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Not To Be Taken

Searching through a box of old bottles in an antique shop one day, my wife and I came upon some bottles which not only looked old, but were cast in different shapes and sizes with embossed messages and raised ribbing on the sides.  Some of the bottles were hexagon; others were octagon, while others were flat or triangular.

The sales lady told us poison bottles by law were altered in appearance to safe guard the public in both England and in the United States from 1870 to 1930.  These bottles were made with labels such as, “not to be taken internally” or simply “not to be taken.”

The poison bottles came in different colors such as green, cobalt, black or amber.  When someone in the 1800’s went to a medicine cabinet and looked for a bottle of medicine by candle light they were apt to innocently pick up a poison bottle, sincerely mistaking it for a bottle of medicine.

Due to these accidental poisonings, both the United Kingdom and the United States governments passed laws to protect the general public from being poisoned by mistakenly picking up and drinking from poison bottles.

The members of the Church of Christ have a similar problem today, because many are swallowing the poison of false teaching, thinking that the teachings are sound and healthy to the soul.  The devil has packaged the poison of false teaching in the disguise of sincere teaching.

How can we insure the innocent recognize false teachers and avoid swallowing the false teaching that sincerely sounds like the truth of the gospel?  What can scripturally be done to warn the innocent so they can recognize a false teacher and keep from swallowing false doctrine?

Christians should understand that False Teachers will never wear a sign around their neck which warns the innocent of their poisonous doctrines, “Not to be taken” or “Not to be swallowed as being the truth of the gospel.”

It should be understood that every false teacher is sincere about what they are teaching regardless of why they are teaching their false understanding of the scriptures.    19th century people sincerely believed they were drinking from a medicine bottle, not from a bottle of poison!  Unless we listen to doctrine in the light of God’s word, we will be spiritually poisoned regardless of our sincerity or the sincerity of the false teacher.  1 Corinthians 4:6

Please read and consider 2 Peter 2:1-3, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you,”   We need to heed this warning today, false teachers are among the people, that is to say, they are among New Testament Christians in the church.   Acts 20:27-30

We hear sincere and well meaning preachers today who are undermining Peter’s warning in 2 Peter 2:1-2, when they assert the false argument that  a person who “sincerely” teaches false doctrine should not be marked as a “false teacher.”

When preachers and brethren argue such things, it is the same as arguing there is no need to mark bottles of poison, because the poison will not hurt the person drinking it as long as those drinking sincerely believe it is medicine they are swallowing.

We have observed the fact that governments recognized the danger of people swallowing something they mistakenly thought was medicine.  Governments mandated that bottles of poison be clearly marked so people could recognize the difference.  Why would any preacher teach that a “false teacher” should not be marked as a false teacher unless it can be proven that they are teaching false doctrine insincerely?

No matter how sincere in heart a person may or may not be about what they are teaching as the truth, the affect will be the same in the poisoning of precious souls.  Teaching something which is not the truth of the gospel will poison a soul, regardless of the sincerity of the one doing the false teaching.

Bottles containing poison today are clearly marked based upon the assumption that a person will be able to read and understand the warnings printed on the bottle.  Little children are taught to recognize the symbol that looks like something inside this bottle is bad for you.

Christians should have the Biblical “common sense” to understand the scriptural teaching that false teachers should be marked as teaching false doctrine regardless of how sincerely they may be teaching it.

But someone will argue we shouldn’t be judgmental, but rather mark the “false doctrine” instead of marking the people who teach the “false doctrine!”

Peter never taught such a concept in 2 Peter 2:1-2, if he had then the scriptures would have looked like this, “false prophesies were among the people, just as false doctrines will be among you.”   What Peter taught by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you,”

How can the children of God be warned to look out for false teachers, if preachers are teaching them it is wrong to mark a “sincere” false teacher as being a “false teacher”?   Please protect your Brethren today!  Do not shun declaring the whole counsel of God when marking a false teacher, regardless of their sincerity in teaching what is false.  Acts 20:26-27

Will you allow yourself to be convinced that “sincere” false teachers should not be marked? Be careful that you know exactly what you are swallowing!