It is important to be alert to false doctrine, at all times. It is especially needful for a church that has Systematic Teaching as its foundation to be on high alert. False doctrine allowed to go unchecked can and often will destroy a Bible teaching church.

Almost any spiritual action can be imitated by the energy of the flesh, or the control of the mind or by demons. Therefore, we must be very careful to make sure that what we attribute to God is not, at its best carnal or at its worst demonic. Imitation Spiritual actions are founded on false and improper teachings of some areas of Scripture. These false teachings usually have to do with some pseudo ease of living the Christian Life.

Let's look at a couple of false teachings. Llooking at these false teachings and their foundation, or lack thereof will pave the way for a careful look at a false teaching that is floating around today.

False teachers take a small portion of Scripture and twist it to say that:  

As I pointed out in the first lesson of this series, these false teachings have some aspects that are true or close to the truth. All sickness, pain, sorrow, etc. are a result of the spiritual fall of Adam and the resulting curse which had previously been stated by God. God does, at times, allow sickness as punishment for personal sin, and God does bring healing through prayer and repentance. Ultimately, God will do away with all pain, sorrow, sickness and death. However, that is yet a future aspect of redemption, and has nothing to do with our present day by day life, except as a blessed hope.

Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

Even though the abolition of pain, death and everything associated with these is part of the plan of redemption, we must remember it is still a future aspect of redemption and is not a present fact which we can claim for our daily lives.

If God heals, or prevents sickness it is a miracle, but is not a universal provision of God’s redemptive program during this Age of Grace. These false teachers, of course, have a Scripture to back-up their false teachings. In this area of false teaching they often use as one of their passages…

Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

There is more than one form of healing mentioned in the Bible. There is physical healing, there is spiritual healing, etc. The context will give us directives as to which healing is referred to in a passage. We could look at the context of this phrase in the Isaiah passage, however this phrase is referred to in 1 Peter and it is much easier and quicker to look at the context in Peter than Isaiah.

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed.

There’s the reference to being healed by Christ’s stripes. Now let’s look at the context and see if there is any way we can claim physical release from suffering, sorrow, sickness, etc. because Christ was beaten with many stripes, before He went to the cross.

1 Peter 2:19-25 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer for it, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 "Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth"; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Let’s see, is there any reference to sickness in this phrase or even in the greater context of the phrase "by whose stripes you were healed". No. As a matter of fact, it says that we are called to suffer after the same example of Christ.., but nothing about being freed from sickness.

We are freed from sin so that we may live for righteousness.  

Even though there is no way of accurately concluding from this passage and its context that freedom from sickness is a present provision of redemption, that does not stop the false teachers from using faulty and persuasive words to trap people into believing such an untruth.

A characteristic of false teaching, as we will see later, is that it appeals to the desires of the natural flesh and can easily bring our minds under the control of the false teaching, and ultimately under the control of the false teacher.

False teachers take a small portion of Scripture and twist it to say that:  
Matthew 6:7 "But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Simply repeating some biblical phrase, will not yield spiritual blessings. We are to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. To receive God’s blessing requires that we, in obedience to His Word, do what is required of God for the reception of the stated blessing. Sometimes, hearing the command of God over and over again will lead us to do what God commanded, but the simple repetition of that command will not bring the promised blessing.

Look at one of the great promises of God and see the required action in order to receive the blessing.

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name:

The condition or requirement to receive this blessing is clearly stated. We must receive Him, Christ. The act of receiving does not produce any goodness of itself. But we must act in obedience by receiving or we will not obtain the blessing. The blessing in this case is becoming a Child of God. Just because you are a human, you do not automatically have the right (privilege & authority) to become a Child of God. Coming to church, repeating verses of Scripture, repeating some creed will not give you the right to become a child of God. Some of those exercises may bring their own blessing, but they will not provide you the right to be a child of God. To receive a particular blessing from God, we must, in obedience, do what is required by the Scriptures wit regard to that blessing. Our human effort, in doing that action, does not bring the blessing, but doing what is required of God demonstrates our obedience and surrender to God and His word. Thereby, allowing God to do His Spiritual work in our lives.

No action of a human has Spiritual qualities. Only God can bring Spiritual qualities to a human life.  

We must be very careful not to take a small portion of Scripture and interpret that Scripture according to our desires or even our good logic. We must make sure that the context bears out our conclusions, and that any conclusion is not in conflict with other Scriptures. Certainly, the Scriptures tell us that we can have God’s peace and that we can know joy that can not be comprehended by human reasoning. However, just living a proper life will not assure you a life of ease and an absence of stress. Look at the following passage.

2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

That’s pretty clear. If we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus we will suffer some from of persecution. In light of that, I believe that we could say that if we are not receiving some form of persecution, then we probably are not living in a godly manner.

That persecution may not be physical harm, it might be simple ridicule. The other day, I was talking to one of the janitors at the "Y", who is a fine Christian gentleman. We were talking about the blessings of the day. There was another fellow seated there, and when the janitor went on his way, this fellow turned to me and said, "So, you’re one of those Christians?". No, I never received any blows or bruises, but it was a form of persecution. There are many who do suffer persecution in the form of physical damage, or financial ruin, etc. because they are living the Christian life. The point I want to make is that God did not promise a life of ease without stress, if we are living godly.

The writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter 11 gave a listing of some great men and women who lived godly lives. These faith greats are set forth as examples of our dedication to God. After listing several faith greats, the writer sums up a vast number of other faith greats, too numerous to list individually. Please note that these faith greats did not have a life of ease without stress. Not only so, they did not receive their reward for such a life. Instead, they must wait for that promise until we receive our reward in eternity.

Hebrews 11:36-40 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented -- 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

The Scriptures do not indicate that through the reception of God’s redemption, often referred to as salvation, we somehow have a right to freedom from pain, suffering, sickness, etc, or that we have a right to a life of ease and freedom from stress. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures indicate that if we are to live the life of Christ, we will have increased suffering, pain, etc.

I can’t go on and on looking at false teachings and their counterparts in the Scriptures, or we will not have time to even approach the subject of today’s lesson, which is only an introduction to the next lesson. However, I thought it important to see how these false teachers establish their false teachings by using small portions of Scripture or some Greek definitions without comparing and harmonizing those with all Scripture, rightly divided.

False teachers take a small portion of Scripture and twist it to say that:  

We certainly have not exhausted the total comparison of all Scripture in showing the fallacy of even these two false doctrines. But in this very abbreviated comparison, we have established how such teachings can easily be seen as false in light of Scripture, instead of human philosophy.

However, there is another false teaching floating around, and yes, right here in MBF. In the next lesson, we will look at the essence of this false teaching and search the Scriptures to see if it is Biblically true or false. This false teaching is not new. It was around at the time of the Apostles. Then with the spread of mysticism within the church before the Dark Ages, it became a widely accepted teaching by some, but denounced by the Church leaders of the that time. I’m not sure whether this false teaching adapted some aspects of Eastern Religions and the cults or if the opposite is true. I would assume that all three are simply a demonstration of human effort to produce some spiritual results, which of course is impossible. After the Dark Ages, this false teaching was revived in many different forms. This teaching incorporates some of the philosophies of eastern religions, and some cult type practices, along with a sprinkling of selected passages of Scripture. This false teaching came along and then faded over time, only to be revived and then it faded again. This process of being revived and fading again has happened many times over throughout history, bringing with it, each time, the control of the minds of those who embrace it. Years after this teaching did one of it fadings, some person, while reading old books, found the false doctrine and revived it with a little new twist and so it continues its cycles to this day.

Someone, writing on the history of false doctrines, says that these false doctrines seem to run in cycles ranging from 30 to 100 years. This researcher showed how a false doctrine is introduced, peeks and fades. Then in about 30 years or so, it would once again be revived by someone looking for something new, different and especially easier than the Christian life, yet bringing with it certain mystical feelings.

