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2 Peter 3:1-7; Reminding the Beloved

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100221_2peter3_1-7.mp3

02/21 2 Peter 3:1-7 Reminding the Beloved

1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, …

Peter has taught us about the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The false teachers had denied the power and authority of Jesus, and in chapter 2, Peter has addressed their total disregard for God’s authority and power. Now in chapter 3 he moves to their disbelief in the future coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3:1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Peter says this is the second letter he is writing. He writes because he cares. Peter refers to his readers as ‘beloved’; ‘agapetoi’ – those who are loved with a selfless, self-sacrificial love. Peter wants the best for his readers and is doing everything in his power to do them good and bless them. He uses this affectionate term ‘agapetoi’ four times in this chapter. He started the letter by addressing us as brothers, and now he calls us beloved… beloved… beloved… beloved. We tend to read 2 Peter, especially chapter 2 and think ‘this doesn’t sound very loving’ – he is talking about hell fire an brimstone and turning people to ashes, about chains of gloomy darkness and God’s preservation of evildoers for the final judgment, about drowning ungodly people in a global flood, he calls people blots and blemishes, he says they are nearsighted and blind, he compares them with ignorant beasts that are born to be caught and destroyed, he says even a donkey knew better than them. He uses the graphic picture of a dog lapping up its own vomit and a sow wallowing in her own filth, he says they have hearts trained in greed and they are insatiable for sin, that they are accursed children, and it would have been better for them if they had never heard the good news at all than to have heard it and end up where they will end up. To our modern ears trained in politically correct niceness, this may not sound very ‘loving’. We are not allowed to hold anyone to any sort of objective standard or to impose our personal beliefs on anyone else. You just don’t talk like this in polite society. Well, first of all, our society is anything but polite. Maybe at an extremely superficial level there is a facade of politeness, but our culture is depraved and self-destructive and headed straight for hell. But you can’t say that out loud. “You’re going to hell!”

Imagine yourself on a road trip for a family vacation. You’re planning to cross over the Glen Canyon Dam into Arizona. You and the family are doing some sightseeing, so you’re driving slower than you normally would, and as you round the bend to approach the bridge, you slam on your brakes and screech to a halt just inches from the jagged edge of the pavement. The dam has erupted and the bridge has collapsed into the torrent of water hundreds of feet below. And let’s just add for effect that a gas pipeline was severed and is dumping thousands of gallons of fuel into the flaming inferno of wreckage and destruction below. ‘Well kids, that’s enough sightseeing for today, lets turn around and go home.’ But as you drive away, you see another minivan approaching, obviously not sightseeing, probably late for a wedding or something, going much too fast, just about to round the final bend before what used to be the bridge. What do you do? Be polite. Stay in your lane. Smile and wave. Don’t they look nice? Their whole family is dressed up for the occasion. That would be negligent, sick and cruel. You do whatever you can to get their attention. Yell, scream, throw things. Use your car and drive them off the road. They may be upset with you or think your a bit eccentric. But if they are able to stop in time, they will thank you.

I’m not advocating that at work tomorrow you get in everyone’s face and start screaming “you’re all going to hell”. Peter is lovingly but forcefully and graphically warning us, telling us that this is where false teachers will end up, this is where immorality leads, and if you go that way, you will end up there too. So yes, Peter’s language is a bit harsh and abrasive, but it is out of love and concern and urgency to warn those who are in immanent danger. And he expresses that love now; ‘agapetoi’. Beloved, there is danger up ahead.

Peter tells us his purpose in writing: I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder. Peter is assuming that our minds are still sincere, authentic, uncorrupted, pure. And the best defense is a good offense. The best defense against false teaching and immoral living is a mind stirred up to remember the truth. In 1 Peter, he stirred us up to godly living in spite of the threat of persecution. In the first chapters of 2 Peter, he stirred us up to godly living in spite of the arrogant and immoral false teachers. Now in chapter 3, he is stirring us up to godly living in spite of the scoffers that mock the truth of God’s word.

