The book of Obadiah is not well known today, yet it contains some powerful lessons for our time. One such lesson is found in vs. 11.
On this occasion Israel was being besieged and overrun by an enemy nation. Edom was rejoicing in the destruction of Israel. Obadiah verse 11 says, In the day that thou stoodest 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. Matt. 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 fancy-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 “as one of them”, a “man on the other side”.
Men must not bow to liberalism and toleration to the point of compromise. It is dangerous to fellowship those whose 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 offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” Rom. 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. When that happens, we become “as one of them”.
Some have never been content to remain within the standard of the Word of God. During the Old Testament days there were false teachers and Peter says there will always be such 2 Pet. 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” Matt. 15:9. Because there will always be false teachers John commands us to put all teachers to the test 1 John 4:1. These false teachers, and their followers, refused to abide within the Scriptures by their teaching and practice. They are “as one of them.”
We have some who claim to be “with us,” who compromise with the innovators. There are congregations, who claim to follow the Biblical pattern for worship, but they will support the innovators and in bidding “these men Godspeed,” they become “partakers of their evil deeds” 2 Jno. 1:9-11. Such a man becomes “as one of them.”
There are some who think that we can just love men out of their error. 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, lest we become as “one of them.” An advocate of “love and understanding” says that we must give them time. But, I would ask, time for what? Time to subvert whole houses? Time to divide congregations? Time to lead multitudes away from Christ? Yes, the Christian is to show love and understanding, but he must also be vigilant and even militant against error, lest he become “as one of one of them.” 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 “as one of them”, a “man on the other side.” To simply “step aside” or “fail to take a side” is to become “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 attacking them. God clearly showed His attitude concerning this matter. Amos 1:9 “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, 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 and they became “as one of them.” 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” Eph. 5:11, these “men on the other side” will then 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. The “man on the other side” instead of protecting the church, is protecting the false teacher. By doing so, he compromises the truth of God and of the church.
The “man on the other side” will not oppose the enemies of the church. This man is a great danger. Such a person may be highly offended if anyone would call him a “man on the other side.” These are individuals who preach the truth. One could sit under their feet and most likely never hear anything but God’s Word. The problem is they will not take a stand when it comes to false teachers. The Bible mentions the city of Meroz just one time. Jud. 5:23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The people of Meroz were not a wicked and immoral people. They simply failed to help the Lord’s people in their war against the Canaanites. God is not going to tolerate neutrality, and the people of Meroz were trying to be neutral. Those who refuse to take up the sword of the Spirit and fight against the enemies of the church are just like the men of Meroz-trying to be neutral. Such men piously work under the guise of not wanting to offend anyone and not liking controversy.
Jesus caused more controversy than anyone who ever lived. When truth was on the line, Jesus was not afraid of offending people. Now, it should not be our intent to offend anyone, but truth is far more important and sometimes it does offend those who are not content to follow it.
You can be sure the side of error is doomed by the eternity of truth, and the “man on the other side” will meet the same fate. Obadiah vs. 18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it.
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 and allow the truth and the church to be attacked by men in error is to be “as one of them.” It is to be the man on the other side!