But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
(2 Peter 2:1-22 ESV)
As I wrote about in my previous post, Peter’s letters have captured me over the summer. This summer I have spent my study time diving into Peter’s two letters. They have devastated me. These posts will be lessons I learned and notes I took from I and II Peter. -jon
In Bible times there were false teachers, prophets and preachers that led people astray. God did not stand for it then and does not stand for it now. Peter wants all his readers to understand that this is happening now. Peter writes a lengthy explanation, a thorough definition and definitively shows how to approach such preachers as well as their end. These false leaders will try to mislead the church by teaching “destructive heresies” and will even deny the “Master who bought them.” The heresy will lead to sensual sins and exploitation. Greed will be their reputation and false words will define them. The “way of truth will be blasphemed” and confusion will fill the people.
As I drive around my city I pass empty large churches everywhere. These massive cathedrals, temples and churches used to be full of people, but now many are just empty relics to squatters, junkies and the homeless. One would think that if all these churches had pastors and teachers that truly believed what they taught, real change would have happened for the good…but the exact opposite has happened. Most neighborhoods where these massive churches exists are absolutely horrible.
It is obvious that Detroit has not benefited from all the churches it has.
Why? Shouldn’t many churches produce a productive and good city? Shouldn’t a city full of churches withstand financial troubles and economic chaos if truly they believe the golden rule? Shouldn’t Detroit be a great city to live in because of all these churches? Doesn’t religion produce good and honest people? Think about it…people gave money to those massive buildings. People used to go to those huge metroplexes of worship. Those people were good people weren’t they? The cause was right, right?
What if I told you that the reason for all the false hope being realized and the root cause of this devastation of empty churches is because they were false from the get go.
Before you immediately agree or disagree, think on these thoughts and then compare them to Detroit and your city.
- God punishes the false teachers and makes them an example of what will happen to others.
if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:5-6 ESV)
Just recently another Detroit Pastor was driving around naked and drunk. Does it really surprise us that the city of Detroit is hooked on drugs and depravity if our preachers are secretly out late at night drunk, naked and into porn? Another Detroit Pastor last fall had a man overdose and die from meth in his own house. Seriously, these preachers get up on sunday and then go home to a meth lab? God will make an example of them and for many this is not just losing their congregation but their legacy…the church itself. Peter makes it very clear that there are wolves in sheep clothing that are out to hurt, to steal and to destroy. Could it be that many of these pastors are just play acting?
- False teachers are not ignorant, they should know better
and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, (2 Peter 2:10 ESV)
Some of these actor pastors are so bold in their defiance to the truth that even after being caught, they stay on to pastor. A close friend who I will not name left a church here in Detroit because the Pastor was having an open affair in the church. The first lady sat in the front row and the other woman sat in the second row. This indulgence and arrogance has penetrated the pew and we cannot be surprised when the followers duplicate the leader. This is not to be a finger pointing or blaming others post, rather it is with a sad and unsurprising reluctance to be a voice admitting that those of us out in front are the most to blame. How can we change our city if those with the microphone have dirty little secrets and closets full of regret?
- False teachers are never wrong in their own eyes and are consequently blind to the truth
They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (2 Peter 2:14-16 ESV)
To those of us in Detroit it is very clear, but just think about this thought for a moment…how many churches now sit empty that taught to love God and help your neighbor? How many churches have had huge scandals involving money, splits and depravity? I can’t go a week without someone telling me or I reading in the Free Press about another church shutting down or a pastor gone crazy. Peter reminds the reader of the story of Balaam and the donkey. Balaam was out to do wrong, getting paid to do evil and yet still pretending to be a man of God. God has to use a donkey to get his attention. The irony is that Balaam wouldn’t listen to God, the truth or even the donkey. Balaam was full of “madness” and the evidence is by his actions. The same is seen today.
- False Religion just produces bad people with really good makeup
For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. (2 Peter 2:18-20 ESV)
I feel for churches that have bad leaders who steal money, and who destroy trust. But does it really surprise us then when robbers go and attempt to knock off a church and someone gets killed? Depravity doesn’t care who falls as long as people fall. So many churches steal money, pastors deal dirty, trust is lost and we are surprised that the youth turns to guns and violence instead of Sunday School? Really!?!
- False teachers and actor pastors are just dogs returning to eat vomit
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:21-22 ESV)
There are many innocents in these stories. Many were led astray, many were lied to and many were just duped. In many of these churches it’s not the pastors fault and the deacons/leaders did the wrong. The point that must be understood and that Peter makes is that those that do these wrongs and that lead people astray are not just hurting the gospel, they are inviting punishment from God. Peter ends his passage on false teachers and false leaders by telling the reader that it would have been better for those leaders to not even know “the way” than to “turn back” from it.
- What should be our response and our actions.
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. (2 Peter 2:17 ESV)
First, we must know the difference between preferences and wrong doing. God is going to punish the wicked and God will take care of them. I cannot tell you how irritated I get when I look on Facebook and see some stupid comment about a Pastor or a church when they are just practicing their own liberty. What is sin is a sin and what is a preference is a preference. Don’t confuse the two.
Molesting, hiding and covering up child abuse is wicked. The name of your church is a preference.
The list could go on and on. Notice what Peter calls heresy and false: doctrine, lies, adultery, secrets, sensual deviants, exploitation, blasphemy, arrogant, and corruption. I have seen many people leave churches over stupid reasons. I have seen churches hurt because of a lack of maturity by leaders and also by members. We must get our definitions in line with the Bible.
Secondly, we should separate from the false teachers and warn of the false teaching but we don’t have to be scumbags about it. There are so many websites that are wholly devoted to destroying others ministries because of things that don’t matter. So while I agree that we should fend off the wolves, I am called to be an under-shepherd and not a wolf hunter. It is my job to protect the sheep God has given to me and not to go out on witch hunts.
Thoughts to chew on:
- False cults are cults because they deny Jesus and the gospel as given in the Bible. They are not cults because they do something different that we do.
- God will deal with them, I don’t have to. “Vengeance is mine…” -God.
- Many think that we need to voice our opinion on every matter and make every matter a matter of separation. We do not. When Highland Park Baptist Church decided to change its name and move, some people went crazy(read the comments). A newspaper that some IFB’s read said “this is Ichabod, the glory is departed.” Really? Their church voted to make changes and they are responsible for them. The changes they made were preferential and not doctrinal or heretical. Who made you God to judge them according to your rules? Your standards? Your view?
- At a recent preachers conference that I was invited to attend (I declined), the main speaker issued a sermon on the three things that are destroying the church and America: Obama, Calvinism and Standards. After I laughed, threw up in my mouth and then laughed again…I had to cry. Here at a national leadership conference where pastors from around the country attend the battle cry was not that sin is wicked, or that we need to help the poor, or that we should take the gospel to the inner city, but rather how those goatee wearing, praise band calvinist, obama supporters, and Rick Warren loving liberals are ruining our kids. Enough already.
- While everyone puts on a face, let us not be hypocrites. If you believe it, then do it. No need for chameleons. But don’t think your better than someone else either because you have the truth. I have made more mistakes in my young life and I wish I could go back and change them. Give grace to those that make mistakes and especially to those that do things different than you…because it will be you someday.
- Lecrae wrote a song called Church Clothes. In the song he mentioned “actors called pastors.” I highly recommend you watch the video and hear the lyrics.