I don’t know the accuracy of this study, but this doctrine certainly has run many cycles since its introduction during the time of the Apostles. Jude, not specifically referring to this particular false doctrine, presents the fact of and a procedure to deal with false doctrines in general. Jude also shows at least one problem these false doctrines bring to a church’s teaching program.

Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent (eager) to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary (constrained with distress) to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Jude wanted to write to give his readers more information about the salvation that all Believers hold in common. However, he couldn’t give an orderly presentation of our salvation, because "certain men had crept in unnoticed" with a false doctrine. Therefore, Jude was constrained to write an exhortation, rather than a systematic teaching. This fact brought Jude great distress. I know the feeling! I can’t count the times I’ve prepared a systematic teaching series dealing with the deeper areas of our "common salvation", only to have such teaching derailed becauseit was needful to bring an exhortation to hold on to the truth you already have. The reason for such a change in the teaching format was because someone introduced a false doctrine, which if not countered would bring devastation to the church.

The sad reality is that such a"derailing of systematic teaching would not have been needed, if the Christian who heard that false teaching, would have "earnestly contended for the faith once delivered". Instead, they often tolerated and even embraced such false teaching. without comparing it with all Scripture.

The least they could have done would be to bring such teachings to the pastor for evaluation. If such teachings are left unattended, they often bring ruin to the Believer and to the church. The reason for that is found in…

2 Timothy 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer.
Cancer = (Greek) An eating sore, as gangrene, that spreads corruption through the Body

There is a natural law of nature. It is easier to get sick than it is to be healthy. If you do nothing but just let life go, your body will deteriorate. However, to have a healthy body takes care and effort.

When it comes to the Spiritual body of the church, false doctrines act on the church like cancer in the natural body. Like the natural body, if careful attention is not given, it is far easier to accept a false doctrine, that acts like cancer to the church, than it is to feed on the solid food of the Word of God, which brings Spiritual growth.

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

I’m not a prophet or a son of a prophet, but I can predict quite accurately a person’s turning from the truth to fables. When a person no longer wants or will tolerate the preaching of the Word that brings convincing, rebuke, and exhortation, then that person will turn from sound doctrine to fables. It’s just a matter of time.

convince = (Greek) to expose; to confront; admonish; to prove wrong
rebuke = (Greek) censure; admonish, by implication to forbid
exhort = (Greek) to call near so as to urge to pursue a course of conduct through earnest appeal or consolation based on hope
Then I hear, "But Pastor! We are to come together to encourage each other."  

By the way, the human concept of encouragement is one of the mainstays of the false doctrine we will introduce in this lesson and examine in some detail in the next lesson. We are to encourage each other. Of course, you mean by such a statement that we are to encourage each other in a manner prescribed in the Bible. Right? I’m glad to hear that you want to encourage in the manner prescribed in the Bible, not according to false teachers.

You see, the Greek word or derivatives of that Greek word translated encourage is the same word for exhort. I believe that twice when the English word encourage is used, it comes from a Greek word meaning to console jointly. Even then, that Greek word is based on and incorporates the Greek word for exhort. You see how easy it is to fall into false doctrine, even when it comes to such a simple thing as biblical encouragement?

We are to encourage by calling near, so we can urge others to pursue a proper course of conduct through earnest appeal and real consolation based on the blessed hope. We are not to encourage a person to continue in a life other than one of holiness.

2 Timothy 2:16-17 But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer.

Unless we earnestly contend for doctrine once for all delivered to the saints, the resulting false doctrine will affect the church like cancer. Look at the immediate context of that passage.

2 Timothy 2:14-18 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words (disputive on trifles) to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 (BUT) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

Notice the contrast between improper teaching and proper teaching. One leads to spiritual cancer the other leads to spiritual growth and maturity. In another passage it states that false doctrine will bring schisms or divisions.

We are not to "dispute over trifles". Instead, we are to rightly divide the entire Scriptures. When we do not look at the small portions of the Scriptures in light of the totality of Scripture, we are in danger of introducing false doctrine.

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2006