The Bible makes much of the great importance of preaching sound doctrine that is consistent with the Scriptures. It is therefore unfortunate that many Christians today affirm everything taught in their churches as “truth”. They are reticent to challenge teachings that are at odds with sound biblical doctrine, claiming that we should not judge anyone – especially the pastor or guest speaker. But this way of thinking is in itself unscriptural and contradicts sound Bible doctrine. Nowhere in Scripture are Christians encouraged to be gullible, naive, or blase. Like the Bereans, we are to test everything we hear in order to determine whether what is taught is consistent with the Word of God. It would be foolish indeed to entrust our eternal destiny to personal interpretations of truth, or subjective spiritual experiences.
ALL SCRIPTURE is given by Inspiration of God
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Note that ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, and that ALL SCRIPTURE IS PROFITABLE. It must therefore be true that any teachings that contradict Scripture, are unprofitable for Christians, even dangerous or fatal.
The Holy Scriptures are profitable in the following ways:
- through them we learn sound doctrine
- for reproof (rebuking those who preach wrong doctrine)
- for correction (of those who do not teach what is in accordance with sound doctrine)
- for instruction in righteousness (the principles for right living and holiness according to God). The opposite of righteousness is unrighteousness (also defined in the Bible)
- so that the man and woman of God can be complete (thoroughly equipped for every good work)
The teachings, principles and doctrines of Christianity and the Kingdom of God, are not a matter of private interpretation. God has provided instruction for us in the form of the Bible so that we can understand how to live correctly and avoid the destructive effects of sin and wrong living. Ultimately, the Bible reveals God’s rescue plan for humanity; how we can be saved from eternal damnation and how we can obtain eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour of the world – good news indeed!
CHRISTIANS have an ADVERSARY – Satan
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
From this Scripture we learn that Satan is our adversary and that he wants to destroy us. His primary objective is spiritual rather than physical destruction. Satan constantly wages war against the Truth and the people of God, and is constantly looking for ways to attack his prey. His weapon of choice is deception!
Satan ATTACKS GOD’S TRUTH through Lies, Deception, and Subversive Infiltration of the CHURCH
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
Satan disguises himself to appear as he is not – an angel of light – a servant of righteousness. He appears to be good, righteous, a servant of truth, when in fact he is seeking to subvert it. This passage also reveals that there are deceitful workers posing as apostles of Christ but who serve the spirit of antichrist. It is common practice in warfare that in order to infiltrate and subvert an enemy, one has to appear to be one of them; to mingle with them, to speak as they do, to gain acceptance and trust. This is how espionage works – and it can be fatal! Deception is by nature very deceptive; it is designed to fool us and to catch us off guard.
False Doctrine and Destructive Heresies are used to WAGE WAR against the TRUTH & against the PEOPLE OF GOD
2 Peter 2:1-2
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
Here we see that there will always be false prophets and false teachers who seek to wage war against the Truth, even to the point of denying Jesus Christ. Not only will they ultimately be destroyed (eternally), but so too those who follow them. Both they and their gullible followers cause the Truth to be blasphemed, and both are heading for destruction.
What we NEED TO KNOW about False Prophets and False Teachers
2 Peter 2 reveals much about false prophets and false teachers:
- They are depraved, destructive, not to be trusted or entertained, deceptive, and eternally damned
- They are enemies of Christ, the Church, and the people of God
- They wage war against God’s Truth and His Kingdom
- They are smooth-talking liars who love the things of this world more than the things of God
- Because they have been corrupted and deceived by Satan, they believe their own lies
- They operate by stealth and in secret (v1)
- Their objective is to bring destructive heresies into the Church (v1)
- They deny Jesus Christ (v1)
- They bring destruction upon themselves (v1)
- Many follow their destructive ways (because they too have been deceived) (v2)
- The way of Truth is blasphemed by the false prophets, false teachers, and by those who follow them (v2)
- They exploit people for selfish gain (covetousness), using deceptive words to do so (v3) … Does the “prosperity gospel” (also known as Word Faith of Word of Faith “theology”) ring some alarm bells here?)
