Deceived in Plain Sight, Part 2

Political correctness has saturated nearly every corner of our eggshell-tripping society — even the church. Instead of conviction and discernment, a spirit of tolerance – and indifference to Scriptural warnings – has insidiously captured many hearts. It’s become offensive to question other teachings, to call out error and heresy, to name names and take false teachers to task. “God is love,” we say, and the ‘loving’ thing to do is accept everyone and everything passing as ‘Christian’ at face value. To draw lines, to examine what others are teaching and selling in the name of Christ, is to be judgemental. Superior. Uncool. Very politically incorrect. “What is truth, anyway?” we say, forgetting Pilate’s cowardice. “Isn’t it arrogant to claim to have found it? Or to question whether others, preaching in the name of Jesus, are upholding it?”

 
Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, and Jude would passionately disagree. Truth, to Jesus and his apostles, was entirely knowable. It is found in Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and in his teachings – which extend from the Gospels throughout the entire New Testament. It can be captured in a nutshell: Jesus Christ, the very image of the invisible God. And it finds completion in the beautiful tree of knowledge He’s given us: the Holy Scriptures. Both are perfect and complete.

 
True, it requires some study and discipline to suss things out, to ponder and read through the New Testament and put the pieces together. Not every little point of doctrine will be crystal clear; there is room for personal discernment and matters of opinion (see Romans 14). But on the big questions, the life-saving convictions and commandments, the Bible is clear. We just need to read it, in humility and faith, and God will lead us into all truth.

 
That’s Jesus’ promise.

 
Don’t I sound like an old-timer! According to the spirit of the age, those last few paragraphs are enough to indict me: I’m a Bible thumper, which automatically makes me ignorant, judgemental, and narrow-minded.

 
Then so was Jesus. He thumped the Bible – the Old Testament – all the time, using its commandments, its TRUE stories (Jesus believed in Creation, the Flood, the Burning Bush, Lot’s wife turning to salt…), and its prophecies to support everything he taught – especially regarding his own divinity. That topic alone merits many books and sermons… but I press on.

 
These thoughts aren’t new to me, but memorizing 2 Peter brings them back to mind. Peter devotes 22 verses to denouncing false teachers! Here are some highlights:

 
False teachers WILL be among us.

 
They are secretive, greedy, bold, arrogant, ungodly, adulterous, seductive, boastful, and entangled in continuous sin.

 
Their heresies (false teachings) are destructive and blasphemous, and those who espouse them face judgement and destruction.

 
They appeal to our lustful, sinful desires – greed, pride, and immorality – and entice people who are “unstable”… even those who have come to know the Lord.

 
They are like dogs returning to their vomit and pigs going back to wallowing in mud.

 
Their destruction has been foreshadowed in the worst of God’s judgements: the Flood, which destroyed all but eight people, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – which, Peter notes, serves as an example of what WILL happen to the ungodly.

 
They exploit and destroy their listeners.

 
These are Peter’s warnings. How naïve must we be to think they don’t apply today? To think it doesn’t really matter what people are teaching (and believing), as long as the name of Jesus is being invoked? To think we won’t be among the deceived? To think God’s attitude towards false teachers has softened and become politically correct?

 
Truth – God’s immutable, saving truth – is at stake here, along with our souls. Peter wasn’t a ranting lunatic, but one of Jesus’ closest friends and confidantes. He ate and walked and talked with the Truth. He wasn’t six degrees removed, and subject to error. And he was anguished at the prospect of liars and deceivers using his Lord’s name to lead others – and themselves – directly into the devil’s camp. If this could happen within Jesus’ own generation, so close to the source, how much more today, 2000 years on, in a world that swirls in deception and fraud?

 
Peter ends his ‘rant’ with these words: “I have written {both letters} as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” Rather than be appalled at his intense condemnation of false teachers, we are to be lifted into clarity and greater conviction about truth. The Truth. And his very next words address ‘scoffers’: the mockers who will inevitably challenge our ‘narrow-mindedness’, our faith in Christ and His commands, “given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.”

 
Peter knew the words he wrote were true. They still are. And we’d be wise to forego being politically correct and start heeding them.

 
We can ignore the scoffers and haters: haters gonna hate, and they always have. But let’s not ignore the ocean of false teaching that passes as Christian these days. It’s far, far too serious, and if Christians won’t speak up for truth, who will?

 
In the next post I’ll discuss more specifics. Not to name names, necessarily (though Paul and John, the apostle of love, certainly did), but to flag some rampant deceptions that especially trouble me as I ponder Peter’s words.

5 replies »

  1. I regretfully stepped away from ICOC after 20 years, going on 15 years now since I left. I had trouble reconciling what I read in the Bible to be truth with what I saw was Hype, Egos and no real repentance for what needed to change for growth in my small church. In reflection I should of just moved to another congregation and continued on with my own repentance. Instead I stepped away, sought counseling for my childhood trauma. That had left me unable to see any leaderships in a favorable view. I got on medications I needed for situational anxiety etc and other medical conditions. Gained more insight into who I really am and more medical diagnoses that explained why I found just doing the relentless church schedule way too much.
    I yearn to return to the fellowship of believers, I crave to make sure all aspects of my relationship with God is on point. Currently praying for the discernment and wisdom I don’t have to make the path clear to me.Despite the fears of failure, the inabilities to do the “schedule obligations”. I also do not want to be deceived in plain sight that going back and Doing it all again could potentially take my heart farther from God. I want to avoid my being lukewarm tendencies from my past.

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    • Thanks for your open sharing! It’s been a rocky road for many of us… My simple advice (in case you want it) is to dig deep in the Scriptures and base your faith and hope in Jesus, not your fellow believers. I’m sure you’re already doing that…. May God guide you as you seek his will in your life. There are many good-hearted people in the ICOC, and from what I hear, the schedule is much lighter!

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