What Heresy Is and Is Not

While it is true that heretical teachings are rampant in this day and time, far too often, Christians are quick to use the “heresy” label on anything with which they disagree.  The Bible is clear that we are not to tolerate false doctrine; however, we are also admonished not to label people heretics concerning certain matters.

The Definition of Heresy

christ like pixabay (2nd pic)Heresy is defined as a belief that is contrary to religious doctrine, more specifically, orthodox religious doctrine.  1 John 4 also defines what is false.  When you look at the scriptures in 1 John in context with Romans 14, you will find that a doctrine can only be declared Biblically heretical when it attacks the deity of Jesus Christ; suggests that salvation can be obtained by any other way than the Way, Jesus Christ (John 14: 6), or twists specific scriptures in the Bible to justify an act that is clearly a sin.  Examples of this would be abortion, changing the Biblical definition of marriage, or stating that sexual sin is now acceptable to God.

Now that the definition of heresy is clear.  We should be careful whom we label a heretic, or apostate.  Many of God’s people are quick to state that certain people are false teachers simply because of a disagreement about doctrine that does not pertain to salvation.  You might be wishing I would give some specific examples.  Wish granted!  I am getting ready to do just that.

Heresy:  What It Is and What It Is Not

Although I support ministers who are women, I have no right to label as heretics those who disagree with me.  There are many Christians who do not believe women should preach or teach in the church.  I disagree, but that does not make those with whom I disagree unsaved.  Why?  There is no denying the deity of Christ nor claiming another way of salvation in this belief, so, we can agree to disagree.

Another example of what is not heresy is the following:  I believe that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4) are for today.  I have been blessed to see these gifts at work, and working in order, in the body of Christ.  However, those who believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the Apostles are still my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Why?  Refer to the previous paragraph.

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The following is an example of heresy:  If a minister preaches another way to heaven, or another means to obtain salvation other than Jesus Christ, I can declare that preaching or teaching to be heretical because it goes completely against the Word of God and the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Another example of heresy would be for someone to teach that Jesus Christ is not God.  The Bible plainly declares His deity in John 1 and Colossians 2:9.  The deity of Jesus, aka The Word in Flesh, is also declared throughout the Old Testament.  It is fair and right to declare attacks on the deity of Jesus Christ heresy.

Agree to Disagree

On issues such as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, women ministers, the doctrine of Oneness, etc., we can agree that we disagree yet continue to love each other.  Why?  Jesus clearly stated in John 13:35 that our love for each other would be how the world would know we belong to Him.  Love is the answer for what divides the body of Christ.  Love is what points people to the way of salvation–not squabbling over doctrine.

UnityWe are living in what I believe is the season of Christ’s return.  People are hurting and searching for something that is real and lasting.  All that will fulfill people’s longings is Jesus Christ.  Point people to Him.  The rest can be sorted out later.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can know Him right now.  Romans 10:9-10 states the following:  “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

 

Contending for the Faith

Jude 3 contains a well-known phrase that many ministers use for sermon titles.  This one-chapter book of the Bible exhorts us to contend for the faith.  Next, the brief epistle reminded its readers that many false teachings were spreading to a dangerous level during the time period in which the book of Jude was written.  False teachings and apostate doctrines are alive and well today.  Some of the most dangerous of those are prevalent in the western portion of the world, especially in the United States.

What does it mean to contend?

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Image via Pexels by Pixabay.

The Greek word that is used for contend is epagonizomai meaning to struggle for, to combat.  The word is a verb indicating an action that is to be taken.  In other words, we are to be willing to fight for our faith.

When looking throughout the Bible concerning spiritual warfare, it is imperative to note that our struggle is not against people.  Unfortunately, people are involved when we have to stand boldly for the faith in loving disagreement.  Often, people take our disagreement with them to mean we lack love.  Although there are cases in which that may be true, a genuine child of God, learns to disagree yet still love the people involved.

Contending in Deed more than Word

Although standing boldly for the Word of the Lord often requires us to speak boldly, our actions should speak louder than our words.  If we say we believe in a certain principle, we should stand by it.  Saying one thing and doing another is one sure way to make faith-contending less effective.