- God reserves punishment for them and their followers (v9) (read verses 4-11 for context); they will perish in their corruption (v12); and will receive the wages of unrighteousness (v13)
- They are spots and blemishes in the Church (v13)
- They are deceptive, and seek only pleasure (the desires of their carnal minds and impulses) (v13)
- They have eyes full of adultery, and entice unstable souls (v14) (those who are easily deceived by such people because they do not really know what they believe; they are not equipped to spot deception because they have not become equipped and skilful in knowing and using the Word of God to wage warfare against spiritual deception in its various forms).
- Their hearts are trained in covetous practices and they are accursed “children” (v14)
- They have forsaken the way (of Truth and righteousness), and gone astray, because they run after and are driven by their carnal desires (unrighteousness) (v15)
- They are wells without water, clouds carried by strong winds (they promise much but deliver nothing; having a form of godliness but without spiritual substance or power) (v16)
- Eternal judgement awaits them (v17)
DECEPTIONS of False Teachers
- They speak great swelling words of emptiness that entice people through the lusts of the flesh (v18)
- Their target is those who have actually escaped from those who live in error (v18)
- They promise others liberty (freedom), while they themselves are slaves to corruption (v19)
- Having had a knowledge of Christ and His saving grace, they have returned to the pollution of this world, just like a dog returns to its own vomit. (v20 – 22)
- It would have been better for them to never have known the way of righteousness, than to turn away from it (v21)
A Checklist to COMBAT SPIRITUAL DECEPTION in the Church
- Truth never changes. Beware those who claim that they have “new revelation”. The Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun.
- Deception is Satan’s weapon of choice.
- It is not possible to determine what is true unless we have something to measure against. God has given us the Holy Scriptures against which we measure everything.
- Not everything taught in God’s name is true.
- Not everything that appears in a Christian publication is true.
- All unbiblical teachings and doctrines MUST BE REJECTED if they do not conform to the teachings of the Bible.
- There are those who present themselves as ambassadors of Christ when in fact thay are enemies of the cross.
- There are those who see the gospel and Christian ministry simply as a means to enrich themselves.
- There are those who seek to get people to follow and affirm them rather than Jesus Christ.
- There are those who seek to establish their own earthly kingdoms rather than working for the Kingdom of God.
- There are those who lie and deceive in order to get what they want from people. They are not interested in Truth.
- There are those who are actively working against Truth, Jesus Christ, and God, seeking to subvert the true Church.
- Half-truths are complete lies. Doctrines of demons contain large doses of truth laced with deceptive half-truths and lies. It is unwise to try and drink tea laced with arsenic. The small doses of poison will eventually kill you!
- Those who twist Scriptures to sound the way they want them to sound, are not being honest. Beware those who take Scriptures out of context, and who mix bible versions to make Scriptures sound more appealing or less severe.
- Any sermon or teaching must always stand the test of Biblical scrutiny and sound doctrine. The Bible always interprets itself.
- We are instructed to test the spirits because not every spirit is of God; there are deceptive spirits who seek to steal the Word from the hearts and minds of men.
- Only the Word of God (Scripture) is trustworthy. Let God be true and all men a liar. When faced with the decision to trust the teachings of the Bible or the teachings of men, we have to opt for God’s Word. It never changes and will stand the test of time.
- False prophets and false teachers can easily be identified because they (a) teach what is contrary to the teachings of the Bible (2) claim to have new (superior) revelation (3) reject Biblical scrutiny (4) have hidden agendas (money, power, status etc) (5) promote their church above Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God (6) teach that it is ok to love self, money, and the things of this world. (7) promote the gospel as a life-enhancing mechanism (i.e. God exists for our benefit and to fulfil our carnal desires).
- False prophets and false teachers often use their charismatic personalities and persuasive words, to lull their audiences into complacency and a false sense of security.
- A big church is no evidence that sound doctrine is preached in that church. The opposite can in fact be true! False teachers often succeed because they preach what people want to hear rather than what they should hear!
- While many Christians are sincere about what they believe, sincerity in itself is insufficient. Either our beliefs are based on the teachings of God, or those of men. Our beliefs cannot be a mixture that consists of wordly “wisdom” and Godly wisdom. Otherwise we fall into the trap of substituting the commandments of men for the commandments of God. (Mark 7:8-9). Christian doctrine is clearly defined in the Bible so that we can come to a knowledge of the Truth and the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.