The Greatest Danger to Christianity Comes From Within
“Danger, Will Robinson”. This was a phrase that the robot on the original Lost in Space television show would say when danger was eminent. The robot could always sense when something wasn’t right. Wouldn’t that be great if all Christians had this kind of sense that could always warn them of some spiritual danger?
The truth is that throughout history most of the greatest danger to Christianity being destroyed or altered to the point of being unrecognizable has come from within the faith. I cite three examples from Scripture.
The first is the danger of the Gnostics. The Gnostics were a Greek philosophy that believed all natural matter was evil and that spirit was the only good reality. When many Gnostics heard about Jesus, in time they thought he was the ultimate spiritual reality. While we believers would agree with that last statement, the Gnostics defined Jesus very differently. They taught that Jesus never had a real body, but when we saw him on planet earth, it was a spirit made to look like a body.
The book of 1 John refutes this heresy by stating right up front in verse 1, “…We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands…” John goes on to say in this epistle how Jesus was fully human, thereby challenging Gnostic teaching in who Jesus was and to show believers the truth about Him.
The second danger was from a group that Paul called “the super apostles”, found in 2 Corinthians. Based on Paul’s defense of his ministry, it seems that the “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5 and 12:11) are false teachers claiming to be superior to Paul. Paul names them “super-apostles” in facetious irony. Compared to them, Paul looks like a very meager apostle. It is as if Paul is saying, “If I am an apostle, then they must be ‘super-apostles’—look at how much more powerful and successful they are than I am!” Paul is humble, timid, physically persecuted, self-supporting, unskilled, and physically ailing. The super-apostles were just the opposite—bold, talented, respected, healthy—and more than willing to take money from the Corinthians.
In essence Paul is saying that the “super apostles” were living a lifestyle diametrically opposed to Jesus teaching. When anything is diametrically opposed to Christian teaching, then the danger sign needs to be posted.
A third danger and maybe the most problematic of all are regarding the Judaizers. These “Christians” were Jewish believers who embraced the Christian faith, but then taught that all Gentiles (non Jews) who became Christians had to first become Jewish (follow the Law of the Old Testament) and then could make the transition into the faith. Paul argued that Gentiles become Christians, just like Jews, by trusting in Jesus by faith. In other words you didn’t have to jump through hoops in order to qualify being a true believer.
This was such a point of contention that Paul begins his epistle in Galatians, by telling these Gentile believers in 1:6-7, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.”
This disagreement was so heated and so divisive that an entire council was convened at Jerusalem by the church leadership to solve the problem. Ultimately the church sided with Paul and said that salvation, or becoming a Christian, was solely on the basis of trusting Christ, period! You can read the full account in Acts 15.
So where does that leave us in today’s Christian climate? Believers who embrace many of the conspiracy theories that have been espoused in the last few years, and then judge the rest of us because we are not so enlightened, have become the “super apostles” of this age. Danger, Danger, Christians!
Believers who tell us to vote for certain people and rail against all aspects of the culture, and as a result tell us that if we don’t agree with them, then we have missed the mark. Sounds a lot like the spirit of the Judaizers, who say that committing our lives to Christ isn’t enough. Danger, Danger, Christians!
Other believers who get prophetic words from noted prophets and say this is truth, but never check out if those words line up with Scripture, they are like the Gnostics in that they hyper spiritualize everything. If prophet so and so is getting those words, then that is truly the Holy Spirit. Well, my friends the Holy Spirit does share spiritual insights to us believers, but his “voice” must line up with the written word. Otherwise this “pure spirit” is just another false representation of the truth. Danger, Danger, Christians!
Learn the lessons of Christian history. False voices have abounded throughout the centuries. There is a standard of truth and orthodoxy, but one must be committed to aggressively search out Scriptural truth and have a truly open heart when asking the Holy Spirit to show what is accurate and what is false. Because if we don’t heed the danger signs, then we will plunge into darkness. A frightening thought!