It’s getting more difficult to spot apostasy and heresies but these Bible verses should help.
Since apostasy seems to be on the increase and false teachers are even more deceptive, how might we recognize it when we see, hear, or read it? The Bible and the Holy Spirit are our greatest weapons in discerning the false from the true and the satanic teachers from the biblically sound teachers. One man comes to mind when I think of biblically sound. It’s the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee and his Through the Bible Ministries. This man takes us through the Bible in five years, expositing the Scriptures verse by verse. This guarantees the proper context of Scripture, but false teachers rip texts out of context to create a false pretext, and millions are being deceived. To claim one verse as a proof text is like taking one line out of a book and declaring it as being reflective of the author’s thinking. This is why the Apostle Paul warned us that there were “false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Gal 2:4-5). These satanic teachers want to make the gospel an equation like this: Jesus + something = salvation, when it is truly Christ alone which saves (Acts 4:12). Paul was spot on by writing that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). I believe that time has come.
Prophesied to Come
Even before Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed, He warned that “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matt 24:24-25). So too did the Apostle Peter know it was coming, writing that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet 2:1-2). The Apostle Paul knew this was coming, perhaps receiving this knowledge as a direct revelation from the Spirit, writing that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim 4:1-2). These “later times” have arrived. That’s why Jude had to write his epistle. He was already contending for the faith once delivered in his own life time. Jude wrote, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:3-4). Jude intended to write about their salvation, but something more pressing came along. It was a perverted gospel being subtly brought in. Notice they “have crept in unnoticed.” Obviously, if they’d been noticed, they’d have been put out of the church, so that’s how deceptive they are.
A Different Gospel
Any gospel that does not include the need for repentance and faith, the very same gospel Jesus Christ introduced (Mark 1:15), is no gospel at all. This is the very reason Paul wrote that “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8-9). In many cases, it was that way in ancient Judah, where “Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD” (Jer 23:11). It had become so bad in society that the true prophets were imprisoned or killed and the false prophets were prophesying that all was good and that there was a bright future for Israel when actually impending destruction was coming. God says woe to those “who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD” (Prov 17:15), and even worse, “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 5:20)! Heresies can sometimes be hard to spot because even Satan’s ministers can appear to be pure and wholesome teachers of the Word of God, but this should not surprise us because “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14). If Satan himself can appear to be an angel of light, then it’s not surprising that millions are being deceived.
The real gospel includes the necessity for repentance, faith, teaching on holiness, sanctification, and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord our God. Studying the Word of God with the aid of the Spirit of God helps clarify the ungodly teachings of the enemy. The best wat to spot heresy is to know the truth and the truth is found in the Word of God. Knowing the Word of God will help more than anything in spotting the phony or false gospels out there, and those who peddle it, and some family members end up driving a $200,000 Lamborghini. If you know someone who is falling into error, I hope you’ll share these Scriptures with them. Maybe it can help them spot the heresies and avoid believing a lie. The Devil is a liar, so what would you expect from the father of lies?
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.