As the writer of Hebrews concludes his letter with application of the doctrines and teachings presented in the first twelve chapters, he includes this verse:
“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them” (13:9).
Specifically, this is referring to going back to keeping the law and trusting in the man-made laws of Judaism for salvation. He warns them that only grace found in the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than all to truly save and forgive someone of their sin.
However, it got me (Darin) thinking: What other “do not be led away” or “beware” teachings might we needed reminded of in this day?
So, below is an attempt to consider 28 of those. Some probably could be combined. Some do best standing alone. Yet, may God grant us wisdom and grace not to be caught up in teachings contrary to his Word or that steal his glory—or both!
#1 - Beware of spiritual leaders who want to be in authority but not under authority. Any leader who cannot be told "no" is a danger to themselves and any under their care (3 John 9-11).
#2 – Beware of leaders who have no authentic accountability and of men who say they are accountable only to God and not to men. Leaders with unchecked authority are asking for failure, and will often harm those they "serve." Be authentic. Be accountable. Be wise (Gal. 6:10; James 5:18-19).
#3 - Beware of loving signs and wonders more than you love the truth. The Bible is mainly a record of what God has done, is doing, and will do. And the aim of every deed, every act, is: “Behold my glory! Know me. Know me!” Yet, Matthew 16:4: “’An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.’” And He left them and went away.”
#4 - Beware of those who teach theology without using the Bible. As David Helm has famously said: “Some preachers use the Bible the way a drunk uses a lamppost - more for support than for illumination.” If you don't need your Bible at church, you might not need that preacher, either. How one treats the Word of God shows much about what they really believe (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
#5 - Beware of human polls. A snake bites Paul, so they think he's a criminal. He doesn't fall dead, so they think he's a god (Acts 28). May we leave our opinions at home, forget the polls, hit the delete button on our personal preferences, and cling only to the word of God.
#6 - Beware of churches that pull apart head & heart, doctrine & affection, & doxology & orthodoxy. Biblical churches never do. Right thinking is critical for right living. Sound doctrine is crucial for spiritual devotion (Heb. 13:9).
#7 - Beware of expecting too much—now. Abraham never possessed more of his inheritance than a grave. Much false teaching begins with the assumption that God means to give us our best life now instead of our best life later. In fact, “Your Best Life Now” is pretty much the exact opposite of what Jesus envisions in John 12:25. Without Christ, this life on earth is the best it'll ever get. But with Christ, your best life isn't now, it's still to come
#8- Beware of those pastors who spend all their time tickling your ears with stories and jokes than preaching God's Word (2 Tim. 4:1-5). The Bible is not a feather to tickle ears. It is a sharp two-edged sword that cuts to the core of our being (Heb. 4:12).
#9 - Beware a regular spirit of criticism toward your church or the church in general (Rom. 12:3; Matthew 7:1-5). There is a particular kind of spiritual pride that masquerade as righteousness when we constantly find fault in Jesus’ church. The church is always full of broken people & is yet still beautiful—because it is God’s (1 Tim. 3:15)!
#10 - Beware of asking questions for which you do not want a serious answer. “’Why does Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:16-17). The good news: Wherever we are, however old we are, it’s not too late to learn, to change, or to set out on a different journey. It’s not too late to get serious about Jesus.
#11 - Beware of commending Christianity mainly for its this-life benefits. “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Three truths Christians believe that should be a constant source or happiness: (1) Our bad things will turn out for good (Rom 8:28). (2) The good things we have can never be taken away from us (Rom 8:29-31; 37-39); and (3) The best things are yet to come (Rom 8:18-21).
#12 - Beware the mindset that asks “what is the pathway of least pain for me?” instead of asking “what is the pathway of greatest glory for God (Psalm 119:71)?” "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Nothing fuller than full. Nothing longer than forevermore. Therefore, no better path than the path to God--no matter how hard.
