Thursday, December 06, 2018

Devotional: Beware! False Teachers! 2 Peter 2:1-22

Outline 2 Peter 2.1-22

After testifying to the importance, truth and reliability of the apostolic witness to Jesus (New Testament) and the ancient scriptures (Old Testament), Peter now warns the church about the danger of false teachers. The issue is not whether or not they will come. They will come and believers need to work hard to know the truth so that they will be able to recognize them when they come. Jesus (and Paul) warned of “wolves” who appear to be Christian leaders but are actually dangerous, immoral fakes. They can be recognized by their departure from the apostles’ teaching (this is why you need to know the truth well!), their disregard for the moral boundaries God set up in creation and their disrespect for legitimate authorities ordained by God. Separation from them now is important because we do not want to get caught up in the judgment that is certainly coming for them. False teachers promise freedom and fulfilment but all they deliver is enslavement, degradation and death.

Peter warns us to expect false teachers. (2:1-3). Just as there were false prophets in the Old Testament who led many people into destructive beliefs and lifestyles there will be false teachers doing the same thing today. They are not easy to recognize and their message can be appealing. The danger is that they will lead their followers into the same judgment they will receive. History is littered with “movements” that led their followers to disaster and away from real faith. All Christians should be able to recognize false teachers and expose their false teachings so that they can avoid their judgment.

The point of the next section (2:4-10) is that God knows how to discern between the false and true, the good and evil, and will bring the former to judgment and the latter to reward. Peter gives two examples. The first is the spiritual beings who had sexual relations with human women (Genesis 6:1-4), corrupted humanity and brought on the flood. God confined them for all eternity in an underworld prison. The ancient world viewed these supernatural beings as gods who brought knowledge and technology but God’s judgment showed what was true and right. The second example was God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah for failing to heed God’s sexual boundaries. In both cases God eventually sets things right by removing the wicked and rescuing the godly. Believers must make sure they are on the right side in every situation.

Peter then describes the character of the false teachers in 2:11-16. First, they do not recognize legitimate authorities set up by God. They make light of spiritual authorities they do not understand. Instead of submitting to God they try to manipulate the dark principalities and powers which brings terrible destruction. Not all spiritual power or signs and wonders are from God. They tend to be self indulgent and remove the normal restraints that the scriptures place on human desires. Finally they are greedy. Watch out for teachers, preachers and ministers who only minister when they get paid. Especially watch out for those who indulge themselves to live a more lavish lifestyle than their followers.

Finally Peter describes the judgment of false teachers in 2:17-22. They become enslaved in the consequences of their sin. They promise freedom to their followers but become more deeply entangled in their own sins. Sadly, the scandals that have destroyed prominent “ministries” continues to bear witness to this truth. In addition, these false teachers will face a much stricter judgment when they stand before God.

All Christians should be able to recognize false teachers and expose their false teachings so that we can avoid their judgment. False teachers can be recognized by a departure from the central doctrines of the faith, by their advocation of "freedom" from the "restraints" of biblical morality and indulging of selfish desires. Be very wary of any Christian teachers that use the gospel bring attention to themselves or to live a lavish lifestyle.

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