Heresy is a departure from any belief or opinion opposed to official established doctrine. It is fatally subversive of truth because it is man-conceived dogmas attempting to take the place of God’s true Word. When we say it is opposed to official established doctrine we mean the eternal truth as laid bare in the Word of God by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
There are many religious movements, which teach various views of the Word of God, all being somewhat different from the others. Where the Scriptures speaks of heresies they are not speaking about departing from man-made ideas or opinions but rather a departure from the established Word of God as given directly from God, Himself.
Since there are many religious movements in the earth today it stands to reason that they sprang from heretical beliefs of those who could not endure sound doctrine. There is only one true interpretation of the Word of God and all other interpretations are false. That is why it is so important to know the truth so that we won’t be taken in by error. One can know the truth in confidence if he really desires too. The scripture indicates this in John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The study of the Word will take us closer to a true understanding of the Word. Second Timothy 2:15 instructs us to: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Rightly dividing the Word means interpreting a scripture in relation to other scriptures.
Not only is this important, but to arrive at the true understanding one must take into consideration what the scripture says in First Corinthians 2, verses 12 and 13: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
An example of this can be seen in Matthew chapter sixteen when Jesus asked His disciples who the world was saying He was and who they thought He was. Peter answering for the whole group said: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered him with these words: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Contrast this positive declaration with the hodge-podge beliefs of those who did not have this divine revelation from the God of heaven: “And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (verse14). We can see here how man’s wisdom and divinely anointed understanding leads in different and opposing directions.
Why is it important to know these things? Because what is not truth is error and all error is heresy and heresy is doomed to eternal damnation. The scripture tells us how to relate to those who espouse heresy. They are known as heretics. Lets look at what the scripture say about them: “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. (10) A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; (11) Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:9-11).
The Apostles Peter and Paul warned about such false teachers. In Acts 20:29, and 30 Paul warned the church of this danger: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
In Peter’s second epistle, verses one and two, he gave this warning: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2) And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”
The best defense against heresy is to know the truth. An understanding of the truth comes through studying God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15) and a relationship with the Holy Ghost as described in Second Corinthians 2:12, 13.
Walter Lofton is a local pastor at the Church of God in Seth and can be reached by email at [email protected]