A few years ago I heard a sermon that I will never forget—but not for a good reason. A guest preacher was preaching a powerful sermon at a solid church about the danger of being led astray from Christ into sin and error. But then, as an aside, the preacher said, “But you all go to such a good church here that this isn’t really a danger for you. This is so you can help others who are not so fortunate.” I was struck by how this one comment deeply undercut the whole exhortation. Good churches are not at all immune against sin and false teaching, and neither are their members. Suggesting that people are automatically safe only increases their vulnerability (1 Cor 10:12).
As we resume our study of false teachers/teaching in 2 Peter 2, we must guard ourselves from thinking that the danger is only somewhere out there in greater Christianity. Rather we must be vigilant, sober-minded, and prayerful as we realize that the danger appears even in our own church. Truly, we are blessed in the commitment to sound doctrine and genuine love that exists in our fellowship. But we must remember what Paul said to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29-30, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Dangerous and deceptive persons will both come into the church from the outside and also rise up from the inside. Thus Paul exhorts in the beginning of v. 31, “Therefore be on the alert.”
Does this mean we should become paranoid, even suspicious of all others in the church? By no means. But we must not be naive and assume that error or duplicitous living will never show up in our assembly. Jesus commended the Ephesians in Revelation for testing and rejecting good-sounding-but-actually-evil teachers and teaching (Rev 2:2). We want that same commendation. Moreover, our attitude towards our brethren should be a desire to guard and even rescue them from where sin and false teaching are leading them astray (James 5:19-20). Most importantly, we ourselves must make sure that we are always abiding in Christ and his word (John 15:1-11). For when we are truly clinging to Christ, we need not fear falling away.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why is reading and knowing the Bible so important for guarding against false teaching/teachers?
2. Do you need to test by Scripture what you hear from the pulpit each week at Calvary? Why or why not?
3. Why is remaining in a faithful community an important way to guard against error?