But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 2:1
Since sin entered the world, lies have marked the experience of the human life. It was believing a lie against the Word of God that contributed to original sin all along. And this has been humanity's spiritual struggle ever since that day. We have believed a lie, and we have perpetuated lies of our own device.
Nowhere is this more destructive than from within the church. False teaching is rampant. It has marred church history and hindered the testimony of the church throughout the ages. Part of the reason that skeptics and enemies of the faith can attack Christianity is that false teaching has led to inconsistencies and false practices in the church. It has led to greater sin. It is not just about a stack of doctrines on paper. Teaching always leads to practice. And that is what the world sees in the church.
Peter knew that false teachers would arise among the people. He warned the Christians he wrote to be seriously discerning people. Fortunately there is an accurate way to gauge the teaching of anyone who claims to be speaking for God. The words have to match the firm standard of scripture. Anything less is not the truth.
Peter warns that heresy (deviation from the scriptural standard) is destructive. He warns that it leads to a denial of Christ, and thus of the truth. He warns that it brings about the judgment of God on the false teacher and on those who will follow his instruction. The entire second chapter of 2 Peter can be outlined from this first verse. That is how serious this problem was for Peter and still is today.
Part of the reason I am committed to discipleship through the teaching of the scriptures and the training of a biblical method of interpretation of God's Word is to prevent and strengthen the church from false teaching. There is much out there today that is sloppy at best, heresy at its worst. And discernment must be taught and practices within strict biblical frameworks. We can't just believe something because we "feel" something about it. We must know it, we must understand it, and we must measure it by the clear teaching of the Word of God.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13