What Does the Bible Say About Heresy?

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Heresy is false doctrine that does not agree with the teaching of the Bible. When heresy takes hold, it creates unrest and division in the church, and leads some away from the Truth. Some common heresies in New Testament times were that you could not be saved unless you were circumcised, that Jesus was not a true man, that Jesus is not fully God, and that the Day of the Lord had already come. Paul devoted a large part of his letters to opposing false doctrines and teaching sound doctrine instead.

Bible Verses

3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.(Jud 3–4)

3If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,(1 Ti 6:3–4)

1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.(1 Ti 4:1–5)

17I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.(Ro 16:17–18)

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.(Ga 1:6–9)

3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.(2 Ti 4:3–4)

1But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”(Ac 15:1)

7For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.(2 Jn 7)

4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.(Mt 24:4–5)

23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.(Mt 24:23–24)

8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.(Col 2:8)

1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,(1 Ti 4:1)

7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;(1 Ti 4:7)

3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.(2 Pe 2:3)

3But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.(2 Co 11:3–4)

Study Questions

  1. Have you come across any heresies?
  2. Do you know of any examples of post-biblical false doctrines?
  3. Why do heresies arise?
  4. How do you determine whether a doctrine is a false doctrine?
  5. How to resist heresies?

Additional Bible Verses

Heb 13:9, Acts 15:24, 1 Tim 1:3-4, 1 John 4:1-3, 2 Thess 2:1-2, Eph 4:14, Col 2:20-22, 2 Pet 3:17, Tit 1:10-14

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