Summary: Sermon 20 in a study in 1 & 2 Peter
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
This is one of those places in our Bibles where a chapter division can be distracting. Peter has been preparing his readers with words of encouragement in regard to their eternal security and words of instruction in reference to the application by faith of Godly behavior in their living, and then given assurances that in the Scriptures they have the most solid of foundations, in that no prophecy of Scripture was out of the imaginations of men but that those prophets of old wrote and spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Indeed, we have the confirmation of Scripture itself that they often had little or no idea what they were writing about, but as vessels yielded to God they faithfully documented His words both for their own generation and the generations to come.
Peter himself spoke of this in his first letter:
“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”
In past wars couriers were commonly used to carry communications back and forth from headquarters to the front lines. A military courier bringing a detachment to the field of battle from headquarters may have absolutely no idea what is contained in the sealed envelope he carries.
It is his duty to carry it safely and intact to the commander in the field only. When the commander takes it from the courier’s hand, if the seal has been broken he must then be suspicious, not only of the courier, but of the information in the envelope. If it has been opened prior to reaching him he cannot be confident that the information has not been altered.
However, if the seal is intact, so is the integrity of the courier, and the commander can trust that he is receiving information and instruction as though directly from the hand of his superior officer.
We can receive as a word of encouragement and added confirmation of the validity of scripture, the revelation that men of old often did not understand themselves that which they were relaying from Headquarters.
Because liars, deceivers, con artists, false prophets will always claim an inside track. They will never so much as hint that they may be less than fully informed. They want your absolute faith, so they must sound absolutely confident.
Therefore, ignoring the chapter division for a moment, let us notice that Peter draws this distinction in his narrative.
Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God, but false prophets also arose among the people, and they were destructive, disobedient, and damned. The outline was right there in the text, so we’ll draw from that.
Let’s be very clear on this point. False teachers are deliberate in what they do. They are not false teachers by accident. A teacher can be wrong. A teacher can be deceived. But a false teacher isn’t just teaching what is false; he is false. His goal is to destroy with his words and his tactics. He is a servant of the enemy and there is nothing ignorant or accidental about what he is doing.
The first thing we see in our text is that the False teacher is heretical. He introduces heresies. Vine’s dictionary of New Testament words says the term denotes “an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects.”
That’s why Peter calls them ‘destructive heresies’. The false teacher’s aim is to destroy unity in the body, destroy the church’s effectiveness, destroy Godly relationships, destroy the purity of the Gospel message itself.
Now that does not necessarily mean he will sound heretical on the surface.
He will sound very convincing and he certainly will employ the familiar terms of the church. He’ll talk about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit; he’ll talk about fellowship and giving and miracles and prayer and so on.