Summary: Peter has just ended the last chapter saying that no prophecy (no real word of God) has ever come from man or his own understanding, but only the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus himself claimed that everything he said came from the Father. Now Peter says “BUT”… t
There is a great escalation in the middle East as we speak, and it is the old battle between religions. Down at its core is the spiritual battle between Satan with other false gods, and the true God of the universe. Every religion on earth follows a man, whether it’s Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, Buddhism, and yes even Christianity. The only religion that in its purest form follows the invisible God is Judaism, but even that has turned into really following Moses or Abraham.
And yes every religion is a belief system that cannot really be confirmed undeniably. The deciding factor is Jesus Christ, was he just a man, a prophet, or was he the Son of God, therefore being supernaturally incarnated as a man, and resurrected from death. All the so called scriptures of these religions are single sourced for the most part by the man (or so called prophet) that people chose to follow, and they were written over a relatively short time span.
The Bible calls these false prophets. Many of these writings use the Scriptures, especially some of the Old Testament, and alter or add to it. The difference between the Bible and these other religious manuscripts is that the Bible has at least 40 different authors who wrote over a period of about 1500 years, and produced a seamless, perfectly unified set of writings that all lead to one thing. If it was just written by one person or even a handful of people within a short time span, we would have more reason to be sceptical of the Bible.
The truth is I, or anyone else could take the Bible, come up with some clever new interpretations that appeal to a specific group of people, and have an instant following. All you need to do is tickle people’s ears a little bit. And as long as you don’t get too weird, or live a real bad life, you could have a religion with some staying power even after you died.
Peter has just ended the last chapter saying that no prophecy (no real word of God) has ever come from man or his own understanding, but only the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus himself claimed that everything he said came from the Father. Now Peter says “BUT”… there have always been and always will be false teachers amoung you in the church.
Often these are leaders, but not necessarily. There can be influential people in the church who don’t have official titles but have a lot of influential power. Verse 2 tells how they operate. It says they “cleverly” teach destructive heresies. What is a heresy?
This is a very interesting word that we often use but maybe don’t know exactly what it means. The word literally means to “make a choice for oneself” and reflects the idea of disunity. So in this kind of context it is basically making a choice about what the word of God says or means for one’s own benefit, bringing about disunity.
They do this to the point of even denying the Master (sovereign Lord) who bought them. In other words they are even belittling the significance of Jesus life, death and resurrection. That describes every other religion. This is done in order to give permission to live by one’s own desires rather than follow a sovereign Lord who literally purchased your life through his sacrificial death.
In the first 3 verses Peter gives us three ways to:
I. Identify False Teachers (vv 1-3)
A. Immorality (v. 2a)
First of all, they will have followers and they will all be characterized by immorality. Now this appears to be specifically referring to sexual immorality, but the original word is actually “pernicious ways”, which means deadly or wicked ways. In essence anything that would be characterised as sin, for all sin causes death and takes us away from God’s presence. And when combined with teaching that sin is Ok and Jesus death really isn’t that important, it will bring literal eternal destruction.
But we need to remember that it’s not just saying or teaching this, but by acting in intentional sin we are in our behaviour denying Christ, as John says in his first letter. Does the leader or teacher seem to condone sin and/or minimize it, especially using God’s word?
B. Greed (v. 3a)
Listen to how the King James version reads verse 3, “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you”. What is the motivation for their false teaching? There own selfish desires. It is not just to get your money, though that might be part of it. But the idea is that their own selfish desires cause them to use people for their own purposes and benefit. They have no regard for anyone but themselves, people are just to be used for their own purposes and pleasure as merchandise. They make us like slaves.