Peter warns his readers about those who seek to insinuate themselves into their fellowship in order to do harm or to receive financial gain. It took the Church a few hundred years to formulate a structure around what it meant to be a Christian, a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. We know from historic records that the doctrine of the Trinity was first propagated by Tertullian in the third century and so for the Early Church, there was a great vulnerability to heresies and those who subtly introduced them were generally after pecuniary gain. Remember what kind of a world this was, when thee were hundreds of gods to choose from and the idea of Truth - as God-given and definitive - was a myth. When we became Christians we accepted Jesus Christ as the Way, the TRUTH and the Life, we accept a different truth from our own subjective one. A heretic was defined as someone who believed what he or she wished to believe, which inevitably would differ at times from the Truth of God. I think we can all accept that heresy and heretics are still alive and influential in the church, but how can we see it, so as to stand against it?
1. It denies God, the rule of God, the morality of God, the grace of God. This means that heresy can go either extreme way: the idea that we are free to do whatever we want even the most immoral thing - the church in Corinth fell for that; or that we are completely bound up with rules and regulations, making life impossible for all but the most leisured believer. 2. There is a plan behind the heresy and it is always greed, greed for power or money. The heretic will possess an insatiable desire for more and more power and money. 3. It is subtle and often propagated by intelligent, intellectuals. Cunningly prepared arguments are used to disguise it as Truth. Every teacher's teaching - obviously that includes me - must be tested by the words and presence of Jesus Christ Himself. Remember the mighty intellectual, Paul, and his commitment to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified alone. That may not have made for fancy, entertaining sermons, but it meant that Paul stuck solely to God's Truth. 4. It brings Christianity and Christian believers into disrepute. How many times do I hear from people that either they used to attend a church which had serious issues and caused them harm or that they know of Christians who behave appallingly. Check yourself: is your life bringing glory to God? 5. The ultimate end of false teaching is destruction. We read in Deuteronomy 13 v 1-5 of their sentence and their doom