False teachers and heresies – 2 Peter 2

2Pt 1:19-21 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2Pt 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with deceptive words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not.

Some definitions:
secretly – sneaking in
pernicious – destructive, having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way

Peter warns of false teachers in the churches just as there were false prophets in Israel. Such teachers and prophets bring in ‘destructive heresies’ to divide and to destroy the unity and the faithfulness of the people and children of God from walking in the truth, and worshipping the Father in spirit and truth.

Paul writes about false teachings in the last days, including those of forbidding marriage and of eating certain meats; Yeshua tells us that false teachers will come dressed like sheep, but inside they are ravenous wolves; Paul also told the leaders in Ephesus that after he leaves, false teachers would come from within the church to make disciples for themselves; Paul also wrote that the time would come when people will listen to that they want to hear, but that we are to preach the truth of what God says. (1Tim 4:1-4, 7Mt 7:15-16a2Tim 4:1-4Acts 20:27-31)

Heresy comes from the Greek word hairesis, meaning ‘choose, factions, and division’. These false teachers ‘sneak in’ their destructive teachings, because they know they are not in accord with sound doctrine, as revealed and taught by God to the apostles and the other writers of the Scriptures.

Historically, there have been churches with their own dogmas that were not necessarily in line with what the Scriptures teach. For an example, some of the churches baptize infants. When the Anabaptists understood that the Bible teaches that believers are to be baptized, they were called heretics. (Anabaptists may have other issues, but on the baptism teaching alone, they were considered heretical.) The words—their messages—of the false teachers and prophets are destructive to one’s faith and relationship with God. “Denying the Lord” does not necessarily mean they deny that He lived or died or that He is God, but that their words and conduct are opposed to who He is. Their lives deny any close contact with Him. Of course, it it also that some simply deny the Lord completely, and speak evil of Him and of His way. These are apostates, not simply heretics.

Peter does not define heresy, but he does single out one – sexual immorality, and in particular, homosexuality. Paul condemns heresy as one of “the works of the flesh.”  (Gal 5:20) It may be translated “sects” in your Bible, but Paul says that people who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God! (Gal 5:21)!  We need the fear of the LORD in this very serious matter!

In the ordinary course of secular life, heresy was of little consequence; one person’s opinion or choice about most things in life is just as good as another’s. A person can be given any number of alternatives, any one of which he may be perfectly free to believe. However, in the faith of the true God, we are dealing with revelation, with God-given truth, with absolutes. When God’s truth comes to men, we either have to accept or reject it. Thus, a heretic is a man who believes what he wantsto believe instead of accepting the truth of God that he ought to believe. (taken from John W. Ritenbaugh)

Some heresies have been around for a long time, and are still taught as an acceptable understanding of the truth. There is nothing new under the sun, and the heresies of long ago are back again today. We will look at some of them. I will not give their names, because what is important are their errors, and the consequences of believing them. Not all disagreements are over heretical teaching, and not all heretical teaching means that the teacher is not a real believer. In most cases, though, the teacher and the teaching are opposed to the holy faith handed down to us by the fathers. A heretical teaching does not line up with the plain teaching of the Word of God.

–“YHVH is not the one and only true God, and God Most High.” (Is 43:10-13) Before there ever was the Bible, YHVH had revealed Himself to angels and to mankind. The Jewish people and Christian are called to be His witnesses, that there is no God but Yehovah – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament.

–“Yeshua is not the only way to the Father.” Yeshua says that no comes to the Father but through Him. (Jn 14:6) He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

–“The Bible is not the authoritative written Word of God to Israel and to the world.” This heresy allows man’s understanding and knowledge to have more authority than God Himself. It might be called philosophy; or, it might be called science. It is idolatry if it puts man’s wisdom above YHVH, God of Israel, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and all that is in them. It is another spirit, not the Spirit of Truth. God will fulfill His Word, according to His understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and power. God’s Word abides forever, and not a word of it will fall without accomplishing His purpose. (Mt 24:35) We are strictly warned: ‘do not add to or take from these words…”; “all Scripture inspired…”. (Dt 4:2;12:32Prov 30:6Rev 22:18-202Tim 3:16-17)  Moses did write, by the Spirit of God, that someone would come after him, to whom we must listen.  This ‘someone’ is Yeshua/Jesus, the Messiah. (Dt 18:15-19Acts 3:22-23)

–“Jesus is not both God and Man”. This is another Jesus/Yeshua than whom God witnesses to throughout the Bible. As the early church grappled with heretics of various sorts, the leaders were united on the absolute necessity of the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ. They realized that only God Himself could rescue us from our separation from Him, and that only a man could “earn back” what the first man had lost. (Jn 1:1-18Rom 5:12-21) Thank and praise the Lord for His becoming incarnate for our sake!

