If there is anything in the world that a Christian should be most cautious about is false biblical teaching. Too often do Christians fall into this pitfall because they have itchy ears (2 Timothy 4). Sound Christian doctrine is thrown into the wind because people want to “feel” comfortable whenever they hear their Sunday service. However, this comfort comes at a steep price. Often, the Gospel is compromised because it is watered down to allow conformity to those still wanting to live worldly. People get ordained and appointed into positions that God has not called them to, and then they directly impact those who they are not qualified to shepherd, to begin with. However, when we step through the passageway of our churches, any sin that we have committed should convict us and make us feel uncomfortable.
The Holy Spirit that is in us grieving about our sinful ways calls us to the foot of the cross to repent and to move forward from it. He does not and will never condone sin because it goes against God and all His creation, to begin with. However, why is there such a lack of true conversion in our churches and our communities? The answer is found in the second chapter of the book of Peter. This prevalent problem in the Christian community is a direct influence of false teachers. However, what God reveals to us in His word about them is what the focus of this message is all about. Now, let us begin.
It is written,“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual behavior of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,” (2 Peter 2:1-9, NASB).
The Holy Spirit illuminates three powerful lessons from this Scripture that we should all know, understand, and apply into our lives. First, even though the way of error (false teachings) is hurtful to us, many are ready to walk in them. It is easier to feel comfortable than to change ourselves for the better in Christ. Understanding this, let us all have our guards up and be careful to not allow the enemy (false teachers) to blaspheme the Holy Scriptures we are all called to live by. We must all stand firm in the fact that salvation “in” Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life is the only way into heaven. Those who try to seduce any of us with foreign words and doctrines that call for conformity with the world and the sinfulness of it, for example, allowing unrighteous people to be ordained and teach (homosexuals, alcoholics, drug addicts, and abusers) are only trying to deceive your hearts. Such people are already condemned and the wrath of God is already upon them.
We are provided an example of this when the Scripture reveals to us by explaining how angels were cast down from their glory, and their dignity was removed because of their disobedience. If any creature created by God, who is the creator of everything in existence, sins against Him, even in heaven, they must suffer hell for their disobedience. Sin is the work of darkness and darkness is the wages of sin! See how God shows us how he dealt with the old world. If sin is universal, likewise the punishment is universal. This is especially true for those who teach falsely. It also applies to those who do not study the Word of God from themselves. Those who fool themselves into conforming to sin because they want to belong to this world. We cannot belong to both God and this world. As Christians, we must make a choice and take a stand against sin not only in our lives but in this world. However, this cannot happen if we turn a blind eye to what is happening in our homes and our churches today. So, lesson number one is to stop being comfortable. To be comfortable in sin is to be comfortable in its condition. We cannot fool ourselves or allow anyone to fool us with any teaching that is contrary to this biblical truth that God has revealed to us.
The second lesson that I would like to highlight from this Scripture is if we compromise ourselves to false teachings, we are spoiling the very blessings that God wants to provide us with. Whether you sin intentionally or unintentionally, by false teachings, you are still sinning and that sin comes at a price. God can turn the fruitfulness of our lives into bareness because of our lack of repentance and understanding. If He has turned well-watered countries to ashes because of sin, what makes you think that He will not uproot us until we turn our hearts truly back to Him? God has kept fire and water form hurting His people (Isaiah 43:2), He has made and destroyed enemies to His people to teach them to value Him and Him alone, and He has sent destruction to the ungodly. In the bad company of false teachers, we will either suffer grief in our lives or share in the guiltness of their sins.
It is possible to live in a fallen world and to not compromise to it. Those who live with the Holy Spirit in them have more than enough to combat satan and the influences this world has on our lives. This temptation we have to compromise to make everyone feel “happy” must be done away with and the purity of the Gospel must be upheld in our homes and our churches. God does not compromise with sinners. They have their appointed rewards because they have chosen to live a life separated from God and his glory. Sometimes the best intentions can become compromised. This is why we must follow what God has revealed to us in His word and nothing else. So, please take heed on what you do and who you allow to teach you. If not, you are only hindering the fertile soil that God wants your fruits to come from. So be cautious not to compromise the teachings that God reveals to us in His word. The fruitfulness of your very life depends on it.
