The Man On The Other Side
[Note: As we embark on a new year, let us, as “soldiers of the cross,” give grave consideration of this resolution for the upcoming year.]
The book of Obadiah is not well known today, yet it contains some powerful lessons for our time. One such lesson is found in v. 11. On this occasion, Israel was being besieged and overrun by an enemy nation. Edom was rejoicing in the destruction of Israel. Verse 11 says, “In the day that thou stoniest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.” Although not “one of them,” yet when he “stood on the other side,” he became “as one of them.” In becoming as “one of them,” Edom must perish as the nation that destroyed Jacob. Jesus Christ clearly declares what the religious position of every man must be. Matthew 12:30: “He that is not with is against me; and he that gathered not with me scattereth abroad.” This leaves no middle ground in the spiritual warfare.
Today within the Lord’s church we have a liberal element that has no respect for the authority of the scriptures. They are willing to change and alter anything that suits their face, and, rest assured, they have done exactly that. Their desire is to please man and it is evident they have no real desire to please God. They want to fellowship with those who have brought in innovations. This is impossible if one will remain true to the Bible. Since these men could not remain true to the book and join in with their friends in error, they are willing to compromise the Bible. They are “on the other side.”
It is dangerous to fellowship with those who tendencies are away from New Testament Christianity. There is nothing of lasting worth to be gained by compromise. We do not help the liberal in giving in to him; we only hinder him and jeopardize ourselves. We become “as one of them.” Paul pleads with the Romans, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid him” (Romans 16.17). When there is a laxity of “marking” and “avoiding,” we must sound forth a warning. It is dangerous to get to the point that we think such is no longer needed. Some have never been content to remain within the standard of the Word of God. During Old Testament days, there were false teachers, and Peter says there will always be such (2 Peter 2.1-2). Jesus instructed us to “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 15.9).
Because there will always be false teachers, John commands us to put all teachers to the test (1 John 4.1). Some call for love and understanding when individuals and congregations teach and practice false doctrine. Though we strive to be kind and gentle, we must not sit idly by while strong foes rise up and attack the cause of Christ. Yes, the Christian is to show love and understanding, but he must also be vigilant and even militant against error. When a person does not take his stand wholeheartedly for the truth and stands by and permits, with silent voice and no active opposition, unscriptural practices to be introduced into the church, that person is the man “on the other side.”
Unfortunately, there are influential men among us who defend those who are attacking the Lord’s church. This has always been a problem. The Jews had the same problem long ago. Neighboring countries would defend and give aid to those attaching them. God clearly showed his attitude concerning this matter. Amos 1.9: “Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Cyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom and remembered not the brotherly covenant.” Obadiah prophesied against Edom for acting in this manner.
God is not only displeased, but will bring condemnation upon these types of individuals. Yet, there are many who will defend those who viciously attack the Lord’s faithful people. These individuals might not teach false doctrines themselves. However, when men do what God commands in exposing the “unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5.11), these men “on the other side” will proclaim themselves to be “peacemakers” and attack those who exposed the wrong. They accuse the people who expose wrong of being the troublemakers; much like Ahab did with Elijah.
We must not shirk our responsibility in the fight for the church and truth. We need to do our part in this crusade against sin and error in every form. We must take sides on every issue involving the life of the church. As soldiers of God, let us take our stand at the front of battle. Let us face the enemy, and without compromise, fight those who compromise truth. To simply stand by an allow the truth and the church to be attacked by men in error is to the man “on the other side!”