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Bible verses about False Doctrine
(From Forerunner Commentary)

From the Bible's point of view, a heresy is a lie. No matter how attractively it may be wrapped or how appealing it may be to our vanity, it is a deviation from the truth of God that promotes or actually produces schism—division—in the church.

Lies and division within the church make it very easy to identify the real source of heresy. In John 8:44, Jesus says of the Devil, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." John adds in Revelation 12:9, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world."

Satan introduced heresy into human life through Adam and Eve when he induced them to sin by telling them, "You will not surely die" (Genesis 3:4). They believed this perversion of God's truth, and upon sinning, the destructive course began. By being cast from the Garden of Eden, they were almost immediately separated from God. They did not live and prosper as Satan's cruel perversion led them to believe. Instead, the Devil exploited them through their innocence and desires, and through sin they became his slaves. Hundreds of years later, they died just as God said they would.

The Devil's attempts to deceive through false teaching have never stopped. Jesus warned in Mark 13:22 that, as we approach the end, it will be especially intensive; "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." He warns that, if it is possible for us to be deceived, we will be deceived by false doctrines.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

Manna sustained Israel; it gave them life—even the strength to fight battles when necessary. Asking God to bless our physical food so that it gives us the strength to perform our daily activities is a normal part of a prayer before a meal. Should we not do the same before partaking of a spiritual meal? Ask God to bless the day's Bible study. Implore Him to speak personally in the words about to be read. Request a pliable, humble, and teachable spirit as He teaches His will, thoughts, ways, and attitudes. And be sure to thank Him for providing another day of the best and perfect food, Jesus Christ in print. Some may benefit from using a Bible study notebook to record the thoughts and instruction God provides during these spiritual meals. It can be a sort of diary of what God says to you each day.

Health and personal spending experts warn their clients never to go grocery shopping when hungry. Studies show that people buy more compulsively and more junk food when they are running on empty. The same is true spiritually. When we are full of God's Word, day by day, we will not be so easily tempted by false spiritual foods, and we will have the joy of right living more often!

Staff
Have You Had Your Manna Today?


 

Deuteronomy 13:1-5

This is the earliest formal warning to God's people that attacks against their faith would take place within the fellowship of His children, and the pattern has occurred repeatedly. God raises up a prophet or minister to instruct His people. Opposition arises, usually in the form of ministers who see things differently, who force the people to choose which way they will follow. Understand, God is not passively watching. He actively tests His children's loyalties through such calamitous situations.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part Two)


 

Deuteronomy 13:1-5

The first factor added here is that God recognizes that false prophets, through the power of Satan, can accomplish signs and wonders. The magicians of Egypt imitate Moses' staff-into-a-serpent miracle before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:8-12). The end-time False Prophet will do similar signs as the Two Witnesses, causing most of the world's population to worship the Beast (Revelation 13:11-15). Paul warns in II Corinthians 11:13-15 that Satan's servants are clever counterfeits of Christ's. Signs, wonders, and miracles, then, are not conclusive proof that a prophet is from God.

The second factor Deuteronomy 13 adds is our need to recognize the spiritual message accompanying the prophet's signs and predictions. This is the essence of the apostle John's admonition, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). No matter how impressive or accurate a prophet's miracles or prophecies, his credibility hangs on whether he leads people toward or away from God.

The following questions, then, must all be answered before we judge a person as a true or false prophet:

1. Does he claim to prophesy in God's name or in a false god's name?
2. Do his prophecies come to pass?
3. Does he do signs and wonders?
4. Does he teach the truth based on God's Word?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Was Herbert Armstrong a False Prophet?


 

Judges 6:25-28

The first thing God had Gideon do was destroy the altar, the place of worship, the false gods, and the false teachings. If there is a false god, the teaching will not be correct. If God's people do not have the right teaching, they cannot develop in His image! It takes a true minister, speaking the truth of God for people to be prepared in the image of God. As long as a false god is before them, they will be going in the wrong direction! The prophet Ezekiel points out in Ezekiel 20 that it was idolatry and Sabbath-breaking that caused Israel to go into captivity. The same pattern of sin repeats itself throughout its history.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 1): God and HWA


 

Matthew 13:32

Birds are naturally attracted to the taste of the mustard seed. Matthew identifies the birds of the air as "the wicked one" (Matthew 13:4, 19). Mark connects them with "Satan" (Mark 4:4, 15), and Luke links them to "the devil" (Luke 8:5, 12). In Genesis 15:11, fowls swoop down on Abraham's sacrifices, and he has to drive them away (see Deuteronomy 28:26). The end-time Babylon becomes "a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird" (Revelation 18:2).

