On False Teaching and Failed Tropes

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April 10, 2022

2 Peter 2:2-3 NIV

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

CONSIDER THIS

Notice we made a jump over into 2 Peter in order to deal with this second matter of great concern for Peter and the Church Jesus is building—false teaching. Our concern with the conservatives is their incessant meddling with the surrounding culture and the legalistic, judgmental application of the teachings of Scripture on those who do not subscribe to Scripture. Our concern with the progressives is their seeming willingness to compromise the teaching of Scripture in order to affirm anything and everything under the sun and so baptize the surrounding culture. 

Let’s remind ourselves, that meddlers and false teachers often have good purposes. They mean well. Neither, however, grasps the devastating outcomes of their strategies. Meddlers are often trying to make the world better and safer for their children. False teachers are often trying to make the world better and safer for people who are different. The danger of false teaching is not failing a doctrine exam. It is the destruction of human flourishing through the desecration of the image of God in people by the accommodation of destructive lifestyles. It is fascinating how the New Testament consistently links up false teaching with sin and what it calls “depraved conduct.” Then and now, false teaching becomes bitterly divisive in the church. Because of this, Peter does not mince his incisive words here. 

They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

Taking it three massive steps further, Peter calls witnesses reaching all the way back to Genesis. Don’t skim this. In fact, read it aloud. I want your ears to hear it. 

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. (2 Peter 4:4-10)

Notice that last verse. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. False teaching almost always bends, or distorts the authority of truth in order to accommodate the corruption and brokenness of the human body most often manifested through disordered desire. 

None of any of this is about hating people or excluding people or judging people. It is about the sobriety and the overwhelming weight and consequences of revealed truth—which is ultimate reality. Human beings possess an insatiable propensity for self-deception. We will readily exchange the truth of God for a lie in order to accommodate our own desires. Friends, we all, like sheep, have gone astray. And we all come under the grace-filled judgment of the truth. 

One more thing. I am prepared to be misunderstood (and perhaps persecuted) for what I am about to say, but I am under conviction to say it. It is time to depart from a cherished and oft repeated phrase in Christian circles. Some might argue it inferentially from Scripture, yet it appears nowhere written I am aware of. The phrase is often tracked out as a kind of trope in response to false teaching. There is a sense in which it is right, yet it is utterly unhelpful.  Here is the phrase:

“Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” 

It is time to stop approaching the image bearers of God with this dichotomously confusing and compromised bearing toward them. It doesn’t work. It never has. Wouldn’t we be better off loving the truth? After all, the antidote to false teaching is not despising it. The antidote to false teaching is true teaching. 

I propose this alternative.

“Love the sinner.” 

Or how about “Love the sinner. Love the sinner.” 

Or how about just, “Love the Person.” 

Final answer: “Love the person. Love the truth.” 

Remember this? Above all, love one another deeply, because love cover over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn: 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Jesus, have mercy on us sinners. We are frail children dust and feeble as frail. We are all broken people and our desires are in varying states of disorder and distortion. Holy Spirit, fill us with the love of Jesus in such ways that we love one another deeply, no matter what, come what may. Teach us the most excellent way, for only this brings glory to the Father and flourishing to our lives. We desperately need this. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Love the Person. Love the Truth. How about it? Why not? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

P.S. DOWNLOAD UKRAINE PRAYER HERE

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

5 COMMENTS

  1. A true disciple will walk in the Way of the Lord. The Lord is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus never turned away a sinner who had come to him for healing and restoration; but he never confirmed them in their sin either. This is why both the Law and the Gospel must be proclaimed in their proper functions, and never conflated. The Law kills self- will; the Gospel brings new-life. The Way of the cross Is guaranteed to bring about suffering, but leads to eternal glory.

  2. I appreciate your work on these daily devotions JD. They are very helpful. I agree on Love the sinner. However, we need to teach and go deep on what it means to LOVE. If the recipient ( sinner?) interprets LOVE to be permission to whatever pleases them, which happens, it would be helpful to have conversations about , what does it mean to Love when the actions are still unGODLY.

  3. We should hate sin, as God does. Sin is a terrible thing. But if we change that to hating the ‘sin of a person’ we change what is written. God loved us ‘while we were sinners’ whilst also hating, ‘the sin’. If we focus on hating ‘the sin of a person’ we could easily end up hating the person alongside or even instead of the sin, not being able to separate the person and the sin. Our focus then should be on loving the person separate from the sin and hating the sin separate from the peraon.

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