************ Sermon on 2 Peter 2:1-3 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on October 11, 2020

2 Peter 2:1-3
"False Teachers (2)"

Remember Jim Jones? He directed a mass murder-suicide of himself and his followers in his jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana in 1978.

What about Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker? He hosted the television program The PTL Club with his wife from 1974 to 1989. He also developed Heritage USA, a Christian theme park and time-share which he over-booked and from which he stole. He paid hush money to church secretary Jessica Hahn for an alleged rape.

The latest addition to the list is Jerry Falwell Jr. A former pool boy says he carried on an affair with Falwell's wife. He also claimed Falwell would sometimes watch the two have sex.

Our Bible reading tells us Jim Jones, Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker, and Jerry Falwell Jr are all false teachers.

We are looking at false teachers again. What do false teachers look like? What characterizes them? We have looked at two characteristics so far. First, we learned they are in the church always; they were in Israel in the past, they will be in the church in the future, and they are present in the church today.

Second, we learned they secretly introduce destructive heresies. They pretend to teach the truth but it isn't. They exploit you with stories they have made up. Last time I said they use plastic words, forgeries, phony arguments, twisted scriptures. They even disguise themselves so they come to us as wolves in sheep's clothing.

I Denying the Sovereign Lord
A The third characteristic of Satan's false teachers is this: "even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them." Peter uses the word "denying." It means to say "no to someone." It means to be unwilling. It means to repudiate, disown. It means to refuse. They refuse to recognize or acknowledge or follow. Denying is a strong word. It is used for Peter when he disowned knowing the Lord (Mt 26:70,72). It is used for the Jews when they disowned Jesus and asked for Barabbas (Acts 3:13,14). It is used for Moses when he refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter (Heb 11:24). It expresses continual action. So, Satan's false teachers have a habit, a pattern, of saying "no."

B Who do they refuse to recognize, acknowledge, follow? To whom do they keep saying "no"? "The sovereign Lord who bought them." Other translations use the word "Master" here. The Greek word is "despot." Despot does not have a nice meaning in our English language. It is a ruler who exercises absolute power in a cruel and oppressive way. On a list of the world's most notorious despots are such people as Ivan the Terrible, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Mao Zedong, Idi Amin, Pol Pot. In the New Testament it has a kinder, gentler meaning. The word appears ten times and it always refers to someone with supreme authority. Five times it refers to the master of the house or the ruler of the estate; this person has full authority over everybody in the house or on the estate. The other five times it is used for God the Father or God the Son. Ten uses, all meaning sovereign rule and authority.

C When I think of false teachers I think of their heresies about Christ: denying the Trinity, denying Jesus is fully God, denying Jesus is fully man, denying the virgin birth, denying Jesus' perfect life, denying His atoning sacrifice, denying He is the only way, denying His death, denying His resurrection, denying His eternal glory.

But there is a worse heresy than all of these. Notice Peter's language. He says they "even" deny the sovereign lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word "even" emphasizes how unthinkable, how horrible, is this third characteristic. According to Peter, this is the absolute worst mark of Satan's false teachers: denying the sovereign lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ. This caught me by surprise this past week. I always thought their other heresies were the worst part about them. Even worse than their other heresies is "denying the sovereign Lord." They deny His Kingdom rule. They deny He is Lord and King and Ruler. They continually say "no" to the claims of Jesus on their life.

Peter says they deny the sovereign Lord who what? They deny the sovereign Lord "who bought them." Who paid for them. Who redeemed them. The Sovereign Lord has bought them in the same way as the master of a house or the ruler of an estate has bought slaves. Slaves are owned by their master. They owe him allegiance and obedience. But Satan's false teachers refuse to submit to the authority of their Master, their Divine Despot, who bought them. They refuse to submit to Jesus' lordship. They are disobedient servants or slaves.

We Reformed Christians know and confess that Jesus bought us. Let me remind you of Q & A 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism:
I am not my own,
but belong—
body and soul,
in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ ...

[I belong to Jesus. He is my Master, my Despot, my Sovereign Lord. What is the result?]

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit ...
makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
True Christians gladly and joyfully affirm that they are bought -- not with gold, not with silver, not with precious stones, but with the precious blood of Jesus. True Christians gladly and joyfully affirm that they belong to Jesus. So, true Christians gladly and joyfully affirm they are under Christ's lordship, are His servants, and obey the Master's word.

D Satan's false teachers deny the sovereign Lord who bought them. What exactly does this mean? Let's go back to my opening examples. What do Jim Jones, Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker, and Jerry Falwell Jr all have in common? None of them submit their lives to the rule of Jesus. That's the problem with Satan's false teachers. They don't submit to Jesus. They don't live for Jesus. They might claim Him as Savior, but they don't follow Him as Lord.

How do you identify a false teacher? Don't be fooled by their words. They may have the name of Christ on their lips, they may preach in His name, they may cast out demons in His name, they may do many wonderful works in His name, but they say "no" to His authority. So, look at their life. Look at their actions. Ask if their lives demonstrate submission to the sovereign Lord. As Jesus put it in Matthew 7,
(Mt 7:21) "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Peter says "Amen" to these words of the Lord.

E Now, did you notice what happens when leaders don't live for Jesus? What happens when they only confess Him with lips but not with heart? The false teachers, says Peter, are bringing what? They are "bringing swift destruction on themselves." Swift means quick, sudden, soon. Destruction means either death or the coming of Christ in judgment. As Jesus puts it in Matthew 10,
(Mt 10:33) But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
By the way, Jesus uses the same strong Greek word as Peter: disowns, denies. What Satan's false teachers do to Jesus on earth, Jesus does to them in heaven. At that time, Jesus will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Mt 7:23). Look at the last sentence of verse 3:
(2 Pet 2:3) Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
"It's going to happen," says Peter. "Their doom. Their destruction. Their judgment. Their condemnation." False prophets among the Old Testament people were punished. False teachers in the New Testament church will be punished.

Satan's goal: deceive as many as possible. God's response: destroy them all.

F Back to what this teaches us today. If you believe the Gospel, you live a certain kind of life. If Jesus is your Savior, He is also your Lord. Grace is not a license to sin but a license to serve Jesus. Consider these texts:
(Mt 5:16) In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

(Rom 12:1) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

(Cf Phil 2:15; 1 Th 2:12; Titus 2:11-12; Col 3)

II Many Will Follow Them
A The fourth characteristic of Satan's false teachers: "many will follow." Satan's false teachers are a worldly success. Many follow them. Don't be surprised by this. Jesus tells us few go on the narrow road that leads to life (Mt 7:13-14). Many, not few, follow the deceivers. So, their stadiums and places of worship are filled to overflowing. They have a large TV audience, a huge online following, and soaring book sales. They attract people, followers, these false prophets and teachers.

B Why? What is so attractive about them? They attract people with their talk about Christ without calling for obedience to Christ. People like it that they can be saved without living the life of the redeemed. People like it that their sins are washed away without living for Jesus. People like it they have liberty to live the way they want to live.

"Many will follow their shameful ways." Other translations say "sensuality, pernicious ways, licentiousness." This is another strong Greek word. It means sexually immoral, depraved, debauched conduct. "Shameful ways" is plural. Sensualities. Debaucheries. Immoralities. Emphasizing the many forms and extremes of their lives of sin. They don't want to accept any restraint in their fleshly desires and their sexual indulgences.

The false teachers preach you can have Christ and you can have sin! That is their message. You can have Christ and you can have sin! You can have Christ and no law, no rules, no standards. They may not say this directly but this is their teaching when they don't talk of sin and do nothing about public sin in the church. The crowd follows them because they want to feed their lust.

In my first sermon I said 2 Peter is very similar to Jude. You know what Jude says about Satan's false teachers?
(Jude 1:4) For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Notice how similar the language? They what? They "change the grace of our God into a license for immorality." What does that mean? That means they live lewd, evil, wicked, debauched, immoral lives and say, "I am covered by grace." They go on sinning so that grace may increase (cf Rom 6:1). Their claim is that it is all covered by grace.

C There are consequences to peddling cheap grace. I already mentioned what happens to the false teachers: they bring destruction on themselves. What else happens? They "bring the way of truth into disrepute." Disrepute. Maligned. Blasphemed. Reviled. Do you know what this means? The world mocks Christians. The world mocks the church. The world mocks us because of people like Jim Jones, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell Jr. "Ha," they say, "they are no better than us." In fact, those in the church who act this way are worse than the world because they pretend to be better and know better.

Do you know what Satan is trying to do? Inside the church he sucks people into cheap grace. Outside the church he gives people a reason to mock Christians. He discredits the truth. He calls into question the integrity of the church. Every time this happens Satan slaps his hands together and says, "Mission Accomplished."

Let's end with why. Why are there false teachers? What is their real goal? What is their underlying motive? Not lust. Not immorality. Though that is the result of their work. Did you catch what Peter said? First phrase of verse 3: "In their greed ..."

Greed. Uncontrolled greed. Love of money. They teach a cheap grace to accumulate money. So they can "exploit" you says Peter. You know the Greek word: it forms the root of our word "empire." They want to create an empire. With them at the top. With money and gifts pouring into the coffers. They want to get rich off you with their false, plastic words.

Have you ever noticed how important the offering is to the false teachers. They appeal, and appeal, and appeal for money. In the worship service they will send the plate around a second time. They appeal for money. Online. On the TV. By mail. They want your money and will do almost anything to get it. And people fall for this. Many people fall for this. So we have a televangelist asking for donations so he could upgrade his jet. Wow. Can you even believe this?! Another one buys $2500 suits. And still another has a 24 room mansion.

They are always around us. They tell us lies. They don't live for the sovereign Lord. Many follow them. And, they want your money. Beware, congregation. Keep watch. Be careful!
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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