In the parable, Jesus predicts the birds of the air would lodge in the branches. These "birds," demons led by "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), have continually tried to infiltrate the church. Upon the unsuspecting early church, Satan moved quickly to implant his agents in it to teach false doctrine while appearing to be true Christians. Just as God permitted Satan to tempt Job intensely (Job 1:12; 2:6) and to sift Peter as wheat (Luke 22:31), He has allowed antichrists to lodge within His church (I Corinthians 11:18-19).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Four): The Parable of the Mustard Seed


 

Matthew 13:33

Physically, leaven is a lump of old dough in a high state of fermentation, or a substance that causes dough to rise (yeast). A natural reason for leaven's negative symbolism is the idea that fermentation implies a process of corruption. In the Old Testament, it is generally symbolic of sin and evil. In every instance that leaven appears in the Bible, it represents evil; the only exception, some say, is Jesus' use of leaven in this parable. Knowing its Old Testament significance, however, He would have used the symbol in the same way.

While some commentaries interpret this parable as depicting the spreading influence of the gospel, such explanations go against Jesus' use of this symbol. He uses it to refer to the evil doctrine of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and Herod (Matthew 16:6-12; Mark 8:15), and this could easily apply to later corruptions of doctrine by those who place more importance on the traditions of men than on the Word of God.

Paul uses leavening as a type of sin in its development (I Corinthians 5:6-8). His reference to Christ's sinless sacrifice, and his statement that believers, as such, are unleavened shows the typical significance of leaven. In Galatians 5:7-9, its diffusive quality describes the harmful effects of false doctrine. He calls leaven a persuasion, something that exerts a powerful and moving influence, that hinders people from obeying the truth. Such a thing, he declares, is not from Him who calls us.

In the parable, the leaven alone is not what relates to the Kingdom, but the entire concept in the parable, the progress of the church in history. The leaven is hidden in the meal, representing the way Satan subtly strikes against the truth. Leaven is symbolic of things that disintegrate, break up, and corrupt. The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocritical formality. That of the Sadducees was skepticism. Herod's was of shameful self-indulgence in worldly desires. The leaven of those who have distorted doctrine down through the ages has been greed, pride, control, and worldly desires.

Whenever we find the symbol of a woman in the Bible, she represents a system of beliefs and practices that influence other people. Nations or political groups and religions or churches have specific unique beliefs. All human-based belief systems go contrary to God because "the carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). What the woman does and how she acts determines what belief system she is representing.

The woman in the parable takes leaven and hides it in the meal (Matthew 13:33). Hid is translated from the Greek word enkrupto, from which comes the English word "encrypt." The root word, krupto, means "to conceal" or "to keep secret." Hence, this woman is surreptitiously placing the leaven of false doctrine in the church. She is an opponent of Christ and infuses His church with corrupting ideas. Elsewhere she is called "Wickedness" (Zechariah 5:7-8), "Jezebel" (Revelation 2:20), and the "great harlot" (Revelation 17:1).

Three measures of meal would be a huge amount even for a large family - perhaps as much as is needed to make about a dozen loaves of bread. More importantly, most of the Jews listening to Jesus would have recognized the three measures of meal (an ephah) as the meal or grain offering (Leviticus 2). This offering was never allowed to contain leaven (Leviticus 2:5). The meal offering represents the offerer's service and loyalty to his fellow man and is typified in how Jesus Christ offered Himself in service to mankind (Matthew 20:25-28). It portrays the second great commandment of Matthew 22:36-39: love of our fellow human beings. Thus, the three measures of meal represent love, service, and loyalty to others, specifically our brethren in the church.

Jesus warns in this parable that false doctrines would be infused by stealth into the church, and these evil beliefs would corrupt, erode, and destroy relationships. If the false doctrines are allowed to grow, affection and loving concern in service to one another are thwarted. The phrase "till all was leavened" is a sobering indication that the church would be plagued by insensitive, uncaring, self-absorbed, self-centered attitudes that would spread through the church just as leaven spreads through bread dough. The apostle Paul tells us "through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13), an antidote to the woman's devious subterfuge.

