I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.Romans 16:17-18 ESV
One of the largest threats to the church is a false teacher. False teachers are people who try to pull people away from the text. They create offshoots of what the Bible says adding or subtracting for their own purposes and personal gains. They utilize deceptive means to lure unsuspecting people away from the path to righteousness. Although we’re all aware that they exist and that they are not beneficial to the church at large, we have not been able to truly eliminate them from the flock.
When you get approached by a slick-talking salesperson, what do you do? Do you politely say no thanks and walk off? Do you listen to what they say, then decide whether it’s worth it to buy or pass? Or do you just purchase what they’re selling? Most people avoid them or politely say no unless they specifically are in the market for what the person is selling. Why can’t we avoid false teachers in the same manner?
I believe one of the reasons is understanding. When Christians fail to learn the word of God for themselves, they leave themselves open to being deceived. We can not identify truth from lies if we don’t know what the truth is. Most people take what their pastor says as the truth and rarely go back to examine the text for themselves. If we took time to study and dive deeper into the Bible, we would be able to withstand the deviations from the truth.
But the book of Romans doesn’t leave us empty-handed with no strategy. It says to watch out and avoid them. The KJV says to mark them. We’re to make note of those who deviate from the true word of God and avoid them. We’re not supposed to keep engaging with them or arguing with them. This protects one from being tainted by false theology and keeps the focus on building an intimate relationship with God. The next time you hear someone share teaching whether it’s a sermon or snippet on social media, I encourage you to take it back to the Bible and let the Holy Spirit refine it. Don’t just take their word for it.
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