Characteristics of False Teaching (Part 2)
False teaching and doctrine are rooted in deception. The Apostle Paul writes or alludes to this repeatedly (Colossians 2:4, 5,8, 17, 23). Those who espouse untruths are not always aware of the dishonesty involved and have been led astray by others under the same bewitchment, usually with good intentions. Our spiritual journey must be a pursuit of truth and the recognition that the Scriptures are the final authority. Jesus clearly teaches, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
Satan finds his power in lies, ruse, and duplicity.
From the very beginning, the serpent asked, “Has God indeed said?” Jesus plainly says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
The Apostle Paul also warns of the “traditions of men” competing in the arena of truth. Traditions are not intrinsically wrong and can be very helpful. However, when they become esteemed and viewed as equally authoritative as God’s Word then we see critical problems arise theologically and practically. This was one of the primary problems of the Pharisees. The culture of Judaism had come to revere the teachings of rabbis and elders which were stringent and even oppressive. Jesus was often clarifying and reminding the people of what was really written in the Torah and the Prophets. Jesus would frequently remark, “Have ye not read?”
The tradition and conventions of the rabbis like hand washing, sabbath restrictions, extensive tithing, fasting, public displays of piety were additional requirements not specified by the law but became revered by the people as such. Jesus warned, “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).
Men’s traditions also become hazardous when they are contradictory to Biblical teaching. The New Testament was preserved to facilitate the succession and handing down of the words of Jesus and His chosen Apostles. It is within this scope that we find salvation (Hebrews 2:3). Jesus commanded, “teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). We are so very blessed to have the instructions of our Lord to his earliest disciples. We must avoid contradictory teachings and “contend earnestly for the faith that once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
The Apostle also warns against false teaching that is described as “basic principles of the world” (Colossians 2:8, 20). It is tempting to be moved by the immediate and gratify the flesh by concupiscence or being ruled by our emotions. Christians are called to an eternal and heavenly perspective rather than one concerned merely with the here and now.
Worldliness is categorized as the “love of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:15). The current customs and dominant culture can infiltrate the hearts and minds of Christians. We must be watchful and strive to aspire to a life of heavenly origin and perspective.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:1-11).