The Deceptions of False Teaching
Copyright © 1978
Indian Hills Community Church
2 Peter 2:17-19
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on Oct. 10, 1996)
It is sad, but true, that it is all too easy for us as God's people to take for granted the rich and wonderful privilege we have to read, study and proclaim the living word of the living God. With the passing of time, our passion and our love for God and the word that reveals Him so fully sometimes seems to cool and dim. It ought to be just the opposite. With the passing of time, my love for God and His word should become deeper, more passionate and more intense.
David wrote about the word of God in Psalm 119. The longest chapter in the Bible focuses entirely on the importance of the word of God. First, note that certain things David says here form a necessary background for what Peter is saying in 2 Peter, chapter 2. David repeatedly expresses his deep love for God's word. For example, in verse 127 David says, "Therefore I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold." The word of God was more precious to David than the most precious and valuable of earthly possessions - the fine gold of this world. In verse 103, "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey o my mouth!" David is saying the word of God is sweeter to him than all of his material possessions, sweeter than food. By reading verses as these, you sense that David was in love with God and the word that revealed God. The word enabled him to know God and enter in to the depths of understanding God that He had made known.
The second point to note is the intense longing and desire in David's heart to obey and live out the word of God in his life. Verse 101: "I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word." David does not want to walk off the right path. He watches what he does and where he goes in order to keep God's Word. Verse 11: "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You." David wanted to know everything God said, and he stored God's word in his heart for ready reference so that he would not sin against God in any way. David's deep love for God's word created an intense longing to live in humble obedience to God's word. A third point is that this love for God's word also produced in David a strong intolerance for those who would corrupt God's word. Concerning God in verse 118, he says, "You have rejected all those who wander from Your statutes, for their deceitfulness is useless." God has rejected everyone who wanders from His word, and David described them as deceitful. Similar terminology is recorded in 2 Peter, chapter 2, regarding false teachers. Peter described false teachers in 2 Peter, chapter 1, as useless.
In Psalm 119:136, David says, "My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Your law." David was in love with God and with God's Word. It broke David's heart that there were people who did not love and obey God or His word. He wept over that fact. Tears of grief streamed from his eyes when he realized people did not love his God and obey His word. Verse 158: "I behold the treacherous and loathe them, because they do not keep Your word." David is grieved by people who do not love the word of God. He loathes - he hates - those who do not keep the word of God. They are the enemies of God, and God has rejected them. David says they are his enemies, and he rejects them as well.
1. Tolerance, Indifference Mark Church Today
As we come to 2 Peter, we need to be mindful of the attitude of tolerance and basic indifference that characterizes much of the church of Jesus Christ today. This attitude of indifference toward the purity of the word of God and failure to live in submission to that word reveals a lack of depth or passionate love for God and for the word that makes Him known. That is the tragedy. We see the evidence of David's passionate love for God revealed in a passion for the word of God and in obedience to that word. We also see an abhorrence of those who would not obey the word but would wander from it. That same passion ought to characterize us as God's people if we are really in love with God.
Those with an attitude of tolerance can draw the lines pretty broadly. They place no great importance on everything in the word of God. We pull out a few nuggets, ask that we agree on them and the rest is open to discussion. I do not get that same sense from the writer of the Psalms. David says that every one of God's righteous statutes is everlasting. David was so in love with God that he hung onto every word . We sometimes use the same description today with couples who are in love. We say those in love hang onto each other's every word. So it is when we are in love with God. We want to hang onto His every word. His truth is precious, and I love it. It grieves me that people want to stray from it. Instead of manifesting true biblical character, the church manifests the world today through basic carelessness under the guise of tolerance. The church shows a lack of biblical character, a lack of passionate love for God and His word.
In 2 Peter, chapter 2, Peter is writing about the danger of false teachers and the corruption they will work in the church. He is giving extensive consideration of this because, like David, Peter had a passionate love for his God and for the word of God. At the end of chapter 1 of this letter, Peter wrote that no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. In other words, the Bible is the word of God. I cannot pick and choose. It is not for me to decide what is or is not significant and important. God does not say anything that is not important. It is precious to me because He said it.
