2John 7–11, “7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds”
In part 1 of this series, we examined Peter’s warning of false teachers where he spoke of why the unbiblical doctrine of some is such a dangerous poison among those in the Church. Not only did Peter give these warnings, but the Apostle John did as well. There are some that are preaching and confessing that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh. Now there are many preachers out there that would certainly fit into this category, but a group that is even more subtle and equally as dangerous is the preachers and groups that preach that Jesus did come in the flesh, but they preach a different Jesus other than the One in the Scriptures. Jesus said, concerning the Judgment Day, “22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Also in Matthew 7:13, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” It should not be a surprise that John writes, For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh… There are so many deceivers in our world, and there is something we must listen for to discern who is true and who is false. Here it is, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”
It is crucial that one abide in the doctrine of Christ. John MacArthur writes, “A failure to be faithful to the fundamental, sound doctrines of the faith (a proper view of the person and work of Christ, love, obedience) marks a person as having never been born again (1John 2:23; 3:6–10; 4:20,21; 5:1–3). The word “abide” has the idea of constant adherence and warns that these fundamentals are not open to change or subject to the latest trends or philosophical fads.” We must abide in the doctrine (teaching) of Jesus Christ, it is crucial for us to be in the Word of God daily, not every other day, or every once in a while. There are many heretics preaching at this time. There are those that deny the Infallibility of Scripture; the denial of Substitutionary Atonement; etc.) Aheretic is one who therefore denies the Faith and cannot be a true Christian (2Peter 2-3). The use of the term should be reserved for clear cases (like ‘Bishop’ John Spong; Kenneth Copeland; Benny Hinn; the Jehovah’s Witnesses; the Mormons; etc.)
Error is a departure from Biblical Truth, but generally one not so serious as to deny the Faith. Peter was in error when Paul rebuked him openly to his face, but Peter was not a heretic. Errors can be major and serious (bordering right on heresy – like denial of eternal punishment), through to minor (‘how many angels are there in heaven’ stuff). They usually have negative impacts on practice and other doctrines. Such a person who embraces such things are in error (or even in serious error), but should be rebuked/challenged/dialogued with, lovingly as a brother (1Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 10:1; Hebrews 5:11-14) until their conscience is changed or our own error exposed.
Essentially, this is one of the reasons why we need the Body/Church (assuming it holds to the Word Alone doctrine). Error does not normally refer to such things as alcohol, movies or other questions of Christian liberty where there can be diversity/liberty of application within basic principles – unless one turns their principles into laws and tries to impose it on other’s consciences (cf Romans 14). Hence – someone who promotes the prosperity teaching but is otherwise ‘sound’ is in serious error but not a heretic. (Indeed ‘denominations’ have arisen to allow people with differences of conscience to worship the way they believe while still recognizing others as true Christians (unlike Rome who has taught that “outside the [Roman] church there is no salvation”).
These are some of the basic distinctions that can be made between Heresy and Error, and are essential when dealing with issues of discernment and deception in the Church. Brothers and sisters, please be sure to abide in the doctrine of Christ, by reading, and studying His Word, the Words of truth daily and of course obeying what you read. You will see too that God’s Word is sure, and that God will NEVER let you down as you abide in Him, His Son, His Spirit, His Word, and in His Will.
Until the nets are filled…Blessing, Pastor Phil <><