Martin G. Collins
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Five): The Parable of the Leaven


 

Matthew 16:6-12

In addition to representing sin, leaven represent false doctrine as well. Jesus points out the error of the Pharisees' doctrines, and Paul advises the Corinthians to partake of the bread of sincerity and truth. False doctrine causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. True doctrine promotes sincerity, humility, and obedience to the Sovereign of the Universe, the overall lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Staff
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread


 

Luke 5:39

Concluding His parable of new wine in old wineskins, Jesus laments what might be human nature's most perverse paradox: "No one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better'" (Luke 5:39). When it comes to physical matters, human nature is all too ready to accept the new. However, in spiritual matters, like Peter's dog returning to its vomit (II Peter 2:22), it all too readily turns away from the new. Rather than accept the plain truth of the gospel of God's Kingdom upon hearing it preached, all too many return to the false doctrines Satan taught the first man, Adam (I Corinthians 15:45-48). Adam and his family have believed those same old lies ever since. Human nature deceives too many into believing, "The old is better."

Charles Whitaker
Choosing the New Man (Part Three)


 

1 Corinthians 10:20-21

To use Paul's analogy, our spiritual diet must not be a mixture of true and false doctrines. In this area of life, a mixture produces nothing good (James 3:11-12). We must make every effort to separate the true food from the false if we are to grow and qualify for the Kingdom of God. This is a responsibility that falls on each of us—we cannot leave it to others! We must acknowledge the source of the false teaching—Satan, his demons, and his false ministers—to truly appreciate the seriousness of heresy.

Like Peter, Paul warns about heresies within the church: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (I Timothy 4:1). The Greek word planos, translated as "deceiving" (NKJV) or "seducing" (KJV), is the same word from which we derive the English word "planet." It conveys the idea of wandering. To the astronomers of ancient Greece, the planets appeared to wander in a heaven populated by other, relatively fixed lights. Thus, evil spirits induce people to wander from the true path of God's Word. These are the principalities and powers against which we wrestle (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Heresy is not always easily detected because Satan usually camouflages the lie with a large measure of truth. He is a master of deceit. Because the people of the world are so ignorant of God, Satan can tell them virtually anything, and they will believe it. But with us he generally does not directly challenge or obviously and blatantly misquote Scripture. His confrontation with Jesus, beginning in Matthew 4:1, is a classic example. He subtly twists the intent of a scripture to bend it into a wrong application or understanding. At other times, he will appeal to our vanity to get us to react to his suggestions without thinking.

The Bible gives only a few specific doctrines with which seducing spirits, heresy or false ministers are directly associated. However, do not be fooled that so few doctrines are directly mentioned with the word "heresy" attached. No doctrine is sacrosanct to demons. They will attack the people of God in any spiritual area. The Bible makes it very clear that demons are our major, major enemies, and deception that leads us into sin is their game!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Corinthians 11:1-4

Paul had to deal with the Corinthian congregation because they had fallen under the sway of false apostles (see II Corinthians 11:13). These false ministers had convinced many of the brethren that they knew more and better than the apostle through whom they had heard, believed, learned, and been converted to the gospel. They were in the process of throwing aside what they had learned from Paul in favor of what they were hearing from these new "apostles."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

Galatians 1:8-9

Does it matter what gospel Christians believe? Indeed, it does! Paul pronounces a double curse on anyone who preaches a gospel different from the one preached by the apostles! The gospel is serious business! The apostles were taught directly by Christ, who gave them a commission to "preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The True Gospel


 

Ephesians 4:14-15

Paul suggests that a new convert is a child, unstable in his ways, who really does not know which end is up spiritually. He can easily be tricked and deceived.

Someone who has grown, on the other hand, is someone who is stable, who will not be swept aside by persecutions, trials, deceitful teachings, and false doctrines. He can fight these off because he knows, understands, is convicted, and continues in the truth. However, he did not get to this point without also going through a process of growth. He had to pray, study, obey, make choices, analyze, compare, look at the fruits of things, and so on. He had to set his will and change. As he does these things, growth takes place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)


 

Ephesians 4:14-15

Verse 14 speaks about us no longer being children, tossed to and fro. This obviously means that a purpose of the ministry is to protect the church from false doctrine. In many respects the ministry has done fairly well in this over the past several years. We have really tried to get back to basics, back to Jude 3 and "the faith once delivered," and to re-prove the doctrines so that the members will know what they should know, be assured of them, and go forward in confidence in them.

Notice in verse 15 that it seems to say that the ministry does this—that they help people no longer be children, guarding them from false doctrine—by speaking the truth in love, and that this causes maturity, moving them from being spiritual babes to taking on the character of God and Christ. When we speak the truth, we expose error, like a light shining in a dark place. The Word of God is often compared to a light. When one turns on a light, darkness is dispelled. So truth exposes error, trickery, craftiness, and deception. It calms and settles, guides and directs. Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 show what the Word of God is and does. It is a worthwhile study to read them to become re-grounded in the effective working of God's Word.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
It Takes a Church


 

Colossians 1:5

The key here is "which you heard before." Before what? Before this philosophy (Colossians 2:8) became a problem, or perhaps before their conversion—since hearing the gospel led to their conversion. Paul is taking them all the way back to the beginning because he wants to remind them of what they had faith in then.

The same principle is at work in our lives now. Those who have been devastated through false doctrinal changes have to be taken back to the faith once delivered (Jude 3) to begin rebuilding their faith or they will never recover. Paul was faced with a somewhat similar situation. So He writes, "Brethren, let us go back all the way to the beginning and remember what we heard in the gospel." In this case, apparently, it was preached by Epaphras.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 21)


 

1 Timothy 1:3-7

Paul is telling Timothy to command those who are teaching false doctrine to stop the fables and the endless genealogies. They do not edify. The purpose or the goal is to have a pure heart, faith, and a good conscience before God. That is what God wants from us. Paul wants Timothy to expand his horizons'to stop and think of what God wants from him. In verses 6-7, we can see quite a few did not do this.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Don't Take God for Granted


 

1 Timothy 4:1-2

The source of false doctrine is demonic. Paul is writing of men who listen to, consider, follow, and then teach doctrines twisted from their biblical base (II Peter 3:16). He adds in II Corinthians 11:13-15 that, though the false doctrine comes through a man, the real source is Satan. The man is just a servant.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

1 Timothy 6:3-5

Paul says, "Leave!" His concern is for those who will be confronted with false doctrines. He urges them to come "to wholesome words" (verse 3). Wholesome literally means "healthy," words that produce health. In the context of food one would say "health food." Paul says, "Eat the good food, not the junk!" The same applies spiritually: Mentally, a Christian needs to eat healthy words that will produce spiritual health.

Then he describes false teachers: They are conceited, have an unnatural craving for debate, and argue incessantly about words. They are theorists who waste time in futile academic disputes or exercises in semantics. God instructs that these characteristics are not a sign of good spiritual health. Out of this kind of thinking come envy, abusive speech, evil suspicions, constant friction, and a warped idea that godliness is a means of financial gain (verses 4-5).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

1 Timothy 6:20-21

The Amplified Bible makes these verses clearer:

O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! Turn away from the irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination. [For] by making such profession some have erred (missed the mark) as regards the faith. . . .

Paul warns Timothy about "the subtleties and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination." The word translated "knowledge" in most translations ("science" in the King James Version) is the Greek gnosis. Literally meaning "to know," it forms the root of the word Gnosticism. It is possible, even probable, that Paul refers to Gnosticism here, since both of his letters to Timothy contain warnings against false teachers bringing in foreign concepts that were undermining the faith of church members.

Remember, however, that his warning is against a particular type of knowledge that induced some members to stray from the faith, knowledge that was subtle and yet contradictory. That it was contradictory is interesting because Gnosticism not only contradicts the truth, but within Gnostic beliefs there are also many contradictions.

Recently, the newly-discovered Gospel of Judas, an example of what is called a "Gnostic gospel," has made headlines worldwide. It was not written at the same time as the four canonical gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - but appeared a couple of centuries later. The Gospel of Judas contradicts the true gospel accounts by asserting that Judas Iscariot was actually the hero, who had been given secret knowledge that the other disciples did not possess.

The opening line of the Gospel of Judas demonstrates this secret knowledge: "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover." This so-called gospel gives a quite different view of the relationship between Jesus Christ and Judas, and its defenders say that it offers "new insights" into Jesus' betrayal, and the nature and character of Judas. "New insights" is another common theme of Gnosticism.