When we have to speak against the actions of a person, or a group of people, it is important to do so in love.  In Ephesians 4, Paul admonishes his readers to speak the truth in love.  Speaking the truth without love often does more harm than good.  Truth coupled with love brings change.  However, it is important to note that if you have spoken the truth in love, and people are still offended, you have done no wrong.

Beware of a False Gospel

What I am about to write is without malice because I love my country.  I am thankful to live in the United States of America.  With that being said, it is vital that I make it clear that we in the western portion of the world often are used to being comfortable.  Confrontation and boldly proclaiming the gospel demand that we come out of the comfort zone.  The disease of political correctness is plaguing the Christian church in America.  Pastors and teachers will not speak out about controversial issues such as abortion, questioning one’s gender, and so on.

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Image via Pexels by Edgar Colomba.

By remaining silent, we are allowing the gospel of comfort to spread rather than the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  The true gospel saves sinners and sanctifies them.  The agape love of God loves the sinner, but when the sinner comes for salvation, He loves the individual too much to leave him in his sin.  I do not believe we have to beat people down, but I do believe we have to let them know that God has a much better way.

The book of Jude closes on a positive note.  Verse 24 reminds us that Jesus Christ is able to keep us from falling.  Our boldness and ability to contend for the faith comes from Him and not ourselves.  When I am reminded of that, it brings comfort because I am not able to stand boldly without Him.  Neither are you, but the good news is that you don’t have to stand alone.

For a more in-depth study on the book of Jude, check out the study guide I have on Amazon.

Breaking New Ground

Recently, I told my church that I believed God was bringing us as individuals as well as a body of believers into a new season.  Without even realizing what has happened, my church seems to be breaking new ground spiritually.  What do I mean by breaking new ground?

Leaving Comfort Zones Behind

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Image via Pexels by Johannes Plenio.

 

One of the first steps to gaining new ground from the enemy in the spiritual realm is to be willing to leave your comfort zone.  Often, as Christians, we tend to stay where we feel comfortable and safe, but is that truly Biblical?  In Amos 6:1, the word states the following:  “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and trust in the mountain of Samaria…”

Our trust has to totally be in Jesus Christ, not in things of the world.  When we leave what is comfortable, we are sending a clear message to the demonic realm that we trust completely in God.  That act of faith moves the obstacles in the spiritual realms causing us to gain ground.

Gaining and Breaking New Ground

Some of the ground we gain is territory that we previously possessed yet gave up to the enemy out of fear or complacency.  However, when we break new ground, we step into realms with Jesus Christ in which we have never been.  Although this might seem scary, it is exactly what we were meant to do.  God never intended for us to stay in the same place.  He intended for us to grow and mature spiritually.

Gaining Ground Maarten van den Heuval
Image Via Pexels by Maarten van den Heuval.

Breaking new ground requires leaving some things behind.  Bitterness, resentment, sexual sin, gossiping, and other sins cannot come to the new level God in which God wants to take you.  In order to be effective for the kingdom of God, we have to be free from distractions.  2 Timothy 2:4 states plainly that in order to be victorious over sin and the demonic realm, we have to avoid being entangled in sin and other distractions that keep our focus in the wrong place.

A New Thing

I believe that in the days we are living in, God wants His people to stand out.  When I say stand out, I do not mean that we should obnoxiously stand out and draw unnecessary attention to ourselves.  This type of behavior does not glorify Jesus. However, we can stand strongly and boldly and without apology for the truth of God’s word and His kingdom and do so in love.

Although God’s character does not change, He sometimes operates in what we perceive to be different ways.  These ways are not truly different of His person.  We simply have not known some of His ways because we have dwelt too long in the comfort zone.  Isaiah 43:19 declares the following:  “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

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If we are not careful, friends, we can fail to know the new thing God is doing.  That is why the question is asked “Shall you not know it?”  Don’t miss what God has for you because you are afraid to leave something behind.  Don’t allow fear of what people think to cause you to miss God’s best for you.

