When cries of division and judgement occur in response to warnings about false teaching and the need for sound doctrine, vast amounts of Scripture as well as the reasons for the warnings are usually overlooked.
Since all Scripture is instructional for living (2 Timothy 3:16), there must be reasons why most of the New Testament warns about false doctrine. I doubt one of those reasons are to give me something to blog about; trust me, I have enough failed Pinterest projects and cute photos of my dogs to post until the return of Jesus.
So what are the reasons behind the warnings? Let’s look at 2 Peter 2:1-3:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
1. False Teachers and False Teachings Slander Christianity
Verse 2 says, because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. Televangelists, under the guise of Christianity, have long been disgraced in the public eye; more recently, Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill fiasco caught the attention of The New York Times. When the bad fruits of people like these are revealed to the world, it smears Christianity.
2. False Teachers Exploit the Deceived
Verse 3 says that because of their greed, false teachers will exploit others with false words. Romans 16:18 says these false teachers deceive to serve their own appetites, and, to make matters worse, people will follow them to suit their own passions (2 Timothy 4:3).
How many wealthy people send money to seed-faith preachers? It’s the poor who send their hard-earned money, hoping to double their “donations”. How many unemployed people are told to simply “name it and claim it” (employment)? And what about the couple who desperately want a child? Well, all they have to do is follow the New Age teaching of positive confession…and believe it and conceive it! So, not only are these people shamelessly being scammed, they are also being led down the broad path that leads to destruction.
3. Immature Christians Are Inclined to Accept False Teachings
Ephesians 4:14 encourages us to “no longer be children who are tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
Yep, that was me. Upon believing the Gospel and being given the truth of our Savior, I quickly became a regular at Christian bookstores, not knowing these were full of destruction. Then, when I went to my former church, someone kindly pointed the way to all the false teachings I had missed. 😯
I was not grounded in the knowledge of Christ and the essential doctrines. I knew of these things, but I didn’t know why they were true or how they were important to the Gospel or to living righteously. I simply lumped these things together with everything else that was labeled Christian and sought out the next Christian best-selling book.
4. False Teachings Can Lead to Everlasting Punishment
This is a difficult and painful warning.
John MacArthur explains this clearly:
They bring destructive heresies. This teaching invented by demons, propagated by these hypocritical liars who are parroting the doctrines of demons is intended to lead people astray and damn them into Satan’s eternal dwelling place. Satan is trying to collect people for hell and he wants to work inside the church, not that he can steal the salvation of true believers, but because he can confuse and deceive those who are coming into the church pursuing the truth. And because, also, he can derail and confuse true believers and render them useless.”
That’s a scary warning right there.
False teachers and their teachings make their listeners feel good by telling them that they, the listeners, are good people. In addition, these teachers tell their hearers to think positive thoughts in order to achieve anything they want. There is no talk of true repentance or sorrow over sin (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Are you sitting under the doctrine of demons, or are you under the Word of God? Pray for wisdom (James 1:5), so you may be approved by God as someone who need not be ashamed, handling the word of truth correctly (2 Timothy 2:15).
Soli Deo Gloria,