Summary: The danger of false teachers goes all the way back to the beginning, but the Bible shows us several types of false teachers and some are worse than others!
Just look at where we’ve come thus far in 2 Peter!
Chapter one opens with the wonder of God’s provisions that help us become like him… 3-4
His precious promises
Our participation in his divine nature
His deliverance from and protection from corruption
Next, we see a beautiful list of 7 virtues we are called to grow in with an exhortation to devote ourselves to this calling and election as we look forward to a rich welcome into eternal glory. 5-11
Finally there is a reminder with great assurance that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a historical reality witnessed to by eyewitnesses and verified by prophetic writings by those who received their message directly from the Holy Spirit. 12-21
That’s chapter 1.
Today we turn our attention to chapter 2. When we do this, we move from looking into the light to surveying the darkness. We walk out of the fair sunshine of the beautiful gifts of God and into the presence of swift destruction and the path of evil.
All of chapter 2 and most of 3 are devoted to exposing and warning against the evils of pseudo-prophets and pseudo-teachers. The Greek here calls them pseudoprophatays and pseudodidaskalos. These are prophets and teachers of falsehoods. Where are they? They are among the Christians within the churches that Peter is addressing. What are they doing there? They are secretly introducing destructive heresy that has the potential of bringing the way of truth into disrepute. What is their agenda? Peter gives us a very long list: They even deny the Lord (1), they are greedy, or covetous (3), they exploit those who listen to them (3), some of them follow their corrupt desires and despise authority (10), they are not afraid to blaspheme angels or God (10-12), they revel in their pleasures and have eyes full of adultery (13-14), they seduce the unstable and are experts in greed (14), they mouth empty, boastful words and appeal to lustful desires (18), they promise freedom, but are themselves enslaved. Etc. etc. etc. Can you imagine these kinds of people as teachers in a Christian congregation?
I just received a packet of clippings from Evelyn LaValley, a sweet little Christian widow from Concord, NH. She sends me these about every week. This weeks clippings were all about the appointment of Gene Robinson, the openly gay priest as bishop in the Episcopal Church. Let me just share a couple of brief lines from two of them.
Katrina Morgan writes: “I congratulate the Episcopal Church for making the right decision on the matter of Gene Robinson. If the acceptance of Gene does indeed cause the schism that many fear, it will be a positive thing for the church. It can only be good to separate from those who use the Bible to condemn the lives of others.”
On the other side: Peter Jensen, an Anglican archbishop from Sydney Australia, stated that the Americans are turning away from the clear teaching of the scriptures.
Christianity Today had an excellent article describing how the liberal leaderships of many mainline Protestant churches are facing a new generation of people who are returning to the Bible as their final authority and who are discovering that their denominational teachings do not pass the test of scriptural, moral and religious standards. False teachers, beware! When people begin to read and heed the Word of God, you will be discovered. Your efforts to destroy the truth of the gospel will be dealt with by God himself. We need to be praying for God to open the eyes of all who are trapped in unscriptural religious falsehoods. We need to know what God says and stand on His words alone as the final authority for life and godliness!
What do you do when you discover that the Bible teaches something that goes against what you have been taught? How do you handle it? What do you do if someone you respect and admire religiously turns away from the clear teaching of God’s Word? How do you handle it? This week and, Lord willing, through the rest of our study of 2 Peter, we will be discussing what the Bible says about false teachers who enter and do their destructive work.
A good exercise for you to help in studying chapters 2 and 3 of 2 Peter, is to go through it and mark all the pronouns: “they” and “their,” and make a note about what Peter says in each case. You will see what these false teachers look like, how they work and some of what they teach.
As a lesson from this text, let’s go back and look at verse one:
2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.