Several years ago, another Gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Thomas, was all the rage in the scholarly community. Its opening lines also emphasize this secret knowledge: "These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded. And [Jesus] said, 'Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.'" Notice that the emphasis is immediately on discovering an interpretation and on increasing knowledge as a way to eternal life. It contains nothing about salvation coming through one's relationship with God or even about living a godly life. In this Gnostic gospel, eternal life comes from the secret knowledge that will explain the obscure sayings.

Not only were the Gnostic gospels written long after the fact, but they are also full of statements that oppose the text of the Bible. For example, in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus allegedly says, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits." Scholars say that Jesus is advocating "fitting in" and "being true to oneself," phrases often repeated these days.

In another place in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as saying, "[Blessed is] the one who came into being before coming into being." This makes absolutely no sense to us, but it does make a kind of sense to Gnostics, who believe in a dualism of flesh and spirit. Thus, they understand that "Jesus" implies that the spirit could come into being before the flesh. Many Gnostics were followers of docetism, the belief that Jesus and Christ were two separate beings in one body. Docetists believed that the man Jesus was born, and that the pre-existing god Christ entered into Him when He was baptized and left again before He was crucified. This, then, is an example of coming into being before coming into being.

Also in the gospel of Thomas,

The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?" Jesus said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. [Blessed is] the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.

Again, knowing something is shown as the antidote of death. In this case, another element of dualism is that every person has a little spark of God in him or her, and that we have an eternal spirit (or soul) that is trapped or imprisoned within a body of flesh.

Gnostics generally believed that all spirit was inherently stable and good (overlooking the fact that Satan and his demons are spirit and yet also unstable and evil), while all matter and flesh was inherently evil (contradicting God's statement in Genesis 1:31 that everything God had made was "very good"). Plato reinforced this belief, writing, "The soul is the very likeness of the divine - immortal, and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, and unchangeable." He also declared, viewing the body as a temporary house in which the soul is imprisoned, "The soul goes away to the pure, the eternal, the immortal and unchangeable to which she is kin."

The Gnostic goal was to learn the secret knowledge that would allow the inner spirit to be released from the confines of the flesh, enabling it to rejoin God in the spirit realm. Thus, the Gnostics linked the beginning and end (often depicted in the figure of a snake swallowing its tail), because if a person could figure out how the divine spark was infused into the flesh in the first place, he could then reverse it and release the spirit. We find the same basic tenet in the modern doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and the widespread belief that our "home" is in heaven, and that we go to this home when we die.

David C. Grabbe
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part One: False Knowledge


 

2 Timothy 2:16-18

The metaphor changes from cutting a road (verse 15) to shooting an arrow at a target. The word of truth, the gospel, is the target. If you shoot an arrow at a target, one of three things will happen: 1) the arrow will hit the bull's-eye; 2) it will go slightly off, left or right, top or bottom, still hitting somewhere within the target area; or 3) it will miss the target completely.

Some Bibles translate verse 18 as "who have swerved" (Revised Standard Version), "wandered away" (New International Version), or "erred" (King James Version) from the truth. None of these translations are complete in capturing the metaphor. When you shoot an arrow, it goes straight, but not necessarily straight at the target! If you watch someone else shoot an arrow, where are your eyes pointing? Do they not follow the arrow to the target? That is the point. The arrow is the teaching that the teacher gives, and no matter how straight he gives it, if he is not aiming directly at the bull's-eye and hitting it, his students eyes will not be on the right goal!

The weight of responsibility is heavy on the minister. Not only is he to give instruction that is plain and clear, he is also to give instruction that is right on target so people do not get distracted by false doctrine. A minister can be perfectly sincere, but if he points his teaching toward the wrong goal, he will miss the target. Fortunately, our God is faithful and makes every effort to turn us toward the right goal.

These metaphors and illustrations show how important doctrine and having the right gospel are. Doctrine forms belief; belief determines action and character. Minimizing the future aspects of the gospel alters our vision of where we are going with our lives. The future aspects of the gospel cannot be demoted in priority to second or third place without seriously compromising our Christian lives since it removes the right goal and deflects people away from the Kingdom of God. When people are deflected from the right goal, the teaching of the gospel changes, and God's creative process begins to wind down and may even stop entirely.

