Speaking to the Elders of the church in Ephesus (vv.17-18) Paul charges them to pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock…care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. A solemn and special task, being appointed an ἐπίσκοπος, and, sadly, part of the careful attention needed would be to ensure that the church is not damaged from within:
“I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears. And now I entrust you to God and to the message of his grace. This message is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
(Acts 20.29-32, NET)
As trials are never far from the truth, sadly some will come from among your own group. There are always those in our communities who want people to follow after them and therefore teach and spread perversions of the truth.
Perhaps it is a radical and ‘new’ truth about Jesus that has no basis in Scripture.
Perhaps it is more subtle, maligning those in leadership in order to gain their own following.
Either way, Paul has a singular solution:
“…now I entrust you to God and to the message of his grace. This message is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Those seeking to disrupt and disturb the community will never be able to justify what they are doing with the truths of Scripture. Their rebellion against earthly leaders is often rooted in their dislike of or distrust for the Scriptures that are being lived out.
Paul is clear that battles need not be fought and wars within the church need not be waged. God and…the message of his grace will be sufficient to show the truth of people’s actions.
If you find yourself maligned by those out to find a following of their own resist the temptation to fight back. Trust in God and [in] the message of his grace. This message is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.