They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1)
False teachers and heretics are clever. The biblical text evokes the image of a smuggler, sneaking false doctrine into the churches of the region Peter addresses. Heretics were trying to get the first-century disciples off track and make them disobedient to God’s expectations. Why someone who once walked with Christ would deny or walk away from him is beyond solid logic. Yet, it happens. It happens today, and many do not recognize it. When we do, it seems to be too late. Illogical though it seems, heresy sells.
When we see or hear heretical teaching, it is natural to react. Our instinct is to loudly denounce it. We want to correct it all in one fell Facebook post. That sounds easy enough to do. However, it is always more complicated than that. We are to trust in the sovereign Lord of the universe, who offers redemption to all who will believe. Remember that God loves even heretics and wishes to redeem them. Let God be God. That should be our first response.
Subsequently, we must look for ways to demonstrate God’s love while standing for God’s truth at all times. Destruction and judgment are not our tools for dealing with false teachers. We must certainly deny their voice or influence in the church, but judgment and destruction are God’s prerogatives.
Pray for someone with whom you disagree on matters of faith.
Jim Dunn is the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He previously served as the executive director of the Church Multiplication and Discipleship Division for The Wesleyan Church.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.