God is concerned about doctrine because it determines what a person is now and will be in the future. As one lives it, it becomes more ingrained in his life and will eventually become indelibly stamped on his character. Then God has a choice, either to give him immortality, or consign him to the Lake of Fire. Regardless of how straight we pursue our objectives in life, if we are aimed at the wrong goal, we cannot produce the kind of life—the character—that God wants in His Kingdom. Correct doctrine is eternally vital!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

2 Timothy 4:2-5

Paul gives Timothy a great deal to think about and to do. Notice, though, that he ends with a warning that false teachers and false gospels are inevitable. As time goes on, as he said earlier, things will get worse and worse.

We must be especially careful of this these days because Jesus tells us that, as the end approaches, it will get really bad! Those things will wax, not wane, as the end comes. And in our information society, not only have there been more bad things, but they are coming at us faster and faster. It is hard to keep up with all the false teachings, heresies, and strange ideas. And those are just what are in the church, and not what comes from Protestantism, Catholicism, New Age, or whatever!

The Internet has been a blessing and curse, just for that reason. It is wonderful for transmitting information—especially if it is the truth, but it is damnable for transmitting error. All "media" are. Any kind of media can be used wrongly. The two biggest users on the Internet are, on the one hand, pornographers, and on the other, churches. Is that not crazy? It shows how bad the times are, and how we have to be prepared to face these things, show the error of falsehood, and explain the truth. It is not easy in these times to be a true minister of God, because things are coming at us from right and left at 190 mph.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Hebrews 2:1-4

Paul's warning to the Hebrews here is a bit stronger than what he says in Philippians 1:27. He says there, "Let's all with one mind strive together to keep the faith of the gospel." Here he says, "Give earnest heed to the doctrine, to the gospel, to the things we heard, because we're in danger of losing it!" He feels he must frighten them, saying, "Don't you remember that under the Mosaic dispensation people were punished very severely for neglecting what they had heard? Every transgression and disobedience received a just reward. How much greater under the dispensation through Christ, the Son?" He is quite serious. Work hard. Be diligent. Make your calling sure!

It is about this same time that Peter and Jude add their voices to his. The brethren were undergoing a rough time because false ministers and false teachers were in the church, and like us, they also had to fight off the pressures from the world to conform. It takes great effort to resist both in the church and out in the world. When there are problems among us, it is tough. When we must also resist all the downward pulls outside in society, it is a difficult, sore trial. Thus, Paul uses particularly strong language to motivate them to stand up, face the problem, give it their all, and vanquish it.

Are we in a similar circumstance? Perhaps some of the details are different; the deception has taken a somewhat different form (this time we do not have to contend with Gnosticism, per se). However, there is enough similarity that warnings here, as well as in the books of Peter, John, and Jude, make a lot of sense. Certainly the results, the fruit of false teaching, are the same: apostasy, falling away, confusion, distrust (especially of those who have been given a measure of authority, the ministry), scattering, and disunity. The apostles, then, are speaking to us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

2 Peter 2:1-3

These verses show us in a general way that traitors will come from within the church and subvert many to follow their carnal ways. Peter uses the word "but" to provide a contrast with the preceding section about the "sure word of prophecy" (II Peter 1:19, KJV). These traitors to the faith are not led by the Holy Spirit as were those God inspired to write the prophecies (verse 21). The apostle immediately warns that these "false teachers" will come from within the church, or as Peter writes, "among you." The implication is that "forewarned is forearmed"! Therefore, be on guard!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Peter 2:1

Alarming as II Peter 2:1-3 is, Peter does not define heresy, but he does tell what one heresy is and will be. He also does not tell us here what the source of heresy is either.

Heresy is the translation of the Greek hairesis—meaning literally "choice" or "selection"—which has an interesting secular as well as biblical history. Until its biblical use, it had no evil connotation. Even in the Bible, it is mostly used to refer to a party or a philosophy with which a person had chosen to identify or ally himself. Thus, hairesis is frequently translated "sect." In Acts, Luke applies it to the Sadducees (Acts 5:17) and the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5). Outsiders also used hairesis in Acts 24:5, 14 and Acts 28:22 to identify the Christian church.

However, when Paul and Peter's writings began circulating, hairesis meant a destructive element within the church that creates division through consciously formed opinions and ideas in disagreement with the orthodox teachings of the apostles. Paul condemns it in Galatians 5:20 as one of "the works of the flesh." Sometimes it is translated "factions" or "party spirit," but regardless of its translation, Paul says that people who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (verse 21)!