It is essential that we grasp this very concept. Peter writes in this context under the direction of the Holy Spirit - the same Holy Spirit who directed the prophets of old - and gives strong, biting warning of the danger of false teachers. The warning is written to professing Christians. In prior verses, Peter has been describing their character and conduct. Now, in verse 17, Peter is going to focus on how false teachers entice people. Why are false teachers effective? We will see false teachers take the word of God, theological truth, and twist, warp, corrupt and use it to proclaim something that is exactly the opposite of what God expects and requires from His people. He uses two metaphors in verse 17 to describe these false teachers who promise something they are unable to deliver. The metaphors are related, and both make the same point.
2. False Teachers Promise What They cannot Deliver
False teachers promise something they cannot deliver. Verse 17: "These are springs without water..." These false teachers from verse 1 who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, who promote ungodliness in doctrine and in lifestyle, are springs without water. Put yourself in the biblical framework to fully appreciate the world conditions in those days where the running water and ready resources we have today are absent. A land like Palestine would be parched and dry, as well as other parts of the world. People depended on the wells they dug. Imagine that you were traveling in the parched regions and you were craving a drink. You came upon an oasis or a well that has been dug. You lower the bucket down, and it is bone dry. That is the picture here. There is a well; it promises something, but nothing is there to be given. These are springs without water. Travelers have come to the anticipated oasis, but it is dried up.
In contrast, do you remember what Jesus spoke to the woman at the well at Samaria in John, chapter 4? He asked her for a drink. She asked why he, a Jew, would ask her, a Samaritan, for a drink. Jesus tells her that if she drinks of this physical water, she will thirst again. Verse 14: "But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." A similar kind of picture is used in John 7: 37 - 38 when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit who would come like a river of water flowing within those who come to believe in Him.
These false teachers have nothing of the water of life, nothing of the refreshing ministry of the Holy Spirit to offer. They are dry wells, barren springs. They promise something, but they are unable to deliver. They are "...mists driven by a storm..." Jude 12 says they are clouds without water. It is the same picture here; they are mists and like clouds. You look up at the clouds and say, "Oh, it is going to rain at last," but rain does not materialize. Again, it is in the context of a parched desert. It is a place where the rains are so important to sustain life, but the promises are never delivered. There is also a sense of instability in these false teachers. They have no inner stability. As Ephesians 4:14 says, they are "...driven about by every wind of doctrine..." They pick up on whatever is "in" at the time. Have you noticed how certain false teachers are able to keep up with the trends? They are promoting whatever is popular. There is no stability in this practice. They promise something, but they cannot provide it. Regarding false teachers, 2 Timothy 3:5 says, "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power..." Promises of false teachers are empty. They truly have nothing to give.
The Scripture constantly brings before the children of God their glorious, eternal, destiny - glory in the presence of God and an eternal inheritance stored up in heaven for us. It is also important that we keep before us the settled destiny of the ungodly and particularly of these false teachers. In 2 Peter 2:1, we see that false teachers are bringing swift destruction upon themselves. The end of verse 3: "...their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." The end of verse 9: "then the Lord knows how to ... keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment." The end of verse 12: "But these...will in the destruction of those creatures..." - fallen angels - "... also be destroyed." The end of verse 17: "...for whom the black darkness has been reserved."
3. Black Darkness Awaits False Teachers
Never lose sight of what awaits these false teachers at the end. It is black darkness, destruction and an eternal hell. We get caught up with the things being said and lose our focus on the seriousness of the issue at stake. Verse 17 is a reminder to believers about the black darkness and for whom the black darkness is reserved. Jude, in his parallel account, says the black darkness has been reserved forever for them. Jesus spoke of the blackness of hell on several occasions. He spoke of casting the unprofitable or unbelieving servant into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Several verses in Matthew refer to the outer darkness - 8:12, 22:13, 25:30. Certain souls are cast into outer darkness where there will weeping and gnashing of teeth. Included here are those for whom the blackness has been reserved forever.
Hell is described as a place of burning fire. I have read an account, whether true or not I do not know, of a fireman who was testing one of the suits worn in the very hot places of a fire. He said what struck him in the midst of this raging fire was that it was not bright or light as he would have expected, but it was intense darkness. That is the picture of hell, a black darkness in the midst of a burning fire. People think, "Oh, if I go to hell all my friends will be there." There is probably an element of truth in that statement. But, you must understand, there will be no fellowship in hell. Hell is burning torment in intense isolation, in black darkness. You will not be able to see your hand before your face, so to speak. The black darkness of eternal fire is forever and ever. It is a concept so awful that our finite minds do not grasp the seriousness of it.
