Combating False Teaching

Here are some points I shared Sunday night in a sermon about the dangers of false teaching (from 1 John 2).  False teaching is a common cause of doubt for many Christians.  If we are to have assurance of eternal life we must recognize what makes us vulnerable to false teaching, remain in the faithful things God has given us to combat false teaching, and recognize prominent false teachings.

 19th Century Pastor J.C. Ryle shares 8 symptoms of false doctrine which reveal why we are in a climate that is particularly vulnerable to false teaching:

  1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many think they must be right.
  2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.
  3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.
  4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.
  5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.
  6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.
  7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
  8. There is a wide-spread “gullibility” among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.

"All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, 'Do not be carried away!'"

In 1 John 2 John expresses confidence in their anointing and says that they have access to all knowledge.  Where is this knowledge found and how do we combat false teaching?  We combat what is false by remaining in what is faithful.

  1. Remain in the community of faith.  We will find what we need to combat false teaching by remaining in a faithful community.
  2. Remain under faithful teaching.  We will find what we need to combat false teaching by remaining under the ministry of faithful teachers.
  3. Remain in foundational truths.  We will learn to recognize false teaching by faithfully studying truth.
Prominent False Teachings:

False Teaching:

A gospel that calls us to works with no faith.
A gospel that calls us to heaven with no hell.
A gospel that calls us to prosperity with no sacrifice.
A gospel that calls us to freedom with no holiness.
A gospel that calls us to faith with no repentance.
A gospel that calls us to belief with no commitment.
A gospel that calls us to fatalism with no freedom. 

Ultimately we recognize that any other gospel is no gospel at all.


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