Sermon Manuscript . . .
‘Churchy’ Bad Guys–part 1
Peter’s warnings about false teachers–2 Peter 2:1, part 1
Worldwide, farmers use scarecrows to scare away animals from their crops, but a farmer from Karnataka, which is southern India, took the practice a step further. Srikant Gowda, a farmer from Shivamogga city district in Karnataka, was struggling with keeping his crops safe from a monkey infestation. What’s a monkey infestation? A monkey infestation looks like our Sunday morning FBC two-year-old class. No, monkeys invaded his fields and ate most of his crops.
So he came up with a bizarre, yet brilliant, idea–he painted black stripes on his orangey brown dog in order to make his dog look like a tiger, to scare away the monkeys. Monkeys are not afraid enough of humans, but they are afraid of tigers. The farmer stumbled upon this idea, after seeing a farmer using a tiger-like doll and large poster pictures of tigers strategically placed around his fields as a new type of scarecrow.
Srikant did the same for his crops, but he soon realized the monkeys may eventually figure out that his tiger doll and tiger posters are not real. So he thought, what better way to keep them away than to paint the tiger stripes on his dog. And it worked! Farmer Gowda now gives his dog a monthly paint job, giving his mutt that trendy tiger look using a special black non-toxic hair-dye to transform his canine into a dangerous, monkey-eating tiger, since the hair-dye lasts just over a month. Now other farmers are tiger-striping their dogs in this Indian district and happily the monkeys haven’t caught on. Farmers paint their dogs to look like tigers and their crops are saved.
Today, Peter wants to paint some stripes on his Christian readers to keep the false teachers away. He has already equipped true churches and genuine Christians with the Christ-like character and the confidence in God’s Word necessary to survive a false teacher attack. But now, Peter will expose the false teacher. And if false teachers were monkeys, by embracing what Peter writes in 2 Peter 2, you will look like a tiger.
My FBC family, this battle is real. We have churches in our community that just ten years ago, taught the Word of God expositionally–but now entertain their congregations as if Sunday were a performance to make people feel good and get them to give a lot. Churches in our community used to have a correct view of the Triune God, where God is one and each person of the Godhead is equal yet functions in a differing role–where after the incarnation, though equal, God the Son submitted to God the Father. It is the Triune God Himself who models the roles of men and women, not culture.
Those same churches now insult God by being egalitarian–even sinking so low as to have woman preachers. And the heartbreaker is this–there’re some saved people in those churches and they personally oppose this practice, but remain silent and continue to remain in those churches. Yet by doing so, they’re publicly affirming that it’s okay for their church that they are part of to despise the truth, to affirm error and insult God. This is how heresy works–people choose love over truth, or relationship over truth, or what is easy and comfortable over truth. Then heresy takes root, heretics are tolerated and eventually the Word is lost, the Gospel is warped and Christ is distorted.
True Christians cannot be passive about error. You must not say, “Who am I to judge?” You are not unloving by rejecting error, you are unloving if you don’t. Did you forget, Christ is the way and the truth and the life–when you neglect truth, you neglect Christ. When you ignore error, you overlook that which attacks Christ.
Christian friends, you are to always oppose heretics and reject heresy. Error is never to be treated with neutrality. Christians are never to be indifferent about heresy, as if it didn’t matter. It does matter. Error is poison–you must keep it locked away so the young or ignorant can’t harm themselves. You must personally oppose error or you will communicate to all it is not dangerous, destructive or an attack against our Savior, who is the truth.
It’s time for some of you to toughen up, paint some stripes on and listen to Joshua 24:15, “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: …but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” God loves truth, Christ is truth, and our Savior hates error–and in Him is no error at all. Peter wants you wearing stripes–He wants you as fierce as tigers so you keep heresy and heretic monkeys from destroying us.
To those of you who err on the side of love, those who are gentle, meek and mild, those of you who hate confrontation, those who’d rather preserve relationship, not make issues with a family member or not expose error by standing for truth–listen. The greatest sin of Christ-rejecters and the most damning work of Satan is the misrepresentation of the truth. Nothing is more wicked than for someone to claim to speak for God concerning the salvation of people, when in reality they speak for Satan, leading to the damnation of people. Deception and error have eternal consequences.
