Living with Troublemakers by Standing on the Word of God
2 Peter 2: 1-22
Since the church began, there have been false teachers who would corrupt the church and the truth found in God’s Word. God’s Word is the standard by which one can confirm or reject the validity of spiritual teaching. Eternity for unbelievers and victorious living for believers hangs in the balance when truth is challenged by false teaching. The Apostle Peter wrote a strong rebuke to false teachers in 2 Peter chapter 2. He identifies the presence of false teachers, the content of their teaching, and describes the judgment that will come on them.
Peter starts this chapter by writing, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1) He lets the reader know that false teachers exist and that the reader should beware. These teachers “secretly introduce destructive heresies”, and many will follow them and their teaching. Peter is issuing this strong warning to protect the reader from being captivated by these false teachers. The twisted truth of these false teachers is like a disease to the body. When false teaching is discovered, every means necessary must be taken to eliminate it so the body can return to health.
Throughout 2 Peter 3, Peter describes the content of the false teaching of his day.
- Deny the Sovereign Lord v. 1
- Bring the truth into disrepute v. 2
- Make up stories that exploit people v. 3
- Follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature v. 10
- Despise authority v. 10
- Slander celestial beings v. 10
- Blaspheme in matters they do not understand v. 12
- Carouse in broad daylight v. 13
- Have eyes full of adultery v. 14
- Seduce the unstable v. 14
- Are experts in greed v. 14
- Have left the straightway v. 15
- Appeal to lustful desires v. 18
- Promise freedom while they are enslaved by sin v. 19
This list from 2 Peter 1-20 demonstrates the condemning words that Peter used to describe these false teachers. Any teaching that is described by this list is false and should be rejected. The most powerful weapon against false teaching is the Word of God. It is central in determining truth and conduct.
Peter also describes the judgment that awaits false teachers. He writes, “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (2 Peter 2) Peter begins by giving Biblical examples of God’s judgment for false teaching and apostasy (2 Peter 2: 4-9) This passage describes how God judged the angels who sinned and rebelled against Him (2 Peter 2:4), the ancient world with the flood in Noah’s day (2 Peter 2: 5) and the city of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2: 6-9). Peter also demonstrates how God is able to save the godly from these judgments when he writes, “if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.” (2 Peter 2:9) God protects the godly, those who live according to His Word, while He judges the false, ungodly teacher.
Anyone who would endeavor to teach the Word of God and to lead people spiritually should pay close attention to 2 Peter 2. Consider the commitments a teacher of truth must make:
- The Bible is God’s gift to the world and the source of truth
- The Bible was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit
- The Bible is the inerrant Word of God
- The Bible is the infallible Word of God
- The Bible describes how one can know God and live for Him.
- The Bible has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. (Baptist Faith and Message)
- The Bible is the source of Christian truth and teaching
A teacher who makes these commitments about the Word of God need not fear the judgment of false teachers. A teacher who stays close to the Word of God can confidently proclaim and teach truths found there in. Paul wrote these words to Timothy, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2: 1-2)