God is bringing His people to a new level, not to make us look wonderful, but to glorify Jesus Christ in all the earth.  He wants to use us to point people to salvation before the return of Jesus Christ.  Will you be part of the new thing God is doing?  Step out of your comfort zone and break new ground!

Love Is…

On my personal Facebook account, I belong to several bible study groups.  Mostly, I enjoy the posts in these groups, that is, when I have time to look at them.  Over the course of the weekend, some people in one group I belong to were arguing over the pagan origins of Easter and whether or not Christians should celebrate it.

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Image via Pexels by Eduardo Braga

I could detail every argument that was made in this post for you, but that would take too much time.  Instead, I am going to address what I believe to be an extremely important point.  The point is love.

Pride

At the root of most arguments is pride. As Christians, it is easy to take pride in our knowledge.  Of course, we need knowledge.  God’s people perish for lack of knowledge; however, when the display of knowledge supersedes love, then it is nothing more than pride.  In 1 Corinthians 13:4, the word of God states that love is not proud.

When I observe these arguments, I often am tempted to add a few words myself.  Sometimes, I have.  It is then that I must question my own motives.  Do I really want to help people who might be misguided, or do I want to appear “right”?  Of course, there are some issues that are worthy of debate, but most issues are a matter or pride.

Are Religious Celebrations a Sin?

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When I have studied the origins of Easter, I can not deny that there is a pagan influence in the original celebrations, yet, I can say that what I am celebrating is not the Easter Bunny, but the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In my own heart, I know what I am celebrating.  When I am thanking the Lord for His sacrifice and victory, the Easter Bunny does not cross my mind. However, my children participated in egg hunts when they were smaller.

If you believe your children should not participate in egg hunts, then pay heed to that personal conviction.  If you have no problem with it, that is good also.  In our pursuit of righteousness, we must remember that our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ, not our acts or deeds.  There are some matters in which we must be led by the Holy Spirit.  Any holiday or celebration could become an idol to some depending upon the condition of the heart.  What we must bear in mind is that it is the Lord who knows the heart.

Love is the Answer

If you truly believe fellow Christians are sinning by observing the death, burial, and resurrection on Easter weekend, then pray for them.  God is surely able to convict His people of wrongdoing.  Berating people and involving himself in heated arguments is not what Jesus would have done while on this Earth.

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Image via Pexels by Kristina Paukshtite.

If you truly believe celebrating Easter is just fine, then proceed.  The point is to walk in love and avoid needless arguing.  Read Romans 14.  Paul encouraged believers to take the high road of love with others and follow their own personal convictions for themselves.

Personally, I celebrate and give praise for the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ frequently, not just at this particular time of year.  I do this because He has changed my life.  He has changed me!  He has turned around impossible situations in my own life.  He has made me more than a conqueror.  No matter the time of the year, the love of Jesus is worth celebrating!

Truth and Deceit

I want to begin this post by apologizing that it has been so long since my last post.  With so many viruses going around, my husband, children, and I have taken turns with illnesses.  In addition, my children are both involved with school sports. I am not attempting to bombard you with too many of my life’s details, but I want my readers to know that my absence has not been from intentional neglect.

If we are all honest, we have all told what is known as bold-faced lies.  Many of us have omitted information that needed to be in our stories or statements, and, truthfully, many of us have added information that was not accurate to our stories and statements.  However, to be fair, we have omitted facts when relating events to people simply because all the details did not need to be told.  Those omissions are hardly a sin.  People do not want to know every detail of every story we tell.

Wisdom Versus Deceit

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Image via Pexels by Luis Quintero.

The bible is very clear about walking in lies and deceit versus the truth, but sometimes the line between simply using wisdom in what we tell and willfully operating in deceit can be a fine one and even a bit blurry.  Not only does the Bible tell us what is expected of us, but the Word of God also gives strategies for living out His instruction.  Often, we are not looking for those strategies, or, we do not realize that we have come upon something that is meant to serve as an application.

