Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 9, 1955

Aids To Religious Error

Charles A. Holt, Franklin, Tenn.

That religious error exists none can deny. Too many times does the New Testament warn against such. John speaks of "the spirit of truth" and "the spirit of error"

(1 John 4:6), and tells how to "know" the difference. In his second epistle Peter warned the Christians to whom he was writing about some "unlearned and unstable" souls wresting some of Paul's writings and other scriptures "unto their own destruction." Then he says, "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness."

(2 Peter 3:16-17) Error is the opposite of truth. Error cannot save — only the truth can do that. (John 8:32) In fact, error will cause people to be lost eternally unless they are saved from it. Every person to be saved from past sins and to be finally saved in heaven must be saved from "the error of his way." One in error needs to be convicted — changed or turned from it. James says even of "brethren," that they can be lost as a result of error, therefore, "Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from he error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20) James speaks of "the error of his way" and sins as the same. From such one must be saved or else death — eternal death — will be the result. The dire result of accepting and following error should cause everyone to beware.

That error is not pleasing to God must be conceded by all who believe the Bible. Error abounds as a result of the work of Satan. The main appeal of error is the fact that it is so broad and of great variety. Truth is narrow and limited. Error covers all the rest of the ground. Any deviation from truth and right is error. It is God's will that all men be saved from all error. He has done all possible, consistent with justice and man's own freedom, to save all men from such. We have been furnished the divine standard for measuring truth and error and it is perfect and complete. That standard is the New Testament. We are responsible if we are deceived into accepting error. It is my primary obligation in the interest of my own soul to find out the truth that saves. (John 17:17) Paul warns us to "prove (test, try) all things; hold fast that which is good (truth)!" (1 Thess. 5:21.) We must beware lest we are led away with the error of the wicked. There are several things that aid or help the promotion of religious error. Let us note one of these.


Perhaps the main reason for the rapid spread and firm hold of error is ignorance. Not ignorance of politics, business, sports, and such like; but just plain ignorance of the truth — the word of God. People know but little about the Bible and very few are really trying to learn. A knowledge of truth doesn't come as a result of owning a copy of the Bible. Neither does it come by mere chance and without effort. One must study if he ever learns the truth, and one must study the right thing — the New Testament.

The general run of people are mentally lazy. Very few people actually THINK concerning religious matters. Most are content to let the church, the pastor or their parents do their thinking for them. Being almost wholly unaware of the insidious workings and results of error, they are satisfied with their religion! They have never even given a passing thought to the possibility that they have been victims of "the error of the wicked." This is a great tragedy of our age. People in the religious world are almost wholly ignorant of God's Word. Many of them could not tell if Joshua is in the Old or New Testament. Some would not know but what the epistles were the wives of the apostles!

Two men were arguing about the Bible on the street one day. Finally one said to the other, "I'll give you five dollars if you can repeat the Lord's prayer." The other man said he would do it and he repeated: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." Then the first man said: "Well, I'll declare, I did not think you knew it. Here is your five dollars!" This is not such an extreme case. It just about represents the prevailing ignorance even among so-called religious people. Truly as Bro. N. B. Hardeman says, "Some people do not know whether Jesus Christ was crucified on Calvary or shot at Bunker Hill."

A simple Bible quiz will reveal the great ignorance of the masses — even in the church. In a nation-wide Gallup Poll, in which people were asked to name the first four books of the New Testament, only one person out of three could name all four; and over half the people were unable to name any of them. With such prevailing ignorance of God's Word is it any wonder that religious error has the hold upon the masses that it does today?

People who are ignorant of the truth are easily deceived and led into error. The basic reason for the growth of denominationalism is the ignorance of the people. Those who know the truth about the one church (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23; Acts 2:47) will not join some denomination. In these various institutions of men in vain do the people worship according to the doctrines of men. They do this because they do not know any better. For the most part they are honest and sincere people, just ignorant and mislead. They do not realize their eternal danger. To them it does not matter what one believes or does. Thus in ignorance they take the course of least resistance and go on toward endless destruction.

Ignorance of God's truth has always been a curse. God's ancient people were destroyed for the lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6) For the same reason thousands are being destroyed today. Many terrible deeds have been committed simply because of ignorance. Jesus was crucified because of it — willful ignorance at that. (Acts 3:17.) Those who were responsible should have and could have known better. Their ignorance did not excuse their action. Neither is ignorance any excuse today. "At the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30). There is no reason for people being in ignorance today.

Many today are as the Jews in Paul's day. They had a "zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness (the plan by which God makes men righteous), and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Rom. 10:2-3.)

In like manner many today have a zeal for God, but not directed by a knowledge of truth. Thus they have set up their own standards and have not submitted unto "the righteousness of God." In this they can not be saved. What a pity!

People cannot be saved without a knowledge of saving truth. (John 1:17; 14:6; 17:17) Neither can they remain acceptable to God without "growing in knowledge." (2 Peter 2:2; 3:18) People must be taught the truth. Jesus said, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and bath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John 6:45) Hence, He commissioned His disciples to "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) The eternal destiny of the world depends upon this work. It is a great task and a fearful responsibility. No one can be saved accidentally. It must be as a result of hearing and leaning the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The ignorance of people must be removed. This is done by imparting truth. Thus it behooves every person to "buy the truth and sell it not." Do not let ignorance destroy our souls. Saving knowledge is at our fingertips. Study God's word, love the truth, obey the truth and live by the truth. Only by so doing can we make heaven our home.