Note here that on these issues there is no leeway. Our loose indifference on these matters today is not a reflection of the attitude of God. This is a matter of eternal importance. We cannot dabble around and act like it is no big deal. There is no bigger deal nor a more important issue. Those who follow false teachers will be following them on a road that leads to black darkness.
This black darkness has been reserved for them, kept for them. The word for reserved is an interesting one. The word is in the perfect tense. The perfect tense refers to something that took place in the past and continues on into the present. There is a permanence about what is reserved. The black darkness is a destiny that is permanently and firmly fixed for them. In fact, you see a contrast in 1 Peter 1:4. The same word is used in the same perfect tense as Peter talks about those who have been born again to a living hope. Verse 4: "to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." God has something permanently and firmly reserved for His children in heaven. It is a glorious inheritance. But God also has something permanently and firmly reserved for those who are not His children. It is the black darkness of an eternal hell. Hell is where false teachers are going.
4. False Teachers Cannot Be Tolerated
We cannot tolerate false teachers in any way. Tolerating them is the problem addressed in the book of Jude. False teachers were being tolerated among believers, who were putting unity, harmony and fellowship above faithfulness to God's word. This is a disastrous situation. In 2 Peter 2:17, Peter elaborates on the two metaphors. He says, "These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm..." and explains how they promise something they do not deliver. Now verse 18, what do they do? Get specific Peter, what is an example? Note the word for. "For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality..."
Simply put, these are loud, boastful, empty talkers who use arrogant words. The word for arrogant is used only one other time in the New Testament, in the parallel passage in Jude 16. Jude says, "...they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage." We get an idea of what is going on. We have people who are good with words and who speak arrogant words of vanity. The word arrogant means something that is swollen out of size, that is puffed up and that has grown out of proportion. In Jude's elaboration, he is saying it happens in the area of flattery. These false teachers have an ability to say what people want to hear. They present their teaching of what they claim is the word of God in such a way that it finds a receptive spot in hearts.
This is a dangerous, dangerous situation. Remember that Paul wrote and warned Timothy to preach the word, to be ready in season and out of season. He warned in 2 Timothy 4:3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate to themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. These false teachers are good at saying what people want to hear. They are so good at it that they are sometimes effective in even deluding Christians. That was the danger Peter spoke of in the opening three verses in the second chapter of 2 Peter.
Let's look at how Peter has developed this trait of false teachers. They speak out arrogant words of vanity, which means they say nothing of significance. They say a lot and say it loudly, full of confidence. They are daring in their personality, but when you cut through it all they have not said anything. One writer clarified this for us. He said, "Ostentatious verbosity was their weapon to ensnare the unwary." That is why he is a professor. Ostentatious through verbosity. You know, they use "high fluting" words, and they say things in such a way that people will be enticed. If we are honest, at times there is a certain part of us that wants to be deceived. We have all been in situations that while listening to a person, we do not in our hearts think the person is being honest. Yet there is something about the person that you like. I think the flattery is what attracts me to the person. They are so good at what they do that our defenses are broken down. We find ourselves drawn to them. When we say that they speak arrogant words of vanity, we ought not think these arrogant words are repulsive when first heard. No, you have to be discerning. Are they really saying anything?
Let me use an example. When the health-and-wealth preachers tell me that God wants me to be healthy and wealthy, there is a part of me that says. "Amen, brother." I want them to be right. I really would like to believe that God never wants me sick as long as I keep my faith in Him. I also would like to believe that God does not want me to live in a "chicken coop on earth when He is got a mansion in heaven for me," as one of them has so picturesquely said. Would not you like to believe that God really wants you have more material wealth than you could use? He wants you to have only the best of health to enjoy that abundant material wealth. There is something about the flesh that is drawn to that idea.
My next statement is: "Convince me." I do not want to tell him he is wrong. I want to give him a chance to convince me. They work with a certain kind of people who are not well grounded. When they are done, those who are not well grounded say, "That seems to make sense to me." All of us, if you have been a believer very long, have had a new Christian tell of hearing this teaching. "It sounded right, but I do not know if it is true." Right away, if you have been a believer for a while, you say, "No, no. That is a serious error." Those not well grounded have not picked up on the error. False teachers come, and they are effective.
