False Doctrine in the End Times Pastor A. W. Weckeman – July 2014
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7:15)
The Importance of Sound Doctrine
Doctrine is not just teaching…it is specific teaching regarding absolute truth. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines doctrine: “That which is laid down as true by an instructor or master.” When the Bible speaks of sound doctrine, it speaks of absolute truth as laid down by God in His word.
Sound doctrine, the fundamental truth of God’s word, is the standard that defines our convictions, the hallmark of a true “New Testament Body of Believers.” Because our doctrinal beliefs are the basis of our convictions, they form our worldview, which in turn should determine how we live our lives.
The preeminence of doctrine can be seen in (2 Tim. 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” Notice what heads the list of profitable things.
This portion of God’s word highlights three important points concerning the indivisible connection between Scripture and sound doctrine.
First, all Scripture is directly from God, therefore, is not subject to man’s “private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Nothing is to be added to it or taken away from it (Rev.22:18-19).
Second, Scripture is the sole source of sound doctrine; religious teachings, doctrines of men, and what we think or feel mean absolutely nothing unless they can be backed by multiple verses of Scripture as found within their natural context. “Prove ALL things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21). The bottom line always remains the same, “What saith the Scriptures?”
Third, Sound doctrine is given to instruct the Body of Christ and protect against false teaching. Someone has wisely stated: Scripture is “profitable for doctrine” (what is right) “for reproof” (what is not right) “for correction” (how to get it right), “for instruction in righteousness” (how to stay right). “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
For “reproof,” “for correction,” and “instruction in righteousness.” Obviously, the ministry of the word isn’t limited to teaching and preaching sound doctrine; we must also be ready to scripturally reprove and correct false doctrine when necessary. In the final analysis, it’s not a matter of “who’s right” but rather “what’s right.”
Employing correction, reproof, and rebuke involves various distinct aspects, therefore tending to appear contradictory at times. For example, Paul tells us, “Wherefore REBUKE them SHARPLY, that they may be sound in the faith…” (Titus 1:9-13). Yet in (2 Tim. 2:24-25), he instructed us not to strive, “but be GENTLE unto all men…In MEEKNESS instructing those that oppose themselves…”
Another important aspect of correction is the discernment of spiritual involvement when discussing differences; not only different opinions but often different hearts, different motives, and different spirits. “To whom has thou uttered words? and WHOSE SPIRIT came from thee? (Job 26:4). [Emphasis added]
Discretion is the Key to Doctrinal Discussion
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” (Prov.26:4-5).
Spiritual discernment provides the ability to know when to and when not to respond, the necessary wisdom to discern the spirit motivating the question.
“…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15).
There is a critical difference between those who sincerely “asketh you a reason” why you believe as you do and those who only want to contend. “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife…” (Prov.28:25). “ONLY by pride cometh contention…” (Prov.13:10) [Emphasis added].
Contention and division are rooted in pride; the antagonism is more than a negative personality trait; it is a spiritual stronghold that hardens the heart, rendering its victim unteachable and unreachable. The response reveals the heart.
“Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.”(Prov.15:10). The rebellious, proud heart cannot tolerate any form of correction, even that which is done in the right spirit.
The fact that reproof and correction inevitably carry the risk of contention and strife doesn’t mean we should altogether shun REASONABLE discussion or HONEST debate, especially at the expense of sound doctrine. “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Prov. 9:8-9).
As we have seen, motive determines whether or not discussion turns to strife…if the heart is right, the words will be right “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt.12:34). A truth-seeking heart is willing to listen and even be changed; it will not enter into contention nor will attempt to force itself on others.
Debate: “Contention in words or arguments: discussion for elucidating (make clear, shed light on) truth.” Noah Web. 1828. Debate, if not carried out in the right spirit, will lead to strife and contention, even between apostles, consider Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:39).
“The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.” (Prov.17:14).
Once you begin to release water, it can be hard to stop; the same is true regarding strife, contention, and debate. If you sense the hearer to have an open mind, a willingness to consider the scriptures relevant to the topic, then continue; if not, end the discussion; it is foolish to debate contentious, unreasonable people. Don’t waste time and energy trying to move the unmovable; change the implacable or teach unteachable people.
A non-committal stance on doctrinal issues opens the door to error
The Lord Jesus, upon sensing a wrong heart, never held back from confronting and refuting the false doctrines of men or traditions of His day propagated by the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt.22:23-29, 23:1-19) and even sharply rebuked His own when they were in error (Matt.16:23).
The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to publicly correct Peter when he was doctrinally in error (Gal.2:11-16). The necessity of confrontation is once again illustrated in Paul’s epistle to Titus [a young pastor], “Holding forth the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by SOUND DOCTRINE both to exhort and to CONVINCE the gainsayers [opposition] (Titus 1:9). Therefore, allowing doctrinal error to go unchallenged within the Body of Christ is inconsistent with both Jesus’ and Paul’s example.
When we faithfully preach and teach the whole counsel of God, contention is inevitable…dealing with it is part of leadership responsibility. True love speaks “the truth in love” yet never fails to confront and correct error. Consider the motive behind Paul’s rebuke of the Church at Corinth (2 Cor.7:8-12).
False doctrine actually serves an important purpose, “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Cor.11:19).
Sound Doctrine, the Churches Responsibility
God promised to preserve His word (Ps.12:6-7, Matt. 24:35) but NOT sound doctrine; He entrusted the pastors, teachers, and elders with that responsibility, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they that LABOR in the WORD and DOCTRINE.” (1 Tim.5:17) [All Emphasis adedd]. Also, consider, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and ADMONISH you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their works sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” (1Thess.5:12-13).
The Prophesied Increase of False Doctrine in “the latter times”
The apostle Paul warned the end times will be characterized by a dramatic increase in demonic activity and false doctrine. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils…” (1 Tim.4:1-6)
Each day, as we draw closer to the return of the Lord, contemporary Christianity moves further and further away from sound doctrine; consider (2 Thess. 2:3). “…a falling away first” must occur before the return of the Lord.
The “falling away” speaks to the current compromise of modern Christianity, the prophesied turning away from God’s word and sound doctrine to religious tradition, doctrines of men, philosophy, and compromise with this “present evil world.”
Consider the Apostle Paul’s final exhortation to Timothy concerning the unavoidable necessity of contending for the faith in the latter days:
“I CHARGE thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; REPROVE, REBUKE, EXHORT with all longsuffering and DOCTRINE. For the time will come when they will NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables” (2 Tim.4:1-4) [Emphasis added]
The reason the Holy Spirit, through Paul, places such a strong emphasis on sound doctrine in the three pastoral epistles, which prophetically relate to the “latter days “is because sound doctrine is the essential counterbalance to the false doctrine responsible for the decline of the Church and its influence in the end times (Doctrine mentioned 17 times in First and Second Timothy and Titus).
“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal.5:9).
“Once we realize that doctrines never function in isolation but work together to form the structure of a belief system, it becomes easy to understand how one significant doctrinal error can eventually lead to the corruption of still other doctrines.”
Hence the contemporary importance of the admonition, “…earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3). The false doctrines of today, if left unchallenged, will become the accepted truth of tomorrow. The road to Laodicea is paved with concession…harmony achieved by compromise opens the door to corruption.
“In essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.”
The word of God & Sound Doctrine is Essential