Life Lesson #15: Our best defense against false teaching is to stay rooted in the Word of God.
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:9
We find ourselves at the end of the Tiny Yet Mighty series appropriately enough with a lesson on defensive strategy against false teaching. False teaching comes in many forms. We may initially think it’s just a televangelist telling followers if they pray hard enough all their financial woes will be eliminated. But the world of false teachers reaches so much farther than our Christian leaders.
You’ll notice in our Jude verse today that even the archangel didn’t take up an argument with the devil using his own words or knowledge. He relied on God’s Word. And when unbelievers or doubters take verses out of context it’s our opportunity to use the truth of God’s Word in reply.
But we can’t stand for a God we don’t know.
Too many Christians are not Bible scholars. And yet, it is our greatest comfort and weapon against the devil. I, for one, in the first 10 or 15 years of being a Christian rarely even opened a Bible. During one season of sermons at my church we tried something “out of the box.” The pastor wanted each of us to take the pew Bible and mark it up as he spoke. You could see the hives break out on people instantly!
I’ve been in plenty of Bible study groups where more than half the people didn’t read any of the study, hadn’t been to church the Sunday before to hear the sermon, or hadn’t gone on-line to hear the sermon being studied. And somehow we expect to be filled with the Word of God.
No soldier, no athlete, no surgeon, no salesperson would ever enter their arena of expertise expecting success without first preparing. So why, as Christians, would we expect any different?
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11
The full armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness given by Jesus, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit – the word of God. Without any of these we are left to the evil devices of false teachers.
But let’s back up and start at the very beginning of false teaching.
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
We were babes in God’s glorious garden when the first false teacher spoke to Eve. He tried to weave his way around God’s Word and deceive her. One of the ways I’ve personally experienced this is concerning how God communicates with us. How often have you heard someone say they received a directive from God but yet claimed God doesn’t “speak to them.” I’ve heard famous preachers dismiss the idea of God actually speaking, using words, to speak to people. We seem to have the need to define God “speaking” as someone standing before us speaking out loud. This unfortunate definition has led so many people to feel as though God is ignoring them.
I have a friend who has frequent interaction with God through others, music, signs, etc, and yet she spoke with sadness that she had never heard God speak. The parsing of God’s messages, directives and laws to find the “out” or the “exception” is the devil’s work.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman." Genesis 3:4
Sure, Eve wasn’t going to physically die (although she couldn’t know that for sure) but the death she was to experience would be much harsher. Satan was relying on Eve not trusting the Word of God.
In our modern times sexual immorality has become our apple in the Garden. “What’s the big deal?” “God didn’t actually say a man can’t marry a man.” Like the statement to Eve of death, this one is true on its surface. But God does, throughout the Bible state that a man shall take a woman for his wife.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
But the Bible was written long ago and cultures change and we evolve, right? There was only one great change in our Christian history – Jesus. He did not come to remove the laws of God. He came to fulfill the law. God’s law reveals our sin, our brokenness. We can never completely fulfill the law through our own means. Jesus gives us the grace and righteousness needed to be right with God.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
These are but a few examples of how both believers and non-believers twist and turn the truth of God’s Word. It’s all an attempt to live in the world of the flesh. We are called to be a people set apart. To know God as best we can. To stay in constant communion with Him.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25
When we find ourselves in the midst of false teaching it is Jesus Christ who we can draw on, both in Word and Spirit, to keep us from the fire. Stay close to Him and the devil cannot strip you of God’s blessings.
I hope you enjoyed this series, “Tiny Yet Mighty!” Stay tuned for my next series, “Fresh Fire — 25 verses to invigorate your faith,” starting March 29. Just in time to celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice and amazing resurrection!