2 Peter 2:1-3
Greetings, everyone! God’s peace to each of you in our Lord Jesus, and welcome to EDiBS on this Monday, a day with the opportunity to start the week fresh and a day where we’re continuing our new study series in the book of 2 Peter. Thanks so much for being here; my prayer is that you’re being blessed as we learn and grow through this portion of the Scriptures. Today as we begin to track with Peter’s words about false prophets, things are taking an especially interesting turn, so let’s pray together and begin.
Lord Jesus Christ, we are moved to awe and wonder today as we consider who you are: you are God Almighty, coeternal with the Father and the Spirit. By you all things were made, by you all things have been redeemed. You control the wind and the waves, you have power over life and death, and you are the Word made flesh who came and dwelt among us. You have been given the Name that is above every name, and we know that one day soon, at that Name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that you are Lord to the glory of the Father. We worship you this day – and as we come to you in your precious Word, we ask that you bless our learning of it. Help us to know you more. Help us to walk with you more faithfully. Help us to be your ever-more committed disciples. We ask this in your holy Name, Lord Jesus, amen.
As we get started today, you’ll remember that Peter has just talked about the prophets of old who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Now he recalls for us that there were also false prophets among the people at that time – and just as it was then, so it is now. Our focus: beware of those who come to destroy.
2 Peter 2:1-3
1But 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. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
There’s nothing I dislike more than a person with ulterior motives. Back when I was in college, an acquaintance of mine approached me and struck up a conversation. I was a little surprised because we had never really hung out together and we didn’t travel in the same circles. But I liked him and I was pleased to be speaking with him, and we clicked to the point that I was even thinking to myself that maybe this would be the beginning of a great friendship. We parted ways by trading phone numbers, and he took my address as well because he said that he and his wife would be having a get-together soon and he wanted to be sure and send me an invite. A few days later I did get a note in the mail from him – but instead of an invitation to a get-together it was an invitation to invest in his multilevel marketing scheme and become part of his down-line. I thought back to our conversation and realized that it was all just a ploy – and I was very disappointed.
Verse 1: “Ploy” is a good term when it comes to describing false teachers in the world, because pretty much everything they’re about is a ploy: a ploy to take something from you or gain something over you or put something past you. But more than merely disappointing, false teachers can be dangerous, and that’s why Peter takes up the issue here in what will prove to be a lengthy treatment of the matter. Right up front you’ll notice that an important point is made: ultimately, false teachers deny the sovereign Lord who loved them and gave Himself for them – and in denying Him, they bring swift destruction upon themselves. Prior to their end, however, they have the potential to do great damage to the church and to the cause of Christ at large. Thus, it is important that we be alert to their tactics. The remainder of the verses before us today helps us in that quest.
Verse 2: In verse 1 we are told that part of the methodology of false teachers is to secretly introduce destructive heresies, and this is a reference to the fact that so many of them masquerade as upstanding pastors and teachers in the church. Blinded from seeing the true nature of who they are because of the mantle of ministry they wear, many people fall headlong into deception before they ever realize what’s happening. That’s what Peter is referring to in verse 2 when he says that many people will follow the shameful way of these teachers, harming not only themselves, but also bringing the way of truth into disrepute. We see this happen every day in the Christian world, and you’d think that we as God’s people would be more wary of it. But especially in today’s consumer-driven church culture where people are more prone to listening to what their itching ears want to hear than to rightly discern truth, it’s easier than ever to be led down a garden path. That’s why so many evangelical leaders today are crying out for a return to Biblical literacy among the laity, and it’s also why they’re going back to placing an emphasis on sound doctrine when they teach and preach. We need that in our churches now more than ever!
Verse 3: In verse 3, we learn that another tactic of false teachers is that of exploitation. It is motivated, Peter says, by what? By greed. Whatever it takes to, once again, take something from you, gain something over you, or put something past you, it will be done – and always to the benefit of the false teacher rather than to you. Witness the dumpster full of unread prayer requests behind one ministry’s headquarters, the envelopes slit open just enough to empty the checks that accompanied the prayer needs. Or consider the useless miracle cloths that are sent by leaders of another organization, guaranteed to get you your miracle when you sow a generous monetary faith seed in their ministry. There are cults which exercise mind control, religious leaders who demand total, unquestioning submission of their followers, and the list goes on and on. Present in almost every one of them is some form or combination of the unholy trinity: money, sex, and power. Whatever it takes to get you into their clutches, that’s the ploy they will offer. The good news, of course, is that the God of truth and justice is able to protect us, even as He will ultimately have His way with those who come to deceive us. And just as they introduce destructive things into the hearts of God’s people, they are simultaneously assuring their own eternal destruction.
As we wrap things up for the day, let me encourage you to be on your guard against false teachers; against those who would deceive you for any kind of personal gain. You have a solemn and holy responsibility not to embrace anybody’s teaching – including mine, by they way – until you have tested it against the clear light of the Word of God. Be diligent in the pursuit of truth, and take your stand on the Scriptures alone – never on the mere words of men. Good words, I think, to end on today!
Thanks for your time, everyone — have a great day, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow to continue. God bless you richly, and do take care!