Romans 12:2 is a perfect example of such an application.  We are told that knowing God’s will is accomplished through being transformed by renewing our minds.  In other words, changing our thinking is a key to victory over sin.  The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is full of practical wisdom in every day situations.  The Holy Spirit is meant to guide us as well.  John 16:13 states that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.  Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that since He guides us into all truth that He will guide our words? Of course!

In other posts, I have explained ways to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  In a nutshell, prayer and time in Word bring about that sensitivity.  Applying what we learn and obeying God makes us even more sensitive to His voice.  Jesus told the disciples (Matthew 10:19) that they had no need to worry about what they would say when they were facing persecution.  They were assured that God would give them the words to say.

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1 Peter 3:15 states that we must sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts in order to know how to answer everyone about the hope we have.  The word sanctify means “set apart”.  We must set apart time with the Lord and esteem Him higher than all else in our lives.  In doing this, we will be guided as to how to answer people about various issues with truthfulness, yet, without too much information.

Truth Brings Freedom

There are times in my past in which I walked in deceit with those around me.  If I felt it was needed, I would manipulate details in a story to make myself appear favorable.  Mind you, I was a born-again believer at this time.  Trust me, the Holy Spirit convicted me.  I did something dangerous with that conviction.  I did not listen to it.  Eventually, I hardened to the sound of His voice.  A time of repentance had to be taken to soften what was hardened.

Since that time, I have found such freedom in being truthful in all matters.  Of course, I still seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because I tend to blurt out too much “truth”.  Ephesians 4:15 states that we must speak the truth in love.  Love coupled with truth brings just the right amount of information.  Giving too many details, or, speaking truth too harshly can do more harm than good.  Thank God for His word and for giving us His Spirit to guide us.

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As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we want to live with integrity.  Doing this allows others to see Christ in us.  It also maintains good relationships with others.  If you are in the habit of being deceitful, ask the Lord to help you today.  He will never fail to answer.

Rise and Shine

When I wake my children up in the mornings, I have been known to say, “Rise and shine.”  Of course, the phrase is nothing new.  For years, it has been used to get people out of the bed.

There is another wake-up call going out to the church in America.  When I reference the church, I am not talking about a building.  I am referring to people in America who have accepted Jesus as Savior.  The wake-up call that is going out is from the Holy Spirit warning the American church, and I will extend this as far the church in the Western part of the world, to get up and be at the ready.

The Night is Far Spent

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Romans 3:12-14 echo and confirm the call that the Holy Spirit is sending out to God’s people.  The first portion of verse 12 states that the night is far spent, meaning the time for sleeping is over.  The church, as a whole, has been asleep spiritually for quite some time.  While morals are rapidly decaying and America is sinking like the Titanic, God’s people are trying to find a way to blend in with the culture because they do not want to stand out.  This is a mistake.

There is not one scripture in the Bible in which we are commanded to blend in.  I am not suggesting that we make ourselves completely conspicuous by screaming at people with which we disagree, but I am declaring that God’s people need to lose the politically correct mentally, especially when that mentality is not biblically correct.

If you take issue with my words, then it is time for you to go to the Lord and ask Him to renew you.  Ask Him to light a fire in you that will make you bold as He wants you to be.  Boldness and love can go hand in hand.  You can disagree with wrong doing and remain in love.  1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.  In other words, love speaks out when someone needs help.  Our nation needs help!  We are divided over politics as immorality becomes more brazen.

The Day Is at Hand

After stating that the night is far spent, the passage goes on to say that the day is at hand.  The word “day” can have several meanings depending upon the context.  In the Bible, when the words “the day” is used, it is commonly referring to the coming of Christ or judgment.  Although no one knows the exact timing of the Lord’s return, there are signs we can look for.  The decaying morals of our culture is one of those signs.  There are many others, but I do not have time to go into those right now.

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What I find interesting is that “the day” refers to judgment in some cases.  There is a final judgment after the return of Christ, but often there are judgments that people and nations reap on the basis of what they have sown.  The day is at hand means that you and I no longer have time to fuss and argue over petty issues.  We need to spend that time in prayer and fasting for our nation and for the church in America.  We need revival.  We need to demonstrate the love of God.  People need to know that they have hope, and Jesus Christ alone is that hope. They will not know there is hope if you and I are too busy trying to blend in.  We have to stand out.  We need to rise and shine, taking our place in the body of Christ.