Peter is not stirring us up with something new. He is stirring us up with something old. We often feel that we need the latest newest most cutting edge idea or teaching or truth to be able to really succeed in the Christian life. We need to attend the latest seminar or get the latest book or DVD or catch the latest trend so that we can have a good marriage and a healthy family and a growing church and successful evangelism. As a bible teacher, there’s a temptation to try to find some new insight or truth that has never been discovered before to keep people’s interest or attention. Good bible teaching is faithfully proclaiming the old truths, sometimes in new ways that engage the hearers, but always in dependence on God so that lives are transformed. Peter says ‘I don’t have anything new for you. I’m simply going to stir you up to purity by reminding you of what you already know. And the content comes directly from the bible. Peter points back to the Old Testament and ahead to the New when he says ‘that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles’. Remember the predictions of the holy prophets, prophets like Amos and Malachi and Zephaniah and Jeremiah who said things like:

Amos 9:10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’

Malachi 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi 3:18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

Zephaniah 1:12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’

Isaiah 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, 19 who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!

Jeremiah 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly treacherous to me, declares the LORD. 12 They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. 13 The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them!”’ 14 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: “Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.

And we are to remember the commandment of our Lord and Savior through your apostles, the commandment that comes to us from Jesus through the apostolic testimony, things like:

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. …11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Matthew 24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Mark 13:33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. … 35 Therefore stay awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning– 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7 …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

The way Peter frames this makes it clear that we are not given guidelines or helpful hints on how to live life. This is commandment from our Lord and Savior. Jesus commands us and we must respond. Jesus authorized his apostles to speak on his behalf and with his authority. And they said ‘Repent and believe the gospel; endure to the end; stay awake!’

Remember, he says, knowing this of first importance. This is the same phrase Peter used in 1:20 to encourage us to pay attention to the prophetic word and the apostolic testimony because we know that the prophecies of Scripture are produced by the will of God as men directed by the Holy Spirit speak God’s words. The source of our knowing is again stated to be the prophetic word written by the holy prophets, and the apostolic testimony, which we now have collected in the New Testament documents. And the content of our knowing is the coming of scoffers who follow their own sinful desires. Peter does not want anyone to be surprised when someone questions the truth of God’s word or mocks salvation through Jesus Christ crucified and excuses their own sin. It should come as no surprise to us how the devil works. In 1 Peter it was persecution. The devil is a bully on the playground that wants us to think he can push us around and get us to do what he says through pain or fear. In the first chapters of 2 Peter, it is the false teaching of license. The devil will entice us to gratify our desires by saying that there will be no consequences and we will not be held accountable for our actions. If he can’t get us by bullying us, or seducing and deceiving us, he attempts to stir up our pride by insulting us.

He mocks and ridicules and scoffs. Rather than surprise us or discourage us, this should encourage us. If it was promised that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing, and now we see scoffers scoffing and following their own sinful desires, then we can be encouraged that we are very near the end. Note well, that their scoffing is not mere innocent joking around. Their agenda is moral (or immoral). If by mocking they can make the threat of future judgment look ridiculous and unlikely, they can more easily seduce others to join them in their pursuit of fleshly gratification. Peter gives us a summary of the kinds of things they were saying:

4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

Using this kind of a question is more contemptuous than simply stating that Jesus is not coming back. And the language they use is the language of a believer, not an outsider. Who the ‘his’ is is understood. His coming is Jesus’ coming. And they don’t say that the fathers died; they use the distinctively Christian expression ‘they fell asleep’. These mockers are mocking from the inside. They are posing as Christians, and that is what makes them particularly dangerous. They are questioning the promise of Jesus’ return. They imply that there is no reason to believe he is going to come back at all. Peter began by encouraging us that God has given us precious and very great promises (1:4), promises that motivate his followers to live according to his standards. These skeptics are calling God a liar.

They get this skepticism from the consistency of the natural world. The sun comes up every day. For as long as anyone can remember the sun has always come up. There is no reason for us to think that the sun will not come up tomorrow. There is regularity, consistency. The fact that our world is orderly and follows natural laws makes scientific investigation possible. Things in nature are predictable. If you throw a rock up in the air, it will come back down. There’s even a chance it will land on your head. If sometimes gravity worked and sometimes it didn’t we could make no sense of this world. The scoffers say

4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

‘The fathers’ is a typical way to refer to the patriarchs or Old Testament saints. God made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They all died not having received the promises. Hebrews 11 deals with that very issue. From the beginning of creation until now nothing has changed. God is not just. There is no punishment for the wicked, and there is no reward for the godly. Live for your pleasures because this idea of God’s future judgment is just a myth. God does not intervene in the world.

