First, Scripture tells us that the teachers of false doctrines are more clever and cunning than believers: They have a way of thinking that makes them more politically astute, more street smart, more imaginative in their machinations, and more willing to act in sinful ways in order to achieve their goals. Stealing, lying, distortions of the truth, intentional misleading, usurping, undermining, and bribery are fine so long as they “advance the Kingdom.”
- “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
Second, heretics introduce false ideas stealthily: They appear to be loyal, but are not; and the ideas they teach, at first, appear to be true but are not. By their smooth words, they mislead many into thinking that they are truthful and the ideas they advance are Biblical.
- “But this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Galatians 2:4).
- “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation...” (Jude 4).
Third, heretics frequently use force to persecute Christians. Force works; it silences the opposition. Intimidation, bullying, and threats are effective too. That is why heretics and tyrants use it.
Fourth, and most important, those who believe the truth tend to be slow to recognize error and even slower to take the actions necessary to defend the truth. They LACK both DISCERNMENT and COURAGE. This is the crucial matter. Christians cannot help the fact that deceivers are more shrewd than they are, or that false brethren do things subtly and secretively. But Christians CAN HELP how they understand and RESPOND TO doctrinal subversion. Their lack of discernment stems from a lack of knowledge of Scripture, and their lack of courage comes from a lack of belief in the promises of Scripture.
We must "CONTEND FOR THE FAITH..." (Jude v.3).