2 Pet. 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2 Pet. 2:2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
There are parts of scripture that don’t get much attention in the body of Christ because they are messages that don’t make people shout, but they are just as much inspired by the Holy Spirit. Why would God give us warnings in scripture if He didn’t need us to hear them? Warnings are for our benefit so that we don’t fall prey to things that can hurt our life. One such warning in scripture has to do with heresy.
Much of our culture is now influencing what many preachers are saying instead of the preachers and God’s Word influencing culture. You don’t change the truths of God’s Word to become what many modern day ministers claim as being “relevant”. The Word of God is the truth that sets us free, and it is just as relevant and just as anointed as the day it was inspired and brought forth by the Holy Spirit. When people begin to teach what they stand behind as their belief based on their opinion, this will often lead to heresy. Heresy is defined as one’s opinion based on their personal preference, which goes contrary to scripture and the teachings of Christ.
As Peter warns in our foundation text of scripture there were false prophets among God’s people in years past, just as there will be false teachers among us today who will secretly (subtly) bring in these destructive heresies. Take note first of all that Peter warns these heresies, opinions based on personal preference, will be destructive. The problem is this will be done subtly, right under people’s noses without them even realizing that what they are being taught is only going to bring destruction, not deliverance and healing. How will they do this?
People will listen to such teachings and think they are correct because of how famous, charismatic, or likable the person may be. Today we even have ministers who are calling what scripture reveals as evil good, and good evil. It is the culture of the day that is a determining factor in what people believe, and because of this there are modern day preachers who are changing what scripture teaches to line up with the culture. But for example if you had a glass of water that was 3/4 good water but the other 1/4 was poison would you drink it? Yet many today accept the false teachings of ministers because of their status because they like the rest of what they say.
Is. 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah declared that it will not turn out good for those who call what is evil good, and what is good as evil, who substitute light for darkness and darkness for light, or bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Yet today all to often in churches and among Christians what was once recognized as immoral, unholy, and sinful based on the Word of God is no longer considered an issue in the life of one who is born again. We hear constantly that we are no longer “under the law”. No one who studies scripture believes that we are born again through any merit of our own. The free gift of salvation is based on what Christ has done for us and it can only be received by faith in Him. But as scripture teaches to walk by faith without corresponding action is not only powerless, but won’t work.
James 2:21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
James 2:22 You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions.
James 2:23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.” He was even called “the friend of God.”
James 2:24 So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
When you look to the whole of scripture and stay true to the Word of God, not formulating heresy based on personal opinion of the Bible, you must include scriptures such as these when talking about becoming right with God, or receiving right standing with Him. All through chapter 2 James deals with the difference between those who say they believe in God, or say they have faith in Him, but there is no corresponding actions that reveal this is true. Here James even tells us that Abraham’s faith in God was not complete until he acted in line with his faith and he was therefore declared righteous in the eyes of God. Look at verse 24 in conclusion of this example of Abraham. James states that we are made right with God by what we do, and not by faith alone.
Let me clarify just so people don’t misunderstand what James is saying here. There is nothing of personal effort on our part that will make us right with God. James is not saying that once we prove our worth to God we can become righteous, because as Jesus said there is none good but One, God. But once we put our faith in God if we truly believe in Him then we also believe in what He has said, all of what His Word says. So we don’t just believe, we act upon what we believe. We put our faith in what Christ has done at the cross for our sins, and we then begin a change of lifestyle as a follower of Christ, no longer following after the world. As Billy Graham has stated the cross does not suggest a change of lifestyle, it demands a change of lifestyle. Jesus did not die so you and I could just pray a prayer and go on living life our way, but in fact we are now to come into what Jesus said is the narrow gate.
Matt. 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
Matt. 7:14 But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
It is sad to say that even today there are ministers who have said they preach the wide gate, that there are many ways to come into the Kingdom of God but that is not what Jesus taught. These scriptures are just as true as the rest of the Bible. Jesus clearly tells us that the wide gate is the way that leads people to destruction. Remember Peter warned that there would be ministers who would teach heresies that lead to destruction, and these ministers would even deny Jesus Christ. Denying Christ does not mean they wouldn’t believe in Him, but would begin to deny His teachings such as these scriptures here in Matthew.
Jesus tells us in verse 14 that it is by the narrow gate one comes into true life and this gate is difficult. The word difficult here means a confined way. One of the truths about God that scripture is very clear about is the fact that God does not change. Even though there are those who want to change God, or how they view Him and His Word, He never changes. One of the greatest dangers of heresy is the fact that it tries to make God become something He is not, all by trying to convince people of something that is contrary to the Word of God. It is clear that this is a major work of satan in the last days because if he can get people to believe things that are not true he has accomplished what is his primary work in the lives of people, deception. The danger of deception is that you don’t know you are deceived. It is only through someone speaking truth into your life that your eyes can be opened to deception.
Jude 3 Dearly loved friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the truth of the Good News. God gave this unchanging truth once for all time to his holy people.
Jude 4 I say this because some godless people have wormed their way in among you, saying that God’s forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives. The fate of such people was determined long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Heresy is not something new. Jude in writing to the church wanted to talk about the salvation experience that all believers share, but had to instead turn his attention to a problem in his day that had begun to have a destructive impact on the believers and is one that is still happening today. Notice that Jude states the need to defend the true gospel, or truth of the Good News. What was it about this good news that Jude felt so compelled to write about and to warn the church of his day? He gives us the answer in verse 4.
Notice he talks about those who had wormed their way in among the believers saying that God’s forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives. They were saying that because they were now saved by grace, it does not matter any longer how they live and therefore they should not even address their lifestyle. Sound familiar? Today we have ministers and believers who are saying it doesn’t matter how we live because after all we are saved by grace. So be very careful children of God who and what you are listening to. We need to make sure it lines up with the whole of scripture. God loves you and desires the best for your life and therefore He does not want you getting caught up in the heresies of the day that are only going to bring destruction and not the liberty and deliverance He has provided us.
See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”
May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker