Summary: A sermon examining the rise and fall of false prophets
The Rise And Demise Of False Prophets
In the early 1980's a televangelist names Peter Popoff rose to prominence here in the U.S. On his television programs he would address the specific illnesses of audience members who he had never talked to. He claimed that this feat was possible through a divine revelation from God. In 1986 James Randi and Steve Shaw went undercover to prove that Popoff's act was a scam. Randi had a male accomplice dress as a woman and Popoff supposedly cured her of uterine cancer. The men also discovered the fact that Popoff was actually using a wireless transmitter in his ear. The staff would have the audience members fill out prayer cards and the televangelist's wife would feed him information through the transmitter. In May 1986, Randi presented one of Jason's videos on the "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". After this his ministry's viewer ratings and donations plummeted and in September 1987 he declared bankruptcy, listing more than 790 unpaid creditors. - This is just one example of many false prophets who have been exposed throughout history.
How many times have we seen a "pastor" or "religious figure" caught in a scandal. These individuals seemed to have everything going for them. There were Large crowds that filled massive buildings. They had successful television ministries with hundreds of thousands of viewers, radio ministries with innumerable listeners, Websites and podcasts with numerous subscribers, and Books on the New York Times best seller list. They traveled the country speaking at conventions, conferences and other special events. Then a video or police investigation comes out that reveals that they are involved in extramarital affairs, homosexuality, drug Addiction, financial scandals and many other issues.
Not every one of these situations involved men who were false prophets. There have been some genuine God called men who fell into sin and failed morally. But in many cases these men were nothing more than "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing". We see these false prophets rise to prominence, and we hear the heresy that they are propagating and we ask "how do they get away with this?". Trust me, their actions do not go unnoticed by God. And one day, they will meet their demise. That is I would like to consider this evening. Join me in II Peter 2:20-22 as we examine "The Rise And Demise Of False Prophets".
In the first 19 verses of this chapter Peter has gone into great detail concerning "false teachers". He reveals the reality of false teachers and he covers the actions of false teachers.
We see that:
1) They teach false doctrine (v1)
2) They deny the truth of Christ (v1)
3) Their lives are filled with immorality (v10 & 14)
4) They despise authority (v10)
5) They are arrogant and rebellious (v10)
6) They take advantage of the weak (v14)
Peter goes on to reveal the influence of these wolves. They are successful and they deceive many. Throughout this entire chapter Peter mentions the coming judgment of these false prophets. (v3, v9, v12, v13, & v17)
God never has and never will tolerate false prophets. This is not only a New Testament phenomenon. Consider what the Lord said in - Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
Our selected passage for this message is not an easy one. This is one of those passages that proves the importance of looking at the text in the context. When you look at the context it is clear that Peter is referring to false teachers. The previous 19 verses cover that subject. When he says "they"... he is referring to the false prophets. Peter speaks of the fact that false teachers have escaped the defilement of the world But in due time they return to it. As a result they end up in a worse state than before they knew “the way of righteousness”. He goes on to say it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness at all By returning to their old ways of life they have increased their condemnation. They have made themselves all the more worthy of their foreordained destruction (v. 3).
- Let's look at verse 20 and consider:
A. The Rise Of False Prophets -v20a For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
Not every false prophet begins as a blatant con artist. Some of them set out to find "religion". This verse indicates that some people learn of Christ. They make a start in the Christian life. On the outside they appear to have "escaped the defilements and wickedness of this world".