Summary: The greatest struggle facing the church is not danger from without but rot from within. 2 Peter makes plain what a foe within looks like and where it is headed.

A Pig is Still a Pig.

2 Peter 2:1-22, part two.

In the book of 2 Peter, the greatest problem the church faces is not danger from without, but rot from within.

Have you ever picked up an apple and taken a big bite out of it just to discover that it is rotten or worm infested? I remember as I grew up there was a big apple tree in our front yard and it often produced a full crop of apples. My dad didn’t spray the trees for insects and when the apples were finally red and ripe for the picking, I remember how hard it was to find a good one! Most of them had worms or rotten spots clearly visible. One time though, I thought I had found a really perfect one. There were no holes in it that I could find anywhere to give away what I was about to bite into. This was the perfect deception! I took a great big bite out of it and before my teeth connected I realized that I had a mouth full of rotten worm infested yuck! I can assure you, it didn’t stay in there long. Then I discovered the secret. Someone let me in on how these apples got so rotten. The worms don’t bore in from the outside! They lay their eggs on the blossoms before the apple even begins to form! Then, when they hatch they’re already inside the apple, and they’ve got a smorgasbord of food from which they eat their way into adulthood. Finally, they eat their way out of the apple and that’s where the wormholes come from! They creep in unnoticed and secretly bring about destructive rottenness.

Imagine a church like that! The early church was still in bloom when the enemy, Satan laid his deceptive eggs of destruction. By the time Peter wrote this letter, there were already rotten signs in many of the churches where these false teachers and false prophets were doing their dirty work.

Jesus had already warned them of this. In Matthew 13 Jesus gives several parables on the kingdom. The parable of the wheat and the tares is especially insightful regarding the message of 2 Peter. Look with me at verses 24-30 and then at the explanation that Jesus gives the disciples in verses 34-43. Jesus helps us to understand that even the church suffers from the enemy’s work, but we can rest assured that a day of reckoning is coming.

In this parable Jesus points out that among the sons of the kingdom there will be servants of the enemy. God will allow this to continue until the time of harvest. At that time, those who are faithful will be gathered into glory and those that are working for the enemy will be cast into outer darkness. Now let me ask a simple question… Who is on the Lord’s side here today? You know if you are walking with Jesus or not, don’t you…

You know in your heart whether or not you are giving your time and energy to the service of the Lord or whether you are wasting your time and energy on your own selfish desires. You know if you are committed to the cause of the King of heaven or just showing up for services to hitch a religious ride for an hour or so a week. You know! God knows, and you know. Don’t you? You know if you are a worm in the apple or a seed. Worms in the apples serve themselves and devour the fruit for their personal pleasures. Seeds in the apple mature and hold the life of the next orchard. Which one are you? You know, don’t you. God knows too. You may fool me and the elders and the rest of us, but God knows.

How do you distinguish a seed sowing Christian from a worm? 2 Peter gives us a list of characteristics to help us. By the way, one of the gracious things about the people of God is that we put up with so much. Sometimes too much. But that’s another lesson.

Look with me at the characteristics of the worms that infest the apple of God’s eye. We looked at some of these last week, but this is the list from 2 Peter 2.

1. They secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them. 1

2. They influence others to follow their ways and cause the way of truth to be spoken against. 2

3. They are motivated by covetousness or greed and the exploit the faithful with deceptive words. 3

4. Some of them openly walk in worldly lusts and despise authority. 10

5. Instead of seeking God’s will they are presumptuous; self-willed instead of spirit-filled or led, they are willing to say things against spiritual authorities. 10

6. They mix and mingle among the people of God carousing in their deceptions. 13

7. They speak evil of things they do not understand. 12

8. They love the wages of unrighteousness. 15

9. They talk big and allure others through the lusts of the flesh and lewdness. 18

10. They promise freedom while they themselves are slaves. 19

Finally, Peter tells us the shocking condition of their souls. It looks like they have actually obeyed the gospel and escaped for a while the evils of the world. They have a knowledge of the Lord that has saved them… for a while. But now they are entangled again. And Peter says these sobering words: They are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. Did you hear that? They are worse off now that they have come to Christ and turned away than if they had never come to him in the first place! How can you be worse off than someone who is going to hell because they never knew Christ? Only in this way, these who turn away in this way, can’t seem to get back… ever. They have become like dogs or pigs who do what they do because of what they are. Like worms in the apple, they make it rot because that’s what worms do. Hebrews 6 gives us a haunting warning:

4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,

5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,

6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.