–“Jesus was not fully human (did not come in human flesh).” It is to make Him a deceiver, only acting as if He ever felt any physical pain: in His crucifixion, He did not feel physical pain, because God can not feel physical pain, for God is a spirit. Jesus did not physically resurrect in the body, but only had a ‘spiritual’ resurrection. This teaching about Yeshua not coming in the flesh (real human flesh and blood) is the antichrist teaching. (1Jn 4:3) Yeshua came as not only the Son of God, but also as the Son of Man, in order to know our sufferings and redeem us, and to be a sympathetic High Priest for us. Jesus also promised His disciples that He would come again, and the angels told them that the same Jesus that they saw ascend into Heaven would come again [at the appointed time set by the Father].

–“Jesus not fully God, because He subjected Himself to God His Father, and because He was limited in space and time while in the body.” Brothers and sisters, this is the mystery of the Godhead!: “God was manifested in the flesh….” (1Tim 3:16) It is something only our amazing God can do, and has revealed to us. No created being would invent such a doctrine and expect any one to believe it.

–“God has finished with the Jews and with Israel as a nation in the promised land.” God has not rejected His covenant and promises to Israel – or, for that matter, to anyone else. To teach otherwise is to dishonor the Lord and to make His promises ‘not promises’. His Name is at stake in His keeping His covenantal promises to the seed of Jacob/Israel, and to David, and to Levi. (Rom 11Jer 31:35-3733:17-26Ezek 36:22-28)  God has not cancelled, annulled, or done away with the Law and the Prophets.  Yeshua confirms that every jot and tittle of them will be fulfilled. (Mt 5:17-20Rom 15:8-13)

–“Gentile and Jewish believers must keep the “Torah” in order to live as Jesus lived, and, therefore, be righteous”, even if it is said by the false teachers on this subject not to be a salvation issue, and that we are saved by our faith in the name of the Son of God, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. They are teaching another gospel, sowing confusion and division. This is heresy, which made the Apostle Paul very upset! (Acts 15:23-29; Gal) This is not the same as someone, for the sake of the gospel, living in a manner acceptable to an ethnic population or a religious group, in order that they might be more open to listen to the gospel. But Paul was also free among any people group for that very reason, and always under the law of Messiah. He never went against God’s word and wisdom in order to appeal to sinners. “Torah-keeping” does not promote the one new man in Messiah; and the Law of Messiah by His cross is the ‘one Law’ that all believers as a new creation live under.

–“We are to have all of the blessings promised in the world to come… now.” Prosperity, health, dominion now for believers. To be sick or poor is a sin. Brothers and sisters, Yeshua told us that the poor would always be with us in this world; we are to pray for the sick; Paul had an eye problem that was not fully healed; Timothy was told by Paul to drink some wine for his stomach ailment; believers also die. How can we comfort the poor or sick if we believe that poverty and sickness is against the truth of God’s purpose now? (1Cor 4:8-13)

All of these heresies we know are taught and believed on here in Israel, and even within some of the congregations. Although teachers may be teaching truth, not all of those hearing may believe it, but prefer to believe the lie and error, even without them telling us. We must not be either naïve nor ignorant of the power of deception and of what ‘sounds good’, but isn’t. It may be that some of you hearing or reading these words of mine may think that it is I who am heretical by my positions taken on these issues. It is your honor to check the Scriptures to see if what I am teaching is of the truth or not. We must all remain correctible and teachable. The Holy Spirit is still at work to lead us into all the truth. When the Word of God convicts us of sin and wrong-doing, we can repent and confess that God is right, that His Word is truth, and thank Him for forgiving us.

We must have the word of Messiah dwelling in us richly, so that we will have the armor of God on our hearts and minds, to defeat all of the lies of the enemy, and to guard our own hearts from greed or bitterness.

We have become accustomed to being tolerant. But, from what is written in II Peter 2 and in Jude, it is clear that God is not tolerant of this kind of thing. He is long-suffering, but as Peter writes, the judgment of these false teachers, and of those who stand with them, will come, and will be swift. We are tolerant because we have lost, or we never had, a sense of the grave danger of Satan’s false teaching and lies. It leads people to their deaths! As a people, we have become dulled to the distinction between good and evil, not only in terms of right and wrong in behavior, but also in terms of theology and thought.

Peter tells us that these false teachers/prophets and false teachings do two things:
–Those who teach them, and those who agree with them are in danger of eternal loss;

–They cause themselves and many others – both believers and unbelievers – to speak evil of the way of truth. They accuse God and His Word of being wrong, and even bad, rather than right and good.

Remember: the devil is the prince of this world, and he is running around like a roaring lion seeking to devour whom he can. He will be in this role until the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ to put him away for the duration of the 1000-year rule and reign of Yeshua and of the saints, over Israel and the other nations. Therefore, this world can never be ‘better’ from God’s point of view until the Son of God returns and sits on David’s throne, the throne of Messiah’s glory. We can influence the world for good to some extent, but it is always partial and temporary. When Jesus comes to establish the Kingdom of God/Heaven on Earth, His kingdom of righteousness and peace will never pass away! Hallelu-Yah! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!