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