If you have listened to me for any length of time you know that I think it is important for believers to read their Bibles. I am constantly pushing you and encouraging you to read through your Bible every year. I really believe that understanding the Bible starts by reading it, over and over.
As we read our Bible, we will begin to develop our theology. Theology comes from Theos, which means: "God" and Logos, which means: "Word, or doctrine." So, theology may be defined in the narrow sense as the doctrine of God. If you are going to know God, you must know theology. Some uninformed believer may say "Why do I need to know theology? All I need is to know Jesus." My reply would be "Who is Yeshua?" As soon as we begin to answer that question we are involved in theology. No Christian can avoid theology, every Christian is to be a theologian. And the theology that we hold must come from a careful exegesis of the Scripture. It is my conviction that every believer ought to be a theologian.
The church today is so busy entertaining and trying to draw crowds that it has forsaken teaching. We are producing a generation of Christians who don't know theology. Christians can often tell you every sport's figure and all their stats, or the latest gossip on every movie star, but they don't know much at all about their God.
R. C. Sproul, in his book Knowing Scripture makes this sad yet insightful comment, "If you have read the whole Bible, you are in a small minority of Christian people. If you have studied the Bible you are in an even smaller minority. Isn't it amazing that almost every American has an opinion to offer about the Bible, and yet so few have really studied it?" I would say, "And yet so few have ever read it."
As believers we need to be constantly reading and studying our Bibles and developing our doctrinal foundations. Notice what Paul told Timothy:
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16 ESV
Paul tells Timothy to watch life and his "teaching" which is from the Greek word didaskalia, which means:" doctrine." In doing this he will not only save himself but those who hear him. The word "save" here is sozo and is used here in the sense of deliver. What will he save himself and others from by his doctrine?
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 ESV
So, you can see that the word "save" here means: "to deliver" in this context; to deliver from the effects of the teaching of the false teachers. So your doctrine/theology is very important. As you learn your Bible and begin to put together your theology, you will realize that there are many different areas of theology.
In Systematic Theology there are many different doctrines. You have Theology Proper—which deal with the existence and of attributes of God. Anthropology—the doctrine of man. Christology—the doctrine of Christ. Soteriology—the doctrine of salvation. Ecclesiology—the doctrine of the church. Eschatology—the doctrine of end times. Bibliology—the doctrine of the Bible.
Do all these areas of theology carry the same level of importance? What would you say was the most important doctrine? Theology Proper, Christology and Soteriology. I think that the danger of Preterism is that people have elevated it to prime importance. Preterism is an eschatology, one of many, it is not a denomination, but it seems to have become that. It has become a denomination where the only doctrine that matters is eschatology. To me the danger of Preterism is that many have put it above all other doctrines. I think this is wrong. Before I try to explain to you what I see as the dangers within Preterism, let's define it.
Preterism is a system of Eschatology that views the end time events as taking place in the first century. Preterism is the teaching that the big three, the Judgment, the Resurrection and the Second Coming all took place in AD 70 signaled by the destruction of Jerusalem. Preterism takes the time statements in the Bible at face value and believes that Yeshua returned in the first century generation, just as He said He would. I am a full Preterist , have been for 22 years. The longer I study the Bible, the more convinced I am that Preterism is true? I think that Preterism is an eschatology of hope, of victory.
I believe that a correct hermeneutic will lead you to Preterism. One of the principles of hermeneutics is called audience relevance. Audience relevance seeks to discover what the original readers understood a passage to mean. The concern of the interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.
A couple of weeks ago a man called me and asked me if I thought Revelation 18 dealt with America. I said, No, not at all. Then I asked him who the book of Revelation was written to?
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, Revelation 1:4 ESV
Then he names these seven churches in verse 11:
saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea." Revelation 1:11 ESV
So, Revelation was written to seven churches in Asia minor, seven real churches, by churches he means called out ones, believers. So, this book was written to these different groups of believers who lived in Asia Minor in the first century. Notice what he says to them:
The revelation of Yeshua the Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, Revelation 1:1 ESV
His servants here refers to the believers in these seven churches. And then he tells them when the events of this book will take place—soon! Which means, soon to them.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3 ESV
What time is near? The time for the events in this book to take place. The time was near for all the events in this book to take place. The time was near in the first century.
The book of Revelation ends with the same time statements that it began with. So, the time statements bracket this book and all the events that are to take place are to take place soon to the first century audience.