5. The Hook Is Baited by Fleshly Desires
The word entice in verse 18 also is in verse 14: "...enticing unstable souls..." Entice is a word drawn from a fishing analogy. It means to catch with bait. Those who are false teachers put something on the hook. They put a lure out that will entice and draw people to be caught by them. They entice by fleshly desires and by sensuality. Peter is clarifying the word even more. The bait on their hook is fleshly desires and sensuality. They will say words that appeal to the flesh, to our sensual nature - that fallen part of man that is without restraint. This word sensuality carries the idea of being able to live without restraint. It is an ugly word, given over to debauchery. They are going to offer me a grace that sets me free to do what I want to do.
What false teachers proclaim is free grace without restraint. We are free grace people. Free grace, under their definition, is the grace of God that sets you free from any obligation to obey laws, rules and regulations. They present a different type of grace. True grace does provide freedom. We agree to that point, but then they take a radical turn off the right path. True grace brings freedom, but not freedom without restraint. True grace is not freedom to indulge however you would please. They are offering something else. I hate to say how depraved I am, but there is an appeal to the type of freedom false teachers promote. It appeals to me to think that I can have complete forgiveness of sins and be certain of eternal heaven, yet I can also indulge myself whenever I desire. When I can enjoy the passing pleasures of sin for a season and think that is all right with God, I have got the best of both worlds. I can enjoy the pleasures of this life and know when that is all over I am going to the eternal glory He is given me. This idea shows the awfulness of the appeal of sin. But that is what these false teachers are saying. They tell you not to let anybody corrupt your grace by saying there are restraints on that grace, that you are now going to be required to obey and submit. I say, "Well, yeah, I think that grace is grace and freedom is freedom. I think they are making sense to me." It is an awful corruption that was spreading through the church even in the days of the apostles.
6. Our Unrighteousness Is Never to Exalt God's Righteousness
The Apostle Paul, for example, had to deal with the issue of grace without restraint with the churches at Rome, Corinth and in Galatia. In Romans, chapter 3, various forms of this kind of teaching all point to the same idea that it is all right to sin. Verse 5: "But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)" In other words, if my unrighteousness demonstrates how righteous God is, is not that a good thing? Don't you want to demonstrate as clearly as possible how righteous God is? So if your unrighteousness does that, maybe your unrighteousness is not so bad. It would not be right for God to punish you for your unrighteousness when it really exalted His righteousness. Verse 6: "May it never be!..." Paul is using a very strong, forceful way to say that is an impossible concept. The King James version says, "God forbid." Such a thought is abhorrent.
Verse 7, "But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?" You might say, "If I told a lie but the end result was that it glorified God, then why is that lie a sin when the ultimate end of man is to glorify God? My lie glorified God. So let us not make more of my lie as sin than is necessary. It was really a means to glorify God." I had two people in my office who were involved in an extra-marital affair. They tried to use the argument that their affair really was not sin as you consider it, because the end of it has been the glory of God. One of the persons involved in the extra-marital affair has gotten saved; "therefore, my sin was not sin in an awful, ugly sense. It is been something beautiful for the glory of God."
Paul said in Romans 3:8, "And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), 'Let us do evil that good may come?'..." Paul said people actually were saying he taught this! In our attempt to excuse our sin, to minimize the seriousness of sin, we can find ourselves in this kind of thinking. "You know, I can rationalize that God in His grace uses sin to accomplish His purposes; therefore, that sin was not so awful and ugly and vile." Paul has only one thing to say at the end of verse 8: "...Their condemnation is just." They deserve hell. When the truth of God is twisted in such a convoluted way, they deserve hell. Paul is saying that it is righteous of God to condemn them.
In Romans 6:1-2, Paul is combating the "sin-glorifies-God" concept. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!..." Shall we continue in sin that grace may increase? Let us face it; there is a logic to that thought. The more you sin, the more God's grace is manifested in forgiving you your sin. So let us magnify God's grace by sinning and giving Him the occasion to forgive us. But the reality, Paul says, is that such a concept is impossible. Verse 15: "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!" You fail to understand there is a legalistic grace that is not biblical and a licentious grace that is not biblical. But there is a biblical grace that is biblical.
7. Grace Does Not Bring Unrestrained Freedom
We are not under the law, but that does not mean we are without restraint. It does not mean we are free to do what we want. We think this issue would not get carried to this extreme, but some of you may have been here in the days when there were some issues over grace and legalism in an open way at Indian Hills. We had some people actually say they were leaving Indian Hills because we put signs in the parking lot telling them where to park. They said that could only be a form of legalism. They thought we were no longer a church focusing on grace but that our people were under law. They sat under my preaching. I guess that says something about the preaching, does it not? But how do people get so confused about what is real grace. It has nothing to do with parking lot signs. It has nothing to do with speed limits, in that sense. The fact that you are not under the Mosaic law does not mean you are now without restraint and have a freedom that can take you wherever you want to go.
In 1 Corinthians 6:11, Paul talked about the cleansing they received from the most vile kinds of sins. "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." Verses 12-13: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them..." People try to draw parallels and analogies, then they build their theology on their analogies. That always leads to unbiblical theology. We ought to understand there is more to life than the idea that the body is for food and food is for the body. The end of verse 13 leads into another realm. Just like the body is for food and food is for the body, so is the body for sex and is sex for the body. Sometimes you crave food; sometimes you crave sex, so you know the parallel holds. By using this distorted logic, immorality can become a valid use of the body. "...Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body."
Verse 15: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!" You become one flesh with those whom you join in a sexual relationship. If you are a believer, you take that which belongs to Christ and join it in a relationship of oneness with a whore. We no longer have any concept of the seriousness of immorality. The moral issues of the world around us have gone to seed, and the open display of the resulting immorality is debauchery. Furthermore, in verse 19, "...do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit..." The Holy Spirit dwells in here. Your body is not your own. Verse 20: "For you have been bought with a price..." All of a sudden there are serious restraints on the freedom I have in grace. I am no longer my own. I belong to someone else. This body is not my own; it is His. I am not free to do what I want to do. I am free to do what He wants me to do.
Galatians 5:13: "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh..." You were called to freedom, but be careful. Do not use freedom as an opportunity or an excuse to indulge the flesh and its corrupt desires. That is not the freedom God has given us in Christ.
8. False Teaching Sounds Good to Unstable Souls
Now come back to 2 Peter 2:18: "For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality..." These men do not directly say, "Hey, let us commit immorality." They want you to understand grace - pure grace, free grace, the freedom that God's grace brings you - and anyone who would put restraints on you is trying to put you back under law. They confuse not being under the Mosaic Law with not being responsible to be obedient. They start talking about grace and the freedom we have in grace. They talk about how grace is without restriction in the sense that it is not related to what I do but to what God does. I say, "Yeah, this sounds good." Obviously, they would not be able to infiltrate the church and secretly introduce destructive heresies if it did not sound good.
The end of verse 18: "...they entice...those who barely escape from the ones who live in error." Earlier, we noted the word entice in verse 14, "...enticing unstable souls..." In verse 18, some people "...barely escape from the ones who live in error." In verse 14, two groups of people can be seen. That can also be true at the end of verse 18. It could be those people who are not believers but seem to be on their way toward salvation. Perhaps you are sharing the gospel with someone at work. You can see the Lord working in his heart and drawing him. He has an increasing interest in hearing more about Christ and salvation. The last thing you want is a member of one of the cults, for example, to get involved in that discussion, or a false teacher who will bring in the kind of corruption that will confuse him.
"Those who barely escape..." also can refer to new believers who have not yet been firmly established in the truth that is in Christ and do not have a stability of life that comes from a growing knowledge of God and His word. Those who live in error are unbelievers whose lives are devoted to the flesh. But those who barely escape are the ones who seem to be on the brink of salvation and seem to be drawn by God, along with those who are new believers. We must be careful because these new believers become those the false teachers try to entice by telling them about "true" grace and "true" freedom. These new believers do not know enough about the word. False teachers run through Scripture and show new believers about grace and freedom, that we are not under the law. All this seems to makes sense. New believers do not have enough of a grasp of Scripture yet to discern, sift out and recognize the error.
9. Once Swallowed, Hook Is Difficult to Remove
We are responsible as a church to be careful not to tolerate this kind of teaching. People say we are intolerant. I hope so. Parents would not let any kind of pervert move into their house and sleep in their kids' rooms. Why would we do the same in the church? The spiritual issue of the blackness of darkness in an eternal hell is surely more significant than anything else. Yet we are to be very tolerant. "Judge not that you be not judged." Heaven forbid! False teachers say they love the Lord and talk about grace. Well, the devil talks about grace, and the devil quotes Scripture. We have to exercise the discernment that God has given us in the use of His word. New believers are people who will be enticed with this kind of bait on the hook. Once they get ensnared, it becomes very difficult to disentangle them.
