Apostasy — that’s when people turn away from the true faith. It’s when they are deceived by charismatic preachers who paint pretty pictures that are outside of the gospel truth. Follow them and they will lead to you to the path of destruction. It was predicted by Jesus that in the last days, people would fall for deceptive ways — turning away from what the Bible says. They either water-down the gospel to make everyone feel good or add to it. “Oh, it really doesn’t mean that,” they would say and then invent something that people want to hear. Jesus told us…
10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.Matthew 24:10-12 NLT
I witnessed this in both the Roman Catholic Church and in the Progressive Church. I am so glad the Holy Spirit led me to the truth! We have to make sure that everything we hear lines up with God’s Word! Let’s dig into Peter’s 2nd letter, chapter 2…
2 Peter 2
But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.
4 For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. 5 And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. 6 Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. 7 But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. 8 Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. 9 So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. 10 He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority.
These people are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings (evil angels) without so much as trembling. 11 But the angels, who are far greater in power and strength, do not dare to bring from the Lord a charge of blasphemy against those supernatural beings.
12 These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. 13 Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. 14 They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse. 15 They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. 16 But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice. [Read about Balaam in Numbers 22]
17 These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. 18 They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. 19 They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. 20 And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. 21 It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. 22 They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.”[Proverbs 26:11] And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”2 Peter 2 NLT (bold emphasis mine)
Points to Ponder…
- False teachers are everywhere! It’s up to us to discern who’s telling the truth and who’s lying by the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Moreover, believing a lie doesn’t make it so.
- God will judge the ungodly just like He did in Noah’s day as well as in Lot’s day. The Holy Spirit has the power to keep us away from temptation.
- Jesus freed us from the bondage of sin once and for all! Don’t be enticed by smooth-talk back into the bondage of sin.
Peter says that it’s better to have not known Jesus at all, then to have experienced the goodness of God and the freedom that He offers, yet choose to go back to the sins you were delivered from. You will be held more accountable by God, because you chose to reject Him after knowing Him intimately. That’s known as backsliding.
What happens when you have the Holy Spirit in your heart and you start sinning again? If you’re a born-again Christian, and you start straying from the truth, the Holy Spirit will start convicting you. That’s the guilty feeling you get in your gut when you know you’ve done something wrong. That happened to me for a while after I was baptized. I tried to keep living with one foot in the Kingdom and one foot in the world. It didn’t work. I was miserable. Every little thing you do that is wrong starts to bug you. Like cheating your boss out of 30 minutes of work. Or not returning the extra change the cashier gave you by accident. Or owing someone a dollar even when they said, “Don’t worry about it.” Every little thing.
Paul warned us in Acts…
24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
25 “And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. 26 I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault 27 for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.
28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders. 29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.”Acts 20:24-30 NLT
Go in the Right Direction
The wonderful thing is that Jesus WILL FORGIVE YOU! When you accept Jesus as your personal savior, and you repent of your sins, you are forgiven for past, present and future sins! Yes, the false teachers’ promises seem enticing, but remember, Jesus told us…
13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.Matthew 7:13-14 NLT
The promises of God are wonderful if we stick to the narrow road no matter how difficult it may be. If we study the Bible daily and rely on the Holy Spirit, we will be able to discern what’s a lie and what is the truth.
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…