Heresy among the saints of the church of Christ is not so much a question of rejection, or of introduction of strange doctrines, as selection.
The heretic simply selects the parts of the Holy Scriptures that he wants to emphasize and abandons the rest.
That is demonstrated by the etymology of the word “heresy” and the practice of the heretic. “Beware”, the editorial of a scribe of the 14th century warned its readers in the preface of a book. “Beware that you do not take a thing that you like, and leave another one: for this is the condition of a heretic. But take everything together.” The old scribe knew well how it is our tendency to take for us those parts of the truth that please us and not to take notice of the other parts. And that is heresy.
Almost every sect we know practices this art of selecting and abandoning. The sects that deny the existence of hell, for example, habitually emphasize everything in the Bible that seems to give some support to them and stifle or “interpret” all that deals with perpetual punishment.
But we would do well to look inside our own selves. The trend to heresy is not limited to sects. Heresy is part of our carnal nature. We who consider ourselves as pertaining to the assemblies which practise sound biblical doctrine can, without perceiving, deviate to a species of heresy.
We can unconsciously select for special attention those passages of the Bible that give us comfort and encourage us, and not think about those that reprimand and warn us. It is easy to fall in this trap, and we may find ourselves inside it before noticing it.
See, for example, “a well marked” Bible. At times it would be quite instructive to look inside a Bible like this and to see how its owner enhanced almost exclusively the passages that give him comfort or which support his doctrinal point of view. Habitually we like the verses with which we are comfortable, and we move away from those that disturb us
No doubt God in His longsuffering tolerates us as far as he can in our weak and unilateral treatment of the Holy Scriptures, but He must not be pleased with this kind of procedure. Our heavenly Father likes to see us develop and grow spiritually. He does not want us to limit ourselves to a diet of sweets. He gives us Isaiah 41 to stimulate us but He also gives us Matthew 23 and the book of Judas, and He expects us to read it all. Chapter 8 of Romans is one of the most jubilant passages in the entire Bible, and its popularity is well deserved; but we also need the second epistle of Peter, and we must not forget to read it.
When reading the epistles of Paul, we should not stop in the doctrinal portions, but should continue to read and to ponder on the stimulating exhortations that follow. We must not stop in Romans 11; the rest of the epistle is also important, and to be equitable, we must give the same attention to it as is given to first 10 chapters.
In summary, the health of our souls demands that we take the entire Bible the way it is, and let it do its work in us. We cannot give ourselves the luxury of selecting only some parts of something so important.