************ Sermon on 2 Peter 2:10b-22 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 22, 2020
2 Peter 2:10b-22
"False Teachers (3)"
Peter begins and ends our Bible reading with shocking statements about false teachers:
2 Peter 2:12 (NIV84) — 12 But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.
2 Peter 2:22 (NIV84) — 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”
Peter compares the false teachers to brute beasts whose only purpose is to be turned into hamburger and steaks. Quoting from Proverbs 26 and Matthew 7, Peter also compares them to dogs and sows. The dogs Peter mentions are not cute, cuddly household pets. They are dirty, greedy, snarling, diseased, vicious, dangerous, mongrels. As for pigs, hardly anything is more greedy, vicious, and filthy than these animals. They were the Ancient World's garbage dump -- they eat anything and everything.
Why does Peter use such harsh language? Because Peter is a true shepherd and they are false shepherds who poison and destroy the flock as tools or servants of Satan. Don't forget, we need to know about them in order to defend our precious faith.
Peter raises three points about the false teachers in today's Bible reading: first, their attitude; second, their actions; third, their announcements.
I The Attitude of the False Teachers
A What is the attitude of the false teachers? The first three words says it all: "bold and arrogant." Peter gives us an example in verse 10 when he writes, "these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings." We all know what slander means -- to speaking badly about, to mock, to ridicule, to belittle. But who are the celestial beings? They are Satan and his fallen angels. Put it together: bold and arrogant false teachers slander Satan and his fallen angels.
What is wrong with slandering Satan and his fallen angels? After all, they are fallen, they have been kicked out of heaven, and the Gospel is full of miracles which show Jesus has defeated them. So, what is wrong with slandering Satan and his fallen angels? The actual Greek word for celestial beings is "glories." Other versions of the Bible translate this as "angelic majesties, glorious ones, dignities." Now think of what this tells us about Satan and his fallen angels. They have dignity, glory, majesty. In Paul's letter to Ephesus they are called rulers, authorities, powers, forces in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12) and Satan is "the ruler of the kingdom of the air" (Eph 2:2). Their glory is greater than ours. They are above us, more than us. Angels, even fallen angels, are to be taken seriously and not flippantly.
What does this mean for us today? Think of some of the costumes people wear for Halloween. This year, again, I saw Satan costumes. This makes a mockery of Satan and his heavenly glory. What about ghost busters and demon chasers -- are they any better? Think, too, of the liberals who deny the existence of Satan and his demons. Do you know what all these people are doing? They are underestimating the power of Satan and minimizing his majesty and glory, mocking him, slandering him. So what is the lesson for us? Be careful when it comes to Satan. Don't treat him lightly. Don't be flippant about him. Satan is serious business indeed.
B Peter makes clear that good angels don't do this. They don't slander the fallen angels. Look at verse 11:
2 Peter 2:11 (NIV84) — 11 yet even angels [Peter is speaking of good angels], although they are stronger and more powerful [than the fallen angels], do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.Peter is thinking of something we find only in the book of Jude (remember, Jude is similar to 2 Peter):
Jude 9 (NIV84) — 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"Satan wanted the body of Moses. We don't know why but Satan wanted to do something with Moses' body. The archangel Michael fought Satan over the body of Moses. Though Michael won he did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against Satan.
False teachers are not afraid to do what holy angels are afraid to do.
II The Actions of the False Teachers
A This brings us to our second point: the actions of the false teachers. Look at verse 13:
2 Peter 2:13 (NIV84) — 13 Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.Throughout the Bible we hear about the deeds of darkness. That's when debauchery and wickedness is generally done -- under the cover of darkness. Even the Romans frowned upon daytime debauchery. But the false teachers are so consumed with vice and lust and evil desires that they can't wait for night.
Peter uses the phrase "blots and blemishes" to describe their actions. Blots -- a spot, a stain. Blemishes -- a birthmark or a scab on someone's body.
"While they feast with you." What feasts is Peter talking about? The early church had love feasts; we call them fellowship meals. They show up at the love feasts, even the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and they pollute and make filthy. Paul describes the same thing happening in Corinth. When Christians got together to eat and drink, some got drunk, some made pigs of themselves, and others went hungry (1 Cor 11:21).
B Verse 14: "they are experts in greed." What do they want? Do you notice the example Peter uses: Balaam son of Beor. You can read all about Balaam in Numbers 22-24. Balaam was a prophet of God. Sad to say, he was a prophet for hire, a prophet who could be bought. I'm afraid there are many such prophets today who will say whatever the highest bidder wants to hear, who will say what people's itching ears want to hear. The Moabites hired Balaam to pronounce a curse on Israel. Balaam kept saying to them, "I can only speak what the Lord puts in my mouth." This sounds good and godly, what a true and faithful prophet should say. In reality, though, this was a negotiation tactic to get more money because Balaam "loved the wages of wickedness" (2 Pet 2:15). Money -- that's what Balaam wanted; that's what Peter's false teachers want.
What did God do? He rebuked Balaam. He restrained the prophet's madness. How? By a dumb donkey who spoke with a man's voice:
Numbers 22:21–30 (NIV84) — 21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again. 26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” 29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.” 30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” “No,” he said.False teachers are like Balaam. That's what Peter is saying. They are in it for the money. They are greedy. They seek treasure on earth.
C Let's backup a moment to the first part of verse 14: "With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning." Today, we call them serial rapists, even child molesters.
This, too, was the sin of Balaam. God stopped Balaam from cursing Israel so Balaam didn't get any money from Moab. He thought of another way to make money -- he told Moab how to corrupt Israel. He told Moab to send their lovely young women into the camp of Israel. Entice the men of Israel. Sleep with them. And get them to worship your gods (Num 31:16; Rev 2:14).
By the way, have you ever noticed how often adultery and greed go hand-in-hand in the Bible (cf Heb 13:4-5)? That was the case with Balaam. And, that was the case with the false prophets and teachers.
D Peter is warning his audience about false teachers and false prophets and false preachers. I am sure you realize what he says also applies to today. It is always a tip-off when preachers are forever begging for money. It is always a tip-off when they are caught with a prostitute. Such things should alert us they are not true prophets of God.
III The Announcements of the False Teachers
A Our third point is the announcements of the false teachers.
Peter says "they mouth empty, boastful words" (2 Pet 2:18). Peter sums up their words one verse earlier: "These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm" (2 Pet 2:17). Peter is thinking of Israel and the Middle East. In the hot, dry desert two things are very precious: springs and rains. Without them people and animals cannot survive in the desert.
"Springs without water." You go to a place where there is supposed to be a spring, a pool of water, your thirst is raging, and you come there and it is dry. Not only a major disappointment but also a disaster.
"Mists driven by a storm." Nothing looks more promising in that dry and arid land than storm clouds and thunder clouds. The clouds roll in and you expect rain in the valley and snow on the mountains. But nothing happens.
This is the false teachers: springs without water, mists driven by a storm. Lots of promises, but no water. Just deceptions and lies. Nothing like Jesus who said,
John 7:37–38 (NIV84) — 37 "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
B They were successful, these false teachers. How? "By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people" (2 Pet 2:18). What did they say? Did they say people could sin so grace can abound? Or, did they offer a religion that requires no change in lifestyle? Or, did they never talk about sin and judgment? We don't know. Peter doesn't tell us. Maybe it was all three because that is what we hear from false teachers today. People were attracted to their message.
"They promise them freedom" (2 Pet 2:19). "Come after me, follow me," they say, "and I will make you free." Free from what? Free from life's worries, free from life's pains, free from troubles. Let me tell you, false teachers do not bring freedom. They put people in shackles. They bring slavery. Slavery to depravity, to corruption, to sin, to Satan.
I see this when I go by a Mormon building and think of those trapped by their system of legalism. I see this when I go by a Kingdom Hall of the JWs and think of those ensnared by a religion that denies the full deity and humanity of Christ. I see this when I go by a liberal church building and think of those who become slaves of the social gospel.
Did you notice Peter's statements about doom and judgment for the false teachers? Verse 13: "They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done." Verse 14: "an accursed brood!" That is, damned to hell. Verse 17: "Blackest darkness is reserved for them."
Do you hear what God is saying? They aren't going to get away with it. They will be punished. And, their judgment will be severe.
In the meantime we want nothing to do with false teachers, congregation. We need to guard ourselves against them. We need to guard our pulpit, our doctrine, our schools and colleges and seminaries. We don't want to drink the liberal Kool-Aid they offer in today's world. We stand watch and stay on guard and leave their punishment to God.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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