And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place." "And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." Revelation 22:6-7 ESV
And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Revelation 22:10 ESV
"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Revelation 22:12 ESV
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Yeshua! Revelation 22:20 ESV
Five times in the last 16 verses He tells the seven churches in Asia Minor that He is going to come very soon.
In Revelation 1:1, John specifically states that the prophecies of Revelation would begin to take place in a very SHORT TIME. He emphasized this truth in a variety of ways through language. He carefully varies the manner of his expressions as if to avoid any potential confusion on the matter. The Greek word translated "shortly" in Revelation 1:1 is tachos. According to Arndt and Gingich Lexicon, tachos is used in the LXX and certain non-canonical writings to mean: "speed, quickness, swiftness, haste." John uses the same word in Revelation 2:16; 3:11; 22:6,7,12,20. John also uses the Greek word engus, which is translated: "at hand" in Revelation 1:3 & 22:10. This term speaks of temporal nearness, and John uses it to bracket the book. The third Greek word is mello; it is translated: "about to" in Revelation 1:19 & 3:10. The phrase in 1:19, "those that are to take place after this" is literally: "the things which are about to occur," and in 3:10, "that is coming on the whole world" is literally: "is about to come upon the whole world." If we apply the principle of audience relevance, what would the original readers have thought when they read this? John strategically places these words at the introduction and conclusion of the book. John was telling the seven churches to expect these things at any moment. These events are not in our future, they are ancient history to us.
Notice what the writer of Hebrews tells his first century readers:
For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; Hebrews 10:37 ESV
"For yet a little while"—the Greek is very expressive and emphatic. The author used a word which signifies "a little while," and then for further emphasis added a particle meaning: "very," and this he still further intensified by repeating it; thus literally rendered, this clause reads: "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come."
The idea which the author wishes to convey is evidently that the time of their deliverance from their trials was not far remote. The reference is undoubtedly to the Second Coming of Christ. If this is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ, and if He has not yet come as most of the Church believes, then what did this mean to the people to whom it was written? Nothing! Nothing at all!
What does it mean to us? Can we understand, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come" to mean over 2,000 years? If the Lord did not return in the first century, this would have meant nothing to the Hebrews. To tell you the truth, it would have been deceptive to them.
God inspired the author of Hebrews to write at around A.D. 65 to the first century saints, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come." How could he have made it clearer that the Second Coming of Christ would happen SOON to them?
Most Christians would say that the Lord has not yet returned, making the writer of Hebrews a false prophet. But the problem is that it wasn't just the writer of Hebrews who said that Yeshua was to return in the first century, Yeshua Himself taught this.
So Preterism as an eschatology is, in my opinion, right on. It is true to the principles of hermeneutics. But it's getting to the point that I don' t want to associate with the term "Preterist." My eschatology is definitely a fulfilled eschatology, but there are some within the movement that give it a very bad name. And when these people who hold some very unbiblical views call themselves Preterists, I don't want to be associated with that.
The danger within Preterism comes from the fact that Preterism has become an umbrella under which man's false doctrines are gathering. And as they join the Preterist movement they bring their doctrinal errors with them. And because they say they are Preterist they discredit the eschatological view by their doctrinal errors. So, I think we need to be careful about embracing someone just because they say their eschatology is Preterist. We can't line up and associate with people based strictly on their eschatology. There are other doctrines that are much more important.
Barry Bennett writes in an article entitled, "The Dangers of Preterism (Part 2),"
"Preterism is the theological platform from which any aberrant doctrine can grow. All one has to do is point to AD 70 and declare that things are different now." Later in the article he writes, "The startling reality is that in this teaching the cross of Christ takes second place to the destruction of Jerusalem." I tend to agree with him on this.
Let's look at some of the false doctrines that are gathering under the umbrella of Preterism:
Universalism—is the teaching that God, through the atonement of Yeshua, will ultimately bring reconciliation between Himself and all people throughout history. This reconciliation will occur regardless of whether they have trusted in, or rejected, Yeshua as Savior during their lifetime.
Former Mars Hill pastor, Rob Bell, ignited a theological controversy over Universalism with his book, Love Wins . The gist of Bell's book is: Every sinner will turn to God and realize he has already been reconciled to God, in this life or in the next. In the end, love wins.
So, the basic presupposition of Universalism is that God's nature is love, and He loves everybody. I see Universalism as the logical outcome of Arminianism. If God loves everyone, then it only makes sense that He will save everyone. The Universalist's go through the Scriptures and pull out all the verses that mention "all" and "world" to attempt to prove their point that "all" will be saved.
