False doctrine has been the demise of many a church and the twisting of the truth of God's Word has had devastating results on congregations and nations since the law was first given to the Israelites as they were saved from slavery in Egypt. Because Christ called himself the Truth, we are called to seek after the Truth, take the Truth in, and fellowship with the Truth. We are called to love the Truth. Because knowing and abiding in truth is essential to knowing and loving the Lord, the enemies of God and man work very hard at distorting the truth and keeping mankind, both the saved and the unsaved, from coming into the rich and full relationship that God has extended to those He loves. Keeping men and women chasing after dead-end doctrines has been a favorite past-time of Satan. And, this battle tactic is not a new tactic of the demons of the dark; they've been at this game for a long, long, time. False gospels have been spread throughout the world since man began to populate the earth. Cain was certainly misguided in his choice of offerings to the Lord and the Israelites proved time and again that they were putting their trust into powers other than the Word of God. The trend has continued throughout history.
Starting in the Old Testament, we read countless accounts of the people of God, the very ones He chose to reveal Himself to the world through, straying from His Word and following after false doctrine. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet records the Lord saying, "I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick" (Isaiah 65:2-3). As Israel entered into the promised land, they were warned not to fellowship with those who sought after the gods of this world and who did not know God. These people were warned not to inter-marry, knowing that this would eventually bring heresy into the teachings of the Lord. These chosen vessels of God had seen miracles and had experienced the Lord in ways that no other people group had or ever will again, and still they were taken away with false gospels and diverse religions. We can heed this as a warning because we too, can be smitten with the lies that lead us away from knowing and serving our Lord.
We are told in 2 Timothy that a time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine as they sought after their own lusts. Seeking after our own agendas is perhaps the number one reason that we have allowed anything but the absolute truth of the Lord to penetrate our hearts. From the original sin the Garden of Eden, we've been ambitious to have things our way, seeking any teaching that will support the selfish ideas that run throughout the flesh. Though the Truth will actually set us free, many have chosen the imprisonment of false doctrine that promised a liberty it could not deliver. For more related topics such as false prophets, end time signs and the apostate Church, visit our Bible resources.
The answer to abiding within the safety of what our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, teaches is to know and do the will of God. And, to know the will of God, one must immerse himself into the Word, absorbing the real Truth written there. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). As we study the Word of God, we begin to understand the character, and ultimately, the will of God. Immersing oneself into the Living Word of God is the only safeguard against following after the false gospels that are becoming even more prevalent in these last days.
Many of the New Testament writers adequately warned against the ease of believing other gospels. We are warned that wolves desiring to devour the weak will enter into our churches, appearing to be as meek and as humble as sheep. Jesus told His disciples that there would be an entire host of false prophets that would rise up in the last days and that those sharing a false gospel would deceive man. "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:11). Many times when the end times are spoken of, there is always a stern warning to guard against any doctrine except the gospel brought by Christ.
In the book of Revelation, the messages to the seven churches are also full of warnings for those who had moved in a direction other than what the Word of God teaches. The consequences of adopting, tolerating, or teaching a false doctrine would be severe. The world today is full of religious teachings that are far from the good news of Jesus Christ. There are also teachings that mimic the true gospel, yet twist or add to the truth of the Word, making it difficult for those who are not astute in the Word to discern the theology. Paul tells us that the Word is useful for investigating false doctrine and discerning the good from the bad. Perhaps taking the time to thoroughly study the Bible will provide to be not only a wonderful experience in growing in the Lord, but also become a shield to protect the heart against heresy. To learn more about the false gospels circulating in the world today, take the quiz linked above.