I received this question on my Q&A session and I decided to share this truth with you. The Bible warns us about the dangers of many things in this life both physical and spiritual. For example it warns us about the deceitfulness of alcoholic beverages, that it is not wise for one to be deceived by it (Pro. 20:1). Or what about the dangers of loving money? The Bible says it is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). We do not have to mention the obvious warnings about sin and its eternal damnation, for the message of the Bible is for all to repent and turn to God (Acts 17:30). I am convinced, that the warnings that many profess believers and true believers tend to ignore, are the warnings about false doctrine or false teachers. The Bible has many passages on this:
- “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 KJV)
- “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 KJV)
- “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 unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2–4 KJV)
- “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Timothy 6:3–5 KJV)
- “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:3–4 KJV)
- “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11 KJV)
- “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8 KJV) … there are many more warnings in the Bible.
When the Lord and other inspired writes say “beware”, I want you to think about having a neighbor with a sign that says “beware of lions,” how would you treat that warning? If we are concern for our life, you and I would not enter a house with such a sign (given it is true they do have lions), unless you are crazy. If we are concern for our souls, how will we treat the warnings about false teachers and false teachings? I hope we take it heart and equip ourselves so we can protect our souls and the souls of others from the false prophets and their teachings.
The apostle Paul wrote that another gospel is not another, but a perversion of the real gospel of Christ:
- “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6–7 KJV)
The perversion of the truth is not something new, it started in the garden of Eden, and continues today until the judgement day. In the first century Paul and others protected the church from the false teachings that were being spread by Jews and others. For example in the book of Galatians we find the apostle Paul teaching the truth that no man can be justify by the Law of Moses. Yet some sought justification by it and teaching others to believe such error:
- “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16 KJV)
The Christians in Galatia had given ear to the false teachers of Judaism and Paul the apostle defending the Truth was trying to keep Christians from following error. What can we learn from reading these passages? I want to give three reasons from Galatians chapter one, as to why a perversion of the gospel (another gospel) is very dangerous to all.
- A perversion of the gospel (another gospel) is dangerous because if obeyed by one, he will fall from grace.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6–9 KJV)
Paul does not want anyone to listen and obey a perversion of the gospel. Even if an angel were to be the source of it, he warns people to not give ear. The real gospel is already delivered to the saints as Jude wrote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3 KJV) The real gospel is according to the Bible:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4 KJV)
In the context of Galatians the perversion of the gospel Paul is dealing with is that the Law of Moses justifies. Some Jews in the first century demanded that in order for one to be saved, they must be circumcised (Acts 15:1). Paul later on in the book of Galatians would say this concerning those who taught and believe such error: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4 KJV) To fall from grace, means to lose one’s salvation (Eph. 2:8).
2. A perversion of the gospel (another gospel) is the way to please men.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 KJV)
If Paul was in the business of pleasing men he would just let the Galatians follow into error. He would even speak for and not against such error. But we all know Paul is man of God, who endured much suffering at the hands of men because he preached the one and only true gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16, 2 Cor. 11:23…).
Men who are interested in the praises of men more than the praises of God, will do anything and everything to get their reward. John shows us this truth concerning some of those chief rulers: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42–43 KJV)
Friends, if we want to please men, we will teach what they want to hear instead of what God says for us to teach and here is the danger of doing that: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” (James 3:1 KJV) There is a stricter punishment for one who mishandles the word of God. As a preacher of the gospel, I often look to this verse for a reality check and to keep myself from falling into the dangerous act of trying to please men. Friends the only one whom we must seek to please is our God.
3. A perversion of the gospel (another gospel) is man made not God made.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11–12 KJV)
How can we know what is man made teaching? We can know it by comparing and contrasting it to the Word of God. When someone is preaching or teaching the Word of God, we as listeners must look to the Bible to confirm if what is said is true. We must be like the Bereans: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11 KJV) Paul is reminding the Christians in Galatia, that the message he preached came from God himself, and it is not of human origin. I am reminded about what Paul said to the Corinthians when he came to them:
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:” (1 Corinthians 2:1–4 KJV)
The Galatians and the Corinthians needed to remember that the message from God is the message that saves and justifies.
The dangers of false teachings or perversions of Christ’s gospel cannot be overstated. We can fall from grace following after the teachings of men even after we are saved by grace. One can be lost his whole life and eternity following the teachings of men if he never looks to the word of God for the Truth. Our Lord was disgusted by the perversions of men and he quoted Isaiah: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8–9 KJV)
This is a threat often underestimated by so many. “A little hear and little there would not hurt anything” some would say. Remember that the serpent added a little to change God’s truth to Adam and Eve, and the consequence is death both physical and eternal (Rom. 6:23). But thanks be to God for his son who died, to save us from our sins (Rom. 5:8). Are you following another gospel? Have you obeyed the true gospel of Christ? I hope that as Christians we will never take lightly the threat of false teachings. I hope as reader that you are encouraged to study the Truth (God’s Word) to obey it, to learn more of it, to teach it and to defend it.