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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

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

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February 7, 2010 - Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , ,

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