Remembering the gospel is especially important in the context of false teachers, which Carmelina helped us understand in 2 Peter 2:1-3:2.
We shouldn’t be surprised by false teachers, and we shouldn’t become complacent and think that it doesn’t happen in our own lives. God gives us a loving warning against false teachers.
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them- bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Peter 2:1.
There came a list of false teachers across the world, and in our own backyard. Influential leaders who proclaim that there cannot be only one way to God, that Jesus didn’t die for our sins, that the afterlife is uncertain, that grace gives us a license to continue to sin because he has already forgiven us and will do so again, that the bible is not God’s true and trustworthy word. Listening to the list made me really angry. If I ever met those people and heard them speaking things like that, I would want to yell, “Liar!”
As a slight tangent, someone asked a question on how to address false teachers in our own contexts.
- Defend the truth in a loving and non-arrogant way: apologise if you feel like you offend someone in the way you speak to them, but work on being a good listener, relate to them with compassion, keep your temper under control. It is easy to jump in and defend the gospel passionately, and there is a rightness in that, to a point, but we need to be loving in the way we act, to each other and to outsiders.
- Approach them personally and talk through things- bring a friend.
- Form your conclusion based on the bible. Know the truth and back it up from Scripture.
- Come with a sense of humility and a goal to reconcile differences. Perhaps you simply misunderstood what they were saying, or they didn’t choose their words carefully enough.
- If you can’t resolve the difference, ask yourself if you can continue to sit under their leadership. You also need to recognise that some issues may not be divisive issues. Work out what the core issues are, and whether they are leading people astray from the gospel, or if the bible simply doesn’t say much about a topic and it doesn’t matter, e.g. was creation a literal seven-day period or a model?
Peter gives us a list of characteristics of false teachers.
- Secretive– they won’t tell you they’re false teachers, they’ll tell you that they have “new interpretations based on the latest research”.
- Destructive– they destroy people’s relationships with God.
- Greedy– Very good at getting money out of the people they’re leading astray.
- Despise authority– they often tell people that whatever feels good and right is good and right; no one can tell them what to do.
But they will come to their own destruction in the end (perish, v12; paid back with harm, v13; blackest darkness reserved for them, v14; better off if they had never believed, v20-21).
The anecdote to false teaching? Holding firm to true teaching.
· Know the truth– read it, talk about it, think about it.
· Love the truth– love it so much that nothing else will do.
· Test whatever we hear against the truth– have the bible open when hearing a sermon, read the passage in advance, go over it again with other people (e.g. in a bible study), pray for those who teach the bible.
· Defend the truth– in love, point people to the truth and that what they’re teaching is wrong.
So how can you grow in those things?