These words are often thrown around and used towards the most “severe” of teachings and people, but there is more to these words than we often find.
Let’s read the following passage regarding the subject:
2nd PETER 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
This prophetic passage serves to both warn us and give us insight about the time we live in; Peter did not tell us “what heresy is” nor what “heresies there will be”- simply that they will be destructive and lead people into great evil (even denying the Lord Himself).
Translated from the Greek “Hairesis”- literally “choice” or “selection”- the word was not inherently evil in its secular usage, and even in the Bible it is mostly used to refer to a party or a philosophy with which a person identified themselves; “hairesis” is often translated, therefore, as “sect”. In Act luke applies it to the Sadducees and Pharisees (Luke 5:17, 15:5, 26:5)- Acts records “hairesis” as a term that non-believers used towards the church (Acts 24:5, 14, and 28:22). It is , however, most clear that Paul and Peter used this word to mean destructive elements within the church that created divisions through personal opinions and ideas that caused the brethren to stray from the pure Truth of Jesus Christ.
Paul condemned it in Galatians 5:20 as a work of the flesh (sometimes translated as “factions”), but Paul said that such people will not inherit the Kingdom of God (verse 21)! The overarching point here is that though the world is given to a wide array of personal opinions, the church is dealing with revelations from God through Jesus Christ regarding God-given truth; these truths are not subject to the interpretations of men, they are the absolutes of God. Therefore, you may see that a heretic is a man who believes whatever he wishes instead of accepting God’s truth.