ - II Corinthians 11:22-23

            B.        Talk about the problems you have observed

                        1.         This separates the speaker from the group. It is their problems.

                                    a.         For Paul it was complaints that he didn’t accept pay from the church he preached in, claiming it was because he didn’t love them - II Corinthians 11:7-11

                                    b.         They claimed that he is unimpressive in person and a poor speaker - II Corinthians 10:10

                        2.         What is not mentioned is that the speaker never help solve the apparent problems. It is never we need to solve this issue.

            C.        Imply that problems exist because of ignorance

                        1.         Jen Hatmaker in one interview, after claiming that people weren’t allowed to ask questions and only received pat answers, said, “I had no idea that we had permission to press hard on our faith.”

                                    a.         Implied in that is the charge that people in her former denomination where only there because they never dug into the issues

                        2.         You can see this in Paul’s defense when he says satirically how foolish he was - II Corinthians 11:1, 5-6, 21

                        3.         It was also an issue when he laid out solid proof about Christianity - Acts 26:24-26

                        4.         Oddly, if you look among those spreading false teachings, they are the ones who tend not to read the writings of people they disagree with

                        5.         And the complaint about “pat answers”? It is really a way to dismiss the answers they don’t like

                                    a.         There is no reasoning or discussion about what is wrong with these “pat answers.”

            D.        There are no answers

                        1.         It seems contradictory, but many false teachers avoid firm answers.

                                    a.         For example, Hatmaker describes herself as being on a journey and exploring.

                                    b.         The reason is simple, if there are no firm answer (yet), then they don’t feel the need to defend their beliefs.

                        2.         You can see this in Pilate - John 18:35-38

                                    a.         Do you see that the “What is truth?” was a deflection. Pilate didn’t believe there was a firm answer to that question, so he could ignore what Jesus just said.

                        3.         In our culture, being dogmatic is seen as bad.

                                    a.         Anything is allowed ... except certainty. And they are quite certain about that position.

                                    b.         Few are as dogmatic as those who say they oppose dogmatism.

                                    c.         Tolerance is seen as a virtue - II Corinthians 11:4, 20

                                    d.         But notice how Paul dealt with error - II Corinthians 10:2-6

            E.        Victim-hood

                        1.         Hatmaker likes to tell people how she was mistreated by those she left when she started claiming that homosexuality and its related sins were consistent with Christianity

                        2.         I strongly suspect that she met opposition and disagreement, but nothing as strongly she describes.

                                    a.         From what I understand, the Southern Baptists pulled her books from their bookstores, but that should be expected by everyone but Hatmaker

                                    b.         But being a victim is a way to gain sympathy. You make yourself out to be underdog instead of the destructive force that you really are.

                        3.         But have you noticed that the Christians who calmly oppose homosexuality are the ones who are being driven out of business, sued, protested, etc.?

            F.        My beliefs are from the Bible!

                        1.         Hatmaker typifies the false teacher: “It was a lot of work, a lot of labor. It wasn’t just a feeling, it was an incredible amount of study and inquiry.”

                        2.         What always fascinates me is that these folk rarely want to share their notes.

                                    a.         A few do. They are emailed to me in rainbows of colors and a mix of fonts that would make a kidnapper proud. (i.e. impossible to read).

                                    b.         Slogging through the first few points leaves me certain that they are without logical foundation

                                    c.         But most don’t even try. They only assert that it is in the Bible, but they never offer proof.

                                    d.         Or if you ask, then you are mean for doubting the person’s sincerity

                        3.         If you offer to sit down and study the issue, then you are accused of being a legalist – but notice that no evidence comes out.

                        4.         Here was one of Hatmaker’s reasons about homosexuality being acceptable: “Obviously so much of what is written about homosexuailty in Scripture is contextually bound; and there’s not much in there, frankly. But it’s deeply bound to culture ... just like a thousand other points in the Bible are.”

                                    a.         But the Bible has a lot to say about sexuality, sex, and even homosexuality.

                                                (1)       I have a list of 27 passages just on homosexuality.

                                                (2)       I have a huge list of passages on sexual topics.

                                                (3)       It is definitely not an obscure topic.

                                    b.         By claiming it is all cultural means she can dismiss any point by saying it is not relevant ... talk about giving a pat answer!

                        5.         She also said, “When we struggled to find clarity [on sexual issues] ... the Bible refuses to cooperate.”

                                    a.         That isn’t a reason. It is an excuse to not accept what the Bible says.

                                    b.         Actually the Bible statements are strikingly clear

                        6.         Yet another statement, “There’s never been unanimity ever on anything.”

                                    a.         Which is a claim that the unity that Paul insisted on in I Corinthians 1:10 was a useless command.

                                    b.         Of course, the world of Christianity was united on the fact that homosexuality was a sin for over 2,000 years, but somehow that doesn’t count.

                        7.         Still, claiming to have a new understand that wasn’t known for centuries and admitting that because of supposed culture shift your belief is different from what was stated in the Bible

                                    a.         It contradicts that the claim that your belief is from the Bible

                                    b.         It proves Paul’s point - Galatians 1:6-10

                                    c.         This is a belief that comes from men and not God

            G.        When all else fails, attack the old group’s character

                        1.         Hatmaker states, “When I looked at the fruit of the non-affirming Christian tree, the fruit was so universally bad. It was suicide, it was broken families, it was folks kicked out of their churches, it was homeless teenagers, it was self-hatred ... depression, crushing loneliness ... If we are being honest, the fruit of the tree is rotten.”

                                    a.         Again, she makes assertions without evidence.

                                    b.         Notice she bases this on Matthew 7:15-20, but she had said the Bible is not clear and hard to understand. You can’t have it both ways.

                        2.         What she did was blame the consequences of people’s sins on the righteous. Yes, there is bad fruit, but the bad is showing up among those who promote homosexuality. It isn’t seen among those who insist that a man and a woman should get married.

                                    a.         The depression, loneliness, and high suicide rates are not due to people pointing out that homosexuality is a dangerous path.

                                    b.         Beside homosexuality is being accept these days in many places, so why are these things not going away?

                        3.         Isaiah had words for false teachers like Hatmaker - Isaiah 5:20

IV.      When people leave the truth and decide to attack what they left, they can cause much harm

            A.        It is an aspect of an offended brother is hard to win back - Proverbs 18:19

            B.        When someone had known the truth and chooses to leave, it is impossible to win them back - Hebrews 6:4-6

            C.        It would have been better for them to had not known the truth - II Peter 2:21

V.        Of course, our aim to remain united in the truth - Ephesians 4:1-3

            A.        But we know that not all will remain faithful

            B.        Thus, we need to be aware of Satan’s tactics

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