They at least give lip service to creation, but they ignore that the order we see in creation is a direct result of the Creator. Peter says:

5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Peter is stirring up our sincere minds by way of reminder. These false teachers deliberately overlook the facts. This is not excusable ignorance; this is willful ignorance. Facts that are not convenient to their purposes are intentionally ignored. Genesis describes the creation of God out of the watery chaos. On day two of creation, God separated the waters above the sky from the waters below the sky. On day three, God gathered the waters below the sky into seas and made dry land. Throughout the Genesis account we read “And God said… And it was so.” God formed the earth out of water and through water by his word.

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.

And God held the waters in their places until the time of the flood.

Proverbs 8:28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

And when he commanded the waters to flood the earth, it was so. It says in

Genesis 7:11 …on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. …23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens.

The Psalms again give us insight on the end of the flood.

Psalm 104:5 He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. 8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. 9 You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

It was God’s word that held the waters back, and it was God’s word that released them to flood the earth. The conclusion we should draw is that God will follow through on his promises of judgment. God’s word stored up the waters of judgment for the ancient world. Now by God’s word, the heavens and earth are being stored up for fire. God did destroy the earth once with water because of the sins of mankind. God promised that ‘never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth’ (Gen.9:11). God promises justice, but the final time will be with fire.

7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

If you are not right with God, you will be kindling for that fire. God, through his own Son Jesus Christ, has made a way for us to be forgiven, rescued, and reconciled to God. I plead with you, on the basis of the Cross of Christ, be reconciled to God! If you reject the forgiveness he freely offers, there is nothing left for you but the righteous wrath of God forever and ever and ever.

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

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February 21, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 2:17-22; The True Nature of False Teachers

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100214_2peter2_17-22.mp3

02/14 2 Peter 2:17-22 The True Nature of False Teachers

Peter has written this short but fiery letter to warn believers that there are false teachers on the loose who have chosen a path to hell and are enticing everyone they can to join them on it. He has prayed for us that God’s grace and peace would be multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. He has encouraged us that God’s sovereign power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us. He has pointed us to the promises of God, to our participation in God’s holy character, and our escape from sinful desires that would destroy us. He has encouraged us in the path of godliness and virtue which testifies to our transformed character and new identity. Peter writes to establish us in the truth so that we will not be shaken when the false teachers come. In chapter 2, he lays in to the false teachers with all the vengeance of a loving father whose innocent daughter is being seduced by a sexual predator. He rips the disguise off their true motivation; greed, out of control lust, and a total disregard for proper authority. He lays out the biblical historical examples of angels who sinned, the ancient world destroyed by the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah, to demonstrate that

9 …the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

He compares these false teachers to irrational animals so out of control that they must be destroyed. He describes them as blots and blemishes, like contagious leprosy that destroys whatever it comes in contact with, with eyes that can’t stop lusting after everyone they look at. They have an insatiable appetite for sin, they are experts in greed and manipulation. They prey on weak believers who are not well established in the truth and entice them to go astray to their own destruction. He compares them to Balaam from the Old Testament, who for money told the enemies of God’s people how to seduce them into immorality and idolatry. Balaam was rebuked by his own donkey but didn’t even listen. He ended up being killed along with the enemies of God’s people.

Peter is a good shepherd, lovingly feeding and caring for the needs of the sheep, but fierce and merciless when protecting them from the wolves. He goes on in the rest of the chapter to demonstrate the emptiness of their promises, the method of their madness, and the true character of these false teachers.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Peter reveals the empty nature of their promises. Imagine hiking in the arid desert, your water has run out, you are becoming dehydrated, and you see a sign that says ‘fresh water spring – 2 miles’. You take the detour and with every step anticipate the refreshment that the fresh cool water will bring. The anticipation motivates you to push on toward the spring. Your thirst drives you to keep going even when you feel like you can’t take another step. You round the final bend, and there you see the decomposing carcasses of the other travelers who took the same detour. The spring that promised hope has no water. The empty promise leads to death. Proverbs says:

Proverbs 13:13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

The teaching of the wise is said to be a fountain of life. This is teaching that honors God’s word and pays attention to his commandment. Teaching that gives life is teaching that points people to the true source of life. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 2:13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

The first and greatest sin is abandoning God as the all satisfying source of everything we need. The Psalmist knew God is the only one that can quench our soul’s deepest thirst.