So how does Peter begin? Read aloud with me verses 1 to 3, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Peter’s goal is to get you as an individual Christian and each Bible-obeying church to be stable and unshakable with your beliefs and your Christ-like behavior. As Peter describes false teachers, he underscores just how serious God is about truth, and also how hostile God is toward those who distort it. Make certain you don’t listen to, follow, read, support or remain silent about false teachers–put on your tiger stripes of truth and fight the monkeys of error. How? By embracing what Peter says about churchy bad guys. Peter will tell us. Rejecting false teachers and their teachings is loving Christ’s Church and His Word.
#0 Churchy Bad Guys–their evil EXPERTISE
Chapter 1 verse 1a begins with, “But false prophets.” The first word, “but”, contrasts chapter 1 with chapter 2. In chapter 1, Peter encouraged you to depend on God’s power and promises in order to become men and women of character. Peter also convinced us to have total confidence in God’s life-transforming Word, witnessed and written by God’s chosen men. Now in chapter 2, Peter will warn you against the destruction that will befall those who don’t grow in Christlike character, nor have confidence in God’s powerful Word.
Think of yourself as a horse pulling a cart. Chapter one is a motivational carrot for you and I to pursue the most important. Chapter two is the motivational whip-crack over your head. There are no commands, admonitions, or imperatives in chapter two-just a terrifying in-your-face description of what will happen to those who fall prey to the false teachers in the Church. Read some of the intense verses in chapter 2, “1false prophets … will secretly introduce destructive heresies…bringing swift destruction upon themselves. . . . 3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; … 12like unreasoning animals, …will … be destroyed, 17These are springs without water … for whom the black darkness has been reserved.”
You see it? Chapter 2 is a warning that destruction awaits the false teachers and their followers. In chapter 1, by living Christ-like character, you’re making assurance certain and your entrance into God’s Kingdom a reality. But in chapter 2, you’re warned if you contradict the doctrine and character of God’s Word, you’ll be useless now and tormented forever. Through genuine Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles, God has spoken, then written the truth to His people. But through false teachers, Satan will always attempt to obscure and contaminate God’s message. These spiritual mercenaries are experts at deceiving, falsehood and lies–with the goal of undermining the true Word of God.
Turn to some passages. In Deuteronomy 13:1 as Moses teaches Israel just before they enter the promised land he says, “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God.”
Turn to Jeremiah 23:16, where just as Judah was about to be taken captive by Babylon, the prophet says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord.’ ” Turn to Matthew 7:15 as Jesus gives this warning, “ ‘Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.’ “
Then jump over to 2 Corinthians 11:13 and 14 where Paul says, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Then jump to the end of Paul’s life in 2 Timothy 4:3 and 4 and listen to his warning to the Church, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
These false teachers have always plagued God’s people–from the very beginning with Moses, to the time of the prophets, to the time of the gospels, and to our current day. Rejecting false teachers and their teachings is loving Christ’s Church and His Word.
#1 Churchy Bad Guys–their evil ENTRANCE
Verse 1a, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you.” Satan is an expert spy. The enemy continually labors to infiltrate the Church. And the devil does his best spy work through his servants–the false teachers. That description, false prophets, is literally the Greek word–pseudo prophets. Pseudo makes them a lie–they are fake, phony, a fraud, a sham, and counterfeit. They don’t tell you they’re false and anti-biblical, they assure they’re genuine and solidly-biblical. As they’re a part of the Church, it really sells their deception.
Look at verse 1 again, “But false prophets also …arose… among the people.” Arose means they came to be on their own. And the word among–“among the people” is literally in the midst of God’s people. You just read the reality of verse 1 by reading all the passages of pseudo prophets found throughout the Bible. These fake ones have been sown among God’s people since the very beginning. So Peter says, as these deceptive ones have always been in the midst of God’s people, so Peter affirms in the next phrase there will also be false teachers among you. All churches and our church will experience false teachers. Peter guarantees these servants of Satan will be among, literally in you, as a church.
What does Spurgeon say? “False teachers will always try to do their hateful work secretly. They ask, ‘What is all this fuss about? We have not departed from the truth, we are as sound in the faith as any of you are,’ when they know, traitors that they are, that they are undermining the foundations, and trying to take away the very cornerstone of the faith.
“These ‘false teachers’ will deceive the very elect of God if it be possible. But the elect are not easily deceived, for God has given them a discerning mind by which they ‘test the spirits to determine if they are from God’ (1 John 4:1).
“The Lord Jesus said of His sheep, ‘And they will never follow a stranger, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers’ (John 10:5). Sheep though they are, they have discernment enough to know their Shepherd, and the Godly soon detect false teachers.”–Love that Charles.
How does it happen? John Macarthur says, “False teachers arise when the church begins to embrace the worldly culture around it. As a result, congregations no longer desire to ‘endure [hold to] sound [healthy] doctrine.’ God-centered worship and preaching are replaced by man-centered antics and entertainment.” Ever so subtly, preaching makes you feel good instead of convicting your life. The Word is used only to inspire, not instruct–then entertain and not exalt the Lord.
The Church is one of Satan’s primary spheres of operation. For that reason, the true shepherd and the Church family must continually be on guard–constantly studying, proclaiming, and defending the truth. The preacher, Titus 1:9b, “must be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” Why? Because rejecting false teachers and their teachings is loving Christ’s Church and His Word. Why are false teachers so dangerous?
#2 Churchy bad guys–their evil EXHORTATION
Verse 1b, “who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” What are these false teachers trying to do? What’s their objective? Peter uncovers their motives of deception. They secretly want to teach error and make it seem like it is truth in order to harm believers, annihilate make-believers and destroy themselves.
First Churchy bad guys–their evil SECRECY
Verse 1b, bad teachers “who will secretly introduce destructive heresies.” False teachers parade themselves as pastors, seminary professors, and Christian authors. In a parallel account, Jude 4 describes them as “certain persons [who] have crept in unnoticed”. The verb “to creep in” means to slip in without being seen, or to sneak in under false pretenses. The term refers to a clever defendant attempting to fool a judge.
Peter is informing you that not only is their message false, but their methods are false. Instead of openly declaring what they believe, they come into the Church under false colors and give the impression they’re true to the Christian faith. Peter says they will secretly introduce destructive heresies–literally, they secretly bring in alongside. They bring error alongside the truth. They do not throw out the truth immediately–they simply lay their false teachings alongside the truth and give the impression they believe sound doctrine. Before long, they remove sound doctrine and leave their false doctrine in its place. They do it secretly.
False teachers are never honest and straightforward about their operations. No genuine believer or church would ever embrace them, if their schemes were unmasked. Instead, they stealthily and deceptively enter the church posing as spiritual teachers. Friends, I’ve watched this happen. There were times where I saw it and stopped the wolf from remaining in the flock immediately. There were times when it became evident over time, and painfully dealt with the deceiver and the damage done to God’s people. And there’ve been times the elders and I found out later of the false nature of the so-called leader.
We are dealing with a very powerful, but secretive, enemy. Since before Eve, Satan has been in the deceit business. What is the poison the false teachers bring? Verse 1, “who will secretly introduce destructive heresies”–they secretly teach heresy. The word heresy originally meant simply “to make a choice”–from the Greek verb meaning to take something for one’s self, to choose, or to prefer. Later it came to mean a sect or a party. False teachers secretly, even with the appearance of humility, promote a party spirit in a church.
Paul, in Galatians, reminds us a divisive spirit is a fruit of the flesh. Galatians 5:20 lists “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions.” Whenever a Christian encourages you to divide–“Do you agree with me or agree with the elders? Do you think this is best or my way is best? Are you with Paul or Peter?” He or she is promoting a party spirit and causing division. A false teacher manipulates you to make a choice between his doctrines and the sound doctrines of our faith–between himself and sound teachers.
Heresies means self-designed religious lies which lead to division and faction. The literal reading is heresies of (for) destruction. False teachers slyly enter the Church with doctrines designed to destroy the spiritual and moral lives of Christians. It is so serious that Paul instructs Titus in 3:10 (ESV), “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” Why? Because Peter writes in verse 1, these heresies are destructive.
The Greek word destructive basically means damnation. It is used six times in this letter and every usage speaks of final damnation (verses 1 to 3; 3:7 and 16). Are you getting this? Destructive means utter ruin and speaks of the final and eternal condemnation of the wicked. In this context, the term indicates the antics of these men have disastrous, eternal consequences, both for them and their followers. All false teachers are on a suicide mission–as they seek to destroy others, they will destroy themselves. They teach damnable heresies–heresies that lead to Hell. Destructive points to eschatological judgment–it does not mean extinction, but ruination. It’s not the loss of being, but the loss of eternal well-being.
Truth does not tolerate error. Truth and heresy cannot co-exist. That bumper stick “CO-EXIST” stabs me every time. Yes–get along with others, but friends truth and error do not co-exist. Genuine Christians are people of the truth who follow a Savior of the truth. If we tolerate error, it will lead to disaster and the eternal destruction for some. This is why it is so tragic when a church makes a virtue out of the toleration of unscriptural teachings and ideas in the name of love and unity. Paint some stripes on.
What does your New Testament say? What does God say to you? Second Thessalonians 3:14, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.” First Timothy 4:1, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” Titus 3:9 to 11, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”
Rejecting false teachers and their teachings is loving Christ’s Church and His Word. There are many damnable heresies in the world and around you today. Liberal theology, denies every cardinal doctrine of Scripture and reduces Christ to a well-meaning teacher who lived before His time and was sadly martyred. This is heresy and those who propagate it are false teachers.
Mormonism–with its old serpent lie, “Ye shall be as gods!” is a damnable heresy.
Jehovah’s Witnesses–deny the Trinity, Hell, the deity of Christ and His bodily resurrection is heresy.
Romanism–embraces numerous heresies. Catholics exalt the Virgin Mary to the rank of
Co-Redemptrix. They claim a priest can turn a wafer into the body of Christ and more. They offer, if the price is right, to get people out of a mythical purgatory and into Heaven–this is all heresy.
False teachers do not always openly oppose the Gospel. Some claim to believe it, to have the true interpretation of it–but in truth they misrepresent it or offer a shallow, inadequate message that cannot save. Because their teaching is as lethal as it is subtle, the self-styled opinions of false teachers can damn the souls of unsuspecting, professing, but not genuine believers. Unless they repent, believe the truth, and turn to Christ, those who embrace these heretical doctrines will be eternally lost. That is why rejecting false teachers and their teachings is loving Christ’s Church and His Word. Then how far will false teachers go in their heresy? Peter tells us next about . . .
Second Churchy Bad Guys–their evil SACRILEGE
Peter exposes the depth of the crime false teachers commit in the next phrase, verse 1c, “even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” Peter says, in addition to secretly sneaking in the poison of heresy, they will even, also, likewise–“even denying the Master.” The conjunction even underscores the unthinkable magnitude of the false teachers’ arrogance–a pride that evidenced itself by denying the Master.
Denying is a strong term meaning to refuse, to be unwilling, or to firmly say no. Hebrews 11:24 uses the same word denying describe Moses’ refusal to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Peter uses a tense for denying to denote a habitual pattern of refusal, describing the character of a false teacher as one who continually rejects divine authority. They deny the Master. Master is the Greek word despotēs, where we get the English despot–it means sovereign, ruler, or lord. The word appears ten times in the New Testament and always refers to one who has supreme authority. In four occurrences it refers to the master of a household who has full authority over all the servants. Here and in the other five occurrences, Master refers directly to Christ or God.
For Peter, the supreme sacrilege of false teachers is that they deny the sovereign lordship of Christ. Some false teachers may not externally deny Christ’s deity, salvation, resurrection, or second coming. But internally, false teachers will adamantly refuse to submit their lives to His sovereign rule. Eventually their heart will be exposed. You’ll see it when they don’t submit to some clear doctrine of God’s Word, or their immoral and rebellious lifestyles will give them away. Proverbs 19:3, “The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.”
Most often false teachers eventually show their rebellion to Christ through the denial of a key doctrine. They will deny the virgin birth, Christ’s deity, bodily resurrection, true justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, or the second coming of Christ. But the root of their denial is a refusal to submit to Christ as Master. And refusing to submit to Christ as Master means they or you are not saved.
Salvation is a gift. It is by grace through faith, but the Christ who is saving you is Lord–He is Master, He is in charge, He is the one who designed the terms of salvation and you come His way and under His leadership or you don’t come to Christ at all. Now it is true that no one who is saved fully understands all the implications of Jesus’ lordship the moment they are saved. But no one can be saved who is either unwilling to obey Christ or who is consciously rebelling against the lordship of Christ. The mark of true regeneration is that it always produces a heart that wants to obey Christ as Lord.
In fact, Peter brings up the truth of salvation by adding, “even denying the Master who bought them.” This phrase, “who bought them,” fits Peter’s analogy perfectly. Think slavery. The Greek verb bought means to purchase or to redeem out of the marketplace. Peter is alluding to the master of a house who has purchased slaves. Because they are now the master’s personal property, they owe their complete allegiance to him–and the expectation of all who are a part of the masters household is obedience.
But these false teacher phony slaves are showing up as if they are a part of the Master’s household–yet they do not obey the Master. They are apostate Christians who have disowned their Master. Like a disobedient slave, the Master will swiftly destroy them. Because the phrase “the Master who bought them,” opens a doctrinal black hole–before we conclude this AM, let me try to explain why people freak out over it.
What you have is Peter giving an analogy of false teachers who state they are part of the household, but they are not obedient to the Master of the house–which leads to their swift destruction, just like it would for a slave in the first century. But the words “who bought them” are uncomfortable to modern theological ears–why? When it says the false teachers “deny the Master who bought them,” does that mean that Christ purchased redemption for false teachers? Did Christ actually die for false teachers who reject Him, or did Christ die only for His elect?
If we say Christ died for all the sins of the false teachers, then we have to say that salvation is completely dependent upon the sinner choosing to be saved. That evangelism is trying to convince someone to put their faith in Christ. That all those damned to Hell actually could have gone to Heaven if they had chosen Christ. That the only reason you are going to Heaven is because you did choose Christ. That when Christ said, “It is finished,” he merely meant, “Salvation is ready.” But none of that is true–it can’t be. Why?
The Bible teaches the absolute inability, or total depravity of people. That people are dead in their trespasses and sins, (Ephesians 2:1), alienated from God (Romans 1:21 to 22), doing only evil from terminally deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), incapable of understanding the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14), blinded by their love of sin, further blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), desiring only the will of their father the devil, unable to seek God, and unwilling to repent (Romans 3:10 to 23). They can’t seek God at all.
So how can any make the right choice to choose Christ–they’re dead. They can’t. Peter stated in this letter in verse 1 that people can’t choose Christ on their own. Remember? He said in 2 Peter 1:1, “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” You and I need to receive our faith, if we are ever going to give our lives to Christ.
Christ died for all who would believe, because they were chosen, called, justified, and granted repentance and faith by the Father. The atonement is not limited by someone’s choice–they don’t have any. So the atonement is limited to those who are elect and are given faith. Salvation is solely from God. He must give life, sight, understanding, repentance, and faith. Salvation comes to the sinner from God, by His will and His power.
So when Peter says, “denying the Master who bought them,” Peter is not saying Christ died for the false teachers who rejected Him–he’s telling them, by their lack of obedience they are showing they are not the master’s slaves. False teachers’ sins were not paid for in the atonement of Christ. Contrary to what some Christians believe today, people who reject Christ’s lordship are not second-class Christians who are not yet disciples–like that was a higher category of Christian. No, if they reject Christ’s lordship, they are non-Christians. Those who reject Christ’s sovereign lordship will face swift destruction if they do not repent from such rebellion.
Verse 1 concludes with “bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” Calvin believes this is Peter warning believers to not get ensnared by false teachers. Swift means quick or imminent–and destruction refers to perdition or eternal damnation in Hell. This horrible fate, at death or at Christ’s coming, awaits all false teachers and all others who follow their unrepentant path. Start wearing your doctrinal stripes, friends–be the tiger who scares the monkey heretics away. Why? Rejecting false teachers and their teachings is loving Christ’s Church and His Word.
But Chris, what about their example, or the way they exploit Christians? And what about their end? For that, you have to come back next week and verses 2 to 3.
Let’s pray–but as you do, I’ll ask you to ponder five questions in prayer.
1 Do you love truth and hate error enough to SPEAK UP against error and for truth?
2 Do you truly view loving truth and rejecting error as loving CHRIST and His Word?
3 Do your family and friends see you as one who seeks to know and live the truth, or do they regularly see you COMPROMISE the truth?
4 When you resist error, do you see its connection to God’s CHARACTER?
Women preachers are an insult to God’s Triune nature
Rejecting church discipline is rejecting God’s holiness
Denial of the resurrection, Hell, justification by grace alone and Christ’s deity are each a rejection of genuine salvation
5 Have you submitted to Christ as Lord, so that your life is marked by OBEDIENCE?