This past Sunday, I preached the second of two sermons on false teachers. These two sermons provided good opportunities for us to consider the common traits of false teachers as well as weighing how we are to respond to them.
To conclude our consideration of these matters, I wanted to provide you with another quote from J.C. Ryle that deals with the subject of false doctrine and teaching. In his work, “Warnings to the Churches,” he states the following: “Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous:
1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many think they must be right.
2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.
3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.
4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.
5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.
6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.
7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself “as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14)
8. There is a wide-spread “gullibility” among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.
All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, “Do not be carried away!”” ~ J.C. Ryle, quoted from “Warnings to the Churches, ‘Diverse and Strange Doctrines'” [Banner of Truth, 1967] p 76-77.
Ryle composed this list almost 150 years ago, yet it is amazingly reflective of our own day and time. There are indeed far too many “professing” believers that are drawn to the novelty of teachings and doctrines that are new, edgy, relevant, and accommodating. They fail to recognize that they are being deceived, that they are being drawn like moths to flames and their souls are in immanent danger of destruction.
With the reality of this danger in mind, I renew my challenge to us all — Let us be thoroughly biblical Christians! Let us be like the Bereans, who received the Gospel with great eagerness, yet they examined the Scriptures daily to make sure that Paul’s teaching was in accordance with Scripture. (Acts 17:11) Let us be like Timothy, continuing in the things we have learned and become convinced of — the truths of God’s eternal revelation! (2 Tim 3:14-17) Discernment begins and ends with Bible saturation, so may God continue to shape us into a people who hunger and thirst daily for His truth. Guard your doctrine and your hearts well, beloved!