A Stopped Clock

A stopped clock …

  • Is right twice a day.
  • Implies that there was a clockmaker.
  • Might have once run well.
  • Could be started again.
  • Could be stopped because of only one defective component.
  • Could be stopped because of someone’s negligence.

If human reasoning could find so many “positive” lessons from a stopped clock, is it any wonder why many of our brethren can find justification for fellowshipping false teachers among Christians? Could we not justify almost any man who teaches falsehoods with similar reasoning as was offered for the stopped clock? See for yourself. Some might say that a false teacher …

  • Is right on most things.
  • Believes in the same God we do.
  • May have done many wonderful things for God in the past (cp. Ezekiel 18:24, 26).
  • Might change if he’s given enough time.
  • Teaches falsehood in only “one area” of Bible teaching.
  • Generally, teaches the truth on all other subjects.

Some might suggest that in the case of the stopped clock, if someone would work with that clock, it may be possible to get the clock working again. This is true. So also, it’s true that if we’ll take the time to work with false teachers (not compromising the truth but taking the time to teach them the truth, Galatians 6:1), we may be able to win them to the Lord when they repent of their false doctrine and preach the truth. This is correct.

However, if our stopped clock is beyond repair, we need not keep it around. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit speaks of some who are “past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19), some “who concerning the truth have erred” (2 Timothy 2:18), and some who “will depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). In such cases, we must not continue in fellowship with them, pretending as if nothing is wrong, but “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). John condemned continuing in fellowship with those in error stating, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11).

One problem today is that while most people will do what’s necessary to fix a stopped clock, many aren’t willing to do what the Bible says is necessary to stop a false teacher (Titus 1:11). Most people aren’t afraid to fix the stopped clock. In fact, we’re appreciative when someone calls attention to the clock. Yet, ironically, when it comes to false teaching, people seem afraid to speak to those in error, and those in error often become angry at the possibility that they’re wrong. How sad!

Don’t be afraid to “call a spade a spade”. If there’s false teaching being promoted, the one who’s the friend is the one who points it out; not the one who’s so afraid of hurting feelings that he keeps it bottled up (Galatians 4:16). Jesus said, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Notice the first group mentioned as having their part in the second death are the “fearful”! I’ve had to work on this problem, and by God’s grace I keep working on it. What about you? Where are your priorities when it comes to the problem of false doctrines being spread?

Adapted from Jarrod M. Jacobs

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