April is L-Plate month, where I’ve turned over this website to my students. They are studying an introductory preaching subject this semester, and writing for this website is part of their assessment, as well as a learning exercise for them. I’m hoping you’ll interact with them a bit via the comments function at the bottom of each post, offering some feedback. (Particularly, feedback that’s constructive or affirming – they’ve got me to deliver the negative stuff! Remember, some of them will never have preached before, and some have English as their second language.) They will then incorporate this feedback in a sermon they present in class at the end of semester.
We continue today in 2 Peter.
2 Peter 2:1-10 | Hiram Lau
Today we come to a significant shift in 2 Peter from what we see in chapter 1 so far. A shift in Peter’s approach but the goal is the same as 1:10 “brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” It is mainly a positive encouragement to confirm our calling in Christ in chapter 1. And here is an antidote that warns people not to be carried away by false teaching.
2 Peter 2:1-31-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
Are there any false teachers among church today?
Peter warns us in v.1 that just as there were also false prophets, then there will be false teachers today. Just as Jesus has warn us that in last days ‘many false prophets’ who would ‘appear and deceive many people’ in Matt 24:11. The church is not immune to false teachers.
How can we recognize the false teachers? How can we able to avoid their influence? According to Steve Cole, Peter gives us a few ways to recognize false teachers:
1. False teachers’ methods are subtle and deceptive.
They will ‘secretly introduce’ v.1 and smuggle in their new ideas of destructive heresies. It may not necessarily false but will be subtle. The critical proof lies in the stories they have made up. They add worldly concepts to the Bible as well as cleverly work in little error here and another error there, and give them the same authority as Scripture.
2. False teachers denied the sovereign Lord who bought them.
They were not publicly proclaiming their unbelief; rather they denied by their life and did not walk the talk. If someone claims that you can believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour and yet not submit to Him as Lord, it is destructive doctrine. Jesus said, “by their fruit will recognize them”. Rather than adding to the glory of God such ideas have only been “denying the sovereign Lord who bought them.” v.1
3. False teachers’ influence is popular
They encourage people to enjoy their darkest and most secret wishes instead of calling people to repentance and faith. It is not surprise that “Many will follow their sensuality…” (2:2). However it doesn’t mean that anyone who is popular is automatically a false teacher.
4. False teachers’ motives are impure
Peter shows that these men are driven by two related evil motives: “sensuality” v.2 and “greed” v.3. Sensuality is referring to the enjoyment of pleasure for sexual immorality. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words, they taught people should abandon their rules about sexuality that is “denying the sovereign Lord”.
5. False teachers and all that follow them are heading toward eternal destruction.
The false teachers are bringing “swift destruction” v.1 on themselves. The day of reckoning will surely come and with it sudden disaster for those who spread their darkness doctrines in the name of Christianity. Peter adds, “Their judgment from long ago is not idle and their destruction is not asleep.” v. 3
Peter reminds us that false teachers stand under God’s wrath. God has not overlooked their evil doings. Their punishment will come. God has decided their verdict already and sudden destruction will be their end. Then Peter uses examples in Genesis to elaborate the punishment have been sealed.
2 Peter 2:4-104-10 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;
Three examples were used. 1. The angels fell and are in custody in Hell. 2. The ungodly world in the time of Noah was destroyed in the flood. 2. Sodom and Gomorrah were reduced to ashes for their wickedness. No one is exempt from judgment, not even angels and judgement although delayed, is sill real. ‘If God did not spare the rebellious angles v.4, so he will not spare the false teachers.’ Just as God did not spare angels, He will not spare the ungodly ancient world when he brought the flood. V.5 Humankind’s rebellion also provoked God’s anger. And the judgement for the ungodly and lawlessness’ Sodom and Gomorrah remain as a warning to us. V.6-8.
We can see Noah and Lot have been rescued from God in the Genesis story. Noah found favour in God’s eyes as a righteous man, blamelessly stood out among the people of his time. In 2 peter, he was also a preacher of righteousness, which is a strange description that hasn’t mention in Genesis. There were certainly teachings in Jewish circle referred Noah as a prophet. Perhaps his obedience is the strongest message to the ungodly people, and God protected the righteous Noah and those who believed his message. It also comes as a surprise that Lot was a righteous man if we are familiar with the Genesis account. Peter insists that Lot was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men and tormented… by the lawless deeds v.7. Perhaps Lot was one of those righteous persons to be discovered by God in Abraham’s mind when he pleads for Sodom. So if ‘the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment’ we must learn from Noah and Lot and stand firm against the prevailing immorality of our world and wait for God’s rescue until the day of the judgement. Let alone the false teachers beware. Divine retribution is based upon the consistent action of a righteous God. Their evil has not escaped his attention.
To think about
Are there any false teachers among church today? How can we spot the secretly introduced and subtle false teachings? Are we consistently enough to examine the Scriptures so that we are not easily being deceived? Let us not lose heart and hold firm on our belief in God.