Wake up, people of God!  Wake up, church!  It is time to rise and shine.  It is time to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Finally, let that light shine.

On Guard

Throughout the Bible, we are instructed to be on guard, or, to guard various area of our lives.  Our hearts and minds are also to be guarded. If God’s word tells us not once, but several times, to be on guard, then it is important that we pay attention.

Guard Your Heart

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Proverbs 4:23 (CSB) states the following:  “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”  The word guard comes from the Hebrew word natsar meaning to observe, keep close, or serve as a watchman.  The only way to successfully guard your heart (spiritually speaking), which is said to be the source of life, is through checking everything that tries to enter.

At important events, particularly those involving government officials, a security guard is often posted at the entrance to check the guests for identification.  It is vital that the guards know who is entering the building because someone who wants to bring harm to a government official could be entering.

It is the same way with your heart.  As tedious as it may seem, you must check everything that comes to your mind because it will eventually make its way to your heart.  The thought must be identified by being lined up with what God’s word has to say about it.  If what is about to enter does not line up, it must be turned away.

Guard Your Mind

In order for the aforementioned security guard to prevent someone from harming a government official, the potential perpetrator must be stopped from entering the building.  Once he has entered, it is more difficult to stop him from doing harm.  It can be done, but often it is not without a cost.

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If you want to keep poison from entering your heart, you must guard what enters your mind.  Of course, you must set an extra guard at the door of your heart, but, if you watch what enters your mind first, entrance to your heart is highly unlikely.  Philippians 4:7 states that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

The key word is peace. If I am listening to the Holy Spirit, I will not have peace about something that is harmful. Neither will  you.  If a thought lines up with the word of God, peace will follow.  The peace God gives is not like anything else.  This peace will warn or confirm ahead of time before it is too late.  This type of peace does not make sense to others.  The only way to have the peace that guards is to sit at the feet of Jesus, so to speak, through prayer and study of the Word.  If you have no intimate relationship with Him, there is no true peace.

Guarding your heart and mind is just the beginning.  We have to guard our words, our relationships, and so much more.  This is a job for the Holy Spirit.  He is the look-out, but we must keep our focus on Jesus so we can know when we need to pay heed to a warning, or proceed on the path.

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I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful for God’s ways that direct and guide.  If we listen, they will keep us from unnecessary trials.

 

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, there is no time like the present.  Romans 10:9-10 states that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  With the heart, you believe resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth you confess, resulting in salvation.

Winner from the Drawing

The winner in the drawing for the NASB Ultrathin, Burgundy, Bonded Leather, Reference Bible is Lisa Ellis.  Congratulations, Lisa!  Bible Giveway 1

From time to time, I will be doing giveaways of Bibles, Bible studies, and other Christian resources so stay tuned.  Thank you for following “To Live is Christ”.  I hope to have a regular blog post later today.Bible Giveway 5

Bible Giveaway

Bible Giveway 1A few weeks ago, I noticed that I had a little over 100 followers on my blog.  Some might not consider that to be very many, but I am thankful for each and every one.  This blog has been in existence for about 8 months so I consider that to be a positive result.

The purpose of my blog is not to monetize, but it is to reach as many people as I can for the purpose of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and helping those who are hurting.  If my blog does that, it has been successful no matter how many followers I have.Bible Giveway 7

As a token of my appreciation for your support, I am doing a giveaway.  The Bible I am giving away is a New American Standard, Bonded Leather, Large Print, Ultrathin Reference Bible.  I am inserting pictures throughout this post.  The Bible has not been used and is in excellent condition.

To enter the giveaway simply comment below and share this blog post on either Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog.  In your comment, let me know that you are sharing this to your social media account or blog. If  you come across this post through social media, send me a private message through Facebook  (<<<< Click here) that you have shared this blog post to your own social media account, and I will enter your name in the drawing.

Bible Giveway 3I plan to draw a name on Wednesday, March 6.Bible Giveway 4