2 Peter 2:20-22

2 Peter 2:20-22

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

June 26, 2014

 

  1. There is something inside us which cries out for justice…we have built into us this innate desire for good to be rewarded and evil to be punished…that’s why we applaud novels, movies, television programs where, in the end, the good people prevail and the bad people are brought to justice…

  2. And I think this desire built into us for goodness to prevail and evil to be defeated comes from God, Himself…throughout the Bible God is portrayed as a God of justice…can’t read the Scripture without seeing that in the end, God is going to bring His creation to a time of judgment…the purpose of judgment is to reward faithfulness, obedience, and good…and the purpose of judgment is to punish unfaithfulness, disobedience, and evil…listen to these representative statements from the Bible:

    • I Samuel 2:10a“Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered; against them He will thunder in the heavens.  The Lord will judge the ends of the earth…”

  • Psalm 50:6“And the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge.”

  • Psalm 98:9b“He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.”

  • Galatians 6:7 -  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”

  • Hebrews 9:27 -  “…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…”

  • James 4:12“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy…”

Share all that to remind you that God’s judgment is an absolute reality that has been built into our universe…

  1. Peter was well aware of the reality of God’s judgment…in this session we are going to conclude our study of 2 Peter 2 by focusing on the last three verses of the chapter…told you several times that these verses tell us of the fate of the false teachers, the counterfeit Christians who had infected the early church…actually, throughout chapter 2 of this letter Peter refers to the fate of the counterfeit Christians…look at 2 Peter 2 and let your eye just kind of fall down the chapter…notice al the things Peter says about their fate…

  • V.1 – “…bringing swift destruction upon themselves…”

  • V.3 – “…their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

  • V.9 – “…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation and to keep the unrighteous under punishment  for the day of judgment.”

  • V.12 – “…will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed…”

  • V.17 – “…for whom the black darkness has been reserved…”

  1. Now, Peter concludes this chapter by explaining why such a fate awaits these counterfeit Christians…look at 2 Peter 2:20-22…(text)

    T.S. – That is one of the most difficult passages in 2 Peter…the difficulty comes in identifying precisely what Peter is saying about these false teachers…

                --Is he saying that the false teachers had at one time been genuine Christians?  Were they people who had come to faith in Christ, been saved, then turned away from Christ and lost their salvation?  A surface reading of these verses would seem to support that.

                --Or, is he saying that the false teachers were people who only claimed to have a faith relationship with Christ, but in reality had never really known Him?  I think a more careful reading of these verses indicates that is the case.

          These verses describe to us the kind of people who should live in fear of God’s judgment…they describe the kind of people on whom God’s judgment will fall…want you to see two things to you about that…

    I.    God’s Judgment will fall on those who choose the way of reformation over the way of transformation

  1. Problem of the counterfeit Christians in 2 Peter 2 is that they misunderstood the nature of real salvation…they viewed salvation as an “outside/in” process…that is, they felt if they cleaned up the outside of their lives, if they stopped doing certain things, avoided certain vices, that meant they were right with God… v.20 speaks of them as having “…escaped the defilements of the world…”…word translated “defilements” in the NASB and “pollutions” in some other translations refers to defilements from the outside…literally the word means “outward stain”

  2. But true Christianity is not an “outside/in” process…it is an “inside/out” process…we saw back in 1:4 Peter describes true Christians as “…having escaped the corruption that is in the world…””corruption” is a much stronger word than “defilements”…it refers to corruption from within…”corruption” deals with inward causes…”defilements” deals only with outward symptoms…

  3. What want you to see in that is God does not call us to life of reformation…calls us to life of transformation…genuine relationship with Jesus changes the very core of our being…it is not what we do, it is what God does…as Paul put it in 2 Cor. 5:17 – “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

  4. And instead of being transformed, made into a new person, by the power of Christ, the false teachers only temporarily reformed their lives in their own strength…and invariably, as we always do operating in our own power, they fell back into their old ways…became entangled once again in ways of world and ended up in worse state than in which they began…

