************ Sermon on 2 Peter 2:1 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on October 4, 2020

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

Know Salvation/Savior. According to Peter that is the first thing we must know. Know Scripture. That's the second thing we must know. Know Satan and his false teachers. That's the third thing we must know. Know Sanctification. That's the fourth thing we must know. Know, know, know. Christians cannot afford to be ignorant. At stake is our full enjoyment of the grace and peace of God (2 Pet 1:2). At stake is making our calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10). So, today, know Satan and his false prophets and false teachers.

Let me begin what I say about false teachers and false prophets with the warning and judgment of Deuteronomy 13:
-False prophets are to be killed instantly.
-Love for family does not take priority over love for God; so, family members who are false prophets are to be put to death.
-Even an entire city is to be put to the sword if it has been led astray by wicked men.

In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul warns that those who preach a different Jesus and a different gospel are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.

Nothing is worse than distorting the Word of God. Nothing is more serious than teaching the devil's lies as if they were God's truth. God does NOT tolerate lies about Himself, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. So Peter warns us about false prophets and false teachers.

I In the Church Always
A We all know Satan is busy in the world. It is Satan who has established all the false religions of the world: Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, JW, animism, demonism, polytheism, new age, Judaizers. But Peter is not talking about Satan's work in the world. Rather, Peter is talking about Satan's work in the church. Satan has invaded the church with his lies and heresies.
(2 Pet 2:1) But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.

"There will be false teachers among you." Among you. Let me emphasize that. Among you. Where? In the church. In the communion of saints. In the denomination or federation. In the schools and colleges and seminaries. In the pulpits. In the consistory room. They want to work among you. They want to work in Trinity United Reformed Church.

B Notice the tense of the verbs in verse 1. Peter starts with the past: "But there were also false prophets among the people." The phrase "among the people" is significant. There were false prophets "among the people." What people? Who is Peter talking about? Throughout the New Testament the phrase is used for Israel. So Peter says false prophets were among the Jews, among the people of God.

Zedekiah was a false prophet. Zedekiah made iron horns and declared, "This is what the LORD says: 'With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed'" (1 Ki 22:11). Micaiah, the true prophet of God, predicted a massacre not of the Arameans but of Israel. Zedekiah was popular and the people believed this lying, deceiving prophet of Satan. King Jehoshaphat also believed Zedekiah, went to war with Aram, and was killed.

Hananiah was another false prophet. He predicted the swift destruction of Babylon (Jer 28). But Jeremiah proclaimed the opposite. Hananiah was popular and the people believed him and hated Jeremiah. So through Jeremiah, God said,
(Jer 23:25-26, 30-32) "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!' (26) How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? ... (30) "Therefore," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. (31) Yes," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.' (32) Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the LORD.
Similar language is found in Ezekiel 13.

There were false prophets among the people. As I said, past tense. But now future tense: "just as there will be false teachers among you." Look at the end of verse 1: "They will secretly introduce destructive heresies." Future tense again. Look at verse 2: "Many will follow their shameful ways." Future tense. Look at verse 3: "these teachers will exploit you." Future tense. So the future looks the same as the past.

There were false prophets among the people. Past tense. There will be false teachers among you. Future tense. Starting in verse 10 Peter uses the present tense to describe the false teachers.

False prophets among the people. False teachers in the church. It was this way. It will be this way. It is this way. There has always been false teachers and there always will be false teachers in the church. Kind of depressing, isn't it!? If you are a Christian, there is no escape from false teachers in the church, among the people of God. Don't be surprised by this. Didn't Jesus say," many false prophets will appear and deceive many people" (Mt 24:11)? So, beware. Keep watch. Stay awake.

C Notice the first word in our English translation. "But." But what? Peter has just said at the end of chapter 1 that prophecy never had its origin in the will of man and that men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). "But." But Satan also has his own prophets, his own teachers, his own apostles. God has given us a sure word, a true word, through true prophets. But Satan also has his own prophets. They are not carried along by the Holy Spirit. They speak for Satan and not for God. And they come into the church.

Paul tells Timothy that true prophets and teachers preach the Word. They don't coddle, don't pamper, don't indulge. Instead, they correct, rebuke, encourage (2 Tim 4:2). But false prophets and teachers? They don't preach the Word. Instead, they say what "itching ears want to hear" (2 Tim 4:3). Why? Because "men will not put up with sound doctrine" (2 Tim 4:3). I love that phrase "sound doctrine." A literal translation is "hygienic doctrine, healthy doctrine" -- teaching that brings health and wholeness and life to the church.

Men don't want to listen to sound doctrine. They don't want to be corrected, rebuked, encouraged. They don't want negatives. They want to hear positive things that makes them feel good about themselves. People today are like the people of Isaiah's day:
(Isa 30:9-11) These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction. (10) They say to the seers, "See no more visions!" and to the prophets, "Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions." (11) Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!"
You know, there are churches that use this as their model for church growth. Find out what people want to hear and give it to them. Say what people want to hear. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral was that way. Same with Norman Vincent Peale. And Joel Osteen. None of them would say the "S" word. I'm talking about Sin. That is too negative. People don't want to hear that. They don't want to be told there is something wrong with them and they need to repent or they will go to hell.

Such prophets and teachers aren't concerned about God. They aren't concerned about worship. They aren't concerned about sound doctrine. They aren't concerned about sin. They aren't concerned about truth. They want to please the crowd.

II Secretly Introducing Heresies
A "There will be false teachers among you." They come into the church.

Why can't we just stop them? I was cycling above Badger and saw a sign on a pasture: "Keep out. Cattle protected by a watch-dog." This, by the way, is one of the duties of elders and pastors. To keep watch over the sheep. To protect them from ravenous wolves. Why aren't we doing that?

"They will secretly introduce destructive heresies ..." Secretly. Smuggle in. Creep in. It isn't going to be in the open. It is going to be sneaky. They are never straightforward. They are never honest. They are deceptive. They operate undercover. Jude 1:4 says they "have secretly slipped in among you." They creep in. They sneak in. The false prophets and false teachers operate in secret. Which makes them difficult to deal with. Part of the problem is that they are under disguise. Jesus says, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Mt 7:15).

By the way, what is sheep's clothing? Sheep's clothing is wool. Who wears wool? Prophets. Moses wore wool. Elijah wore wool. John the Baptist wore wool. The false prophets and teachers disguise themselves. They wear wool. They look like prophets. They sound like prophets. But they are children of the devil.

Satan never comes to us as Satan. Likewise, the servants of Satan never come as servants of Satan. They don't present sin as sin but as pleasure. They don't present error as error but as truth. They are always disguised as true and righteous servants of God. They parade themselves as Christians, pastors, preachers, teachers. But they aren't.

Paul writes about "super-apostles" in Corinth. The Corinthians had no idea they were being deceived by false apostles, servants of Satan.
(2 Cor 11:3) But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Much of the church today is like the church in Corinth: completely ignorant about what is really going on and absorbing every kind of deception. The buzz word today is tolerance. Tolerate everyone. Tolerate anything. Just so long as they have the name of Jesus on their lips the church thinks they are okay. The result is a church that doesn't see the wolves in sheep's clothing.

They will "secretly introduce." "They secretly bring in alongside" is the literal translation. They do not throw out the truth immediately; they simply lay their false teachings alongside the truth and give the impression that they believe the fundamentals of the faith. Before long, they remove the true doctrine and leave their false doctrine in its place.

In verse 3, Peter points out that the false teachers use stories "they have made up." "Made up." The Greek word is "plastos," from which we get our English word "plastic." Plastic words! Words that can be twisted to mean anything you want them to mean! The false teachers use our vocabulary, but they do not use our dictionary. They talk about salvation, inspiration, and the great words of the Christian faith, but they do not mean what we mean. Immature and untaught believers hear these preachers or read their books and think that these men and women are sound in the faith, but they are not.
I told you I was cycling above Badger. We came across a large flocks of turkeys. The turkeys saw us and moved away. My friend Rod made a turkey gobble noise. The turkeys all stopped, straightened out their necks, and looked back wondering who was talking turkey to them. They actually gobbled back to us.
That's Satan and his false teachers. They pretend to be one of us but they aren't.

Satan is a liar and his ministers are liars. They use the Bible, not to enlighten, but to deceive. They follow the same pattern Satan followed when he deceived Eve (Gen. 3:1-6):
-First, he questioned God’s Word: "Did God really say?"
-Then he denied God’s Word: "You will not surely die."
-Finally, he substituted his own lie: "You will be like God."

B Peter says what they introduce into the church is "destructive heresies." Heresies of destruction. Heresies that damn.

Heresy. The original meaning of the word is "that which is an opinion." It came to mean a self-designed religious opinion. That's what a heresy is. It is not the truth. It is someone's made up opinion or cleverly invented story. It is false teaching, untrue doctrine, misleading theology.

Peter uses the word "destructive." They teach "destructive heresies." Literally, heresies of destruction. First of all, these heresies destroy the church. They cause factions, strife, division. Secondly, these heresies lead away from sound doctrine and to hell's destruction.

They sneak into a church. They introduce new ideas that tickle the ears. They turn people away from the truth of God's Word. The final result: the eternal damnation of souls.

So much is at stake, dear people. So keep watch. Be on guard.

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you" (2 Pet 2:1).

Depressing? Yes. Surprising? No.
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