“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
~ Ephesians 4:14-15
It is not beyond possibility that false leaders will try to deceive the Lord’s elect – those he has chosen for his purposes (Matthew 24:24). Despite the availability of sound teaching, many are attracted to false teaching that pleases their ears but does nothing for their spirits (2 Timothy 4:3-4). They are spiritual infants (1 Corinthians 14:20). The Word warns us not to fall for every new thing that comes by because under that guise, false teachers ruin the lives of many people (Hebrews 13:9). Beware the reality of false teachers who slip in among us (Jude 1:4, 12).
False teachers will become prevalent as time goes on (2 Peter 2:1-3). They cause division among believers and create false doctrines which should be avoided (Romans 16:17). There is a way to know what is truly of God (1 John 4:1). The consummate test of a doctrine for Christians is that it supports the confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God who came to the earth to redeem us (1 John 4:2-3). Jesus said that false prophets are wolves who can be recognized because their intent is not godly or good and their works do not bear spiritual fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). People are susceptible to false teaching because they want complicated, austere doctrines about self-denial that have no salvific import (i.e., not eating certain foods, questioning truth, etc.). Avoid those who claim some special knowledge (1 Timothy 6:20-21) because the way is so plain a fool could not miss it. Simple people will believe anything (Proverbs 14:15).
God’s path is clear (Isaiah 35:8). The way toward Christ is travelled by only a few dedicated folk, while the path toward destruction is crowded (Matthew 7:14). Upright people avoid evil (Proverbs 16:17). In fact, Jesus declared himself “the way” by which we reach a relationship with the father (John 14:6). The
Father himself draws us to him (John 6:44). We are saved by the grace of God, not our works or any holiness of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once we are in Christ, we should not fall for the behaviors or beliefs that held us captives to sin (1 Peter 13-15). Teachers of the Word will be held accountable; therefore, few should aspire to become Word teachers (James 3:1).
Unbelievers are blind to the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) and the goal of sound doctrine is to bring people into the light of a right relationship with the lord (2 Corinthians 4:3-7). Those who follow other doctrines are in the dark – in fact, their understanding is clouded (Ephesians 4:18). False doctrines include philosophies and traditions that are given priority over godly truth (Colossians 2:8). False doctrine exist about eating certain meats or drinks that defile the body or how certain holidays that must be observed; and there is even false teaching on angel worship which are promoted by people who don’t remotely know what they are talking about (Colossians 2:16-18). Many of these things are mere fables and do not edify the body of Christ (1 Timothy 1:4). These false teachers have veered away from the truth of the gospel and created false beliefs that even they don’t understand (1 Timothy 1:6-7). The Word declares these teachers would come with an assortment of misleading doctrines and teachings that are hypocritical and lies and their own consciences are closed off from the truth 1 Timothy 4:1-4). We should refuse these teaching (1 Timothy 4:7).
Dr. Jeffrey Swain is the new Chaplain of the Susie C. Holley Religious Center at Florida Memorial University. He is author of Black and Still Here, A World of Color, Education in America: A Dilemma in the 21st Century, The Soul Unsettled, the Poetry Café for Women and Ancestor of the African Diaspora: A Tribute in Prosetry. He also teaches criminal and constitutional law.