A Modern Day Example of False Teaching
Today’s Key Passage – Romans 16:17-20 - CLICK HERE to read the key passage
Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he leaves them with a warning. He says, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. ” (Vss. 16:17-19) In Paul’s day, false teachers were fairly common. It was the early years of Christianity, and different people were preaching different things. Some were doing it to try to make a name for themselves or to make money. Others were doing it out of ignorance. Either way, they were teaching doctrine that was not true and that contradicted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we think of false teachers, most of us think of those early days of Christianity. The sad fact, however, is that there are still false teachers today.
A couple of weeks ago a false teacher named Harold Camping made headlines when he predicted that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011. Camping claimed that the Bible was basically a code book and that his mathematical formulas cracked the code to determine the exact date that the rapture would take place. In fact, he even claimed to know the time. Of course, when May 22 came the only people really surprised were Camping and his followers. The tragedy of this story is twofold. First, Camping’s false teaching damaged the witness of every other legitimate follower of Christ. Unbelievers the world over used Camping’s erroneous prediction as “evidence” that Christ is not returning and that God does not exist. Secondly, some of Camping’s followers were financially devastated by his false teaching. Reports trickled in for days about followers who spent everything they had in the days and weeks leading up to May 21. As I read the stories (and some of Camping’s other false teaching), I was awed by the fact that so many people could be led astray from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ by a man preaching doctrines that completely contradicted the Word of God. Sadly, Camping’s story is just another modern day example of how a man can use “smooth talk and flattery” to deceive other people.
In the wake of Camping’s failed prediction, he has since stated that he misunderstood the rapture but that his math is still correct and that the world will end on October 21, 2011. I pray that between now and then, Mr. Camping will repent from his evil false teaching and turn back to God. I pray that the people who naively followed Mr. Camping’s teachings will pick up a Bible and read it not as a “secret code book” but as the divine and inerrant Word of God. I pray that they will find a life-giving church that preaches the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, I pray that others will learn from this situation that anyone preaching doctrine that contradicts the Bible is a false teacher, and will realize that, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under [their] feet.” (Vs. 16:20)
Can you think of any other lessons we can learn from today’s key passage? Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.
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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.