From its birth to present day false teachers have troubled the Church. Paul warned Timothy about Hymenaeus and Philetus; who “concerning the truth have erred” and whose words were spreading like gangrene (2 Tim. 2:16-18). And John, in 1 Jn. 2:22, talks about those who were denying that Jesus was “the Christ” and calls them “liars” and “antichrists.” The Apostles used strong words to express the danger of heresy and false teachers.
It now becomes clear as to why Peter wants believers to take holiness seriously and to treasure God’s truth about Jesus. The false teachers in Peter’s day, as well as the false teachers in our time, teach lies that lead people away from faith and godliness. They were and are dangerous because they steer people away from true doctrine and therefore away from God.
But before we start looking for heretics and antichrists let’s be careful. As long as the church has existed there have not only been false teachers, but also disagreements among Christians. Disagreement over doctrine is not necessarily a matter of heresy. Heresy is not about differing beliefs regarding baptism, speaking in tongues, worship styles, or even end-times views.
According to scripture a false teacher, or heretic, is someone who denies the person and work of Jesus (1 Jn.2:22). False teachers deny the trinity, the deity of Jesus (or his humanity), the return of Christ, the sufficiency of scripture and/or that salvation comes through Christ alone.
These are dangerous teachings that can lead to godless living and a God-less life! Peter does not hold back when he tells us about some of the characteristics of these false teachers. They were covetous and greedy. Like animals they relied on feelings and desires instead of wisdom, reason and insight (vs.12). They exploited others, indulged in sexual sins, rebelled against God, and were arrogant in their false teaching.
One of the ways their arrogance was seen was that they did not have a healthy respect/fear of angels (like Mary and others had) (vs10). They were flippant with God’s word. What you believe will determine how you act and what you say, and this was seen in the false teachers that Peter was speaking out against.
Peter’s description in 2 Peter 2:10-16 is very graphic because he wants us to understand the seriousness and dangers of false teachers. But here is the thing, it is easy to blow off these verses and believe that we would never deny Christ or his work. But people don’t just fall into false doctrine. Heresy isn’t embraced suddenly, without warning. It is most often a slow and steady drift that leads away from the truth.
There are many reasons people drift from the truth and wind up believing a lie. One of them is boredom. It is safe to say that many, if not all of us, have experienced boredom in our spiritual walk. We become bored with church, with the preaching, with worship and with the word itself. This is when we begin looking for something exciting and new, something that will stir our hearts and make us feel enthusiastic and passionate. Sometimes this boredom causes us to try and have a faith that mixes well with the world. This can be dangerous. This is where compromise sneaks in and lies begins to sound good and even right.
Our protection against false teaching, and even the danger of boredom is found in the Bible.
The Bible is a living book (Heb 4:12) and sharper than a surgeons scalpel. Not only can it cut into your soul and give you life, it can revive our hearts and give us a renewed passion and love for God and his word. The Bible is filled with Christ’s white hot love for his people and only this will take away the coldness that begins envelop our hearts.
Are you bored? Do you feel listless in your faith? If you find yourself tired of the Scripture I assure you Scripture is not the problem. The heart is the problem. The only remedy is to dig even deeper into the scriptures and to pray constantly for God to keep you faithful and focused on him.
We should ask that he would protect us from seeking excitement in man-made and man-centered, emotionally driven teachings that could lead us away from the truth. Truth that brings freedom, joy and life.
Looking To Jesus,