I was watching a fishing program the other day - you know, a program that shows you how to fish. I have no stomach for it. They catch this fish and are going to throw it back in, but first they need to get this hook out of the fish. Oh man, I could be watching golf! When the fisherman removed the hook, I could not help but think of this passage. That is fine if you like fishing. I am all for you. I cannot make it, but you go ahead. But I do not want believers spiritually hooked on this kind of bait. Getting them unhooked is a difficult and often painful process. We must exercise discernment in the body. There are lines drawn, and we must be as narrow as God is and as broad as God is. There is no more flexibility than that. These false teachers are promising them freedom. You see, that is how they get their following. They want you to really understand grace - free grace - by promising them freedom from restraint.
Paul wrote the same thing to the Galatians that Peter did in 1 Peter 2:16. Peter writes: "Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God." That is the kind of freedom we have. It is a freedom to serve as a slave of God. These false teachers promise a freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption. Jude says in Jude 4, that they are "...ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness..." Why is the church tolerant of this type of teaching? We have teaching that is now sweeping through the evangelical church that says, "As long as you trust Christ, you can live however you please. You may never decide to have Him as your Lord, but at least know you are saved." We are going to raise a generation under that kind of teaching. How will they be different than the Catholics, the Lutherans or you fill in the blank? So as long as you were baptized, as long as you were confirmed, you can be sure you are saved. We have told them, "You make a decision as a child, then you grow up and live a licentious life. But that is all right. We trust you will come back to the church. Remember, you just never had Christ as your Lord." Somehow we are conditioning a coming generation with that kind of teaching, the corruption of which is yet to be seen in its fullness.
In 2 Peter, chapter 1, in the middle of verse 4: "...you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." These false teachers have never become partakers of the divine nature. They have never escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. They are promising freedom to people, but they themselves are slaves to sin, of corruption and the decay that sin brings. What hypocrisy, what foolishness.
10. All are Slaves - Either to God or to Satan
The explanation is found in chapter 2, verse 19: "...for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved." There is a permanence about the slavery - "...by what a man is overcome..." is in the perfect tense in the original Greek. Perfect tense is where something happened in the past and the results continue in the future. So this text denotes something permanent. It is a settled condition of these people. We are not talking about a Christian whom we say is overcome by temptation and has sinned. We are talking about people who live in the realm of being overcome. That which overcomes a person dominates their lives; "...by that he is enslaved." The word enslaved is also in the perfect tense. What continues to overcome you, dominates your life, enslaves you. John 8:34: "Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.'" A characteristic of sin is that it enslaves, and everyone who sins is the slave of the sin.
We see the same issue about slavery to sin in Romans 6:16: "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death..." - remember when we spoke earlier of the corruption, the black darkness - "...or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" Now note this in verses 17 and18: "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed..." - to the gospel of Jesus Christ - "...and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."
You see, there is no such thing as the kind of freedom false teachers are promoting, a grace without restraint, a freedom without balance. True freedom is the ability to function as I was created to function. A fish is free in the water because the fish was created to function in the water. I was created for a personal relationship with the living God who created me in His image. I am free when I can function as he created me to function. Everyone in the world is a slave either of sin or of righteousness, either of the devil or of God. There are only two kinds of people, and both kinds are slaves. But one slave is a free slave because that slave is functioning in the relationship in the manner for which he was created in the image of God. That is true freedom. Jesus said, in John 8:36, "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."
Let me summarize the points that Peter has covered in verses 17-19:
The only freedom is the freedom found in Jesus Christ. Only the Son can set us free. When the Son sets us free, we are free indeed. We will not be perfect in every way, but righteousness will characterize our lives. Obedience to the God who has redeemed us for Himself will be evident in the way we conduct ourselves. I trust we as God's people and the church of Jesus Christ will be alert and discerning. We will have such a passionate love for our God, love for His word, that we will hang on every word and count it precious and dear and not let it go that we might honor Him in every way. Let us pray together.
Thank you, Lord, for the depth of Your love and grace, for a grace that knows no bounds is bestowed upon us freely. Lord, it is a grace that has brought us into a relationship with You as our sovereign Lord and Master and as the redeeming God who purchased us for Himself. Lord, it is our greatest privilege to use these bodies and all their parts as instruments of righteousness and to be able to devote our bodies to the worship and service of the God who created us. Lord, I pray that we as individuals and we as a church family will be so passionately in love with You, and in love with Your word, that every part and every word of it will be dear to our hearts. May we be grieved to tears over those who are disobedient and may we be intolerant of that disobedience. May we be bold in proclaiming the only message that can give life because we proclaim the only Savior who is the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. We pray in His name, Amen.
Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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