The other night my husband and I, along with our married daughter and her husband, were invited to the home of new friends for dinner. I plugged their address into my GPS on my phone and we started on our way. Their home was located in an area with which we were completely unfamiliar, so we were thankful for the GPS. We pulled on to their street and slowly made our way, looking at each house number. We were finally able to spot the correct house number, which was made extra challenging due to the darkness. We parked in front of the tiny white house and started toward the door. We noticed a giant TV tuned to the football game in the living room. Seemed a little odd. We had not realized our new friends were such avid football fans but that didn’t bother us. Our son-in-law rang the doorbell and when no one responded to that, he knocked. We heard a bit of grumbling as someone shuffled toward the door… “hold on, I’m coming…”
The door opened, revealing a complete stranger. The older gentleman was probably as startled as we were! At first, we thought perhaps our friends’ parents must be joining us (??), but just a few sentences later, it was revealed that somehow we had ended up at the wrong house. My heart sank and I quickly handed the dessert I was holding to my daughter so I could pull out my phone and try to figure out what was going on.
Ohhhh, I hadn’t realized that there was both an east and a west to this street. When I had plugged in the address, the wrong one had automatically popped up. I didn’t even think to look further.
So the four of us, embarrassed and a bit confused, traipsed back to the car. I plugged in the correct address and, within a few moments, we were in front of the right house and enjoyed a wonderful evening of fellowship.
But I couldn’t let this gem of a moment go to waste, as embarrassing as it was. It reminded me of a really important truth for believers.
Many believers are often given wrong directions by well-meaning family, friends, and acquaintances–
Oh, you should read this book! ….Oh, this preacher is great! ….This music group really helps me worship…This therapist really helped me.
Sometimes these referrals are good ones. But, more often than not, they are sending us to the “wrong house”. The thing is: These houses will look super inviting to our old self (see Colossians 3:1-10) and these false teachers don’t look at us like we don’t belong there. When we knock on the door, they say “Come on in! Where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you!” They invite us in, they make us feel really comfortable, and we absolutely love being there. At least for awhile.
It is there that we imagine we find meaning and purpose and self-esteem and fulfilled dreams. We are lured in by messages of self-importance and attractive, appealing twisted truths. And many stay there, taking up residence and never question if they are actually at the right house.
At the end of last year, I studied the book of 2 Peter. I keep thinking of it, as we navigate this strange world that is so full of false teachers. In this short epistle we find a really helpful description of false teachers (particularly in chapter two). A few things of note–they bring in their destructive heresies secretly. They appeal to our senses (in other words, they make us feel good). They are bold and willful. If you have a moment, read this chapter to get a good description of these evil men and women in our midst.
But there is one phrase in that chapter that I want to focus on: They entice unsteady souls (verse 14).
False teachers entice unsteady souls.
Unsteady: Not firm, solid, or securely in place; unstable. Fluctuating; changeable. Not even or regular; wavering.
Unsteady souls are much more vulnerable to these false teachers. So this begs the question: How do we keep ourselves from being unsteady? How do we recognize when the door we knocked on is opened by a false teacher? There is really only one way and Paul explains in the final verses of 2 Peter–
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18)
Peter tells us in these final verses how we can be protected from false teaching. First, we must be aware. “take care that you are not carried away”. This is an intentional action. Pay attention. Don’t be gullible. Take care.
And then he says this: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” How do we do this?
There is one way, and only one way. To grow in grace and knowledge, we must pray and study the Word. God will guide and protect us through His Holy Spirit.
He has given us all we need in His Word and through the Holy Spirit. We have absolutely no acceptable excuse for going in the “home” of a false teacher, sitting down, and making ourselves comfortable. If we are reading and studying the Word of God and praying for discernment, God will show us when someone or some teaching is false. He is so faithful! He loves us and He will protect us.
So before we go knocking at the door of the latest and greatest trends, books, music, etc of Christianity, we must be sure that we are on the look out for error and that we are growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior. For this is how God said He will protect us.