2 Peter 2:1, “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord”.
Webster defines the word deceive as to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid, to practice deceit or to give a false impression. Have you ever been deceived by a smooth talking person? I have and it isn’t very pleasant. People don’t like to be fooled but it happens way to often in today’s world. People fall for crooked schemes that cost them money, endanger their health, and waste their valuable time. It happens to elderly people when they trust the friendly and persuasive person who comes to their door selling a too-good-to-be-true product. It happens when a person tells a person they have won a sweepstakes but needs their bank account number so their winnings can be deposited. It happens when a person with health problems buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of bogus medicine, and it happens in businesses where individuals cleverly pervert the facts and thus, victimize their customers, with false advertising.
Thus far we have been talking about non-spiritual areas. Such deceptions also occur in our churches throughout the world. It happens when people move away from God’s principles of truth and goodness. Satan, who is called an angel of light, is the master of deceitfulness, and will use false teachers including pastors who have distorted the truth of God’s Word. We are fooled by their use of biblical terminology, by their deceitful presentations that make guarantees far beyond what God has clearly promised in His Word. This isn’t a new concept because the apostle Paul warned us about this kind of deception in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ”.
My brethren, to protect ourselves from false teaching we are cautioned in God’s Word about people in this world who come up with deceptive ventures. The writer of Proverbs told us not to believe everything we hear when we buy or sell something (Proverbs 20:12). He told us to seek knowledge, understanding, and good counsel in everything we do, and because we cannot begin to see as the Lord sees, we should pray for His wisdom in the decisions we must make. God sees through the lies of deception in a way that we never could and He will steer us clear of good-sounding values, which are really bad.
A British magazine printed an article some time ago entitled “Create Your Own Personal Religion.” The author wrote, “I just cannot understand how people can devote themselves to a single religion and expect it to answer all their prayers and cater to all their needs. I do not doubt that Jesus was the Son of God, but I think there were also many other sons-and daughters-of God.” She concluded, “I’ve become a sort of theological magpie, taking bits from different religions which happen to suit my needs.” My friend, this is happening today in our churches throughout the world. We are taking bits from different religions so it will suit our own needs or we are adding to or taking away from what God’s Eternal Word really says.
A false teacher knows what people want and appeals to their desires (2 Peter 2). He doesn’t wear a lapel pin to warn of his lies, but he comes disguised as a representative of the truth. He claims he will enrich lives, but those who follow him often learn at a high cost that they have been deceived. In order to protect ourselves from these individuals we must be rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, resolutely established in the faith, and firmly grounded in the Word of God. Jesus Christ is a teacher we can trust completely. He offers us the gift of eternal life because He truly loves us. Accepting His gift of salvation is the first step in protecting ourselves from the deceptive gifts that false teachers offer. The bottom line is this; whether we’re listening to a Sunday school teacher, preacher, evangelist or even a believer in Christ, we must be very vigilant concerning what is being said, and the only way to see if it is true is digging into God’s Word. The Bible has the answers to our every need and problems. God’s Word exhorts each believer in Christ to:
(1) Study the Scriptures (1 Peter 2:2),
(2) Test what we hear (1 John 4:1), and
(3) Grow in the faith (2 Peter 1:5-9).
(4) The questions remains, “Are we doing these things?”