2 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:1-7)
Heretical teachings entered the Church of Colossae. Not only Colossae, but also the church of Laodicea (v. 1). Paul struggled and prayed for people he had never met. We also hear various prayer requests. Some of them we have never met. However, we would like to be a person who prays like Paul, because we know the topic of prayer, and we do not think that it is unrelated.
In the case of Christian heresy, basically it is not a word used for multi-religions such as Buddhism, Shinto, and Islam. It’s not like that, because the outside is dressed like a Christian, at first glance we think it’s Christian, but it’s actually heresy that it’s not a real Christian. Rather than ignoring or fearing heretical teachings, Paul faces the problem head-on and confronts it with prayerful and concrete advice. There were two main battles in the early church. Outside it is persecution, inside it is a fight against heresy.
At this time, the heresies that confused the Colossian church were largely divided into Jewish and Greek philosophical ones. Judaism is that people cannot be saved by the gospel alone. Of course good deeds are important. But salvation is only grace. Faith only. The Greeks preached that salvation required gnosis, knowledge. Epaphras, who founded the Colossian church, was preaching the simple gospel of Jesus Christ that he had heard from Paul in the church of Colossae, but gradually, heretical teachings entered the church, misleading and confusing the brothers and sisters.
In response, the apostle Paul tells the church of Colossae that Jesus Christ is the true wisdom, true knowledge, and salvation in him (v. 3).
Heretical teachings are still present today in different forms. Sometimes people label other churches as heretics because their beliefs are different from theirs, but that should never happen. It’s just that there is an aspect of going too far in some areas, or there is a difference in interpretation of the Bible. Don’t use the word heresy to other people or other churches for that reason alone. We often hear the word cult, but heresy and cult are different. Heresy is a difference of teachings. On the other hand, cults are a matter of constitution, and they control people’s minds and dominate them. They tend to be anti-social in many cases. What is scary is the heresy that has become a cult.
There are three main heresies in modern Christianity: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and the now-controversial Old Unification Church. These three are not orthodox Christians. They misleads people with false teachings. The fact that the former Unification Church has entered the world of Japanese politics is a serious matter. False spirits have infiltrated not only the Japanese church but also politics.
We believe our church is orthodox. Why is it orthodox? What is the standard of faith that is accepted as orthodox Christianity?
I think there are two big things. ① Only the Bible is the canon. The Bible is the only standard of faith, doctrine, and life. There is a special divine authority for this alone. ② Believe in the “Trinity God”. God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, Holy Spirit. The Trinity is that all three are God, but there are not three Gods, but that these three are one. What is important here is that Jesus Christ is a perfect God and a perfect human being. Colossians describes who Jesus Christ is (1:15,17). I think they thought that knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ was the most important way to fight heresy.
Mrs S (Jehovah’s Witness and student) came to the church in Saitama where I was a pastor. After listening to the story, we decided to study the Bible together, so we invited a lady from our church to join us and studied the Bible together. The biggest challenge was changing her view of Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretical. They use the New World Translation, a Bible translated for their own convenience. It is completely different from our Bible. And they don’t believe in the Trinity. What do they teach about Jesus Christ? He is like Archangel Michael and teaches that he is inferior to Jehovah God. And their salvation requires works (evangelism). Similar to old Jewish heresy.
The hallmark of heresy is the demotion of the name of Jesus Christ. A characteristic of orthodox Christianity is the exaltation of the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God Himself. The first one. He is the one who made the universe. About 5 or 6 times with Mrs S. Although she studied the Bible, she never received the revelation that Jesus Christ is God. But I have crushed the false spirits in prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. And I prayed that the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of truth, would work to reveal Jesus Christ, who is God Himself, to her and show her vividly.
I asked Mrs S about the next study session and the last study session. “Do you believe in Jesus as your savior? Do you believe that Jesus is Almighty God and is your God?” Mrs S confessed, “I do.” Hallelujah! Holy Spirit worked to free her from her deceit and lead her to the truth. Then, in turn, we learned about water baptism, learned together about her church life & Christian life, and gave her water baptism. From darkness to light, from demonic rule to divine rule. She were at odds with God, but she was reconciled to God through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Watchtower also cites the Book of Mormon as its authoritative source, not the Bible. And they do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ (that Jesus is God). They do not recognize Jesus Christ as God. They call themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Therefore, it is difficult for ordinary people to discern. The devil’s strategy is the same today as it was in the past, trying to mislead people with plausible arguments (verse 4). The fight against heresy was an important work for the early church. Even today, the battle against heresy is intensifying. Because they bend the Scriptures and teach lies of their own making. The teachings are spread by SNS. When ordinary people try to find out about Christianity, there are many heresy YouTubes, blogs, etc. It is very difficult for ordinary people to judge correctly. Perhaps from now on, Christians who don’t belong to churches and Christians who worship only online will be even more likely to be deceived.
This is spiritual warfare. It’s a battle between truth and lies. Know that the devil is behind us. A deceiving spirit, an evil spirit, is at work. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit is working to lead us to the truth, Jesus Christ. Then, what is the teaching of the former Unification Church that is currently in question? First of all, they put their authority not on the Bible, but on the book called the Divine Principle. To them, Jesus Christ is a man, not God. And even though the guru is Korean, he is absolutely wrong in teaching that Sun Myung Moon is the second coming Christ. Sun Myung Moon died in 2012.
- Denying the Trinity and denying the divinity of Jesus Christ is the greatest feature of heresy. We exalt Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus is Almighty God. Jesus, the Almighty God, was born as a human being to save us. That’s why it’s amazing. God became man. This is the meaning of gospel andChristmas.
Recently, there is a heresy called “Almighty God” that originated in China. They deny the Trinity and tell China that Yang Xiangbin (this person is a woman) is Christ, and that Jesus was incarnated as a man the first time, but now Christ was incarnated as a woman in China. Also, what I often see on Twitter is the heresy “Shincheonji” that originated in Korea. They are preaching to Christians saying that you cannot be saved in the church you attend. It teaches that Guru Lee Man-hee is the Messiah.
The characteristics of a heretic are: (1) They declare themselves to be Christians, and they quote the Bible and mix in some of the real things. And they try to reassure that we are brothers and sisters. ②And in many cases, they initially hides the name of the religious group they belong to. ③ The purpose is to recruit Christians, infiltrate the church, take people, or take over the church. The damage has already been done.
In the end times, heretical teachings will spread further. Because the devil knows his time is short and works hard. Today, even Christians are trying to turn away from the truth. The devil does not appear “yes I am the devil”. He approaches like an angel of light. As it says in 2 Corinthians 11:14, even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light . It’s a tricky one, so we have to be careful.
Jesus taught. Many people will appear in my name, and they will deceive many, saying, ‘I am he’ (Mark 13:6). That is exactly what is happening today. Heresy is “similar but different”. Because they often quote the words of the Bible, at first glance we think they are Christians, but in fact they are completely different. So, in the last days of this world, in the age of deception, spiritual insight is called for.
How can heresy (false teaching) be detected?
- knowing the Bible. Knowing the Word of God, the truth, is more important than anything else.
- Listening to the Holy Spirit. Denying the work of the Holy Spirit makes it easier to deceive. Because the Holy Spirit guides us to the truth.
- It is to remain in the fellowship of the church. Don’t be alone and isolated. Alone sheep is most likely to be targeted by wolves.
- Be real, have a living faith. Try to mature in Jesus Christ each day. It’s not about learning about fakes, it’s about getting in touch with the real thing. And to walk in Christ Jesus (verse 6). The center of the Christian life is Jesus Christ.