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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Peter 2:1-3; False Teachers Among You

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100124_2peter2_1-3.mp3

01/24 2 Peter 2:1-3 False Teachers Among You

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2:1 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.

Overview / Review of Chapter 1

Today we’re going to jump back in to 2 Peter. We’ve been away for 2 months, so we’ll start with some review and pick up Peter’s flow of thought as we start in on chapter 2. Peter, as he tells us in 1:12-15, knows that he is going to die soon, so he is making every effort to stir us up to holy living by reminding us of the truth of the gospel. He is taking care to write with the intention of giving us a permanent record of authoritative apostolic teaching that we can refer back to at any time. His stated purpose for writing is found in the last two verses of this short letter:

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

There are lawless people that are propagating error in the church. They want to carry us away with them and cause us to loose our sure footing in Christ. As vaccination against this danger, Peter calls us to growth in God’s free gift of grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is worthy of all glory forever. Peter is writing to alert us to the danger and strengthen our foundation in the truth so that we never fall.

In chapter 1, he has encouraged us that eternal life and godly living cannot be separated – as if holiness were an optional extra to our main course of salvation that we can either take or leave. Peter tells us that if we lack virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love, we will be ineffective and unfruitful, that we are blind and have forgotten our own salvation, and we will not ultimately find entrance into God’s kingdom.

This is not a call to gaining God’s favor by our own moral effort, because Peter started by saying that both eternal life and godliness are a gift of divine power. It is God’s power that gives us great and precious promises – and God is the one that must keep his promises to us. We must fight to grow in godliness because we have already become partakers in the divine nature and have already escaped the corruption that is in the world. We must fight the battle in front of us not in order to help win the war for Christ, but because Christ has already won the war for us. But we must fight against sin and for holiness to demonstrate that we are on the winning side and not traitors or defectors to the enemy ranks.

Peter encourages us in our pursuit of godliness by directing us to what we must pay attention to. He points us to the apostolic witness and the holy scriptures, because that is where we find the precious and very great promises of God to us. The apostolic witnesses did not follow myths or fables; they were eyewitness of the power and coming of Jesus confirmed by the voice from heaven. And the prophetic word is a reliable guide in dark days because men spoke from God as they were blown along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter continues to exhort us to godly living by way of warning in chapter 2. His warning sounds severe because the danger is serious. Following false teaching has eternal consequences – it will send you to hell. It is urgent that we avoid the seduction of these destructive heresies, because swift destruction will come to all who follow them.

Peter has been talking about the Old Testament scriptures and the apostolic witness as a reliable guide for a life of holiness. He now contrasts the trustworthiness of scripture with the destructive teaching of false prophets and false teachers. In 1:16-18 he has discussed the accuracy of the apostolic eyewitness, and in 1:12-15 he refers to his own writing of what will become part of the New Testament. (In 3:15-16 he will also refer to Paul’s letters as scripture.) In 1:19-21 he has highlighted the divine origin and certainty of the prophetic scriptures; what we know as the Old Testament. Now, in the beginning of 2:1 he points out that in Old Testament times there were false prophets, and he continues by saying that even in the New Testament days there will be false teachers.

Structure of passage:

a. NT apostles (1:12-18)

b. OT prophets (1:19-21)

b. OT false prophets (2:1a)

a. NT false teachers (2:1b-3)

1:19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people,

In Deuteronomy, the people were warned not to listen to false prophets and told how to distinguish a false prophet from a true prophet.

Deuteronomy 18:20 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.

So it would be clear that a prophet whose predictions did not happen was a false prophet. But the people were warned not to believe every prophet even if what they said did happen.

Deuteronomy 13:1 “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.

Any genuine prophet of God would bring only a God-centered message. Putting any other desire in place of God is indication of a false prophet. As we study some of the false prophets of the Old Testament, we see that they were not authorized to speak with divine authority, they frequently brought a message of peace and security in contrast to the true prophets who brought warning of future judgment, and they were ultimately condemned to punishment by God. Look for a moment at Jeremiah 23:

Jeremiah 23:16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.”’

Jeremiah 23:25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the LORD.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD.

False prophets encouraged the people to despise God’s word and instead follow their own heart. They cause people to forget the name or character of God. Ultimately, they do not profit the people at all. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD.

Peter continues:

just as there will be false teachers among you,

False teachers were no surprise to the apostles. Jesus had warned them:

Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Paul warned the church in Ephesus:

Acts 20: 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Paul exhorted the young pastor Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

The apostle John wrote:

1 John 2:26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Paul warned the leaders in Ephesus that men speaking twisted things drawing away disciples after them will arise from among your own selves. This is not a danger from outside the church. Peter warns

2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you,

These false teachers were not seeking to draw people away from the church; they were bringing their heresies into the church, corrupting the church from the inside. What was it that they were bringing in?

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.

We are told that they are bringing in destructive heresies. What are these teachings that bring destruction? When we look forward in the chapter, it appears that the false teachers are leading people not into false doctrine so much as into immoral behavior. They are described as

10 …those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority… 13 …They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. … reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed… 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray… 18 …speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh… 19 …they themselves are slaves of corruption…. 20 …they are … entangled … and overcome [in the defilements of the world].

We know that moral failure cannot be separated from doctrinal error. And Peter tells us that they ‘deny the Master who bought them’. ‘The Master who bought them’ arouses images of slaves being transferred to new owners; the new master has legal control and absolute authority over the one who is his property. In his letter to the immoral church in Corinth, Paul addresses their similar situation with similar language:

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Paul charges the Ephesian elders with the care of the church:

Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Jesus himself said:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The song of praise to the Lamb in Revelation goes like this:

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Peter points us to this purchase and its moral implications:

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 4:1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

Coming to Jesus for salvation means coming to him on his terms. He has paid the price and he now owns you. These false teachers embraced the Lord Jesus in name, but they reject the claim of Jesus to domination over their whole lives. They deny the sovereign Lord by not obeying him. Far from being his apprentices, they are living in contradiction to his life and teaching. This is what Jesus is talking about when he says:

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

A relationship with Jesus as Lord means obedience to him. Denying Jesus is not only something you do with your lips. Many deny him with their life. Peter says this results in swift destruction. These false teachers were denying any future judgment. Ironically, by denying Jesus authority to rule over their lives, they were inviting his judgment.

But there were other consequences to their destructive heresies:

2:1 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.

They bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality. It should not surprise us that these kind of false teachers that open the door to immorality will gain a wide following. A third consequence of their denial is ‘because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.’ People will slander Christianity and Jesus because of the lifestyles of his so-called followers. The path of truth will appear to be less straight and less narrow than it really is. Because of the conduct of Christians, the name of Jesus gets dragged through the sewer.

Peter reveals the real motive behind the false teachers: greed. “In their greed they will exploit you with false words.” In their insatiable lust for power and possessions, they will fabricate their speech and manipulate lies to make merchandise of you whom the Lord has bought.

Do not be deceived. The false teachers will get what they have coming to them. And if you follow them, you too will get hell as your reward.

“Doubtless such stringent condemnation as Peter’s appear to twentieth-century readers as old-fashioned and inappropriate, because we have largely lost any sense of the diabolical danger of false teaching, and have become as dulled to the distinction between truth and falsehood in ideas as we have to the distinction between right and wrong in behaviour.” M.Green, p.97

Blood bought pilgrims must not prostitute themselves with the pleasures of sin. We cannot have two masters. Do not deny your Master who bought you with his own precious blood.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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January 24, 2010 - Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , ,

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