#13 - Beware of those who seem to know all the secret mysteries of God and leave no room for those mysteries about which God's Word is silent. There are some things God does not reveal because we don't need know them in order to obey him (Deut. 29:29).
#14 - Beware the idol of respectability. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
#15 - Beware of the “American lure.” "Beware lest you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand have got me this wealth" (Deut. 8:17).
#16 - Beware of loving the wrong things, over-loving good things, and under-loving the best things. We can have such foolish desires and make such foolish choices...but God's wisdom never fails (James 1:5).
#17 - Beware of any sermon, spiritual discipline, or discipleship course that doesn't make Jesus the hero, the gospel essential, & grace triumphant. Sometimes Sunday School answers are the right answers. The Bible is all about Jesus. Jesus believed the Bible was all true, all edifying, and all important. And what sets him apart from us is that he also believed it was all about him (1 Cor. 2).
#18 - Beware of any sermon that doesn't end with Jesus, or any sermon application that doesn't require Jesus. Just because there's a church on every corner doesn't mean the gospel is preached on every corner. Just because a man talks about Jesus doesn't mean he's preaching Christ and him crucified. Just because a man uses a Bible in a sermon doesn't mean he's preaching the word. Examples: Legalism/Moralism = “Great is my faithfulness” … Pharisaism = “Your faithfulness is a joke” … The Gospel = “Great is Jesus' faithfulness.”
#19 - Beware of becoming what you despise in others. "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" (Psalm 139:23). Risky, but for the blood of our perfect Savior!
#20 - Beware of those who use God's Name for political gain. Jesus is neither a Republican or Democrat. His Kingdom is not of this world. “God’s name is blasphemed...because of you” (Rom. 2:24).
#21 - Beware: Satan's lies sound most appealing when we're suffering. The matter should be settled in our hearts that God is for us and delights to do us good (Jer. 32:41). But we must remember that the “good” is not a life of uninterrupted prosperity or the absence of trials and suffering. The “good” is greater conformity to Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).
#22 - Beware of pastors who are addicted to "the glitter of praise, he will be injurious both to himself and to others, desiring through his love of applause to speak more for the sake of approval from his audience, than for their benefit." - John Chrysostom (On the Priesthood, book 5). If you seek the praise of men, you forfeit the reward of God (Matthew 6:1). This is not a good exchange.
#23 - Beware: platforms and power often endanger the spiritual sobriety of leaders and those under their care. "When...Rehoboam was established, and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him” (2 Chronicles 12:1). The church is the “platform” for Jesus, not the pastor. Jesus, not the pastor, is the “brand” for the church. May we pray: “Father, help us care more about character than platform experience repentance, not worldly regret, pursue substantive changes, not ‘damage control,’ reject pastor ‘swagger’ and look for true humility, and, finally, walk in the light as you are in the light.”
#24 - Beware of voices that mistake this bitter Providence for something less than God’s faith-refining fire.
"O Lord, you have tried us as silver. You brought us into the net... We went through fire and water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance” (Psalm 66:10-12).
#25 - Beware of drifting in your spiritual life. Hymenaeus and Philetus once sat in leader meetings. Phygelus and Hermogenes once ministered with Paul. Demas once loved the world to come. Philetus once spoke words of truth. Judas heard all Jesus' sermons. We swim toward Christ, or we drift toward the falls. “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1)
#26 - Beware of anyone who presents Jesus as a way of acquiring something else—Jesus is the supreme treasure. Judas saw Jesus as a means of acquiring money rather than seeing money as a means of worshipping Jesus (John 12:1-8). Prosperity Gospel pimps are guilty of the same sin.
#27 - Beware of being led astray by talk of "the Spirit." If Christ is not explicitly exalted, it is not Christian (John 16:14).
#28 – Beware of trusting in and not praying for your spiritual heroes. Luke records: "...even Barnabas was led astray” (Galatians 2:13). Remember to pray for your spiritual heroes in the faith. No one is above being deceived by the tempter's craftiness. Let us all remain watchful. We are almost home, but Satan isn't letting up.