Psalms 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Jesus said to the woman at the well

John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

In John 6 he said:

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

In John 7 he said

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Jesus promised that those who come to him to be satisfied in him will have their deepest thirst quenched, will be indwelt by his Holy Spirit, and will overflow with living water for those around. Are we water for the thirsty? Do our words point people to Jesus and give life to those around us? Or are we waterless springs?

He calls the false teachers waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. The image is a cloud that promises rain for a parched land but turns out to be only a haze that brings hot weather. Mist has no stability and comes and goes with the changing breezes of fashion and popular opinion. These false teachers are not neutral; they are not harmless, and they will be held accountable for their actions. He says ‘for them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.’ Their judgment is firmly fixed. They have reserved seats in the blackest darkness. This destiny of the false teachers stands in stark contrast to the future that is reserved for us:

1 Peter 1:3 … he has caused us to be born again to a living hope …4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded though faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

There is an inheritance reserved in heaven for all genuine believers. The gloom of utter darkness has been reserved for false teachers who lead sheep away from the Shepherd. Peter goes on to describe how they do what they do, so we will be on guard.

18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.

They were waterless in that their words did not bring life, but they were by no means silent. Just the opposite. They would talk anybody under the table with their volume, their forcefulness, and their arrogance. They would look down on anyone who disagreed as ignorant, uneducated, or uninformed. They speak loud boasts of folly. The word here speaks of inflated arrogant high sounding speech. They were impressive to listen to. They were able to use big words and convincing arguments. They made great promises for those who would attend their seminars and follow their advice, but their teaching was full of truth that was distorted and would lead to destruction.

Their impressive sounding speech was the PR campaign for their real agenda: they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. Sex sells. Lust and greed and appetite are powerful tools, and sensual passions are intensely difficult to resist. The drives for food and drink and sex and escape from pain are all necessary God given drives that are not sinful. But when these drives become the controlling principle in life, they become destructive.

The false teachers go after those who are not established in the faith. That’s why Peter is writing this letter! He wants us all to be established, with our feet firmly planted on the solid rock of the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ, our mind informed by reliable biblical truth, and our heart transformed to love God more than anything else. There is no excuse for someone who has been a believer for many years to not be established in the truth. But growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does take time, and those who have only recently been introduced to Jesus are by nature more vulnerable. We all need to be on our guard, and watching out for one another. We all have a common enemy who constantly seeks to steal, kill and destroy. The devil is after those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. When someone comes to Christ, there must be a break with the old lifestyle. That is an especially vulnerable time for a new believer who will be barraged with temptation to return to what is familiar. We need to help each other, to confront each other, to pray with each other, to encourage each other to stay in the path of righteousness.

Here’s what the false teachers promise: They promise them freedom. Freedom is the glorious message of the cross. Jesus said “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Paul taught that “the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2); “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). These false teachers would take up the cry “Freedom! – Christ set us free for freedom! stand firm in your freedom and do not submit to the legalism of those who impose their rigid puritanical morals on you to restrict your freedom in Christ. Christ died to set us free from the law! We are free! We can live any way we choose because we are free!” Freedom is a powerful word. FREEDOM! The cry of freedom can rally the troops. The idea of freedom can bring us to tears. It is an emotionally charged word. But what does it mean? What is freedom? What kind of freedom are we talking about? Peter has already addressed this danger head on in his first letter:

1 Peter 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

We are free! That is true. Peter encourages us to embrace our freedom. Live as people who are free. But the danger is that we would use freedom as a cover-up for evil. We are free, but we are freed to be the glad servants of God. Here’s how Paul describes our freedom:

Romans 6:7 For one who has died has been set free from sin… 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. … 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Freedom in Christ is not freedom to live any way we please. The blood-bought freedom that we are given is freedom to live a life free from slavery to sin. Our freedom in Christ can be described as slavery to God or slavery to righteousness. This is slavery to a master who loves us so much that he paid with his own blood to free us from the consequences of our own sin – death, hell, an eternity of the righteous wrath of God; and to promise us sanctification, cleansing that leads to eternal life and joy in his presence. Jesus said

Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

The loud boastful word ‘freedom’ for the false teachers really means that they are still enslaved to their own corruption. They are overcome by their own passions. They are not master of their desires, they are ruled by their desires. Their cry of freedom rings empty when we look at their slavish existence that eats away at the very flesh they worship. The next thing Peter says is downright scary.

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Peter tells us that it is possible to escape the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and be re-entangled and overcome. Peter doesn’t talk like many Christians in our day talk. “Well, I know he’s gone back to his old ways, but at least he prayed the sinner’s prayer when he was in jail. What she’s doing right now isn’t right, but she asked Jesus into her heart when she was young. They were baptized and went to church regularly for a while. They’ve returned to their old lifestyle, but at least they made a decision for Christ at that concert.” Sometimes our evangelism reflects this; if we can get someone to pray to receive Christ we can rejoice with the angels and go on our merry way. Peter does not think or talk like this. He says “it would have been better for them never to have know the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment”. Better never to have known, than to know and walk away. Better to never hear the gospel, than to hear, understand, and reject it. This echoes what Jesus said

Matthew 11:24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.

If…they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” This is almost an exact quote from the words of Jesus:

Luke 11:24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (cf. Matthew 12:43-45)

According to Peter, it would be better if someone had never heard of Jesus than for them to understand clearly the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for our sins, to embrace him for a time, and then to walk away.

Jesus did not tell us to go get as many people as you can to pray a prayer. Jesus told us to

Matthew 28:19-20 Go …and make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you

Salvation is described in verse 21 as “the way of righteousness”; it is not the way of self-gratification. Righteousness is to define the character and way of life of a Christian. He describes it as “the holy commandment delivered to them”. The gospel is not a recommendation. It is not a suggestion or an offer. The good news is a holy commandment. The gospel makes demands on me.

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Paul reminds us of the gospel in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.

We must turn from our dead works, embrace Christ as our only hope, and abide in him.

I do not believe this passage teaches that a true believer can lose his salvation. The final phrase makes this clear. “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” Dogs and pigs were both unclean animals according to the Old Testament, and they were both considered filthy and despised. Dogs have a habit of vomiting and then eating what they have vomited up. People for a time can seem to purge themselves of the sin inside, but if their nature is not changed, they will go swallow it back down. Pigs wallow in mud. You can give a pig a bath, but it is still a pig and it will wallow in the mud as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Washing the outside does nothing to effect change on the inside. A dog is still a dog and a pig is still a pig. They are not sheep. Their true nature will become evident with time. This is what John tells us :

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

People can be very convincing. We have a tendency to want to clean the outside of the cup and whitewash the outside of the tomb. But the new birth results in new life – transformed life – sheep that follow the shepherd. Those that turn from the shepherd to eat their own vomit or wallow in their own filth are not sheep but pigs and dogs.

Jesus illustrated this truth in the parable of the soils:

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

False teachers, and those who follow them, are thorny ground; choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life. The do not hold fast to the word of truth but forsake it.

Peter is writing to warn those whom he believes to be true believers. These are strong words of warning from the loving heart of a protective father. Understand the method of the false teachers; they use bold sophisticated sounding language to persuade. Understand the bait of the false teachers; they seduce unsteady souls with indulgence of the flesh. Understand the theology of the false teachers – they preach a freedom from biblical moral restraints by distorting the meaning of Christian freedom. Understand the end of the false teachers; they are slaves to their own corruption, they are worse off than someone who has never heard the good news, and the gloom of utter darkness is reserved for them.

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.

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

February 14, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 2:10-16; Arrogance, Lust and Greed

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100207_2peter2_10-16.mp3

02/07 2 Peter 2:10-16 Arrogance, Lust, and Greed

Peter is warning us of the dangers of false teachers:

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.

