A Necessary Warning - 2 Peter 2:1-3

2 Peter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:13
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There are many statements condeming the character, practice, and doctrine of false teachers who were leading astray the sheep of Christ.

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1. Intro

Hard news
Difficult truths
Painful confrontation
Sometimes difficult things need to be said - in a spirit of love and grace, but without wavering on the truth.
I’m reminded of what Jesus said to Peter in John 21 - “feed my sheep”
Peter’s position as a fellow Elder/Shepherd in 1 Peter 5 - ‘Shepherd the flock of God among you’
He was given a tremendous responsibility to feed Jesus’ lambs. Teach them sound doctrine, teach the whole counsel of God, instruct them in the way of righteousness.
Confront sin, even if it’s difficult. There are some very difficult things to hear in the Scriptures - but we must submit to the Lord, commit to hearing from Him in His Word, and be ready to receive the whole counsel of God.
Before we begin looking at 2 Peter 2 this morning, I want to let you know the great sense of heaviness that is present in this chapter and the next.
There are many many statements condemning the character, practice, and doctrine of false teachers who were leading astray the sheep of Christ.
Primarily in chapter 2, with a few in ch. 3, there are 54 negative statements about the false teachers who are deceiving and distorting the truth of Christ.
I’m not yet sure how I’m going to work through the middle of chapter 2 - pray that I would be led by the Spirit of God to communicate the truth accurately, but also with the right attitude.
We must not adopt a prideful attitude or tone as we move into the rest of this chapter - and yet at the same time this subject requires firm words, conviction of the truth, and a steadfast reliance on the Spirit of God to guide and control as we come face to face with false teachers.
Some possible objections or challenges to Peter’s statements:
Why is Peter being so harsh? Couldn’t he find a softer way of addressing these things?
Why does it matter so much to Peter? Is it really that bad?
Maybe these other teachers just believe something a bit different? There’s no need to condemn them so strongly and call them out like this.
Peter shouldn’t be so harsh -
Why on earth would Peter have such stinging remarks for these people who believe something different than what he does? Isn’t that a bit narrow-minded, bigoted, hateful?
It’s instructive for us to be reminded of where Peter first learned how to be so dedicated to the truth and calling out false teachers.
Turn to Matthew 23:13-36 - 8 woes, pronouncements of judgment and condemnation against the Scribes and Pharisees who mislead the people of God with their false teachings
John the Baptizer - Matthew 3:7-12.
Application Point:
God strongly condemns those who misrepresent Him [PPT]

II. Review constraints on Prophets:

Deuteronomy 13 - must be in alignment with God’s revealed Word
Deuteronomy 18 - must only be words that God has instructed the prophet to speak
The punishment for violating either of these is execution
God strongly condemns those who misrepresent Him.
The Prophets were bound to the written and revealed Word of God, and only as they were submitted to the Word did they have authority.
Those who speak for God are held to an exacting standard
God carefully preserves the truth and clarity of His Word [PPT]
And in the New Testament those who are teachers are held to a greater judgment in regards to their teaching (James 3:1)
Just as God was serious about His Word, Name, Character, and Israel through the Prophets, God is serious about His Word, Name, Character, and the Church through the Apostles.

III. Warning - False Teachers Ahead!

Peter earlier addressed a challenge to his teaching on the power and coming of Christ - “you are following cleverly devised tales”
Peter’s answer is that he, James, and John were eye-witnesses of Christ’s glory, they have apostolic authority, and they have the prophetic word more reliable than all of that.
Peter is not able to say whatever he desires, but rather he is under the same constraints as the Old Testament prophets - aligned with God’s revealed written inspired Word, and not speaking their own explanation/interpretation of things, but speaking as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Now Peter is going to give a warning concerning:
the presence and character of these false teachers
exposing their practices and beliefs,
and then pronouncing the certainty of judgment that is coming upon them.
We must keep in mind Peter’s purpose statements for writing this letter -
2 Peter 1:12-15 - Remind you; stir you up by way of reminder; that you be able to recall these things to mind after his departure;
2 Peter 3:1-2 - Stir you up by way of reminder; remember the words of the holy prophets and the commandment of Jesus spoken by the Apostles.
Peter insists that his audience, and anyone else who would read his letter, be committed to growing in the truth (ch. 1) in order to identify false teachings (ch. 2) and look forward to the coming of Christ as He promised (ch. 3).
Format - asking Peter/the text a question about the False Teachers, and then looking at the answer.
Six statements concerning the False Teachers

Where are the False Teachers?