Lastly, and I like to think the most important lesson the Holy Spirit reveals to us in this Scripture is not to subject yourselves to judging any identified false teachers. We are to find out the truth provided to us in God’s word for ourselves. Only Christ has the judgment seat next to God and not us. Do not treat others with contempt for sinning differently than you have in the past. God has all the wisdom and all the power. So, when you see people sinning, both in and out of our churches, let them sin. When you see them winning the lottery and it seems like everything this world has to offer is handed to them, learn to let it go. While wicked people, both in and out of the church, escape suffering here on earth does not mean they will escape their day of judgment by Christ in the afterlife. When it seems unfair that you are doing your best to follow Christ and others who do not do the same are prospering and you are not, remember that they will be punished with all the sinners of this world and the angels who walked also in disobedience in their due time. So do not allow anyone to sway you from sound doctrine to “fit in” or become “conformed” to the image of this world because we are called to be conformed to the image of Christ instead.
In conclusion, we are revealed in this Word that God is willing and can deliver His people from an assortment of difficulties and dangers even though they themselves (like Lot) do not seek deliverance. However, depending on God’s grace is no reasonable excuse for failing to enter warfare against false teachers and false prophets. God calls us to follow His word and His word alone. We cannot conform to worldly teachings and a watered-down Gospel that is taking root in many Christian homes and churches. We cannot be lukewarm Christians. We cannot make compromises to this world and yet expect the walk in the fullness of God’s blessings over our lives. We must remember that Satan tries to counterfeit and twist Scriptures in a way that makes sense to the common person. However, we are not common people. This is why we are all called to study God’s Word for ourselves and “studying” itself is a spiritual discipline we are all called to perform. It protects us from false doctrines, false teachers, and false prophets.
It does not matter the qualifications of a person teaching you, what matters is the Spirit that is in them is the same Spirit that is residing in you. So please apply the three lessons the Holy Spirit revealed to us in this Word in your lives. First, when false teachings are identified, choose not to conform or walk in them to “fit in” with this world. We are called to be different because we are not of this world. Once we accepted Christ into our lives and surrendered to His majesty, we became His spiritual vessels and we must walk in this truth. Second, do not be your worst enemy. If you decide to compromise the Gospel, you are compromising the release of the very blessings that God wants you to have. Due to our failure to repent of our sins, regardless if it is walking in false teachings or any other personal sin we may make, we are robbing ourselves of the fullness of God’s blessings in our lives. Do not do this to yourselves. You have the power to make better choices, so ensure that you make them. Lastly, do not judge those following false teachings and those teaching them. Regardless of their current prosperity, it is only temporary. They will be judged no differently than unbelievers and the fallen angels that were cast out of heaven with Lutherfer himself.
It is only when we can apply these teachings in our lives that we can become better equipped and learned Christians. We have always been called to be learned and to be able to make a defense of what we believe. However, this educated stance to our faith cannot happen if we blindly follow the teachings of people who compromise the Gospel or sway from the foundational truth that God has already revealed to us in His Word. Nor can it be done without the discernment of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. The discernment form the Holy Spirit is what provides us with the very conviction to repent for our sins. So repent if you need to repent. If you have followed false teachings before, open your Bibles and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal its truth into your heart and mind. This is the best way to combat false teachings and any compromises that we have made in our lives that are directly impacting our spiritual growth. Let us all make this change and move forward to live in a manner that glorifies the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Just as God sent Christ to minister and teach us, and Christ sent the Holy Spirit into this world to do the same, we must also hold ourselves accountable to do the same. In keeping God’s teachings in purity is the best defense against false teachers. Amen!