Jesus loves the truth and hates false doctrine. Jesus’s love for truth is well known and fuels many happy thoughts: the truth sets us free (John 8:32), and Jesus wants the truth to set apart his followers (John 17:17). Truth was the centerpiece of our Lord’s defense in Pilate’s sham court (Luke 23:3). Truth attached itself to Jesus in every walk of his life. His birth aligned and fulfilled great truths of scripture (Matt. 1:22). His earthly ministry began with a heroic defense of and reliance upon God’s truth (Matt. 4:1-11). A high point of our Lord’s time on earth came on a mountain where the truth of his deity was revealed (Matt. 17:1-5). Jesus announced this truth for all to hear (John 5:18), and some did hear and know that Jesus came from God. Nicodemus was an unlikely proclaimer of this truth, and his declaration is curious and layered. Nicodemus doesn’t just say I know; he says we know that Jesus is from God (John 3:2). We are left to wonder if Nicodemus, being a Pharisee, is admitting that other Pharisees knew the truth of Jesus’s divinity.
It’s no wonder that Jesus would announce: “I am the…truth” (John 14:6). This revelation makes falsehoods, false doctrines, and false teachers the obvious opponents of Jesus. Anything less than hearing Jesus (Matt. 17:5) and obeying him (1 John 2:4) puts one at odds with God’s Son. Lies come from the devil, and liars serve him–not God (John 8:44). One sad occasion documents the Pharisees’ rejection of God’s truth. In Matthew 12:24 the Pharisees actually claim that Jesus is working for Satan. They insisted that Satan, not God, gave Jesus his miraculous ability. Jesus hated this revolting (albeit feeble) charge and led an aggressive logical attack against it (Matt. 12:27-32).
Jesus’ hatred of false doctrine may not always get equal time in our thoughts and discussions. Some might even be surprised to hear that Jesus hates anything, but our Lord makes it clear that he hates false doctrine (Rev. 2:6). Not only that, but hating false doctrine was a credit given to his church (Rev. 2:2). Exposing lies and errors being taught by false teachers is the exact thing that Christians are supposed to do. John (who speaks words given to him by Jesus and who is often called the apostle of love) equates loving Jesus with opposing false teachers. John’s headline is that many false teachers exist in the world (1 John 4:1). The apostle Peter reports the same (2 Peter 2:1) and adds the even worse news that many will follow these false teachers (2 Peter 2:2). These threats are not made up by preachers or churches for dramatic effect. False teaching and false teachers are real, and they pose real dangers. If you love the souls of men and women, this threat must be taken seriously. Just about everyone reading this will recall the steps taken to stop the spread of the corona virus. Travel was restricted. Much business was halted. Makeshift hospitals were built, and quarantine measures were implemented. All of this was done to stop a danger to one’s body. What about the false doctrines and errors that are dangerous to one’s soul? The part of us that will live forever needs to be more carefully protected than our outer shell which is destined to return to the dust (Matt. 10:28). When a possible carrier of a dangerous virus is screened and isolated, most see that as a wise and prudent measure. When a false doctrine is questioned (or a false teacher challenged), some insist that such intervention is unloving, and some even claim (ignorantly) that challenging false doctrine is unlike Christ. These clearly have not read enough about our Savior.
Jesus loves sinners and hates sin. The Lord’s hatred of false doctrine is directly tied to his hatred of sin. This hatred burns hot while Jesus still loves the souls of all. He invites all to come to him (Matt. 11:28). Jesus even wanted those who were crucifying him to be forgiven (Luke 23:34). He is tender and compassionate toward those laden with sin (John 8:11). A woman at a well with questions about worship is met with compassion and tender mercy (John 4:9-11). Meanwhile religious elites who actively led people into error are called blind leaders whose works are vain and will be rooted up (Matt. 15:13, 14, 9). Jesus hates sin and wants no one to be gripped by it, and he is especially hard on the leaders of error and prominent false teachers. A special punishment is pronounced on those who lead others astray (Matt. 18:6-7). And who can forget the scathing rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees who led the people away from God (Matt. 23:2)? Jesus repeatedly calls these hypocrites and frauds. Committing sin is a terrible thing, but the duplicity of these false teachers is especially condemned by Jesus.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if false doctrine didn’t exist? Sadly, this is not the case (and never will be). As long as false doctrine is a real threat, we will need preachers, Christians, and papers to follow Jesus and speak out against such. Your soul is too valuable to accept anything else.
Dustin preaches for the Augusta Road congregation in Greenville, SC.