In the ordinary course of secular life, heresy was of little consequence; one person's opinion or choice about most things in life is just as good as another's. A person can be given any number of alternatives, any one of which he may be perfectly free to believe. However, in Christianity we are dealing with revelation, with God-given truth, with absolutes. When God's truth comes to men, we either have to accept or reject it. Thus, a heretic is a man who believes what he wishes to believe instead of accepting the truth of God that he ought to believe.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Peter 2:1

If "secretly" ("privily") were translated into the closest English synonym, it would have been rendered "smuggle." They smuggle in heresy by cunning deceit. The word literally means "they bring it along side," that is, they present this heresy in such a way as to make it appear favorably with the truth. "Oh, it's just a refinement. We're not really changing anything. You understand that, don't you? We're not really changing it. It's just a refinement, a clarification."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

2 Peter 2:1

The King James Version calls their heresies damnable, implying that their words—their messages—are destructive to one's faith and relationship with God. "Denying the Lord" does not mean they deny that He lived or died or that He is God, but that their words and conduct are opposed to His fundamental nature. Their lives deny any close contact with Him.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

1 John 2:18-20

John informs us that the antichrists were right in the church fellowshipping with the truly converted! No doubt, they performed the same function in John's areas of responsibilities as they did in Paul's. They created a measure of havoc in the church through heretical teaching and then left the fellowship, proving they were not really part of the church. They were tares.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part Two)


 

1 John 2:18-19

John calls the various individuals who were teaching heresy "antichrists." At one time, these people had fellowshipped with true believers, but then had left the church and were now trying to draw others away to follow their heretical teachings. John points out that they were never really converted, or they would have stayed with the body of true believers.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
For the Perfecting of the Saints


 

Revelation 2:3

Jesus actually commends the Ephesians quite a bit. They had stood up to the falsehood and to the false teachers of the mid- to late-first century. Of course, He is speaking of the "core" group, the ones who were truly converted who stuck it out. They had seen who was false, and they avoided them.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Revelation 2:4-5

The Ephesian church did have a problem. It was not in holding false teachers at arm's length, but in tending to become lax, to "drift with the tide," as it were, and this made them an easy target for false teachers. In this way, their weakness was, in a way, connected to their strength. They approached matters somewhat lackadaisically when times were fairly good, but when times became bad, they seemed to be able to stand up for the truth.

At certain times, their devotion to God's way left a lot to be desired. Just before the apostle John died in about AD 100, this was very much the case, and he really had to rouse them to get them back. From what we know from church history, by this time the membership of the true church was small and concentrated mostly around John in the church at Ephesus and some of the nearby towns in Asia Minor that he directly pastored.

Jude recognized the beginning of this drifting when he wrote in the mid-60s. All the apostles wrote similar things in their epistles: that the members of the church needed to get on the stick because false doctrines and false teachers were already in evidence among them and beginning to cause problems. If they did not root them out quickly, destruction would follow. The brethren were far too tolerant of divergent beliefs and practices, and Jude, especially, makes this point rather bluntly. He basically yells at them. Those who know Greek intimately say his language is very terse and sharp, and with it he lays in to them for being too tolerant of untruth.

His brother, Jesus, is more circumspect in His wording in Revelation 2:5. To paraphrase, he says, "I would rather that you were strong all the time. You need to go back and do the first works and remain strong so that these false teachers do not get a foothold in the church in the first place."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Revelation 12:15

Revelation 12:15 shows the serpent, Satan, spewing a torrent of "water out of His mouth like a flood"! Aimed directly at the woman, that torrent is a diabolical and merciless attempt to sweep her away!

In John 7:38-39, water clearly represents God's Holy Spirit. This usage, in turn, has a direct connection to another usage important to this article and understanding Revelation 12:15-16. In this regard, Paul writes, "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26), and Jesus adds, "It is the Spirit [which] gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

Words, like water, have awesome power to do good or bad. They can give life like Jesus' words, or they can devastate and destroy like a flood of water when it is out of control.

Interestingly, Revelation 12:15 pictures this flood spurting from the serpent's mouth, the very place on the body where words emanate! This flood may someday materialize as a real army, but today Satan is inundating the world with such a torrent of appealing misinformation that some of God's people are being swept away. They are not yet lost because our God is more powerful than Satan, and He can save from the uttermost. But many are putting themselves into spiritual—and perhaps even physical—danger by being distracted from God's focus, the Kingdom of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 

 




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