False Doctrines (Intro)
In approximately 56-57 A.D., the apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome:
Romans 16:17-18 (HCSB)
17 Now I implore you, brothers, watch out for those who cause dissensions and pitfalls contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them; 18 for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
In approximately 62-66 A.D., the apostle Paul writes Timothy:
1 Tim 1:3-8 (HCSB)
3 As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach other doctrine 4 or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith. 5 Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have deviated from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on. 8 Now we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately.
A little later in that same letter to Timothy, Paul writes:
1 Tim 4:16 (HCSB)
16 Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
And a little later in that same letter to Timothy, Paul writes:
1 Tim 6:2-5 (HCSB)
Teach and encourage these things. 3 If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slanders, evil suspicions, 5 and constant disagreement among men whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.
In approximately 66–67 A.D., Paul writes once again to Timothy:
2 Tim 4:1-5 (HCSB)
1 Before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, I solemnly charge you: 2 proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But as for you, keep a clear head about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Even from a cursory reading of the above passages, it is obvious that the Holy Spirit kept urging Paul to warn others about people who taught false doctrine. So even in Paul’s day, we know that false doctrines were already being introduced to Jesus’ church and this was only approximately 33 years after Jesus had died on the cross! If there were already false doctrines being introduced to Jesus’ church 30 years after it was initiated at Pentecost, imagine the number of false doctrines that have likely been introduced into Jesus’ church in the 2000 years that have transpired since then. The purpose of this study is to expose as many modern day false doctrines as possible.
There are many different kinds of false doctrines but I believe that most false doctrines come about when a human, or group of humans, decide that their application of the scriptures or methodology of implementation of the scriptures is equivalent to God’s doctrine. I also believe that all false doctrines have something in common: They all subtract something from God’s Word.
Subtracting from God’s Word by Adding and Elevating the Traditions of Men
Mark 7:1-13 (HCSB)
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Him. 2 They observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. 3 (For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, jugs, copper utensils, and dining couches.)
According to wikipedia, ‘The word Pharisees comes from the Hebrew פרושים prushim from פרוש parush, meaning “separated”, that is, one who is separated for a life of purity. The Pharisees were, depending on the time, a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews that flourished during the Second Temple Era (536 BC–70 AD).’
From what I understand, this group started out as a group of God fearing Jewish men who wanted to be as zealous for God as possible . In fact, they were so intent on making sure that they did not break the commands of God that they created these other practices that were designed to prevent them from even coming close to breaking the actual commands of God. On the surface, what these men were doing could have appeared to many to be very pleasing to God since these men appeared to be willing to do whatever it took to obey God’s Word. They even separated themselves from the ‘normal’ Jewish worshippers by forming an elite group of only, ‘sold out’ worshippers.
5 Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?” 6 He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:
These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
7 They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.
8 Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”
9 He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition! 10 For Moses said:
Honor your father and your mother;
Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.
11 But you say,
‘If a man tells his father or mother:
Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban ’ ” (that is, a gift [committed to the temple] ),
12 “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.13 You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”
So we see that God was not at all pleased with what these Pharisees were doing! The problem was that as time went on, these practices (which became traditions that were passed on from the elders to everyone else) eventually became more important to this group than the actual commands of God. Thus the Pharisees subtracted from God’s actual commands by adding their own traditions and practices and making them take precedent over God’s commands! This is why Jesus quoted what Isaiah said, ‘They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men, Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men’. Not only was God not pleased with this group, He went even further and said that because they were obeying the rules of men instead of the commands of God, they were worshipping God ***in vain***. In other words, they may as well have done nothing at all because what they were doing accomplished nothing positive in their relationships with God.
It was bad enough that the Pharisees were themselves disregarding the commands of God for the sake of their own traditions, but what made it worse was what Jesus warned His disciples about and what Paul warned the Corinthians about:
Mark 8:15 (HCSB)
15 Then he commanded them: “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”
1 Cor 5:6 (HCSB)
Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough?
So not only did the Pharisees themselves disregard the commands of God for the sake of their own traditions, they also forced everyone else to do the same. Going back to Mark 7, in verse 3, we read:
(For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders.
So we see that the disregarding of God commands for the sake of their own traditions that the Pharisees were guilty of was forced on others and therefore spread to ‘all the Jews’. This why it is so critical to identify and correct false doctrines: to keep them from spreading like gangrene.
Subtracting from God’s Word by Ignoring Scriptures
Matt 4:1-11 (HCSB)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.” 8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” 11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.
So in this passage, we see that one of the ways the Devil tries to tempt Jesus is by quoting the following scripture:
Psalms 91:9-12 (HCSB)
9 Because you have made the Lord—my refuge, the Most High—your dwelling place, 10 no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. 12 They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
The problem with what the Devil was trying to sell Jesus is that even though he quoted one scripture, he ignored other scriptures. Jesus, on the other hand, looked at all of God’s Word to determine what God’s Word really taught.
In the same way, today many false doctrines come about when some scriptures are emphasized while other scriptures are ignored.
Subtracting from God’s Word by Misinterpreting Scriptures
2 Peter 3:14-16 (HCSB)
14 Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found in peace without spot or blemish before Him. 15 Also, regard the patience of our Lord as [an opportunity for] salvation, just as our dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you. 16 He speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.
Clearly, some false doctrines come about because someone twists the meaning of the scriptures.