“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Timothy 4:1)
“But let your words be in agreement with true and right teaching.” (Titus 2:1)
Doctrine 1: The Doctrine of Household Salvation
The doctine I am addressing is most often referred to as “Household Salvation.” And it goes something like this: If you become a Christian, then God promises to save your entire family. It is based entirely on one isolated passage of Scripture, namely Acts 16:31-33:
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household. And they spoke the Word of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his household. And taking them in that hour of the night, he washed from their stripes. And he was baptized, he and all his [household], immediately.” (Acts 16:31-33)
Now if you wanted to take this passage out of its proper context, you could easily teach that the Bible teaches that if you, as a Christian believer, begin to trust in the Lord, then God promises that your entire family will also become believers. But what does the whole counsel of God (i.e. the whole Bible) say? Remember, the Bible does not contradict itself. If I can find even one verse that seems to go contrary to this teaching, then we need to find out what the Bible is really saying. I would then turn your attention to 1 Corinthians 7:15-17, in which the apostle Paul argues that it is permissible for a man or wife to divorce their unbelieving spouse (and hence be able to remarry without being guilty) if their unbelieving spouse decides to permanently leave them (“permanently leave” in this case I think may be safely defined as having moved in with another person, rather than taking temporary “break” from the relationship).
“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)
Now when Paul writes, “is not under bondage” in the above verse, he means that, if your unbelieving partner has permanently left you, you are not expected (by God) to have to wait for that person to someday break off their relationship with their present partner and then return to you. Paul states that, in such cases, “God hath called us to peace.” In other words, the person is free to remarry whomever they choose — only, as the larger context makes clear, “in the Lord” (the person must be a believer, e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:39).
But get this: Paul then goes on to write — as though trying to protect the conscience of the man or woman whose unbelieving spouse has permanently left them — the following sober words (which contrast greatly the “Household Salvation” doctrine):
“For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Corinthian 7:16)
What is God saying in this verse? He is saying simply this: Woman, or man, if your unbelieving spouse has permanently walked out on you and joined him/herself together with another person, you are “free indeed” to legally sever that relationship (through divorce) and then remarry whomever you want. In fact, don’t worry (as you may be tempted) that by marrying someone else you will forever deny the right of your former unbelieving spouse to come to know the Lord. After all, Paul is saying, do you even know whether or not you will be able to influence your former unbelieving spouse to put his or her faith in the Lord? The answer is an obvious “no”.
“Woman, man, you have no clue as to whether or not you will be able to win your spouse over to the Lord.” That is what this passage is saying. If he or she has permanently walked out on you, you are free indeed to legally divorce that person and then marry whomever you choose (a Christian, that is). The matter is now in God’s hands.
This, then, contrasts greatly with the (false) doctrine of “Household Salvation”. Don’t you believe it!