A Universalists writes: "Belief is not a 'requirement' to be returned back to God in spirit when you die. Belief is that thing that gives us joy RIGHT NOW, KNOWING that it has been accomplished, that the works of the Devil have been undone, and Jesus is the Savior of the world."
The Bible doesn't say that those who believe will have joy, but eternal life. To not believe is to not have eternal life:
he who is believing in the Son, hath life age-during; and he who is not believing the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God doth remain upon him.' John 3:36 YLT
The Scripture from beginning to end proclaims the necessity of faith. Apart from faith in Christ, men will perish. Eternal life is only for believers:
There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Yeshua, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; Romans 8:1 YLT
"No condemnation" here refers to spiritual death. All are condemned in Adam, but those who are in Christ, those who believe in Christ have "no condemnation." If Paul was a Universalist he would have said, "There is therefore now no condemnation to anyone!" But he didn't, he said that only those in Christ, those who believe in Christ, are not condemned.
It is only those who believe in Him that do not perish. All who do not believe in Him perish.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18 ESV
The unbeliever is condemned, under the wrath of God.
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV
There's only one thing that prevents you from dying in your sin and being damned forever, and that is belief that Yeshua is Yahweh. Belief of the truth, nothing more and nothing less, is what separates the saved from the damned.
I see Universalism as an attack on the Gospel. Over and over the Bible calls upon man to "believe on the Lord Yeshua the Christ" for salvation. But Universalism says, "You don't need to believe in Yeshua, all will be saved."
Bereans, just because someone holds a correct doctrine of eschatology, just because they believe that the Lord returned in AD 70, does not make them our brother. Much more important than the Doctrine of Eschatology is the Doctrine of Soteriology, how is a person saved. And the Bible teaches we are saved by faith.
But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Yeshua the Christ might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22 ESV
"The promise" is the covenant promised to Abraham of justification, by faith of Yeshua the Christ, might be given to them that believe.
but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:26-28 ESV
Eternal life is only given to those who believe. There are people who are not His sheep, and they will perish.
Israel Only—is another doctrinal error that gathers under the umbrella of Preterism. Those who hold this false teaching say that the term "Gentiles" refers ONLY to the ten northern tribes of Israel, and thus the Bible is written solely and entirely to national Israel. And, therefore, there is nothing in the Bible for US; it is all about Israel.
They also believe that "everything" ended in AD 70. And I mean everything, which includes, salvation, sin, spiritual death, the Church, the Law. Well if you believe that this is true, why would you even bother with the Bible? Once you learned that none of it applied to you, including salvation, why wouldn't you just throw it out and go on with your miserable life? I don't say that to be mean, but if you believe what they are teaching, then life is without Yahweh and without hope, and that is a miserable life.
I believe that Yahweh has always had a plan for Gentiles, I believe that Yahweh loves Gentiles, I believe that He saves them, and I believe that the Bible is the Word of the Living God, and is relevant to us today.
Now the IO people are right when they say that the term "nations or Gentiles" is used of the northern kingdom of Israel. Let me make this clear, the northern kingdom of Israel is included in the term "nations or Gentiles" but it is not exclusive of it. The Greek term ethnos can be used of the ten Northern tribes at times the ten Northern tribes are called, "goy or ethnos." But these terms are not exclusive to the Northern kingdom of Israel. For example:
saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. Mark 10:33 ESV
Here Gentiles/ethnos is not referring to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but to the Romans who were non-Israelites.
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Yeshua, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, Acts 4:27 ESV
Here the Gentiles are a distinct group from Israel. Here "ethnos" is non-Israelites.
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15 ESV
Paul was to take the Gospel to the "nations" and to the sons of Israel. So, sometime "nations," is used of the nation of Israel, sometimes of the dispersed ten Northern tribes, and sometimes for non-Israelites, and sometimes of everybody. It's meaning must be determined by its context, which means we must do our homework.
So, the body of Christ is made up of the re-gathered twelve tribes of Israel and many non-Israelites who have been called of Yahweh and trusted in Christ. The term "Gentiles" is far more expansive than the IO people claim.
Those who hold to the IO false doctrine are cessationist, they believe "everything" ended in AD 70. They take the principle of "audience relevance" to a place where none of the Bible even applies to us today. They are saying that the Bible is written solely and entirely to national Israel. They are accusing us of using audience relevance only for the time statements. What they mean is that to them the Bible isn't relevant to today's audience. Let's talk about audience relevance.
