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Guard Yourself: False Teaching Can and Does Arise From Within the Church

We often think of the church as a safe place, which is certainly how it should be. Everything we hear at church should be truth. Sadly, however, that’s not always the case. People in the church can and do spread false teaching, either knowingly or unknowingly.

False Teaching Arises from Within the Church

Consider what Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:6-7,

“Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” (1 Ti 1:6–7)

The certain persons to whom Paul is referring are not those outside the church, rather they are those who are members of the church at Ephesus. These folks have sate under Timothy’s preaching week in and week out. Despite hearing the truth, they have started spreading a false message.

The Importance of Recognizing False Teaching Can and Does Arise From Within the Church

Since false teaching is spread both out and in the church, we have to be vigilant in comparing everything we hear with what God’s Word says. Every sermon, Bible study, conversation, and saying has to be run through a biblical grid.

In order to for us to run everything we hear through a robust and accurate biblical grid, we have to be biblically literate, which means we have to put a premium on reading and studying God’s Word. We have to know our Bible’s.

How Could Those in the Church Start Spreading False Doctrine?

Presumable Timothy was preaching the truth of God’s Word, expounding the text, and proclaiming the gospel week in and week out. How could someone sit under Biblical teaching week in and week out only to start spreading false doctrine?

Paul says it happens when we swerve from the truth. Specifically, he tells us in verse 5 that those in the Ephesian church have swerved from “a pure heart…a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Ti 1:5b). Leaving these things behind, some in the Ephesian church ventured into false doctrine.

A few explanations for why they swerved toward false teaching are possible that they sought to puff themselves up, gain a reputation, or even power in the community. We aren’t told exactly why, but what we do know is that their motives for doing so weren’t pure.

It didn’t matter, then, if they knew what they were talking about or not. They just started talking, making things up as they went. They didn’t check what they were saying against Scripture. They just said it.

We Can Easily Spread False Doctrine If We Aren’t Careful

Honestly, that can happen to us. If we don’t check what we are saying against Scripture, we might end up spreading false doctrine. Let me show you how easy it is for that to happen. I came across an article just the other day highlighting common sayings of church goers. Consider some of the ones they mentioned:

  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • God wants me to be happy.
  • We’re all God’s children.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  • God won’t give you more than you can handle.
  • When you die, God gains another angel [1].

I’m sure most of these are familiar to you, you may have even said one or two of these before. You know what? They are all false teaching. Not one of them is true. When we say them, then, we are spreading a false message.

Sure, we may be doing so unknowingly. Today maybe the first time you heard these were false teaching. But do you see how easy it is for false teaching to creep into even a biblically minded church? Do you see why it is important that we are always on guard, even at church? Do you see why we always have to check the things we hear against Scripture?

False teaching can and does arise from within the church, so we have to check everything we hear against God’s Word in order to guard ourselves and others from it.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you have a well developed biblical grid by which you can protect yourself and others from false teaching and teachers?

Resources

[1] http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/7-unbiblical-statements-christians-believe

Post developed from my sermon: How Do We Guard Ourselves and Others From False Teaching and Teachers?

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law-books

What are the Three Uses of the Law?

The Old Testament law is mysteries and difficult for us to understand at times. Since we are so far removed from the time of the Patriarchs and are more closely related to the New Testament church, we may have a tendency to write the law off altogether. Before we do that, however, it is important we understand the law’s purpose or uses. Most theologians agree that the law has three uses.

What are the Three Uses of the Law?

(1) Restrain sin (Rom 7:7; Ps 19:13)

Like a locked door, the law was supposed to keep sin from running rampant by setting boundaries that weren’t supposed to be crossed. Certainly, this use more closely relates to Old Testament Israel. God’s law was meant to make them distinct and it was to make a way for them to live in relation with Him.

(2) Reveal sin (Rom 3:19–20; Gal 3:24)

Like a mirror the law was supposed to reveal how sinful we are, helping us to see that we can’t save ourselves. In this way, the law points us to our need for a Savior.

While the first use is more closely related to Old Testament Israel, it seems this use has value today as well. We are all sinners who need to understand the depths of our depravity so that we will see our need for a Savior.

(3) Guide to living (Rom 13:8–10)

Like a rule or guide, the law is supposed to show us how to live in a way that pleases God.

Certainly, this use is both applicable to the saints of old and us as well. We all need to know and understand who God is and how He would have us live.

Question for Reflection

  1. What do you think? Do you agree the law has three uses?

Resource

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcubic/7735722276/sizes/l

How Do We Deal with Recurring Sin in Our Lives? – Part 5

As we all know, battling sin is hard and difficult work. While we may win some battles here and there, we won’t win the war in this life. We will continue to battle sin until the day we die. A constant battle with sin can become tiresome and discouraging. It can drag us down. I don’t want that for you. So let me provide a word of encouragement to the battle laden warrior of Christ whose soul may have grown weary from years of fighting.

A Word of Encouragement

(1) A constant battle with sin should assure you that you are Christian rather than discourage you.

John in his first letter says starting in verse 9 of chapter 1,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:9–10)

There isn’t a problem when we are willing to admit or battle against sin, rather the problem occurs when we aren’t willing to admit or battle against sin. When that occurs we should be worried, not when we are battling sin in our lives.

A constant battle of sin means we recognize it’s there and we are willing to deal with it, which is one of the marks of a true Christians. So constantly battling sin should assure rather than discourage you.

(2) Despite our sin, we are still used by God.

It is remarkable, but God still uses us despite the sin in our lives. He uses us to:

  • Spread the gospel
  • Preach His Word
  • Counsel the hurting
  • Care for the needy
  • And much, much more.

Despite the sin in our lives, God still uses us — imperfect vessels — to do His perfect work. When we see God using us, we should be encouraged because it means we are His.

So be encouraged when you find that you are battling sin. It not only reveals that you are a child of God, but it also means that you are someone God can and will use to do His work.

Conclusion

Returning to our question: How do we defeat recurring sin in our lives? We defeat recurring sin, the same way we defeat every other sin. After discovering what it is, we purpose not to hold onto it, and we attack it at the root, doing battle on the battlefield of our heart. Relying on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and using the weapons the Lord has given us. That’s how we battle sin.

So don’t lose heart. Continue to fight the good fight, knowing that those who are in Christ can win the battle because Jesus has won the war.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you encouraged by your constant battle with sin?
  2. Do you see the Lord using you to do His work in your life?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon: How Do We Deal with Recurring Sin in Our Lives?

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