Fred E. Dennis
Some people today believe that is an almost “unpardonable sin” for a preacher or writer to call the names of false teachers and hypocrites, but there are good precedents in the New Testament for this. Of course, our motives for this must be pure. To call names to simply ridicule would be sin, but if we are trying to save souls, false teachings and false teachers must be identified.
Some say that, “just preaching the truth” will be sufficient, and we should leave others alone. But the preachers and writers of the New Testament did not act in that manner. They preached the truth and contrasted it with the errors of men.
John the Baptist was very personal in his preaching. King Herod was living with another man’s wife—living in adultery. John knew this and knew that it was not lawful for the king to live that way. I suppose John could have preached the truth on lots of other things and not offended Herod and the woman with whom he was living. But why preach on other things and avoid preaching on the very thing the king needed?
So John just “approached” a bad situation and told the king in plain words he was living in sin. Of course, for this plain preaching, John lost his head (Matt. 14:1-12). Sin is sin and should be condemned in the severest terms. If we know of members of the church living in open adultery, defying the laws of God, we ought to tell them and let them know that such characters cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9).
Jesus called names. Two of the most bigoted sects of His day were the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were religious hypocrites. Time after time, Jesus told them this, calling their names. Read His scathing denunciation of them in Matthew 23. Would Jesus have been true to His trust if He had refused to have so spoken? Did the Lord do wrong in calling their names? By calling names, the Lord pointed out error and all knew of whom He spoke
On the birthday of the church, Peter preached to the betrayers and murderers of God’s Son, and told them they were such (Acts 2:22-23). He did not preach a “soft” sermon on sin and tell them there were some murderers in the world and that it was not becoming to live that way. Listen to his words! “Therefore let all the house of Israel know that assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
That kind of preaching brought results. They knew that the innocent blood of God’s Son was upon their souls. It was dripping from their hands. What were the results? “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). What brought them to a sense of their lost condition? The truth had been preached and the application made. Peter let them know that he was preaching to them.
Paul talked about some who had made shipwreck of the faith, and wrote of them. “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20). Is that not plain? They had been delivered to Satan that they would learn not to blaspheme and Paul wrote it in the New Testament for all the world to read.