There are dangerous doctrines that make up false Christianity. And they are dangerous because as the error is mixed in with The Truth, deception is activated; and the path of deception, we know, leads to eternal death. This is why it is imperative that we study God’s Word for ourselves, asking the Spirit of God to eradicate our preconceptions and be the one to counsel us, teach us, and help us judge, not by appearances, but by the Spirit. (See John 7:24)
If some teacher points us away from the Bible, saying it cannot be completely trusted, or saying Christ saves without us having to adhere to it, then we must flee from such a teacher. It doesn’t matter if some, or even much, of what he says is correct, for his error “will spread like gangrene” (2 Tim. 2:17) through our spirit, through the Body of Christ, and bring down the judgment of God upon us along with them.
God does say we must fully obey His Word. (Ps. 119:4 & John 14:15) And this Word commands us to be holy in every single thing we do. (1 Peter 1:15) We are commanded to “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” (3:14) This necessary “effort” rules out the false notion that we need only rely on Christ’s righteous covering over us (Rom. 13:14) and can self-indulge and rebel against purity and holy living. We are told we must remain in the Vine and His words (John 15:4-6) and be effective ambassadors for Him in the earth (Matt. 5:13), or we can expect to be thrown out as worthless servants –into the darkness of torment. (Matt. 25:30)
Hell was made for the devil and the demons. (Matt. 25:41) But because of his immense hatred, the devil is trying hard to deceive and entice humanity –that creation God loves and wants fellowship with– so that they will spend eternity without God. And such an eternity means the absence of all that is good. There will only be grief, remorse, and wailing (v.30) in an “eternal fire” (v. 41) of “eternal punishment.” (v. 46) Because without God’s Spirit to ever come and give deliverance or comfort, the soul will abide forever in hopelessness. For “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Heb. 9:27) And for those who do not commit righteousness, but instead do what was sinful (1 John 3:7,8), there is “only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire” (Heb. 10:27) that awaits these rebels who have “insulted the Spirit of grace.” (v. 29)
Because of this horrific expectation that awaits the deceived, the gullible, the lazy, and the rebellious, we must continue to warn with fervency, prayers, and tears. (Acts 20:30,31) For “savage wolves will come in among us and will not spare the flock.” (See v. 29) Indeed, the flock can be led astray! This is why Paul says in verse 31, “So be on your guard!” And why Jesus warns with the same words many times. And why John warns us, God’s family, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray…” (1 John 3:7 & see 2:26) We are warned because it is most definitely possible to go astray and fall. For Peter, also, warns his “brothers” of such a thing. (2 Peter 1:10,11) And he warns his friends about those who distort the “Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (3:16) –And to the destruction of others! For as Peter writes in the next verse (–v. 17), “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men [–those who rebel against God’s commands] and fall from your secure position.” And what is the antidote to falling away? He answers it in verse 18: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” How do we grow in knowledge and grace? We spend time in the Word –communing with The Word / The Person, while meditating on The Word / The Book.
Now, if someone does fall away, can he be brought back? Yes, he can always –IF… that means, –PROVIDED THAT he has not fallen so far as to be unaware that he needs a Savior –or unaware that he is under deception and thus not walking in the Truth which is able to save. (2 Thes. 2:11,12) If someone realizes his need, he does still have at least a tiny fraction of the ability to repent. And if someone is praying for that person, or proclaiming Truth to that person, then there is even more hope. Let’s look at what James 5:19,20 say: “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner away from his error will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
Do we notice that James is addressing his “brothers”? This means those who are his spiritual brothers. Then he says, “If one of you…” –One of you, what? “If one of you should wander from the truth…” Okay… –so –what –if? Well, it means that if someone wanders from the Truth, it means this person has become “a sinner.” (v. 20) –A sinner who is in error. And where is this sinner-who-is-in-error headed? He is headed toward death –spiritual death. This is absolutely the case, since verse 20 is saying that the person helping the sinner back “will save him from death.” It does mean spiritual death, for it then says such salvation from death covers over a multitude of sins –the emphasis meaning –no matter how much he’s sinned.
Well, in view of all this, do we coddle a person who whines about his inability to continue abiding in Truth, strength, and righteousness? We do not. For such behavior is not only rebellious –and unnecessary, it is also leading the sinner straight to a horrible, wretched eternity. To baby a sinner is to aid him in remaining weak and babyish, a condition that is going to grant him eternal death. No Olympic coach or Army commander is going to enable such a thing; for the athlete will never receive a gold medal and the soldier will get shot down his first day on the battlefield. It is to be the same with those of us who teach The Truth of God. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Cor. 4:20) –Power to rise to holy conduct.
Are we to treat an able-bodied soldier –even one who has a few fingers and toes missing and even some scars across the heart– the same as one who remains truly crippled and bleeding? No. I have a friend downtown who is in a wheelchair. I have given her tracts for years, have prayed with her, laughed with her, and hugged her. She is truly crippled –in more ways than one. She is sad. She is lonely. She is filthy (–but how hard it must be to bathe while crippled and homeless!) One day she motioned for me to come over and talk with her. I did and she was ripe for Truth. She started weeping, saying something like this: “I do want to obey God. I do love Jesus. But the others at the shelter say that because I drink I’m headed for Hell.”
She doesn’t just drink. She gets drunk. And me… I’ve never drank alcohol, but… did I tell her those hecklers were right? No. I told her not to listen to such people who were speaking in meanness, to not let their words soak into her spirit, and to keep in mind that most of them have other sins that just may not be as noticeable. I told her that Jesus doesn’t want us to drink because then we can’t use our minds as well –and we need our minds to be alert at all times. But I also said (basing my doctrine on Prov. 31:6,7) that Jesus sees her handicapped position and her pain, and He is a compassionate Shepherd who helps us grow spiritually strong. I told her that He honors our desire to please Him, and when we ask, He will help us to do so. I told her that it can take time –just as a child learns at a pace in school.
Whatever I said greatly helped my friend. She smiled and seemed so encouraged. Such people, especially because I’ve known her plight over years, are to be treated gently –as an infant. Could I have been any stronger than she –with the hard knocks she’s had in life?! I bet not. But what about an able-bodied person –with job and home and food and health– who says he can’t defeat sin? There is a difference. A big difference. The one needs to be told to “Chin up!”, get his armor on, his Sword, his breastplate of righteousness, etc., and to grow up now! –and fight. The other needs to get off the battlefield, get to a hospital, and have some Christ-like nurses give her some tender-loving care.
False Christianity is so diluted, mixed up, and confused that it not only can’t teach us all how to distinguish between the holy and the common, the clean and the unclean (Ezek. 22:26), but it refuses to teach us how to warn, exhort, and edify each other. Preachers are shouting in rage, others are shrugging off lukewarmness, and others are allowing excuses that are not legitimate. How do we know the difference? We know it by the Spirit within us. –And by having spent TIME in God’s Instruction Book.
Jesus does say, “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you… Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:21-23) Thus by the Holy Spirit in us, “We [most definitely are to] speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel [–the true Gospel]… not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” (1 Thes. 2:4) And “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” (1 Peter 4:11) For when we proclaim the Gospel, “it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matt. 10:20)
New creations will absolutely be controlled by the Spirit. Therefore, God’s Spirit will counsel us on making correct judgements, on how to counsel one another, and with what words to proclaim His Truth without compromise.
But it will never happen if we remain under the impotence of false Christianity.