Tuesday, November 30, 2010
II Peter Chapter 2
- There have always been and always will be false teachers. They are clever and sneaky.
- Deuteronomy 13:1-5
- Matthew 7:15-27
- The end of chapter one was talking about KNOWING scripture. Studying it well.
- You have to have a solid foundation. This is hard when you're a new believer. When you barely know what the Word says... barely have a clue about this faith, or this God past the fact that you know there's something different in your heart and you feel loved and you have this wonderful emotional high from it.
- When you're at this stage, it's easy to confuse things that sound close to truth. I remember hearing old sayings or lines from songs and thinking that they had to be from the Bible because they just sounded like Biblical truth...
- If a false teacher comes in preaching prosperity, good things, a life well-lived... and sounds close to right... what's to say he's wrong? If you don't know the Word, you'll fall for half truths.
- I Timothy 4:1-11
- Jude 1:3-23
- Believers in general sometimes get this idea that if they're not feeling an emotional high, then they're not close with God... or they're not where they need to be in their relationship with God...
- And when false teachers promise to provide this, or DO provide it, we tend to follow because it FEELS good.
- However, a marriage relationship is not about the butterflies. Eventually the butterflies go away... but love remains... just because we don't feel an emotional high all the time, doesn't necessarily mean we've fallen away...
- False teachers do not always come preaching some off the wall thing... instead, they “cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them.”
- There are occults that teach using portions of reworded scripture. Just reworded enough to be false... but still ring of truth. Or they focus on one portion of scripture that to them is the foundation for their beliefs and ignore the rest of the Word...
- Peter says that they will bring sudden destruction on themselves.
- “In November of 1978, the world was shocked by the suicide deaths of 913 members of the People's Temple cult. Jim Jones, the leader of the group, convinced his followers to move to Jonestown, Guyana, a remote community that Jones carved out of the South American jungle and named after himself. Jones constantly feared losing control of his followers. His paranoia was the main reason he moved the cult to Guyana.
The mass suicide occurred after U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan of California and a team of reporters visited the compound to investigate reports of abuse. After some members tried to leave with the congressman's group, Jim Jones had Ryan and his entourage ambushed at the nearby airstrip. He then ordered his flock to commit suicide by drinking grape-flavored Kool-Aid laced with potassium cyanide.
The mass suicide wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. During the weeks that preceded the dreadful event, Jones had conducted a series of suicide drills, according to survivors. An alarm call would sound and every person in the camp would line up to receive a fatal dosage. These exercises in insanity proved that all of the adults at the compound knew what would be the result of their actions.
The People's Temple did not start off as your average mind-controlling cult. It initially gained much respect as an interracial mission for the sick, homeless and jobless. Jim Jones did not manifest his darker side until near the end.” (http://www.raptureready.com/rr-kool-aid.html- random reference, but it's a good summary...)
- Notice the last part? It didn't start as something that looked scary, or wrong, or bad... it looked good! But the truth was not what it seemed...
- A lot of people will be drawn into these kinds of teachings. Have been in the past, and will continue to be so... People will blindly follow their evil teachings and shameful immorality. They will make up stories to get your money because of their greed.
- Because of these teachers, the Way of Truth will be slandered. Why? Because they will do all these things in the name of God. In the name of Jesus. In the name of Christianity. And when the discrepancies are revealed... when they are seen for what they are... then their actions are associated, not with Satan or evil... but rather, with us, with the church, with Jesus Himself.
- Romans 16:17-20
- footnote- “Peter gives three warning signs for identifying false teachers:
1. Immorality. Do their lives contain or condone immoral practices? Does the group listening to the false teachers have a lot of immoral sexual relationships?
2. Greed. Teachers have a right to financial support (I Corinthians 9:1-14; Galatians 6:6; I Timothy 5:17-18), but is money the teacher's or group's prime motivation? Before you send money to any cause, evaluate it carefully. Is the teacher or preacher clearly serving God or merely promoting his/her own interests? Will the person or organization use the money to promote valid ministry, or will it merely finance further promotions or extravagant lifestyles?
3. Lying. Is the leader offended when you ask for the scriptural backing behind his/her statements? Does he/she fudge on the facts when asked for evidence?
Believers today would do well to heed Peter's warnings against false teachers; the danger is great.”
- However, God has already condemned them. And their destruction will not be delayed. He didn't spare even the angels who rebelled against Him. He threw them into the pit of hell, into darkness to be held until the day of judgment.
- Genesis 6, 7, 8, 9, 18:16-33, 19:1-29
- Nor did God spare those during Noah's time. He destroyed all the ungodly people in the flood.
- Nor did He spare those in Sodom and Gomorrah. He turned them and their cities into heaps of ashes. He made them an example to the world as to what He will do to ungodly people.
- footnote- “If God did not spare angels, or people who lived before the Flood, or the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, He would not spare these false teachers. These words that promised justice were a great comfort to those who were oppressed. God will punish all evildoers. These words also served as a warning to wanderers to not stray away from the truth. Some people would have us believe that God will save all people because He is so loving. But it is foolish to think that God will cancel the last judgment. Don't ever minimize the certainty of God's judgment on those who rebel against Him.”
