To be discerning, to speak and act on what we believe to be true and to expose and separate ourselves from error is also considered to be negative. It is in fact negative. However, it is what God’s word tells us to do. God spoke to Isaiah about the people of Israel, calling them rebellious because they did not want to hear truth. They demanded for their prophets to be blind, not speaking right things and to only speak “smooth things” and “deceits”:
Isa 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy NOT unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
Through Jeremaiah, the Lord said that the prophets were not speaking from His mouth, but were telling those who despise the Lord that they would have peace and that encouraged everyone who was walking in the imagination of their own hearts that everything would be well with them. They flattered the people and encouraged them to continue following their own hearts even though they were at odds with the Lord.
Jer 23:16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
Paul warned of a time when those associated with churches would also no longer tolerate sound doctrine, but would heap up for themselves teachers according to their own lusts. They would turn away from the truth, and they would follow after seducing spirits and even doctrines of demons.
All of these are negative things, and it’s just the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. It has been this way since Paul wrote his letter to Timothy, and he clearly anticipated this situation and its struggle as “normal”.
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…
2Ti 4:3 (For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.)
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Paul encouraged Timothy to preach, to reprove, to rebuke and to exhort with doctrine. And he told him that he would have to endure afflictions. The afflictions come because of the negative stigma of this kind of discernment, contending and struggle that would come to trying to help bring people back from error who are conditioned to hearing smooth words, fair speech and flattery. It was in this context that Paul spoke of fighting his own fight and finishing his own race. His expectation was the crown of righteousness.
2Ti 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
It’s interesting that the crown of righteousness for those who love His appearing is found in the context of the struggle in preaching the word, reproving, rebuking and exhorting with sound doctrine in the face of a turning away from truth. Watching for and loving His appearing automatically puts one in the position of loving the truth, guarding the treasure, and guarding against the wolves and the robbers. It seems to all come together as we live in the expectation of His coming!