Improper use of Philippians 4:8. Always praiseworthy?

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There is a time to be edifying and positive, and a time not to be. Sometimes the hard truth must be proclaimed. False or inaccurate teachings must be pointed out. Disobedience must be condemned. Yes, Philippians 4:8 states that we should focus on things that are true, lovely, and praiseworthy. However, the same apostle Paul who wrote that very verse, also wrote some rather harsh verses denouncing false teachings.

So did…Jesus, Peter, John, and Jude…as they urged Christians not to be lead astray, refuted false beliefs, reminded them of the truth, and condemned disobedience.

We do need balance.

If the bulk of your time is spent denouncing false teachings, then you need to remember Philippians 4:8!

However, if you never see a place or time for critique and discernment, then you need to remember the necessity of contending for the faith.

I have too often observed Philippians 4:8 used as a “clobber verse” against someone who expresses concern about false teachings. Matthew 7:1 is misused as well. See this post: Judge not? Like not ever?

Below I have put a sampling of verses. And as Martyn Lloyd-Jones aptly said: “Indeed it might almost be said that the New Testament came into being in order to warn Christian people to beware of the terrible ever-present danger of being led astray by false teaching concerning our Lord Himself and His great salvation.”

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospelwhich is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Galations 3:1-3

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 3-4

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. Matthew 11:20-22

Even now many antichrists have come...But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truthAs for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you...I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 1 John 2

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3