2 Peter 2:1 NASB95
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
There were false prophets among the people of Israel - the covenant community. These are the people who had the very oracles of God, the very written Word of God - and yet these false prophets had the boldness and hardened heart to rise up and deceive the people of God.
Peter says that - in the same way - as it happened to Israel - false teachers will also rise up among the community of faith.
These are men and women within the churches, assemblies, homes, markets, villages who would rise up and be known for their deception.
The image of ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing” [PPT] is striking - this word picture encapsulates the deception, deceit, cunning, trickery, and boldness of the false teachers.
Jesus in Matthew 7:15 describes the false prophets as wolves in sheep’s clothing - and you will know them by their fruits - by their speech, words, teachings.
The False Teachers are among the Believers
This warning of Peter’s ought to be jarring and sobering
To realize that within the community of faith there can be those who would so distort the truth and mislead the saints -
and potentially mislead unbelievers even further into their unbelief
Just as Israel - the covenant people of God - were not exempt from the distortion and deception of false prophets, so too the Church - the body of Christ - is not exempt from the distortion and deception of false teachers.

Identity of False Teachers

6 different characteristics of false teachers
Though this part is going to be heavy and perhaps sobering to go through, it is necessary that we be aware of those who would seek to do damage to the flock of God.
2 Peter 2:1 NASB95
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

1. “What is the tactic of false teachers?”

introduce/bring in/bring in alongside destructive heresies
bring alongside - this implies that the false teachers know the truth well enough that they can disguise their additional beliefs
these ideas/teachings are brought alongside and presented as compatible with the truth
but knowing full-well that they are not
Rather than being compatible teachings, these are ‘destructive heresies
the verb form destroy has the idea of ruin, waste, annihilation
as an adjective, it describes the false teachings as those that cause ruin or bring about ruin,
‘heresies’ here is the word for a distinct set of beliefs held by a group/faction/party.
Putting all these terms together, we have beliefs that are alongside orthodox/correct teaching, but which are marked by ruin, loss, destruction
Teachings that are not in alignment with the truth but are cunningly/craftily devised or introduced to deceive
A teaching or belief that is not supported plainly by the Scriptures, but rather has to be imported/supported/carried alongside the plain reading of the text in order to get in the door should be immediately suspect
The perpetual virginity of Mary
The immaculate conception of Mary
Jesus is the firstborn in creation - first created one
The Prosperity Gospel - that God is intent on blessing you materially/physically if you will simply exercise some faith and send in your money to the wolves in sheep’s clothing

2. How do false teachers respond to Christ?

denying the Master who bought them
This is the same word that is used to describe what Peter did the night Jesus was betrayed
‘refuse, disdain, repudiate, disown, disregard, renounce’
This could be one of the destructive heresies/beliefs of the false teachers
1 John 4:3 “3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”
This could also mean that by their lifestyle and practice they disown/deny the name of Christ
They deny ‘the Master who bought them
This is redemptive terminology - related to the atoning work of Christ
No question who is being denied - but to what extent is Christ being denied?
Are these Believers who have turned their back on Christ? [Like Peter? And the other Disciples?]
Or are they false converts who deny Christ whom they know to be the one who redeemed them?
Or are they unbelievers who still flatly reject Christ even after hearing that He had paid for their redemption?
Whatever their salvation status is, Peter clearly has harsh words for them, and we’ll see in a bit that there is judgment and destruction waiting for them

3. What is the result of their denial of Christ?

bring swift destruction upon themselves
This is an active verb - the Christ-deniers and false teachers are doing this to themselves
Through their destructive beliefs, and in their denial of Christ,
their beliefs and actions result in swift destruction
soon, imminent, without delay, quickly, with haste
by their false teachings, beliefs, and lifestyle, swift soon destruction is coming
ruin, waste
By living a life in denial of Christ and His Mastery over them, these false teachers instead live according to the flesh, following their sinful desires and rejecting God’s revelation (remember they secretly introduced destructive teachings)
Living as if there is no accountability to God is a sure way to end up facing swift ruin and a wasted life
The simplest explanation is that this swift destruction is immediate, in this life, rather than eschatological/end-times ruin.

