by Mike Ratliff
 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18 ESV)
Even though I have been in a forced sabbatical from writing and posting since September due to relocating from Kansas to Oklahoma, that has not kept me from following what has been going on at CRN and with the continuing growing apostasy in the visible church. I still got to follow the discussion with the rest of the CRN discernment team. It has been very frustrating over the last several weeks not being able to “draw the sword,” so to speak. However, on the positive side, not being actively involved in the fight has enabled me to view what is going on from a unique perspective.
Not only did I keep up with those discussions, I also kept up with Dr. James White’s debates on his The Dividing Line podcasts as well as listening to Dr. Albert Mohler’s “The Briefing” each morning. Now, while I do not agree with Dr. Mohler on everything pertaining to “cultural Christianity” nor would I listen to what the liberal media have to say like he does, his analysis of all that is quite insightful to those with discernment.
What is the difference between apostasy and heresy? We need to know this since the visible church is rife with both in our time. The Greek root word that is translated as “heresy” in the New Testament is αἵρεσις or hairesis, “religious party, false teaching, division.” The ESV translates it as “party” in Acts 5:17 referring to the Sadducees. Heresy is a choice, a deliberate decision to “seize” upon a particular teaching that is not orthodox. The Sadducees, for example, denied the doctrine of resurrection. In Acts 15:5 we have the sect or party of the Judaizers. What did they teach? They taught salvation by works. God used this “heresy” to prompt the Jerusalem Council to define the true principle of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
There has always been the plague of false teaching and teachers. This will only grow worse until our Lord returns. From 2 Peter 2:1 we learn that…[ 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.] These false teachers operate according to three principles. They are deceitful, that is, they smuggle in their false teachings so that those with discernment are not aware of what they are doing. Their teaching is degrading, that is, they deny the Lord and his work in one way or another. This blasphemes him. Their false teaching is destructive. It is damnable in that it destroys right doctrine and the lives of its victims. It also causes the destruction of it s propagators.
Apostasy is different. When you think of apostasy, think of the cults. They profess to be Christian, but their doctrines actually deny the faith. For example, I have not seen a cult yet that does not in one way or another attack the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Any denial of the deity of Christ or salvation by grace, et cetera, would also mark a group as a cult. What am I saying? These are apostates and apostates are not Christians.
On the other hand, heresy is somewhat broader and can be committed by a true Christian. It occurs while holding to the foundational doctrines of Scripture, but then he or she deviates on a particular doctrine. One historical example would be the Christian Crusades, which were based on the heretical teaching that Christians can use force against unbelievers. Others teach that God demands poverty from Christians while still others teach the opposite “prosperity teaching,” that God returns our “investment” and makes us rich.
The “seeker-sensitive” movement appeals to people’s “felt-needs” to lure them into the church. This is heresy because the New Testament nowhere teaches us to do this. The spirit of “tolerance” in the church today is heretical because, as God’s word clearly says, God commands that we discern truth from error and strongly condemn false teaching in no uncertain terms.
The title of this post comes from a quote of from Puritan John Trapp who said, “Truth seldom goes without a scratched face.” My brethren, as I have said earlier, I have been listening to debates on The Dividing Line and such and many of those who apostatize then turn around and attack Christianity from the platform of their cultic or new apostate religion say that one of the main reasons they abandoned Orthodox Christianity was that, “In their view” God would never put forth his truth (the authoritative Word of God, which if infallible, et cetera) the way it is, that is, with a scratched face.
However, we who belong to the Lord, bought by him, must understand that we do have his truth, but in this life, we are in a battle to stand firm against the enemy and his seed who seek to destroy us and it. It is through this fight that God perfects us and builds our faith. This world is not our home. We are just passing through.
Soli Deo Gloria!