Sunday, August 22, 2010

2 Peter 2 – False Teachers

[Chapter 1 gave us a clear outline of growing in grace. But what if you don't grow? Is there a danger? Chapter 1 verse 9 says: "For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." The blind and shortsighted can't see when they are being led astray. They walk right into trouble, not realizing they are wandering from the truth of Christ and the apostles. Chapter two is their warning.]


 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. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

[There is nothing more offensive to God than the distortion of His Word (cf. Rev. 22:18-19). Peter uses strong language to describe those who were introducing heretical teachings.


False teachers secretly and deceptively enter the church, posing as pastors, teachers and evangelists. Posing as true shepherds they introduce destructive heresies. Destructive (apoleias) literally means "utter ruin" and speaks to the spiritual ruin of people. Out of their greed and for their gain, false teachers "exploit" people with their words to get them to follow in their destructive ways. God has long had a plan for those who teach false truths and lead people astray.]


How can we, as believers, identify false teachers? Where might we find false teachers in today's society?


4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9
then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.


[This passage is very similar to one in the Book of Jude leading some to dispute the authorship of 2 Peter. Both were covering the same subject, and used the same Old Testament Illustrations. What is likely is that one just borrowed from the other understanding that the warning had already been well said. It is also likely that Peter used a secretary to write 2 Peter since it dates to right before his death, probably while in prison in Rome.


He reminds us that God did not spare the angels that sinned. If angels were created above earthly people and God punished the fallen angels, He will without a doubt punish fallen people. He further gives us the reminder that in the days of Noah the ancient world was not spared, except for 8 people; and in the time of Lot, God also did not spare Sodom and Gomorrah despite Lot's pleas. In the days of Noah mankind was given to demonic violence; in the days of Lot there was a depraved perversion of the human race. Both times God acted in judgment. In the days of Noah He destroyed the polluted earth by the flood' in the days of Lot He destroyed the perverted cities with fire. It is important to note, however, that the righteous, Noah and Lot, were spared from God's wrath.]


12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13
and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.


[Peter gives us the first of two heresies brought in by these teachers. "Eyes full of adultery" points to sexual immorality. There are false teachers who claim the freedom to pursue their sexual desires, as though God is not concerned about sexual corruption. Dallas is home to one of the largest homosexual churches in the country. These churches call themselves "gay affirming" but to affirm an unholy lifestyle, you have to ignore the judgment and word of a Holy God. Not that homosexuals are the only ones with sexually permissive teachers, but is does seem appropriate the one of Peters examples of judgment was Sodom and Gomorrah, which God completely destroyed]


15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.


[If you remember the story of Balaam he was a prophet of God who was tempted to curse the army of Israel for money. So the second sign of a false teacher is the love of money. These are easy to find today as prosperity theology seems to be to dominant view among TV preachers. These promote the superstition that those with the most faith will obtain the most possessions. They demote the Maker of the Universe to the role of Aladdin's Genie, who is only there to grant them their wishes. Where is the purpose, will and sovereignty of God in prosperity theology? In Balaam's story is was in a donkey who crushed Balaam's leg then spoke as a man.


Peter calls these false teachers "wells without water" something that looks like it should be a source of life and refreshment, but in reality it's just a dry hole. He also calls them "clouds (or mist) on a tempest", those who only sow confusion making it hard to see the truth of God's word. How many times have you seen TV preachers caught using charitable donations for personal use? I remember Bob Tilton and Richard Roberts, and W.V. Grant, just to name a few. Peter says God has reserved for them "the blackness of darkness forever" as a judgment. You can see God takes the offense of false teachers very seriously.]


18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit,"and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."


[Who is harmed or entangled by these false teachers? Many times it is new Christians, those who have heard the gospel, but are confused and tempted by false teachers and fall back into sin.


Just as dogs and pigs can be washed and naturally return to their unclean living, Peter chooses these animals to describe the people who, hearing the wonderful news of Jesus Christ, return to a life of filth.


Jesus himself warned us of false teaching in Matt 24:4-5 stating, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. ]

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