“Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
This whole Catholic thing has been very difficult on me. While I know that what I have been writing is true, it is definitely bringing into focus the great disparity in teaching. This is no small issue. But, is it as big of an issue as I am making it out to be? After all, one person pointed out that the Catholics and evangelical both affirm the Apostles Creed. They both believe that Christ died for their sins and was raised from the dead and that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. All of that stuff. Likewise, the religious ruling class believed all the stuff about God in the Old Testament during Jesus’ time. So did the people. Yet Jesus condemned the ruling class and drove away the people with his teaching (see John 2:13-22 and John 6:60-69).
What was the problem? They didn’t actually believe what their scripture said. They didn’t believe what Jesus said. Today, we don’t believe what the Apostles said. We finagle and twist everything to suit our own needs and desires. Jesus would have none of that. In fact, the whole bible is full of warnings against such things, and the Old Testament is proof that God back up his threats.
Just for the exercise of it, I went through the New Testament and referenced such warnings. Just in case you are wondering for the record how we are to respond to false teaching. What I found, and you will see, are warnings in every single book regarding false teaching and responses that the early church had and instructions on how we are to act. I’ll summarize the gospels with one passage from Jesus, then go on to each of the other books in the New Testament.
John 5:44-47 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.
Romans 1:16-17, 9:1-3 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteousness shall live by faith.”…. I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit – that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
1 Corinthians 1:10, 5:5 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment…you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 11:3, 13-15 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ… For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as serpents of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Galatians 1:6-10, 2:11 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ…. But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
Ephesians 4:1, 14 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,…. So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, but human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Philippians 3:15 Let those of us who are mature think this way
Colossians 1:28, 2:8 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ…. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
1 Timothy 1:3, 5-7, 20 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions….among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
2 Timothy 3: having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Titus 1:9-11, 13-14, 16; 2:1 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching shameful gain what they ought not to teach…This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth…They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work….But as for you, teach what accord with sound doctrine.
Philemon 8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required
Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wanderings will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 5:12 By Silvannus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.
2 Peter 2:1, 21 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bring upon themselves swift destruction… For it would have been better from them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.
1 John 4:1, 5:16-17 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world…. If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life – to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
2 John 10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
3 John 9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
Jude 3-4 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. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
I don’t know; you tell me. Is false teaching something we should tolerate or oppose?
Father, protect your church against false teachers. Correct those who believe from falling into the sin of false teaching. Open the eyes of believers so that we might see false teaching and heed the instruction you have given us. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers