2 Peter 2:1-3

2 Peter 2:1-3a

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

May 1, 2014

                                                              

Chapter 1 of 2 Peter contains a beautiful description of what it means to be a genuine follower of Jesus.  True believers--

--have equal standing before God (v.1)

--know God in personal, intimate way (v.2)

--share in the power of God (v.3)

--are recipients of the precious and magnificent promises of God (v.4)

--grow and mature in their walk with God (vv.5-9)

--persevere in the faith (vv.10-11)

--understand that Christianity is rooted in history (vv.12-18)

--focus on God’s Word

 

Now is chapter 2 Peter turns to the subject of false believers. In this chapter Peter warns us that there will be people who claim to be followers of Jesus and who claim to speak for Jesus, but they are really charlatans and fakes...always have been two kinds of people among the people of God...there are—

--true believers/those who only pretend to believe...

--really know God/only profess know God...

--faithful/unfaithful...

--committed/uncommitted...

--God-centered/self-centered...

In 1st chapter of this letter Peter described true believers.  In 2nd chapter he turns to the pretenders.

 

At the end of chapter 1 Peter says that God produced for us the “prophetic word” or the Bible through true prophets, through people who were moved by God’s Spirit.  Now, he begins chapter 2 by pointing out that in addition to those true prophets who were among God’s people, there were also false prophets among God’s people.

 


T.S. - The “false teachers” to whom Peter refers in this passage were people in the church pretending to be in touch with God, passing themselves off as spiritual leaders, as teachers of others, but who were not in touch with God and who were leading not closer to God but further away from God...

 

Warren Wiersbe points out three things that false teachers, pseudo-spiritual leaders will invariably do...

 

I.       False teachers deceive

1.      One of the marks of false teachers/spiritual leaders is that they never put their true face forward...they don’t want you to see who/what they really are...they want you to see an illusion, a contrived image of them...

2.      Jesus warned of “...false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves...” [Matt.7:15]...and that is precisely the kind of people Peter describes in this passage...notice how they are deceptive—

--in their approach (“secretly”-v.1)...don’t operate in the open...they move in the shadows...are not comfortable being exposed to the light...their agenda is always hidden...they are always manipulating, scheming, working in under-handed ways to get what they want...

 

--in their motive (“greed” – v.3)…refers to much more than just the desire for material things...can be greed for power, for popularity, for getting one’s own way...point is their purpose is always selfish and self-centered...

 

--in their purpose (“exploit” - v.3)...their motives are always less than pure...instead of genuinely desiring to help people, to build up people, their mind-set is to use people...the word means “to make merchandise of”...people just become objects, a means to an end...

 

--in their words (“false words”-end v.3)...the Greek word is “plastos” from which our word plastic comes...it means they twist words to make them mean what they desire...you can’t really trust the plain, obvious meaning of the words they use...they always have a hidden, under-the-surface meaning as well...their words cannot be trusted...

 

1.      Deceptiveness is a consistent characteristic of the kind of people being described in this passage...read interesting thing about Joseph Stalin this past week...despite the mind-numbing brutality of the Joseph Stalin regime in the Soviet Union, his propaganda machine did its job well. Many Russians hailed him as a hero and a savior, including a young school girl who was chosen to greet Stalin on one occasion.  Years later, this woman recalled Stalin taking her onto his lap, smiling like a loving father. She was starry-eyed, and she cherished the moment for many years. Only later did she learn that during this period, Stalin had her parents arrested and sent to the labor camps, never to be seen again. [Today in the Word, October, 1997, p. 36]


 

II.  False teachers deny

1.      In v.1 Peter says these counterfeit Christians are “...even denying the Master who bought them...”...several things about that phrase are important to understand...

--”who bought them” does not mean that they are genuine Christians...while Christ died for them and while His death potentially paid for their sins, it is obvious from how Peter describes them in this chapter they had no real relationship with Christ...they were not true believers...perhaps they thought they were, but they did not have a saving relationship with Jesus...

--”denying the Master”...Master obviously refers to Jesus...how were they denying Him?...two possibilities...

--possible was a theological denial of Jesus, denying His deity or denying that His sacrificial death on the cross was necessary for our forgiveness or denying His resurrection...I think that is unlikely because anyone teaching such things would have been immediately recognized as a fake and would not have been tolerated in the early church...

--more than likely, talking about a practical denial of Jesus... denied Him by the way they lived...while claiming allegiance to Jesus, their life-styles said they obviously had other priorities, other loves in their lives more important to them than Jesus...their real heresy was professing Jesus with their mouths but denying Him with their lives...in v.2 Peter refers to the “sensuality” of these false teachers...the word refers to sexual impurity...the NIV translates it “shameful ways”...by the way they lived they were denying their professed commitment to Jesus...

2.      It is not that Christians will never make mistakes...the Scripture does not teach that…as a matter of fact, many of the great characters of the Bible had deep flaws…not any one of us is perfectly, 100% consistent all the time...all of us, in some way or another, fall short of God’s ideal...if you expect perfection from any person, you are going to be disappointed...

3.      But the habit of our lives, the direction of our lives must not deny the faith we claim to have...

 


  1. He made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity—with no inward reality! [Today in the Word, June 3, 1989]

 

III.  False teachers destroy

  1. In Psalm 23 David proclaimed “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life...”...in the wake of genuine Christians you will find good, positive things...where they go lives are improved...people are made better...but not so with false teachers...they do not bring good things, they bring destruction...

  2. If look carefully at text will see the destruction they bring is on several levels...

--last part of v.1 speaks of them “bringing swift destruction upon themselves...”...that is, God is aware of what they are doing and He will not leave their actions unpunished...we’re going to develop this idea further next week...

--also bring destruction upon others...v.2 says that “many will follow them...”...can’t always judge the truth of what someone is saying by the size of the crowd...often times false teachers are saying what people want to hear...people gladly follow because many times the demands of God on our lives are minimized or ignored...

--finally, the bring destruction on the church...last part of v.2 says “because of them the way of truth will be maligned...”...non-believers see the excesses and abuses of false teachers and assume that is real Christianity...and they reject, not the real thing, but a distortion, a caricature of the real thing...nothing hurts the cause of Christ more than those who misrepresent Him to the world...

                                                      Conclusion

  1. What a sorry legacy--deception, denial, destruction...I don’t know about you, but when my life is over and done, that is not what I want written on my tombstone!...that’s the legacy of counterfeit Christians, of false teachers...

  2. The legacy of true believers is just the opposite...

--instead of deceptiveness, true believers are characterized by openness and honesty...

--instead of denying Christ by their life-styles, true believers live in such a way that affirms their commitment to Christ...

--instead of causing pain and destruction, true believers are a source of healing and comfort...

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