One of the rules of Hermeneutics is audience relevance. This means that whatever a passage meant, or whatever words spoken in Scripture meant, it meant, or had direct application to the original intended audience. This means that there is not one book in the Bible that was written TO anyone living today. Every single book in the Bible was written FOR us, for application and understanding, but none of them were written TO us. Every book in the Bible is a personal letter, a history book, or writing by a prophet to particular people at a particular time and for a particular reason. It really doesn't matter what it a particular text means to you. It only matters what it meant to the original audience. It is only as we put ourselves in the sandals of the original audience that we find out what the Bible truly means. Only after we do that can we then apply it to ourselves.
Now those who hold to IO would say that since none of the Bible was written to us, none of it applies to us. Really? Let's look at a text in Philippians. In Philippians 2:19 Paul talks about sending Timothy to the Philippians shortly. I think everybody understands that this does not apply to us. Timothy is not coming to us shortly because he is dead. It's been two thousand years since Paul wrote this. Well what about:
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:2-3 ESV
Is this for us? No, Euodia and Syntyche are dead, Clement is dead. This was very specific to the local situation. What we might apply from this text is the principle of unity that we see throughout the New Testament. Okay, what about:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV
Does this apply to us? Paul is talking about himself, but this could apply to us if we are in Christ. Can we do all things through Christ? Does this mean we a can leap tall buildings at a single bound? Run faster than a bullet? No, notice the context:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12 ESV
So, does this apply to us, can we deal with any circumstance if we are living in dependence on Christ? Yes, we can. This is a spiritual truth that applies to all who live in dependence upon Christ.
These people who are saying that since none of the Bible was written to us, none of it applies to us are wrong! They say, "It is all to Israel about their sin, their salvation, their Messiah." These folks go so far as to say, "Sin was done away in AD 70, and we don't sin today, and we don't need salvation today.
Paul taught that the Gentiles in the Church shared in the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant with Israel:
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. Galatians 3:16 ESV
The promises were to one Seed, who was Christ. Yeshua is the seed of Abraham:
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:29 ESV
Is the "you" here limited to those in Galatia in the first century? No, it is not! If you by faith belong to Christ, you are Abraham's seed and an heir according to the promise. It doesn't matter who's blood you have in your veins, but who's faith you have in your heart.
Brian Simmons writes, in What Hyper Preterists Don't Want You To Know (2008) "The consistent Preterist view holds that all salvation was perfectly consummated in A.D. 70. Those born after A.D. 70 never needed salvation, for they were never under the Old Covenant… Therefore, if Hyper-Preterism is true, all men must be saved." No, we don't teach this, the IO cessationist might, but orthodox Preterism doesn't.
One of these cessationist writes, "Sin and death were related to 'the law' and that is not the issue for people living today. I was never born 'in Adam' and therefore, did not inherit the consequences of his sin, nor the death that resulted." This is a big discussion among Preterists today—are people born in Adam today?
Men, all mankind was born dead in Adam before the Old Covenant, during the Old Covenant and I believe they are still born dead in Adam today. Did the nature of man change after AD 70? If so, where does the Bible teach that it changed? Here is how I understand what happened in AD 70. Christ came and put an end to "the sin" and "the death" but only for those who are in Him. All those outside of Christ are still born in Adam and are still dead in sins.
Baptismal Regeneration—is another doctrinal error that gathers under the umbrella of Preterism. Baptismal regeneration means that the act of water baptism conducted by a pastor or priest contains regenerative or life-giving power.
One of the largest religious groups in the world today teaches that unless you are water baptized, you cannot be saved. It's the religious group called Roman Catholics. The other prominent group that teaches a similar heresy is the Church of Christ. They also make it clear that unless you are water baptized, you cannot possibly be saved.
Under the umbrella of Preterism there are many who are Church of Christ. By coming to believe in the eschatology of Preterism they have a correct eschatology. but their soteriology is false. They teach that the ritual of water baptism saves you.
Jack Cottrell, in his book, Baptism: A Biblical Study (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Co., 1989, p. 84.) represents the denominational view of the "Churches of Christ" and "Christian Churches." He says, "Every Christian has come within the scope of this sin-destroying force of the death of Christ; we have tapped into its lethal power. When did we do this? In our baptism. There is absolutely no indication that this union with Christ in His death happened as soon as we believed or repented. We did not believe into His death; we did not repent into His death. Paul explicitly says we 'have been baptized into His death' (v. 3)" (p. 84).
