“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And 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 Peter 2:1-3)
Why do you think nearly every book in the New Testament warns of false teachers and prophets? Why do you think we are given specific details about their characteristics, and why are the warnings about them so urgent? And why do so many Christians gloss over these passages and think false teachers are just from a long time ago?
Newsflash: false teachers are – and always have been – prevalent in our society, and the reason the Bible warns about them so consistently is because their deceptions are cunningly smooth. The whole reason it’s called “deception” is that you don’t realize you’re being deceived. And hence the reason we need to be aware of the qualities of both the truth and the lies.
The tide has turned in our culture in the past few decades. For awhile Christians could live comfortably alongside things they didn’t agree with and let them simmer on the back burner. But that time of “comfortable permissiveness” has reached its boiling point, and the culture will no longer allow us to be silent about them. And all the false teaching that Christians ignored or pushed to the side is now becoming the main feature of everything from education to the police force to Lego production.
It is time now for believers to know what they believe and with loving confidence come together as a resistance against the lies, offering a refuge in the truth as they do so.
There is an urgent call for Christians to stand up for the truth and resist with love the deadly lies and agendas permeating our culture. Just as there was a need for a resistance in Nazi Germany, Communist China, and Communist Russia, so we need a group of people refusing to follow harmful ideologies in our own country.
Do you think it’s a little extreme to compare the current culture of the United States with these horrific regimes of the past? It may not be there yet, but the events over the past several years, especially the last year, are slowly taking us down that path.
I recently read a book called Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher where he outlines the frightening similarities between what happened in totalitarian governments of the past and what’s happening in America. In it, he says this:
“Soft totalitarianism exploits decadent modern man’s preference for personal pleasure over principles, including political liberties. The public will support, or at least not oppose, the coming soft totalitarianism, not because it fears the imposition of cruel punishments but because it will be more or less satisfied by hedonistic comforts.” (Live Not by Lies, Rod Dreher)
Intertwined with those hedonistic comforts are the lies that accepting and promoting certain agendas is the only way to be loving and accepting. And if you don’t, you are shamed, punished, or rejected. But truly loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean you support everything they do, especially when their choices will lead them down a road of pain and hurt.
We must resist with the truth of God’s Word that says why these ideologies are wrong, because they will lead to sadness, depression, and deep unfulfillment. These wrong kinds of thinking go against God’s plan for humanity – his plan for human beings to grow, flourish, and be truly fulfilled.
This is why we resist – because we can’t bear to see lives slowly be destroyed and ruined by the lies of the enemy. If we love our dear ones, then we will want what’s best for them, which is a life lived according to the way God designed it:
- Embracing our maleness and femaleness, the genders that God gave us at birth
- Celibate when single
- Faithful for life to one spouse of the opposite gender when married
- Parenting children together as mother and father if God grants children to married couples
- Valuing and protecting life from the moment of conception
The world will try to tell you that you can find happiness in any variety of those details if you want. But it will only be temporary. Like 2 Peter 2:19 says, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”
If we do not resist – if we simply allow the lies to triumph while we sit silently by – we will be depriving people of the truth that can set them free from their enslavement to sin. We will be keeping them from knowing the truest happiness and the deepest joy. Which is why we also need to offer a refuge.
There has to be both – a resistance AND a refuge. If we just resist – if we shout loudly and angrily and hatefully, “You’re wrong!” there will be no change, no progress, no influence.
If we offer only a loving refuge while not speaking truth, though, we will be implicitly agreeing with the lies.
But when we offer truth and comfort to struggling souls, we give them the kind of refuge they’ve been longing for. We acknowledge the pain, hurt, and confusion they feel, and we lead them to a God who deeply understands. He understands so much that he sent his Son to die on the cross so that all our pain could be redeemed.
I know. I know the terrible loneliness and sadness of being single. I know the pleading with God to change my longings or my circumstances, and the ache that occurs when neither happens. And I also know that if I try to “fix them” outside of God’s design that I will get a brief rush of pleasure and an unending amount of emptiness and frustration.
This is clear in every great narrative that’s been written without a Godward perspective. Recently I read As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, and the bleakness of both books was stark. The characters in these books tried to fill all their broken and lonely gaps with marriage, sex, affairs, and one drink after another, but all in vain. At the end of the day, they were still hopeless.
Until our hungering, thirsting souls surrender to Christ’s work on the cross, we cannot be whole, we cannot be our “authentic” selves, we cannot find lasting joy. He takes all our low expectations of “happiness” and transforms them into the sweetest heights of fulfillment.
It doesn’t mean we’ll stop struggling. It doesn’t mean we’ll never be sad or lonely again. But he offers us the greatest refuge of all in himself for just such times. And the world can never offer this.
More Than Waving a Sign
You might wonder how, practically speaking, to accomplish this. How do we resist the lies and offer a refuge to hurting souls? First of all, not by waving signs in protest or angrily yelling at someone. I have not yet seen someone’s mind be changed by pushy behavior that screams, “I’m right, you’re wrong.”
Instead, try these things:
- Be gentle, yet firm in not caving to the demands of the society.
- Make your views known at appropriate times, which might mean not every single chance you get.
- Don’t agree to things that are biblically wrong just to “save face.”
- Pray for opportunities to be bold and share the Gospel with people, especially when they voice doubts about what’s going on in our culture.
- Be more willing to see unbelievers as “people who need Christ” than “people who are wrong on every popular issue.”
- Encourage other believers to stand firm in the truth, letting them know they’re not alone.
- Vote for people who will help protect life and the values that allow a society to function the way God intended it to.
- Be willing to engage in civil dialogue with people who truly want to know why you believe what you do – but if it turns into a mocking session, respectfully bow out. We have just as much right as they do to speak up for what we believe and also to remain silent if we feel the conversation will be unproductive.
This is just a brief list of things I’ve learned from the books and podcasts I’ve been devouring over the past year. There are so many other ways to do so, but the most important thing is to take a stand for God’s truth when you have the chance.
So let us resist. But let us resist for a reason – not to be “right,” but to draw people to the refuge that alone is God himself. This is what our culture needs so desperately. May we have the courage and conviction to show them the answer to their need.