I met a brother yesterday who shared with me that he recently had to check his wife into a mental institution. I won’t recount all of the details of his testimony, but he told me that she became enamored with David C. Pack of the Restored Church of God (and Armstrongite Splinter group that I’ve had extensive dealings with in the past; in fact, they told me to “go away” for reasons unknown to me), who teaches all manner of heresy, chief of which is denial of the Trinity. But in addition to denying the Christian God, Pack is a first rate legalist, insisting that members of his church keep the Sabbath (i.e., worship Saturday); maintain OT dietary codes; and a host of other binding legal obligations.
This brother’s wife read Pack’s literature and took on this heavy yoke of bondage. Once she realized that she couldn’t live up to the standard and maintain every single legal obligation she began to literally go insane. He spoke of her depression (for not being able to live up to such standards) and paranoia (in thinking that everyone who tried to offer her loving correction from Scripture was out to get her and was being used of the devil). I was moved with compassion as he shared his situation with me and it is my sincere prayer that the Lord will deliver her from what appears to be clear demonic oppression.
I think this is a prime example of the importance of sound doctrine, which many of the epistles in the NT, especially the Pastoral Epistles, stress. Many people think that heresy isn’t really a big deal. They treat it as if it merely exists in the realm of ideas. But the Apostle Paul said that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…” (1 Tim. 4:1). Heretical doctrine is the work of deceitful spirits. Paul calls it “teachings of demons” (or “doctrines of devils” if you prefer the KJV). The point is that bad doctrine isn’t just another idea; it’s decidedly spiritual and can have real, practical, spiritual effects.