Recognizing Heresy

Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

II Peter 2:2


The false teachings Peter addresses center on two errors: denial of the return of Christ in judgment (II Peter 3:3-10) and moral failure. (II Peter 2:2,10-22) Peter claims that their teachings were heretical, refuting the fundamental doctrine of salvation. The word heresy originally meant “to choose.” Peter alludes that false teachers brought their self-chosen teachings, persuading people to believe things they wished were true rather than the truth that God revealed to them.

False teachings can be subtle and bring destruction to those who have not built a strong foundation on Jesus Christ and His Word. False teachers prey on those who are new converts (II Peter 2:18), seeking to uproot the seeds of God’s Word that have been planted but have not yet taken root.

Matthew 13 describes how vulnerable new believers can be to false teachings because they do not have God’s Word firmly planted in their heart. Jesus describes a new believer as one who receives the message of the kingdom.

When the seed, however, falls on rocky soil, it is snatched away because it has no roots. False teachers find easy prey in those who have not had a chance to allow the “root” of the Word to ground them in God’s truth.

False teachers often promise freedom by casting off all moral restraints. They teach that the Bible is too narrow, not relevant for today.

There is a temptation to revise the more difficult teachings of Holy Scripture to allow freedom from moral restraints.

Peter warned the early church, and likewise the church throughout the ages, to be careful not to bring the way of truth into disrepute. (II Peter 2:2) He spoke of the false teachers in severe language, claiming that the blackest darkness is reserved for them: These men are springs without water and mists driven by storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. (2 Peter 2:17-18)

We must hide the Word of God in our hearts so that we are able to stand against false teachings. In every generation, there rises up those who refuse to believe God’s Word, but we must not allow the way of truth to fall into disrepute.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that the seeds of Your Word will take root in my life. Help me to recognize false teachings and to bring Your truth into the light.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

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