  5. The phrase in v.20 “…the last state has become worse for them than the first…” is virtually a direct quote from a strange little parable that Peter no doubt heard Jesus tell…recorded in Matthew 12 and Luke 11…about man from whom unclean spirit was cast out…but instead of allowing God to enter his life to occupy the space vacated by the unclean spirit, the man kept that place empty…Jesus said unclean spirit returned with seven other unclean spirits…and he ended up in a worse condition than before…point of that parable and point of this passage in 2 Peter is that self-reformation is a dead end street…it is an effort in futility…we will never be truly changed by reformation…we must be changed from the inside out by the power of God…

  1. The first car I ever owned was an old, beat up 1962 Ford Falcon…it cost $300 and I was extremely proud of that car…I took care of it as if it were a very expensive car…every week I washed it…on a regular basis I would wax it and carefully clean the interior…I learned to change the oil and tune the engine…but not matter how much a pampered that car, it was never anything but a Ford Falcon…that was all it was and all it ever could be…

  2. And no matter how much we work on our lives, apart from a radical transformation which comes only through a faith commitment to Jesus Christ, we will always be less than God intended for us to be and always stand under God’s judgment…

  1. Another way of looking at it is the difference between treating a symptom and a cause of a medical condition.  Merely treating or masking the system does not get to the root of the problem.  The root of our spiritual problem is that we have a sinful, rebellious nature.  No matter how hard we try to change it, we are not going to be successful.  (See Paul’s discussion of his struggle in Romans 7.)  The answer is not reformation; it is being transformed by Christ. (See Romans 8.) 

  2. And no matter how much we work on our lives, no matter how hard we try to change our lives on the outside, apart from a radical transformation on the inside, a transformation which comes only through a faith commitment to Jesus Christ, we will always be less than God intended for us to be and always stand under God’s judgment…

    II.  God’s judgment falls on those who choose the way of head knowledge about Jesus over personal relationship with Jesus     

  1. The false teachers, counterfeit Christians described in 2 Peter 2 certainly knew about Jesus…they are described in v.20 of having “knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”…v.21 tells us they knew “the way of righteousness” or the way of salvation…

  2. But, they obviously did not have a personal, life-changing relationship with Jesus…while they knew Him in the sense of knowing about Him, they did not live in daily relationship with Him…they probably could—

    --recite the facts of His life…

    --quote some of His most well known sayings…

    --stand in a public assembly and say elegant prayers…

    --even preach a sermon about Him…

          But truth is, they didn’t really know Him…they had not allowed Him to penetrate their hearts, to change their lives, to make them new creatures…

  3. And in v.21 Peter makes a startling statement about such people…says “…it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness…” than having known it only to reject it…think about that…it’s an amazing statement…ignorance of the way of salvation is preferable to rejecting the way of salvation…why?…because those who are merely ignorant have at least not turned their backs on the only way to relationship with God…

  4. What want you to see in all that is it is not enough merely to know about Jesus…not enough merely to have a head knowledge of Him… in our culture, it is rare to find a person who does not at least know something of the facts of Jesus’ life…most people in our culture have heard about Him…many have studied His life…read that Joseph Stalin, the brutal Russian dictator attended seminary as a young man…Nikiti Khrushcev, the Russian Premier during the height of the cold war, even memorized the four gospels as a youth…but just knowing about Jesus is not enough…until we have welcomed Him into our lives, allowed Him to have a resting place, a home in our hearts, live in relationship with Him, we stand in danger of God’s judgment…

  1. And the question we must ask ourselves is, “Do I really know Jesus?”…not do I know about Him?…but do I know Him?…do I live in relationship with Him?…do I know Him in the way I know I husband/wife…father/mother…son/daughter…it is that personal,  relationship which enables us to stand in the day of judgment…

  2. And the evidence that we know Him is a changed life…if we live in relationship with Jesus, our lives will give evidence of that relationship …that’s point of proverb Peter quotes in v.22 about dog returning to its vomit or pig wallowing in mud…when we enter relationship with Jesus, He begins to change our nature…we don’t go back to the old ways because He is constantly leading us into new ways…

Conclusion

  1. The Scripture tells us that “…it is appointed unto men once to die and after this comes judgment…” [Hebrews 9:27]…it also tells us that “…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” [Romans 14:10]…

2.   But for those who live in personal relationship with Jesus and whose lives have been transformed by Him, judgment is not a time to fear or dread…instead, it is a time to hear the Master say, “Well done.  Well done good and faithful servant.”

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