Peter continues by giving three examples of God’s just judgment in the past to give us certainty of his coming judgment on evildoers in the future. He mentions angels who sinned, the ancient world that he destroyed with a flood, keeping Noah and his family alive, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed with fire from God, but rescuing righteous Lot. Then he concludes:

9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

In the following section of the passage, Peter lays it on heavy with the false teachers. He reveals their true character and destiny as a warning for us to not be tripped up with their lies. Peter’s goal, as he states at the end of this short letter is:

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.

Peter wants us to have stability that comes from good doctrine, good doctrine that will bear good fruit in our lives. Peter calls us to:

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

He wants us to demonstrate that we are the elect and called of God by embracing and walking in the new life that Jesus has effected in us.

Peter tells us what he intends to do with this letter:

2 Peter 1:12 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,

Peter considers us established in the truth. Yet he feels it is critical to stir us up with a reminder so that will be kept from straying.

In chapter 2 verse 1-3, Peter tells us that the three major issues with the false teachers were their arrogant disrespect of authority, their insatiable lust and their voracious greed. Now, in verses 10-13 he addresses their arrogance against authority, in verses 13-14 he confronts their out of control sexual appetites, and in verses 14-16 he rebukes their merciless greed. Let’s look at the passage at hand.

10 …Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, 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. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

The main message of this passage is clear and hard-hitting. But there are some details in his language that are unclear. First, who or what are the glories that the false teachers blaspheme? Are they good angels, fallen angels, or the glories of Christ at his second coming? Next, who do angels not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against? Does ‘them’ refer to the fallen angels, or the false teachers? The language is ambiguous and can be understood in different ways. Here are some possibilities:

* ‘these false teachers are not afraid to slander good angels, who were involved in giving the law to Moses, and were commonly understood to be involved in the final judgment, saying things like ‘they don’t exist’ or ‘they have no right or power to judge us’; even though these good angels do not slanderously accuse them – the false teachers – before God. (doxas = angels; Heb.9:5; Rev.18:1)

* ‘these false teachers are not afraid to slander fallen angels, saying things like ‘we’re not under their power’, ‘we won’t share their condemnation’ or even ‘they don’t exist’; whereas good angels do not slanderously accuse the fallen angels, even though they would have the right and power to do so.

Jude, in his parallel passage, uses a very similar phrase – blaspheme the glorious ones, but he elaborates on the second part; what the angels do not do:

Jude 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

So if Peter and Jude are making the same point, then Peter is saying that the good angels do not presume to bring a slanderous accusation about fallen angels before the Lord, but instead leave it to the justice of God.

* ‘these false teachers are not afraid to blaspheme the glories of God, particularly the glories of Christ and his immanent return, but the angels, who have much greater strength and might, do not slander the false teachers who deserve it.

The way Peter uses the word ‘glory’ points us toward this understanding of ‘glories’. In 1 Peter 1:11, we are reminded of the Old Testament prophets who predicted the sufferings of Christ and his subsequent glories. In 2 Peter 1:3, we are called to his own glory and excellence. In 1:17 Jesus received glory and honor from God the Father. In 3:18 glory is ascribed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In chapter 3, the false teachers mock the promise of the second coming. So it could be that the false teachers even slander the glories of Jesus himself and his second coming,

However we understand the details of the text, the main point is clear. The false teachers are incredibly arrogant and presumptuous to slander without fear things that are bigger and stronger than them, things they don’t even understand. They criticize without examining themselves. They have stepped out of place and refuse to submit to proper authority.

Peter compares them to wild animals that are a menace and must be put down.

12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing.

What a graphic picture of our sin nature allowed to run its course. They have become a danger to themselves and all those around them, they cannot respond to rational thought, they must do what they are driven to do, and the only way to stop them in their destructive course is to cage them and destroy them. And Peter wants to make it clear, that destruction is coming for them. These false teachers will be destroyed; they will suffer wrong as payment for the wrongs they have done. They will reap what they have sown and get what they have coming to them.

Next he points to their insatiable lust:

13 …They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls.

Pleasure and feasting are not in themselves bad or sinful.

