Day 8: The Effects of False Teaching

Lamentations 2:11-14 :

My eyes fail with tears.
My heart is troubled.
My bile is poured on the earth,
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because the young children and the infants swoon in the streets of the city.

They ask their mothers,
“Where is grain and wine?”
when they swoon as the wounded in the streets of the city,
when their soul is poured out into their mothers’ bosom.

What shall I testify to you?
What shall I liken to you, daughter of Jerusalem?
What shall I compare to you,
that I may comfort you, virgin daughter of Zion?
For your breach is as big as the sea.
Who can heal you?

Your prophets have seen false and foolish visions for you.
They have not uncovered your iniquity,
to reverse your captivity,
but have seen for you false revelations and causes of banishment.

One of the critical themes in the New Testament is the warning against false teachers. Over and over, Christians are warned that enemies of the Church will rise up within the Church itself. Let’s take a little tour and look at some of these warnings.

Acts 20:28-30 :

Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood. For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Romans 16:17-18 :

Now I beg you, brothers, look out for those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. For those who are such don’t serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the innocent.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 :

But the Spirit says expressly that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron, forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 :

For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts, and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn away to fables.

This is actually a small sample of the things the New Testament says about false teachers. With this in mind, guarding against false teaching should be a major part of what goes on in our churches today. The Bible does teach that we be unified as believers, but it also teaches that we reject false teaching. The two must always go together. If someone preaches unity in order to permit the teaching of false doctrine, they are wrong. If someone separates believers over false doctrine, they are also wrong. In our passage today, we are asked to consider an Old Testament example of the same thing. It teaches us what happens to us when we listen to these false teachers.

What had happened in Judah was that the false prophets that had been speaking against Jeremiah, were failing to show the people their sin. As a result, the people kept sinning until God was forced to destroy them. Jeremiah laments over the fact that even children were affected. He felt the horror of the effects of false teaching. This is yet another warning to us. We need to pay attention to the truth about our sin. We must also be vigilant to remove false teaching from our churches. If we don’t, we will eventually witness God’s hand of discipline on us as His children. He will not allow evil to go on in His household even if we have been lying to ourselves about our situation.