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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10 Ways to Get More Out of Your Daily Devotions

Every Wednesday, our church hosts a prayer meeting and Bible Study. During the Bible study portion, I usually throw out a question for discussion. This week the question had to do with our daily devotionals. Here is what we came up with as a group.

10 Ways to Get More Out of Your Daily Devotions

(1) Do Them – This should be a no brainer, but it is worth stating. If we want to get anything out of Scripture, we have to actually read it.

(2) Read Out Loud – Instead of reading the text silently, read it out loud. For this one, you may want to stick to your home, car, or office, instead of the local coffee shop.

(3) Association – Find a way to associate the text to an experience you have had in the past, or something you are going through right now.

(4) Use an Understandable Version – Let’s face it, some versions of the Bible – I am looking at you KJV – are difficult to understand. Old English is called Old English for a reason. Instead of trying to plod through a version from yesteryear, find a good modern translation you can actually understand. I recommend the ESV. It is literal, yet fluid enough to sit down and read.

(5) Pray for Understanding – Before you read, pray the Lord would open the text up to you.

(6) Pray the Text – After you read, pray through the text. Praying the text isn’t rocket science. Start with the first verse you read and pray whatever comes to mind. When you have milked that verse dry, move on to the next, and then the next, until you have prayed all the verses you read. If you want further ideas and reasons why praying the text is helpful, Donald Whitney has written an excellent book Praying the Biblewhich I highly recommend.

(7) Meditate on the Text – If all you do is read a chapter, close your Bible, and go about your day, chances are you aren’t going to remember much of what you read, which means you probably aren’t going to apply much of what you have read to your life. In comes meditation. By meditation, I don’t mean sitting with your legs crossed, arms out, palms up, trying to clear your mind. I have in mind just the opposite. Instead of trying to clear your mind, you should fill your mind with the text. There are several ways to do that:

  • Think through the key words in the text.
  • Write out the text.
  • Journal the text.
  • Memorize a key verse(s).
  • Visualize the text by drawing it (probably more for you artsy types).
  • Think of how the text applies to your life, your family, or your community.
  • Formulate the main idea of the text. Think about what the text is telling you is true, and then ask what you should do, think, or believe based on that truth.
  • Ask yourself how the text points to Jesus.

(8) Listen to the Text – Listening to a professional reader read the text is a great way to help it come alive. Plus, different mediums help you discover things you may not have discovered in the past. There are a several apps that help with this; check your OS’s app store.

(9) Study the Text – Grab a commentary, study Bible, or devotional magazine, like Table Talk, and start diving deeper into the text.

(10) Study in a Group – Studying together is a great way to get more out of your daily devotions. I am in a study group that meets every Friday morning. It has been a blessing to me. As we have worked our way through several books of the Bible, I have discovered things about God’s Word that I would not have on my own. If you aren’t already, I highly encourage you to join a study group.

Question for Reflection

  1. What do you do to get more out of your daily devotions?

Resource

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Don’t Forget the “So What”

Bible on a Pulpit

Every Sunday 1000’s of sermons are preached and heard, and just as many Sunday School lessons and Bible Studies are prepared for and taught. Even though sermons are preached, lessons and studies are taught, many do not address the “so what” of the text. In other words, they do not tell the people how to apply the text to their life.

On Friday’s a few men at our church gather at iHop to discuss Scripture. It is a great time of Christian fellowship and an opportunity to learn from one another. Last Friday, one of the guys reminded me of the importance of the “so what.” He said:

I enjoy hearing the history, and the Greek or Hebrew behind the text. These things are necessary to understand and learn, but one thing I want to know before the sermon, Bible study, or Sunday School lesson is over is why does this text matter to my life?

In other words, he was calling preachers and teachers to provide the “so what” of the text. I agree with him. It is important and necessary that we tell our people why the text matters to their life, how it applies to their situation, and how they might implement its teaching. If we don’t, we are not fully expounding the text and we are short-changing our people.

Challenge

So this week as you prepare your Sunday School lesson, Bible study, or Sermon, make sure to provide the “so what.” Tell the people why the text matters to their life, and help them apply it.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you make the “so what” explicit?
  2. Do you help your people apply the text to their life?

Resource

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