By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: 2 Peter
Key Scripture Verses: 2 Peter 2: 1-3 (NIV, Life Application Bible) “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”
Christians new to the faith and those who seek answers about their faith should be careful where they get their instruction, because there are many false teachers who claim to be Christian and that their teachings come from Christ. New Christians need to be especially careful with this, because with new faith comes those who would try to steer you away from God or to influence your thinking—Satan even boldly tempted Christ himself. If Satan could see to it that new faith is thwarted before it could even start to grow, he would be more than delighted to accomplish that.
Beware of the so-called Christian teacher or leader who tells you what you want to hear. There are those who would stretch the truth to make you feel good. There are those who teach of God’s love and how he will give abundantly, but who do not teach the full character of God. Some of these teachers will gladly talk of angels, but do not acknowledge the forces of evil—they may not teach that God will judge those who defiantly disobey him.
Although our God is forgiving and loving, the scriptures also say our God is a “jealous God.” He is jealous of our relationship with false gods or idols, which means our devotion and worship of other beings or things that separate us from him. If we do not worship him and give our devotion to him but continue to serve ourselves by following our lustful desires, we are not following him.
Peter says that the false teachers who promise “freedom” and encourage us to trust in our own strengths and abilities do not teach the truth. Following our own will and desires is not freedom, but bondage—“‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’ ” Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ will follow his commandments. Trusting in Jesus and leaning on him for our needs is true “freedom.”
Beware of information gleaned from the internet. Beware of any teaching other than the Holy Bible for information about God. Beware of individual testimonies of personal experiences with angels and spirits. Beware of books that are not clearly congruent with the scriptures. The Holy Bible is the source of truth about God. All information should be checked against it.
The new Christian who does not fully know how to follow Jesus should not only read the scriptures and pray for discernment in reading them, but should be careful to consult with other Christians in a church community for support.
The ultimate authority for knowing whether the teaching of others who guide you is the truth is the Holy Bible itself–God’s inspired Word is the final authority. God will provide the discernment.