SUGGESTED SCRIPTURE READING- 2 Peter 2: 1-22
FOCAL PASSAGE— 2 Peter 2: 1-3 – But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. 3 They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.
In Chapter 1 Peter stressed the importance of building ourselves up spiritually. In chapter 2, he tells us why this is so important. He begins by describing the characteristics of false teachers, comparing them to the false prophets of the Old Testament. In Peter’s audience Jewish rabbis and other teachers who professed to communicate God’s truth posed the greatest threat to the Christians. By comparing false teachers in the church with false prophets in Israel Peter was saying that just as there were those who misrepresented God in Israel so there would be those who misrepresent Him in the church.
I wonder if you think this is as important to us today as it was to the original readers of Peter’s letter. I believe it is actually more important! The Greek word for “false teachers” used in verse 1 is not used anywhere else in the Bible. It can refer to those who claim to be teachers of God’s truth, but actually teach falsehood. Never has that been more prevalent than today. We live in a world where anything goes – you can say, think, believe whatever you like. Have you ever heard someone say, “All roads lead to Heaven?” There are even churches today that teach that concept. Our society has become so fearful of not being “tolerant”, that it is willing to accept any religion. Thus, the only wrong belief is that there’s such a thing as wrong beliefs. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!
In John 14: 6, Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He can’t make it any plainer than that.
The words “secretly bring in”, in our focal passage, literally mean to bring in along side. The heretics would seek to add some other teaching to the orthodox faith or some other teaching as a substitute for the truth. The implication is that they would try to do this in some underhanded way. This is the same way Satan works today. There are many churches today that teach something disguised as Christianity, but is actually something else entirely. Beware of anyone that tells you salvation is by Christ “plus” anything, Like the song says, salvation is in “Christ Alone”.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. Romans 10: 9
It’s really quite simple and we have the Standard to go by. Test every teaching you hear against God’s Word. Test every thing I say here against God’s Word. Test everything Bernard says here against God’s Word. Even test your pastor. It’s important to have the Scriptures open in front of you when listening to any preacher – to make sure that what he is saying is what the Bible says, and not just unhelpful speculation.
If as we study the balance of this chapter, we see there are strong consequences of following false teachings. Just as God had dealt with people in the days of Noah, or Lot, He will deal with such people today. Peter himself had denied Jesus three times…he did not want others to follow his example.
The Scriptures over flow with hope for those that honor His word. We live in a world of misleading beliefs and false teachings. I know of no other way to overcome them than to begin each day in Bible study, even if it’s only for a few minutes. The Psalmist put it best, and I love the poetic beauty in the King James Version:
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. Psalm 119:105