So, they teach that in the act of water baptism that a person is born again rather than by the sovereign act of God by the Holy Spirit. We just finished a study of the Gospel of John. What was John's purpose in writing?
but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31 ESV
This tells us that the reason for the writing of the Gospel of John is so that people will believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing that they will have eternal life. John has a lot to say about belief, but nothing about water baptism. Now think with me, John wrote his Gospel specifically to bring people to eternal life. Yet in the Gospel of John, "baptism" is never mentioned. If baptism is necessary for salvation, John messed up. But the fact that John didn't mention baptism speaks volumes. He didn't mention it, because it isn't necessary for salvation.
Unitarianism— is another doctrinal error that gathers under the umbrella of Preterism.
According to the website, https://www.unitarian.org.uk/pages/frequently-asked-questions-faq. "Unitarians believe that Jesus was a man, unequivocally humanÉIt has long been our view that to talk of Him as God is unfaithful to His own understanding of HimselfÉWhile honouring Him we do not worship Him, something we believe He would not have wanted."
Well Yeshua Himself said that honoring Him is the same as honoring the Father:
that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. John 5:23 ESV
The Father has guaranteed that the Son will receive equal honor with Himself by committing the role of judging entirely to Him. Therefore, failure to honor the Son reflects failure to honor the Father, and honoring the Son honors the Father.
How can Yeshua say this in light of:
I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:8 ESV
Yahweh will not share His honor with another. So, for Him to share His honor with the Son must mean that the Son and the Father are one in essence. What man or what created being could say that we should honor Him just as we honor the Father? Clearly, Yeshua is claiming to be Yahweh!
When you read a Unitarian who says, "Well Yeshua never claimed to be God." Anyone who says that doesn't know the Bible. Over and over Yeshua claims to be Yahweh. He does it all through this text in John 5. He insists that He is to be worshiped in the same way Yahweh is. He is to be honored, praised, adored, respected, trusted, obeyed in the same way as God the Father.
So, when the Unitarian says, " While honouring Him we do not worship Him" he's not only not honoring the Son, but he's dishonoring the Father. Now that's a serious thing. So, when a man says, "God is God. But Yeshua is ONLY the Son of God," denying Him the honor of the Father, he's not only not honoring Christ; he's dishonoring God the Father:
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV
What Yeshua says is, "Unless you believe that I am" the translators add "He" but it is not in the Greek text. So, what is Yeshua claiming? He is claiming to be "I Am." And by doing so was asserting equality with God Himself, who was revealed as the "I Am That I Am" —the self-existent, eternal God.
No one can know God who does not know His Son, and conversely, no one can honor or praise the Father who does not honor and praise the Son! Anyone who says that they worship God, but who deny the deity of Christ, have neither the Father nor the Son!" These people include Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Unitarians.
The Preterist eschatology is important. Eschatology is a major theological issue in the Scriptures. R.C. Sproul says that two thirds of the New Testament is either directly or indirectly eschatological. Other experts say that 25 to 30 percent of the whole Bible is eschatological.
The Preterist eschatology affects your world view. If we are living in the last days, and this world is about to end any moment, why work for social change? We are not living in the last days. We live in the Kingdom of God, and we are to be affecting the world in which we live by the power of God.
So, I believe that eschatology matters. It's important, but it's not near as important as soteriology or Christology. And we must be careful not to join with those who deny the deity of Christ or the necessity of faith for salvation. These doctrinal errors attack the Gospel of Christ, and we must not stand with them. Let me leave you with Paul's words:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18 ESV
How are we to respond to those who are causing division and are stumbling blocks because of their false doctrine? Paul says they are to "avoid them"—the word "avoid" is from the Greek word ekklino, which means: "to turn aside, to shun." It is in the present imperative: "keep on shunning."
So, Paul says they are to continually mark out and avoid those who cause divisions and offenses. What we must realize is that all our contacts with others inevitably influence us one way or the other. That is because God made us interdependent creatures. We are responsible for the influences to which we subject ourselves. God holds us responsible to avoid evil influences.
What about unity, isn't that important? Yes, it is ,but you can't have unity without truth.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3 ESV
Faith is the body of doctrine within the New Testament. If a person denies any of the core truths of the Gospel, he does not hold to the one faith, and there is no basis for unity with him and us. Bereans, we must contend for the faith.