- However, don't lose heart! God rescued Noah and his family from the flood because they were found to be righteous before God. And Lot and his family was rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah because they were also found to be righteous. “Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.”
- God knows how to rescue godly people from trials. Just as He brought relief and rescue to Lot and Noah and their families, so He is able to rescue you as well... while still destroying the wicked and maintaining their judgment. He is able to make the difference seen and felt.
- Matthew 10:5-42
- Then Peter says something interesting... “He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority. These people are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling.”
- So there's two things here that Peter is kind of putting in the same category as being things that God really hates apparently because he says that God is especially hard on these things.
- “those who follow their own twisted sexual desire”- This covers just about any and every sexual sin I can possibly come up with... sex out of wedlock, adultery, homosexuality, and who knows what else... but the one that comes to the forefront of my mind is homosexuality. Today's society has a tendency to either try to overlook the state of homosexuality, or to condone it and constantly put it forward to make everyone more used to it, more immune to the immorality of it.
- However, the fact remains that it is still a sin and in God's eyes, a horrible one. In Leviticus 18:22 it says “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.” (NLT) The KJV says that it is an abomination. So I looked it up in Strong's and Vine's... The following excerpts are from Vine's...
- “loathsome, detestable thing. Defines something or someone as essentially unique in the sense of being dangerous, sinister, and repulsive to another individual. When used with reference to God, this nuance of the word describes people, things, acts, relationships, and characteristics that are “detestable” to Him because they are contrary to His nature. People with habits loathsome to God are themselves detestable to Him. Is used in the sphere of jurisprudence and of family or tribal relationships. Certain acts or characteristics are destructive of societal and familial harmony; both such things and the people who do them are described by this word.”
- opposites of the Hebrew for this word are reactions such as “delight” and “loveth”
- Sounds harsh doesn't it... oh but there's more...
- Well Peter goes on to lump that in with people who despise authority.
- For me, this brings up a question that I don't really have a solid answer for... and that is, does that mean that all sexual sin is a form of rebellion against God's authority?
- When we despise authority, we are generally proud and arrogant. As a human race, we can become highly self-centered. We have a survival instinct that kicks in and just overwhelms our ability to think about other people. We are a selfish people, and our selfishness can often lead to us doing things purely because they make us happy, or make us feel good, or satisfy a hunger in some way...
- And if the authority opposes our desires in any way... it just gives us more of a reason to rebel... (in our eyes) Sometimes opposition just leads to more rebellion... because we are also very stubborn people who are very set in our ways...
- Peter says that people who follow their own desires and despise authority dare even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling... But the angels who are greater than us... THEY don't even do that... They're stronger than us, more powerful than us, but they don't even dare to be blasphemous in their actions or their words.
- (supernatural beings could be a number of things... could be the angels themselves, or God, or demons, or Satan... who knows...)
- Regardless of who “supernatural beings” are speaking of, the fact is that these people are rebelling and scoffing in the face of something much more powerful than themselves because they are that arrogant and full of themselves. They think so much of themselves that they are willing to laugh in the face of something that has power over them... It's like walking up to your captor who's holding an automatic machine gun and laughing in his face or making fun of him trying to get a laugh out of the other captives... not smart... this is not something you want to play class clown with.
- Romans 9:25-29
- Peter says “these false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed.”
- Because they scoff at things they don't understand and are like animals... in that they are selfish, seeking self-survival, fulfilling their own desires regardless of who others are or what their relationship is to themselves... they will be destroyed.
- Their destruction will be their reward for the harm they have done.
- They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They don't care who sees their sin. They'll act however they please... even flaunt their sins in front of all who see because they are that arrogant. They feel no shame, no reason to think badly of their actions... they laugh at morality and scoff at the authority that warns them to be careful of their actions.
- “They are a disgrace and a stain among you.” ouch... “they delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals.”
- Not only are they disgraceful and a stain on the church, but they deceive even as they are fellowshipping with you.
- footnote- “The fellowship meal may have been part of the celebration of the Lord's Supper—a full meal that ended with Communion. The false teachers, although they were sinning openly, took part in these meals with everyone else in the church. In one of the greatest of hypocritical acts, they attended a sacred meal designed to promote love and unity among believers, while at the same time they gossiped and slandered those who disagreed with their opinions. Paul told the Corinthians, “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (I Corinthians 11:27). These men were guilty of more than false teaching and promoting evil pleasures; they were guilty of leading others away from God's Son, Jesus.”
- The meal in Jewish culture (if I remember right) was a huge part of their culture. When you sat down to eat with another person, it meant friendship, agreement, unity, and in a lot of cases, it was a part of a covenant. A covenant made over a fellowship meal was one of the most binding and supposedly the most face to face, honest, take-me-at-my-word meetings. And these false teachers were coming in and using the fellowship meal to lead people astray. The very place you were supposed to be able to be open and honest... was the place they were using to spread lies.
- I Corinthians 11:17-34
- They commit adultery with their eyes. Jesus in Matthew said that if you look at a woman, you have committed adultery in your heart. These false teachers are lustful. They have an insatiable desire for sin.
- They lure in unstable people to their sin. They find people who are weak in their faith, or who need attention, or who have a tendency to follow the leader blindly...
- they are well trained in greed. They want your money and they know how to play you to get it...
- They live under God's curse. They have not accepted Christ, the gift of life... they are living under the everlasting curse of death and eventual torment in hell... They have no hope. They have wandered off the right road. They were there once... they were following Christ... and somewhere along the way, they started off the path onto a path they themselves are forging. They are following in the footsteps of Balaam.
- Now if you know nothing about Balaam, here we go. Balaam was a prophet living in the promised land (Numbers 22-24). The Israelites are getting ready to cross the Jordan river coming out of Egypt. Balak, the king of Moab sends messengers to Balaam asking him to come and curse these people so he can conquer them. So Balaam says that he'll give the king God's answer in the morning.
- So God comes to Balaam and says, hey, who're these people? Balaam tells Him who they are and what they want him to do. God says, don't do it. They are a blessed people and you are not to curse them.
- Balaam got up the next morning and tells the messengers that God isn't going to let him go with them.
- So they go back to the king to report and he sends back to Balaam saying please! Don't let anything stop you from coming! I will pay you very well, just please come and curse these people for me!
- Balaam says “even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God.”
- So that night God says, okay... go with them, but ONLY DO WHAT I TELL YOU.
- So Balaam gets up and goes with the messengers. But God's still not happy about this... He knew that Balaam wanted to go... and He knew that He wanted the money... so He sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road and block the way.
- As Balaam and the two servants were riding along, Balaam's donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted. This is not a dumb beast... but Balaam beats it and turns him back into the road.
- So the angel is standing at a place in the road where it narrows between two vineyards. The donkey tried to squeeze between the angel and the wall and he crushes Balaams foot against the wall. So Balaam beats the donkey again and continues on his way.
- So this time, the angel stands in such a narrow place in the road that the donkey can't get through... and so when the donkey sees the angel, he just lays down. He is NOT going any further... So Balaam is getting pretty mad, and he starts beating the donkey again... And God gives the donkey the ability to speak... and he says “what have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?”
- okay... a donkey starts talking to me, I'm gonna freak out... I am not going to respond...
- But Balaam does... and he's yelling “You have made me look like a fool! If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” (I mean really... who talks back to a talking donkey... this is not Shrek...)
- And the donkey says look... I'm the same donkey you have ridden all your life... have I ever done anything like this before?
- well no... so God opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with sword drawn... oops... He falls to his face on the ground...
- “Why did you beat your donkey those three times? I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”
- And then and only then does Balaam finally get it through his brain and realize that he's probably in the wrong... “I have sinned. I didn't realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”
- Okay first of all, God already said don't go once. God does not change His mind. Secondly, Balaam is only changing HIS mind about not going on threat of death... “OK God... if You REALLY are SURE You don't want me to go... I guess I won't *heaves sigh...*”
- So finally Balaam does what God asks him to do. He goes to Balak and he blesses Israel. Three times. And Balak kept getting more angry... lol
- Peter is likening these false teachers to Balaam's attitude. They want money despite all the desires of God. They will go against the will of God just to make a buck. It took a talking donkey to stop Balaam in his downward spiraling course... sometimes it takes more than that even for someone to see the error of their ways...
- Revelation 2:12-17
- These people are as useless as dried-up springs. They give no life. They have no use... they're an empty hole in the ground with no purpose.
- Or they're like a mist that is blown away by the wind. They are here a moment and then gone. They don't last. They have no substance to withstand the winds of time.
- They are doomed to the blackest darkness. They are headed for the pits of hell. No way out.
- They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. They are so full of pride that they are constantly spouting off about themselves. Or they just hold themselves higher than everybody. They may seem to be generous, considerate, kind... but they think of their actions only in the light of how it reflects on them. It's like the guy who buys his girlfriend expensive things or is very thoughtful in public, but beats her behind closed doors. It only matters what the world sees... what is truly his character is hidden...
- They lure in those who have escaped sin and a life of deception through appealing to twisted sexual desires. They promise freedom. They promise a life free of restraint. A life free of rules. A life free of morality.
- But you are a slave to sin! As free as we may feel, if we are sinning, we are slaves! Because sin will run our lives. It takes over and completely takes control. We become slaves to whatever controls us... whatever desires we just can't seem to satisfy.
- When we escape from sin, from the world's wickedness, from our own evil inborn nature by coming to know Christ, and then become enslaved yet again, we become worse off than ever before.
- It would be better had we never known righteousness... had never known purity in Christ. To know and then to reject the command we are given to live a holy life...
- Peter gives a couple of proverbs that illustrate this principal. “A dog returns to its vomit” and “a washed pig returns to the mud.”
- We have turned and rejected our only way of escape. We have turned our backs on our only hope.
- Romans 13:8-14
- Ephesians 2, 3, 4, 5:1-20
- Matthew 12:38-45
- Ezekiel 18
- Hebrews 6:4-12, 10:19-39