This tells me that we who have the glorious advantage of hearing the message of the gospel over and over and especially we who have named the name of Jesus Christ in baptism and have received his glorious forgiving grace… We had better remain true!

I’ve seen this happen to people. I’ve seen people come to Christ and obey the gospel and then turn away and become worse off than they were before. Have you ever seen this?

We want to believe that there is hope. We want to hold on to the possibility for repentance for everyone. And the truth is, none of us knows when that line of no return is crossed. We are not the judge. Only God is and only God knows. And certainly any prodigal son that comes home is welcomed with open arms. Jesus seeks out the lost sheep to bring them back into the fold. Peter is not talking about lost sheep here. He’s talking about a different sort. He’s describing wolves, not sheep. These are dogs and pigs, not weak Christians.

The Bible is clear. There are some who will arise from within who are dangerous destructive deliberately deceptive demonic evil workers. There is a different kind of treatment for those that do such things. Our elders, as shepherds must uncover them, isolate them, and discipline them. If anyone will not receive discipline, they are dangerous to the rest of us. Just as anyone who will not submit to the leadership of a coach can’t be good for the team, anyone who undermines the leadership of the elders of a church can’t be good for that church. Even an elder that will not submit to their fellow elders is a danger to the church. That’s why Paul said, “Keep watch of yourselves and the flock of which God has made you overseers.” Acts 20:28

Peter had no qualms about describing their end for us. Look with me at these descriptions:

1. They bring on themselves swift destruction 1

2. Their destruction does not slumber 3

3. The Lord reserves them under punishment for the day of judgment 9

4. Like brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed these will utterly perish in their own corruption. 12

5. They are accursed children 14

6. For whom blackest darkness is reserved forever 17

7. They are slaves of corruption 19

8. Their latter end is worse than their beginning 20

9. It would have been better if they had never known the way of righteousness 21

10. They are unrepentant like Dogs and Pigs 22

It doesn’t look hopeful for them at all. Theoretically, they can repent and be saved. But in actuality, they will not do it. The Bible indicates that plainly here.

What is Peter doing with this chapter? Several things. But mainly he is warning us about the end of those that do not follow what he has already taught us to do in chapter one. He gives us the inside story on what it is like to come into the family of God and then turn into an enemy within that family. Like a worm in the apple, this person can do much hidden damage, but God will not let anyone who does this get away with it. Jesus still shepherds his church and protects us from harm. He is concerned about the weak and those barely escaping corruption. Jesus knows the needs of the sheep and he comes to us with encouragement, instruction and discipline. He works on us for our good. If you are following Jesus closely, you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you. You have known the stirring in your heart as you study his word and heard his truth spoken to you. There is life within you by the work of God’s Holy Spirit and you fear the dangers of the destroyer. You don’t want that and you cringe at the words of warning, sometimes a little worried that you yourself might fall. But for you who are the sheep of his pasture and who have put on Christ in baptism and know the blessings of his nearness and the leadership of his gracious hand, listen to me now…

God loves you with an undying love. He has given you his Son, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Listen to his words of comfort to strengthen your heart…

Romans 8: 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These words of assurance are for those who follow the Lamb of God. But… For anyone here today who will not listen to God’s word and take up your cross and follow Jesus, these words are to you: May they serve as God’s warning to you…

Jude 5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.

9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.

11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;

13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

But let me give you one more…

Here is God’s word to anyone who is on the edge but who has not yet made up your mind:

2 Corinthians 6: 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."

17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."

18 "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."

7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

False teachers lead you into sin and destruction. True teachers of the Word of God will tell you what you need to hear even when you may not wish to hear it. Maybe you are here to day and have been on the fence. Maybe you want to follow Jesus, but you have reservations about committing your life to him. I wish there were words I could say that would convince you that Jesus Christ is the only way. I wish I could compel you to follow my Lord and Savior. He is the only salvation. He deserves your devotion. He demands your complete surrender. And by the way, He has won. You are either on the winner’s side or the loser’s side. The ultimate truth is this: Winners go to heaven’s glory, losers go to hell. Jesus wants you to be on his side. He died to give you life. He was crucified as an innocent sacrifice for your sins so you wouldn’t have to pay for them. And he could have destroyed you a long time ago, but he wants to save you and he is calling you. Will you hear and heed his call? By his gracious mercy, the choice is yours.