4. What is their lifestyle, and what is its effect on others?

2 Peter 2:2 NASB95
2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
There are several ways that this word has been translated
sensuality / unrestrained ways / licentious living / debauched lifestyles / pernicious ways / shameful immorality
the root idea with this word is a lack of self-constraint; characterized by self-abandonment; and sexual excesses;
By denying their Master (Christ), they now live an unrestrained, immoral, and sensual lifestyle
indulging in arrogant and base desires
In v.1 Peter says that they bring in / bring alongside destructive heresies
These false teachers are denying Christ, and therefore His future coming -
The denial of Christ and His coming means that they perceive no consequences in this life for their sensual living; “Jesus isn’t really coming back, and besides I’m not following Him so I can live how I want”
Wrong doctrine leads to wrong living
Deny that Christ has authority over those He has redeemed, and you open the floodgates for all sorts of perverse living
Deny that Christ is coming back and you remove the overwhelming sense of accountability that comes along with the return of Christ
The destructive teaching that denies Christ - coupled with rampant sensuality means that
many will follow their sensuality
By teaching false things about the power and coming of Christ, others are led astray into thinking they can live in total abandonment
By their actions, motives, lifestyle, and choices they deny / disown / refuse the Lord
This is perhaps one of the most painful aspects of the topic of false teachers in the Church
What a person believes will change how they live
And that will have direct bearing on how others live their lives
When a teacher is engaged in sensual living, greed, arrogant boasting, then it can embolden others to follow along.
In this case, the sensuality of the false teachers is appealing enough to the flock of God that many are led astray, following in their lifestyle of shameful immorality.
This is at the root of why Jesus was so passionately against the Scribes and Pharisees - they were leading others astray with their teaching.
Interestingly, this is exactly what Paul accused Peter of doing in Galatians 2. Leading others astray and thereby denying the truth of the Gospel that all were made one in Christ.

5. What is the result of false teaching and deceptive living?

The way of the truth will be maligned
The way of the truth’ is an interesting title
‘The Way’ shows up in Acts as a name for the newly forming Church and the Believers who are following Christ
And this likely comes from Jesus’ own statement about Himself in John 14:6 “6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Jesus was very clear about who He was, and what was required in order to enter the kingdom - absolute moral perfection, righteousness.
But the righteousness of man is entirely insufficient -
All have sinned and fall short of the righteousness of God
Our righteousness is as filthy rags, and though we are capable of doing good, the presence of the sin nature spoils whatever good is accomplished.
The wages of sin is death
Who shall deliver us from this body of death?
Thanks be to God who gives us victory over sin in Jesus Christ!
Our sin was placed upon Christ - He became sin on our behalf
And the righteousness of Christ was applied, credited to our account
The beauty of the Gospel is that we are freed from the penalty and power of sin - and eventually the presence of sin!
We do not need to submit to our former master any longer!
That very beautiful truth of the Gospel - freedom from sin - is maligned, blasphemed, mocked, tarnished, twisted when false teachers carry on in sin and encourage others to return to their former master of sin.
What a gross slap in the face of Christ - that there are those who mislead, draw away many into immorality.
Wrong doctrine leads to wrong living - and both of these lead others astray

6. What is their motive and expected outcome?

2 Peter 2:3 NASB95
3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
in greediness they will exploit you with false words
At the heart of greed is self - very similar to pride - another form of idolatry.
a heart bent on covetousness is a heart turned inward on itself
Seeking to get, rather than to give.
Seeking self, rather than others.
Characterized and known for looking out for #1 -
exploit’ is a business/commerce word -
combined with ‘false words’, it adds the negative connotation of deception, trickery, exploiting for selfish gain
Being filled with greed and seeing others as a means to self-fulfillment is another result of wrong doctrine and theology. Bad beliefs produce bad behavior.
Thinking that they are above everyone else, these false teachers see others as a means to an end - financial gain, pleasure, status, influence, power.
false words’ is very similar to the accusation they made against Peter - that he was following cleverly devised tales.
Well now the deception is blatant, obvious, and it is rooted again in false teaching.
Promising the freedom and pleasure of sensual living, now seeking to gain something at the hand of those who have been led astray
What is the tactic of the false teachers?
How do false teachers respond to Christ?
What is the result of their denial of Christ?
What is their lifestyle and its effects on others?
What is the result of false teaching and deceptive living?
What is their motive and expected outcome?
That list and description of false teachers ought to exhaust us and disgust us.
We should feel gross, icky as we recognize that these kinds of false teachers can rise up among the people of God.
Certainly YHWH was disgusted, and He righteously judged sin that sprang up in the community of faith.
Ultimately, we need to rest and find our comfort in the holy and righteous Lord God Almighty.
“Vengeance is mine, says the Lord - I will repay”
We rest in the character and holy nature of God.

V. Rest in God - He Will Judge

“their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep”
judgment/condemnation/legal verdict
God sees the beginning from the end, He sees it all.
And all of us must give an account to God - He is the one to whom all creation is accountable
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
God is impartial, and is the perfect decider of justice
God is not slack off, idle, unoccupied or lazy
His timeline is different than ours, certainly - but He is not idle : rather, God is patient towards you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
destruction” - coming to ruin, waste, nothing
not asleep - like Elijah said of Ba’al on Mount Carmel
The Lord knows when, how, why, what, how much, for how long, and for what reasons He will judge sin
The battle belongs to the Lord
We fight on our knees in prayer; with our minds renewed by the washing of the Word
Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
Ultimately, we rest in God - the unchanging One, the everlasting God.
We must be aware of false teachers, false doctrines, but we do not fight against flesh and blood - because this is a spiritual battle, not physical.
Isaiah 40:27–31 NASB95
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. 29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
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