In our study of 2 Peter chapter two, we look at the dangers of false teachers and prophets as well as how we can recognize them. In chapter one, we saw how important it is to be sure of our faith and to have a solid foundation in Jesus Christ. Now, we will see some very good reasons for studying and knowing the Word of God.
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.
Peter reminds us that, even in his day, there were people (false prophets) that claimed to be sent by God with a message but they were not. He also tells us that there were people (false teachers) who were teaching about the things of God but, either through ignorance of the Word or by corruption, led many astray. He tells us that they "secretly introduce destructive heresies" meaning that they are not going to stand up and say that the Bible is wrong but they will just share/teach what they want you to believe. That fact demonstrates the necessity of studying and growing in the Word (the second purpose of this website). They even went so far as to deny Jesus who bought them with His own blood. One example of this happening today is Chrislam which is an attempt to blend Islam and Christianity but Islam denies the fact that Jesus is and was the Son of God.
Many will follow their shameful ways and bring the way of truth into disrepute.
Now, we see the effects of these false teachings and the first is that many are deceived into leading a life that does not glorify God. The second is that people see these people pretending to be followers of Jesus but their actions not matching their words. This causes many people to stumble and not want to know more about our Lord and Savior.
In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
Here, we see the motive behind the false teachers and that is personal gain. For some it may be money and for others it may be fame but they will twist the gospel to get what they want. We may wonder why God allows it to go on but, as we see in this verse, their judgment is coming and God may be using them to sort the people.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;
Peter gives us the first of three examples of how God has judged sin in the past. We remember that the number three is associated with God's will being displayed and through these examples we see that God's will is for sin to be judged. If we are in Christ, then our sins were judged on the cross but, without Christ, the sinner is held accountable for his sins. He gives us these examples to reassure us that God is in control and watches over us as His children. When the angels sinned against God, He cast them out of heaven and they are being held for judgment. The hell that Peter is talking about here is not the hell that we think of. This is not the hell which is the final punishment for sin but this is like a holding cell in a prison. This first example tells us that God does not show favoritism in dealing with sin as all sin (even the sin of angels) must be judged.
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;
The second example of God's judgment comes from Genesis 6 and the great flood. We see from this example that the wickedness of the people had gotten so great that God punished them but saved the righteous (Noah and his family). This example reminds us that God judges sin on a personal basis and each will pay for their own sins.
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 filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) -
The third example comes from Genesis chapter nineteen and is an example of where God judges sin as a group. These cities were living for the flesh and everything was permitted by men. They were sorta the Las Vegas (sin city) of the day and God burned the cities to the ground to where they are not even recognizable as cities to this day. But, God rescued Lot from among them and we see here that Lot was distressed as he lived among the filth day after day. We need to ask ourselves the question are we distressed by the lawless things we see around us today or are we comfortable with it? I hear of many "Christians" who go to Vegas for a vacation and wonder how can we go and wallow in sin as children of light and be ok with it? The city slogan is "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" but it is a lie straight from the devil's mouth.
This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.
Peter explains that there are those who follow the sinful nature and will not accept correction. They despise those that God has placed over them and are arrogant enough to even accuse celestial beings. Although we may not like some of the things that leaders say and do, we must accept the fact that God is in control and, if He did not want them in their positions, He could remove them.
But these men blaspheme in matters that 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.
The men described are like wild beasts in that they have no respect for any authority. They speak against the authority that has been granted by God and so, like the beasts described in Revelation 19, they will be dealt with at the coming of the King of Kings.
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.
These false teachers will be dealt with by God as they have caused many people to stumble. We see here that these people try to have it both ways as they delight in sin but show up at the gatherings of believers when it is time for a meal. We are a new creation when we accept Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit. This new creation does not belong in the old situations of sin and we cannot be comfortable in them.
With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed - an accursed brood!
Although these false teachers may have brief periods of time where they are not actually engaged in the physical sin, their eyes never stop lusting after the flesh. This, too, is a sin and they get others that are not grounded in the Word of God to go along with them. To them there is never enough as they constantly hunger for more of the sin. They are cursed for today because of the consequences of their sin and they are cursed for eternity in hell if they do not repent.
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey - a beast without speech - who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.
Peter reminds us of Numbers 22 and the story of Balaam's donkey. Balaam was a prophet who was tempted to go against the will of God. The Lord had to stop him from going against His people and the only way that He could get Balaam to listen was by making his donkey speak to him. Even as Christians, we can get pulled out of the will of God for our lives. That is why it is so important to have leaders that we can listen to and trust. God can use a donkey but He prefers to use people.
These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
As people, we require water to live and in both of these cases there is not enough water and so their ways will also end in death. Peter could have been speaking to the church today as we see this more and more now. There are many that get up in front of large groups of people to teach but they don't actually hand out the Word of God. There are others that may draw a big crowd by telling them things that they want to hear and portraying God as some kind of piggy bank where we can get whatever we want. In both cases, they are not clearly proclaiming the Word of God and so they do not have life in their words.
For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.
The words of these false prophets glorify themselves or "their ministry". They tell the people what the flesh wants to hear and deceive many new believers. These new Christians have not had sufficient time to grow and so are not prepared to face these men. They are like the birds described by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13).
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
These false teachers are trying to tell the people about something that they don't even have. It is like going to a prison to ask a prisoner what the weather is like outside. (They don't know so they cannot tell you.)
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.
If they have the knowledge of Jesus Christ in their heads which can drive out the evil but their heart is not also filled with the Spirit, they are worse off than if they had never heard the good news. Without the Spirit, they can easily be deceived by the false teachers that Peter is speaking about. This is what Jesus was talking about (in Luke 11:24 - 26) when He spoke of the evil spirit returning to the empty house with seven of his friends. There are many, today, that fall into this category as they have been taught that Jesus loves them but they have never been taught what that means. The Holy Spirit is the One that can guard our hearts and so our "house" is not empty and cannot be occupied again by the evil of this world.
It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.
Many have used this verse to promote the idea that we can lose our salvation but that is not what Peter is saying. What he is saying is that it would have been better for them not to have known about the Way (Jesus) than to have known (mentally) but not had a change of heart and really known Him. We can know of Jesus without personally knowing Jesus but personally knowing Jesus is the only way that we can have salvation.
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.
Even though it may be disgusting, anyone who has had a dog for a pet will tell you that they do return to their vomit. Peter quotes part of Proverbs 26:11 here to make the point that, those that have turned their back on the ways of God, are just doing what they do because of their nature. Many have used this verse to say that it is talking about losing your salvation but that is not so. When we come to Jesus, we are a new creation and so we have a new nature. We go from being that dog or sow to being a part of the royal family of God.