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False Teachers - Detecting Them? Why should Christians have zero tolerance for false teachers? It is not unusual for Churches to unknowingly entertain heretical teaching. How do we detect heresy and false teachers and root it out?
The word heresy means choosing one's own ideas, but also refers to that which is untrue. Even the early churches in the Bible had false or heretical teachers who taught erroneous doctrine. Some epistles were specifically written to combat them (Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, Jude).
Paul warned the believers in Rome against identifying with those who promoted divisive, heretical teachings (Romans 16:17). He commanded Titus to reject and remove heretics if they did not respond after two warnings. The apostle John warned that a heretic should not be admitted into a Christian's home (2 John 10).
Christians should separate and dissociate themselves from investing themselves in cooperation with heretics so as to be unhindered in their Christian lives for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The term heresy means a teaching that is contrary to biblical doctrine. The apostle Paul confronted heresy in the Colossian and Galatian church in a very obvious way (Colossian. 2:1-23).
Satan initiates heresy in Bible believing Churches by masquerading it as Bible doctrine worthy of debate. Heresy will always find its opportunity to abound where the knowledge of God's word is weak. Heresies always rely on human insight and wisdom.
Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write transparently about the evil of heresy. All heresies at its origination is in self exaltation. The apostle Paul deliberately condemns any and all teaching that credits humanity and not Christ with being the answer to all of life's problems. Heresy represents teaching that deviates from the truth. We are warned against it in Acts 20:29-32 and Philippians. 3:2.
How do we detect heresy? As we study God's Word, we learn heresies can be detected by asking probing questions.
These are just some of the questions. To resist heresy, you must renew your mind with the Word of God. Remember: Salvation is by Grace through faith... Salvation is not secured by a persons behavior but the Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ.
Heresies include teachings that Jesus is not divine and that the Holy Spirit is not a person (Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, etc.), that men may become gods; that there is more than one God (Mormonism), that Jesus lost His divinity in hell and finished the atonement there, and that good works are necessary for salvation (all cults emphasize this), to name a few. Even the early New Testament church had false or heretical teachers who taught erroneous doctrine. Some epistles were specifically written to combat them (Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, Jude). Paul warned the believers in Rome against identifying with those who promoted divisiveness and heretical teachings (Romans 16:17), especially those who placed the law as preeminent over God's grace. The law condemns, grace converts. The law seeds rejection... grace breeds repentance (Romans 2:4).
Not everyone who makes an incorrect doctrinal statement is a heretic or false teacher. When Apollo's was further instructed concerning the gospel, he grew into a very influential Christian leader (Acts 18:24,28). By contrast, Hymeneus and Philetus were heretics when they rejected God's truth and hindered the faith of some believers (2 Timothy 2:16,18).
However, heresies always conceive subtly (Jude 1:4a) and seduces, even thrives in the arena of debate. Discerning Believers will reject heresy and its seduction for debate.
Our only sufficiency necessary to expose heresy and heretics and root it out is the Word of God rightly divided under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit.
Sincerely, Dr. Arthur Belanger