Isaiah 55:2 … Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

There is a time and a place for pleasure and feasting and celebration. We, of all people, have something genuine to celebrate. But whenever pursuit of pleasure controls everything else, it has become an idol. When pleasure is made god, it is deceitful pleasure, because it promises but can never satisfy. Peter describes these false teachers who feast with the church ‘blots and blemishes’. They are a defiling leprosy in the body. Peter exhorts us to diligence in avoiding spots and blemishes:

2 Peter 3:14 … be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

In 1 Peter 1:18-19, we are told that the Passover Lamb who bought us was without spot or blemish.

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed … 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.

There is a word play in this verse. When Peter says ‘reveling in their deceptions’, the word translated deceptions sounds like the word for the love feast where the believers would celebrate the Lord’s supper. Peter is saying that the agape meal has become a deceptive pleasure because of these blots and blemishes

Verse 14 literally reads ‘having eyes full of an adulteress.’ Everyone they look at is envisioned as a potential sex partner. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

He says they are ‘insatiable for sin’. Proverbs tells us:

Proverbs 27:20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.

He says ‘they entice unsteady souls’. They are not satisfied by indulging their own flesh unless they can drag others down with them in their shameful practices. This is Peter’s exhortation to us. Do not be one who is an unsteady soul.

2 Peter 3:17 … 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…

Send your roots down deep in the knowledge of Jesus. Anchor your life on the rock solid truth of Jesus Christ crucified to set sinners free from sin so that with his resurrection power we can live lives of righteousness.

These false teachers are not unsteady. They come to prey on those who are weak in the church. Peter goes on to describe them: ‘they have hearts trained in greed’. They go to the gym and exercise their hearts and train to take advantage of the weak for their own gain. Accursed children! Because of the road they have chosen, they are under God’s curse. Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They are not lost, accidentally off the path through no fault of their own. It is not that they did not know the right way. They knew it and they forsook it. They abandoned the truth and embraced a lie. They intentionally left the path and went astray.

Now Peter points us to an Old Testament illustration. Peter says a few words about Balaam, and he expects his readers to know the story. Do you know the story? In a day where none but the very rich would have a copy of the scriptures in their homes, Peter expected them to know this story. The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22-24. The Israelites have left Egypt and have been wandering in the desert for 40 years while the rebellious generation that rejected God’s promises dies off. They are now on the march toward the promised land, and God is giving them victory. They defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.

Numbers 22:1 Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. 2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. 4 And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. 6 Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

So Balak king of Moab and the Midianites sent his messengers to Balaam to hire him to perform divination and curse the Israelites. God forbade Balaam to go with them, so he refused. Balak sent a larger group of more important messengers:

16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, 17 for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.”’ 18 But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more.

God gives him permission this second time to go, but strictly charges him to do nothing but what God tells him.

21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again. 26 Then the angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” 30 And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” 31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.”

God’s anger was kindled because Balaam’s way was perverse. God permitted Balaam to go and meet Balak, and they made sacrifices in order to curse Israel, but God caused Balaam to bless them instead. Balak took him to another location and offered sacrifices and again God caused Balaam to bless Israel. This happened a third time,

24:10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will.

Balaam then blesses Israel a final time and returns home. It all sounds good, but there is something going on under the surface. Balaam is after the silver and gold in Balak’s house. The very next chapter says

Numbers 25:1 While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

We don’t find out what was really going on until later on in Numbers. In Numbers 31, Balaam is killed in battle along with the Midianites, and the women are taken captive.

Numbers 31:15 Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? 16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.

So Balaam got his money – since God wouldn’t allow him to curse the people of Israel, he gave the Midianites some advice. If you can lure the Israelites into sexual sin and idolatry, God will punish them.

Peter says:

15 …They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness

Balaam, this influential prophet, had less insight into what God was doing than his animal did. Balaam was blinded to reality by his greed. Balaam acted irrationally, insanely. Even a supernatural event didn’t deter him from recklessly pursuing his own lust. He traded in the true satisfaction that comes from intimacy with God for a king’s gold and silver, and he didn’t even live to enjoy it.

Know this. Know this beforehand. Let us all be established in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us learn to value what is truly valuable so that we don’t forsake the way of truth for a cheap imitation, so that we are not carried away to judgment with those who embrace the devil’s lies.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him … 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. … 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

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.

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1 Thessalonians 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

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2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

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1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

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

February 7, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment