A World of Knockoffs: False Teachers

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You have heard the term pseudo used in our English language. Pseudonym is a fictitious name that authors use to disguise themselves when they write. Psuedo scientist is referred to when a person refers to himself/herself as a scientist when in fact they are not. Pseudoscorpion is an arachnid with pincers like a scorpion but without the elongated abdomen and the ability to sting.
All of these terms contain the prefix pseudo meaning fake or false. In the GK pseudo actually means to lie, or a falsehood. It is important to our study today because we are looking at false teachers. The term in the GK is pseudo(false) and didaskolos(teachers). This phrase is rooted not in those who are confused as their role as teachers but instead those who lie and create falsehood as they teach others.
Our text today is found in 2 Peter, which is the second letter the apostle Peter wrote to the persecuted church. Peter’s first letter to the churches were to encourage those being persecuted in the church but his second was to warn about the false teachers among them.
We should applaud Peter for his resilience in writing on such a danger and we should learn great lessons of warning about our own susceptibility of falling prey to false teaching. No one knows they are under such false teaching until the Lord reveals it to them personally through their own discovery or through the aid of others.
What makes a person a false teacher?
Well in the OT, they were called false prophets and their designation was built upon their failure to speak rightly for God. They would declare “thus says the Lord” but they never received such a word from Him.
Turn with me to Deut 13:1-10, Deut 18:20-22
Deuteronomy 18:20–22 ESV
20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 13:1–5 ESV
1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
Notice how the people of God are warned in these section about false teachers. First, the identification of false prophets are helpful even for us as he church today.
They speak for God when God did not speak to them nor authorize them speaking (ch 18). Moses declared they are false prophets when their words do not come to pass. This is verification process of God’s people to be able to identify what is spoken by God and what was not.
They perform a sign to grab the attention but only lead people away from worship and honor of the Lord, not towards them. The sign itself has no effect if the word is not accurate and sent from God.
In both cases, the focus is the accurate delivery of God’s words to the people. To do otherwise, was an abomination and that person deserved to die (18:20, 13:5)
This is the final statement from Paul to the Galatians from our passage last week.
Galatians 1:8–9 ESV
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
The word anathema is the GK word for condemnation before God. It is Paul stating that those false teachers who preach a distorted gospel, leading people astray, should be turned over to the judicial wrath of Almighty God. This is how we all feel when someone we love is legally violated or offended by someone. We want the full extent of the punishment of the law to fall on them. Paul is calling for that condemnation from God to fall on false teachers and Moses is calling that condemnation on false prophets.
So returning to Peter then, he is warning the church of these false teachers, and lets focus on a few observation about false teachers so that you and I can be warned and be alert to Satan’s schemes to lead others astray towards destruction.
2 Peter 2:1–3 ESV
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Deceptive Intrusion: v.1a

“Rose Among the People”
First, Peter tells us that false teachers come from within. It doesn’t mean that they grow up in a particular congregation and grow into that role. He is saying that the infiltrate certain peoples first. It is their practice to first get their proverbial foot in the door.
It makes logical sense for any decent church to have some hoops to jump through before they let a person teach others. If there are no safeguards in place, then that church leadership should be removed…based on this warning right here.
False teachers lie and deceive to enter pulpits undetected. Paul uses the word “disguse” in 2 Cor 11 which means to change ones outward appearance.
2 Corinthians 11:13 (ESV)
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 7 but in a more analogical way as he warns the disciples that false teachers are ravenous wolves ....in sheep clothing. Boy that paints a scary picture right there for wolves are hunters and to have a wolf enter a sheep fold dressed like a sheep is intentional deceptive hunting with intent to kill.
Let us be reminded by the way that false teachers who seek to hunt a kill by lying about their appearance and by corrupting the biblical doctrines of God are only doing so because they serve Satan.
2 Corinthians 11:13–14 ESV
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies and therefore he seeks to disrupt the work of God’s kingdom by leading people to false conversions, to distort God’s word and by delivering those attacks by false teachers. This marks the motives of a false teacher not as good or wholesome because they serve sin and Satan, not holiness and the Lord.
Warning leads to action
Because of such a wicked intrusion in the church, then the church must man the gates and leave up their defenses. We must be alert to who is teaching and what are they saying. Here at RCC, our elders are the primary teachers with occasionally others like our interns are allowed to teach the church. We do not allow just anyone to teach you from this pulpit because we acknowledge the responsibility before us. But we cannot be in your homes, watching every youtube preacher or podcast you listen to. Its concerning to us because we know the charlatans that are uploading those vile distortions of God’s truth every day.
Church you must be aware! Be alert to what God’s word teaches and what they are saying to you. If they claim to have found a new and different interpretation, separate from centuries of church theologians and scholars, then you need to question such a discovery. How could it have gone unnoticed for so long with the illumination of the Holy Spirit? It could not so be aware.

Deviating Loyalty: 1c

“Even Denying their Master who bought them”
The second observation is their position in the church. Much like the previous sermons I shared with you, these false teachers are from within because they are disguised as born again but corrupt in their spirit.
This is a problematic verse because it seems as if Peter is stating that these false teachers were bought by the redemptive work of Christ. Being purchased by the Master is salvific language throughout the NT and built upon the language of the OT.
1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
The idea is that Jesus purchased a people from the slave market of sin with his work on the cross. The ransom was paid so that slaves could be liberated and the price paid was the very life of Christ. Being “bought with a price” is language designated for the true church and yet here Peter uses it in relationship to false teachers. What does this mean? Did Jesus ransom false teachers as well?
To understand this passage more clearly, we need to continue on with these verses below to see more of Peter’s description of them.
He refers to them as unrighteous (v. 9b)
They indulge in lust of defiling passion
They despise authority (v 10)
They blaspheme about matters to which they are ignorant (v 12)
They are reveling in their deceptions (14)
They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin (14)
They entice unsteady souls (14)
Now these are some of the descriptive pictures of these false teachers that Peter clearly views as unregenerate. They have not truly trusted in Christ and therefore they are dead in their sin and without salvation. So why does Peter say that their Master bought them?
Some interpreters use these verses to teach a universal atonement. A Universal Atonement is the belief that when Jesus came into the world as a sacrifice for sin, his death was a sacrifice that effectually paid for all the sins of every person in the world. The thought is that Jesus made it possible for everyone to be saved but a person believing in Him upon salvation, actually activates that redemption, therefore making his atonement applied upon their behalf. One major proponent of this view was the opponent to John Calvin, Jacob Arminius. Arminius and his followers believed and taught such a universal atonement. After his death, his followers crafted this statement,
The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation D. The Governmental or Rectoral Theory (Remonstrants and Arminians)

Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Problems with these views:
1. If Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, but only those who believe in Him activate his redemptive work in their lives, then logically, people who reject Christ actually have theirs sins paid for and it is in man’s power as to whether that activation occurs or not. This speaks contrary to any part of our salvation being by works. “not of works so no man may boast.”
2. In addition, if their sins are paid for but not activated, then there is a reservoir of the blood of Christ or the work of Christ that goes unused and discarded, like the left overs after a large Thanksgiving meal. This is blasphemous to consider that any of the work Christ accomplished in his death is discarded or thrown away.
Charles Spurgeon said,
Heritage of Great Evangelical Teaching (Christ’s Limited Atonement)
If it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood
Heritage of Great Evangelical Teaching Christ’s Limited Atonement

To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity

Limited Atonement
The opposing view of these just mentioned is limited atonement. A better title is not limited but effectual atonement. This view of salvation is built upon the idea that Jesus Christ did not pay for the sins of the whole world but the sins of the elect. Therefore the term “limited” means isolated to his chosen people only. This does not mean that Jesus had a limited power to save or his might was not enough to grab everyone from the flames of hell. Instead, limited atonement is built upon the doctrine of election, that those chosen, and called to salvation and only those will be redeemed. Examples of this in Scripture are found in John:
John 10:14–16 ESV
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
John 10:25–29 ESV
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Ephesians 5:25 ESV
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
We know that redemption is applied to the sheep of the Lord, the church. Those sheep are NOT all humans on earth but only those who believe and trust in him. Those who believe in Christ do so because they were chosen before the foundation of the world. Those sheep were “given to him by his Father” and Jesus came to lay down his life for HIS SHEEP. No one will snatch HIS sheep from his hand.
Therefore, with the view of limited atonement as a stronger argument than an unlimited one, then we must interpret this passage in this light. We come to see in a different light what Peter might have meant. Peter identifies false teachers as unrighteous and without God, therefore they could not be forever written in the lamb’s book of life, with the Savior’s blood applied to their redemption. Nor did his blood lie dormant, waiting on their belief to activate its power and effectiveness. Instead, I propose that Peter meant somthing different with this langauge...”denying the Master who bought them.”
Instead, we can see that Peter speaks in v 1 in analogous terms…for he uses a unusual GK word for Master. Typically the GK word KURIOS is used for Lord Jesus but Peter uses another word, DESPOTES, which is similar to the English word despot. This term DESPOTES is used in relationship to earthly rulers and therefore and is rarely affixed to God. Peter is using the term to refer to an earthly master who purchased a servant for his own service and that servant subsequently rebels against his master. Even though the blood of Christ had not atoned for their sins, the Father has given the Son full rule and reign over all people on the earth. These false teachers belong under the rule and reign of Christ, all humanity should submit to Him as Lord and Master, and yet they deny his name. The analogy serves to remind the church that these false teachers gave appearance that Jesus is their Lord, they disguised themselves as ones submitted to him and yet there were liars.
So then their loyalty is not to the Master of the church, even those they acted if it were so. Instead, they serve themselves and Satan as his servants.

III. Destructive Practices 1b, 2-3

1. They teach destructive heresies
destructive : means anniliation in war, used in NT of herod when he wants to destroy the baby Jesus. Similarly, in Matthew’s gospel, the GK apolymi is used again in 27:3 when the crowd of Jews release Barabbas but want Jesus destroyed. Paul uses it in 1 Cor 1:18 as to refer to those being destroyed who reject the gospel.
The destruction their teaching brings is one that speaks of annihilation, in a spiritual sense. Following the teachers who stray from healthy biblical interpretation, tend to lead people to their spiritual doom.
Ex: prosperity gospel, social justice gospel
2. They lead many astray
GK term is one to follow as a teacher and student (discipleship) therefore it is not following out of curiosity with some hesitancy but instead committed as a student to learn from them.
3. They Blaspheme God’s word
4. They exploit the church with their greed
Exploitation is the GK Emporeomai (emporium) speaks of commercial trade and sales. you become a commodity to false teachers because their greed for power and money is satisfied by their following

IV. Destination of Doom

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