Very early on in the history of man, Eve was attacked by that old serpent in the garden of Eden. He did not afflict her physically like he did Job. He did not tempt her sensually like he did David with Bathsheba. His method of attack was as devious as it was simple: get Eve to believe something that was not true. Eve quoted God’s word to him but he denied and then twisted what God had said. This has been one of the devil’s most effective tactics since.
Jesus said the devil was the father of lies and was a liar from the beginning (John 8:44). Doctrinal error is nothing but a lie. Paul warned against those who would teach some other “gospel.” But, he said, it was not another gospel but a perversion of the gospel, i.e., a lie (Gal. 1:6-9). When Paul met with the elders of the Lord’s church at Ephesus he warned them against “grievous wolves” who would not spare the flock “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:27-31). Those “perverse things” were nothing but lies.
Toward the end of his life the great apostle Paul confidently proclaimed that he had fought a good fight and finished the course and kept the faith (II Tim. 4:6-8). He also warned against those who would “not endure sound doctrine” but after their own lusts would heap to themselves teachers having itching ears and “turn away their ears from the truth” and turn unto fables (II Tim. 4:3,4). There is always the danger that men will turn away from the hard truth and turn to comforting and pleasing lies (Judges 2:10).
Jesus warned against those that would worship Him in vain, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men (Matt. 15:9). The real source of the problem emanated from their heart, which was far from the Lord (Matt. 15:8). They had elevated their traditions above the commandments of God (Matt. 15:3-6). Giving heed to the commandments of men only serve to turn men from the truth (Tit. 1:14). The law of God is counted as a strange thing to those who place a high value on human tradition and commandments of men (Hos. 8:12).
John was fighting against the same pernicious evil when he fought against those who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh (I John 2:23; 4:2,3). He also warned against the many false prophets who had gone out into the world. He said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). Jesus likewise warned of those that come in sheep’s clothing but inwardly were ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15-20). They were not what they appeared to be. Paul warned that satan sometimes presents himself as an angel of light, as do his minions (II Cor. 11:13.14).
What is to be done about such men as tell lies about God and His word? Paul said have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:10,11). Shine the light of truth on the error (Eph. 5:13,14). Unfortunately, men tend to love darkness rather than light (John 3:19) and some men love to drain the life-blood of truth out of the heart of the victims. They handle the word of God deceitfully (II Cor. 4:2). Fortunately, the preaching of the cross and the shedding of the light of truth make those doctrinal vampires run for cover (II Cor. 4:3-6).
Paul said to mark those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine of Christ and avoid them (Rom. 16:17). To mark them is to scope them out. We cannot do that when we have our heads in the sand or when we close our eyes and shut our ears to what is going on in our world or in the brotherhood. We may have to withdraw ourselves from certain brethren because they walk disorderly or do not follow the truth of the gospel (II Thess. 3:6). We are to bring them to the point of feeling shame when we purposely keep no company with them (II Thess. 3:14,15).
We are not to receive into our houses or bid godspeed to any that do not bring the doctrine of Christ (II John 9-11). The principle set forth here is to not do anything that contributes to their error or make them feel as though they are accepted by us or the Lord. If we do bid them godspeed then we are partakers of their evil deeds and give support to a lie.
Eric L. Padgett