Last week during a class on church history, I explained to students that suffering is a blessing. This is because persecution makes us stronger (you can read more about the persecuted church in my post here). Another reason is when we are passive, false doctrine creeps in.
Few people illustrate this better than Origen
Origen was a teacher in the church who took his separation from sin, and study of Scripture very seriously. He had himself made a eunuch (could not have sex), slept on the hard floor, and fasted regularly. Origen also would study Scripture in as many as six of the original languages (septuagint, hebrew, and forms of Greek). He was a great influence on the future Bible translators.
At the same time false doctrine had crept into his teaching….
He held to a deeper “spiritual meaning” being in the text.
Origen believed every passage of Scripture referred in some way to Christ. He would then interpret them in the light of Christ. Unfortunately this led to an allegorzing of Scripture. This meant he rejected the clear teaching of a passage, and looked for the spiritual meaning, which could only be uncovered by his own personal study.
This is no serious false doctrine in itself, but this allegorizing obviously opened the door for that in the future. Men could now twist Scripture to meet their own ideas, or come to teach the “hidden truth” which is actually just their opinion.
False doctrine didn’t really take over the church till Constantine made Christianity popular…….
but it was already there.
Often we tend to think of false doctrine in serious terms of someone who rejects the deity of Christ. But it doesn’t start that way (Satan is far too wise for that). Instead it begins with a small thought that isn’t biblical, like Scritpure should not be interpreted literally. That thought then became a seed for heresy that threatened the church.
The application for us is very simple
EVERY BELIEF must be founded on Scripture!
Origen was a Godly man who took a stand for the Lord and studied His truth in an intense way. Yet a small idea did a great amount of damage to his life. If this can happen to someone like him, it could definitely happen to us!
I am thankful for the Godly testimony of Origen….
and I am more thankful for his reminder that false doctrine creeps in