Heresy is a destructive false teaching with the potential to divide the church. We throw this term around all the time, so much that we’ve lost a sense of the gravity of heresy. Heretics are not people who disagree with you. Heretics are people who divide the church through false teaching. The word originally meant “choice,” similar to how we use “sect” today. As the New Testament letters progress, it’s more about a “bad choice” or “incorrect choice.” Bad choices lead to destructive behavior, which can divide the church. As we’ll cover more on Sunday, this division was a key concern for the New Testament writers.
Use the following guide to prepare for Sunday. Onward!
Monday’s Passage to Read: Read Colossians 1:13-23. The best way to stay on course is to keep Christ supreme. This passage is an ancient hymn about the supremacy of Jesus. These verses contain one of the most important theological statements about Jesus. He is the central figure in redemption and creation. He saves you. He guides you. He is your everything. When Christ is supreme in your life, you are not likely to fall for false doctrine.
Tuesday’s Devotional Thought: How do you know what is true? Jesus answers this question in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7, He preaches about the narrow gate and how few take the narrow and difficult road to discern truth. Jesus then warns about why you should care about discerning truth.
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” – Matthew 7:15-16
The term “fruit” is used over one hundred times in the Bible. The meaning almost always refers to results. What results are in your life? What qualities are manifested in you? Where do your hours go? Where is your money spent? What words do you communicate? What does your mind consume? If you are not dedicating hours, mind energy, and eyeballs to God’s Word, then you are going to struggle to know what is true in this world.
A variety of heresies were influencing the church at Colossae. Some believed salvation is obtained through wisdom. Others thought God did not directly create the universe. There was the issue of angel worship. Extreme viewpoints surfaced. Some practiced asceticism and avoided all joys of life. Others practiced licentiousness and left morality completely unrestrained.
Paul wrote Colossians to correct these heresies. What was his solution? The answer to all these issues is the supremacy of Christ! Anything apart from Christ will ultimately be empty. I will cover some warning signs of false teachers on Sunday, but I will list some points to consider now. What are some ways you can discern a false teacher?
- They contradict Scripture.
- They add or remove from Scripture.
- They claim special knowledge on your behalf.
- They claim a different source other than Scripture for God’s messages.
- They make money the message more than Jesus.
There is one truth above everything else: Jesus Christ and His Word. What does John 14:6 record? “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” The supremacy of Christ is not oppressive. The supremacy of Christ is liberating!
The Lord detests evil plans,
but he delights in pure words.
Pure words are God’s answer to evil plans. What words are pure? The ones contained in the Bible! The more you study God’s Word, the better you can recognize evil plans and know how to combat Satan’s schemes. So focus on pure words today and delight God.
Thursday’s Prayer through Scripture: Read Colossians 1:13-14. Focus on three key words: rescued, purchased, and freedom. Jesus rescued you. He paid the ransom of sin. The result was freedom. Use these three words in a prayer. Thank God for your salvation.
Friday’s Bible Project Video: Watch this video on the book of Colossians. Why did Paul write this letter? What is the significance of the poem, or hymn, in the first chapter?