2 Peter 2:1-15
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.
They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed —an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.
In order to understand what Peter is warning his readers about, you must first understand the false teaching that had become prevalent at the time of this writing. The heresy that Peter is writing about is a primitive form of what in the second century became known as Gnosticism. These false teachers denied the lordship of Jesus. These false teachers were immoral and infected others with their carnal ways through minimizing holy living and emphasizing personal freedom. These false teachers were often arrogant in their boasts of having superior knowledge to that of the early apostles. Through their false claims of superiority, they caused deep divisions in the early church. Claiming to be spiritual, it is apparent that they were not spiritual at all. The later Gnostics perverted the grace of God into a license to do whatever they wanted.
In this section of Scripture, Peter summarizes his thoughts under five headings. In his commentary on 2 Peter, Michael Green writes, “First, the author seeks to bind them to the apostolic tradition, for it is the apostles, not the false teachers, who stand in true succession both to the Old Testament prophets and the Lord Jesus. Secondly, he stresses that there is no credibility in claims to spirituality which are not backed by a holy life. Thirdly, he urges respect for supernatural powers. Fourthly, he teaches that the world will have an end and will be replaced by God’s new creation. Finally, the author has wise words to say both on the delay and on the acceleration of the second coming of Christ.”
One of the things that stands out to me about these false teachers is their lack of respect for proper authority. This speaks to a mindset that is unbridled and unchecked in every possible way. One who rejects authority does so for his or her own personal gain. If you don’t like what the current authority is saying, declare yourself the new authority! This way you can pursue your own wants, needs, and desires with nothing to hinder you. This is the description of a rebellious heart. These people are not only content at going their own way, they have a need to bring others along as they venture off the path of orthodoxy. These false teachers are being compared to Balaam who knew that he should not go and prophesy against Israel, but he loved the money that was being offered to him. Therefore, he left the “straight way and wandered off…”
Questions to Ponder
What does it mean to declare that Jesus is Lord? What did Jesus mean when He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me”? What practical implications does this have for how we live our lives? Do you instinctively reject authority? If so, why? Have you left the straight way and wandered off?
- Jesus, You are the King of kings and Lord of lords. Salvation is found in no one else. You are the author and perfector of my faith and the Sovereign Lord.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any offensive way. Invite Him to bring to your attention any part of your life that is not reflecting His holiness. Tell Him you are sorry. Receive His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
- Thank Him that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to the Lord. Ask Him to enable you to trust Him as you trust the leaders He has put around you.
- Pray for the leaders in our church family, city, and nation. Pray for all Christian leaders to be protected and grounded in the Word of God.
Holy and Righteous Father, I praise You that You uphold and sustain all things. You are worthy to be praised, and I confess I trust in Your leadership and Your authority. Lord, help me and Christians everywhere to lift up holy hands and pray for all those in authority in a way that pleases You. You desire for everyone to know You as Lord and Savior. I pray for all those in leadership on every level to know You better as Lord. Reveal Yourself to them, and I ask that they lead according to Your truth. Thank You, Abba, for Pastor Bob and all our pastors, elders, and leaders at Oak Pointe Church and how they are grounded in the Word of God. Bless and encourage them today. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.