Sermon Manuscript . . .
Stop Judging Me–part 2
Why false teachers will be judged by God
2 Peter 2:4-10a, part 2–verses 5-8
I know you’ve heard these dramatic words by Jesus in Mark 9:43 to 48, “ ‘If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 45If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 47If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ “
I value my hands, my feet and my eyes–I do. But Jesus says it is better to get rid of any one of them, than to have two hands, two feet or two eyes and enter into Hell. In other words, get serious about dealing with your sin. The Lord is so intense, it’s shocking. Come on–be honest. You’re saying to yourself, “He really doesn’t mean that, does He? He doesn’t want you to literally cut off your hand or gouge out your eye–no.” But He’s definitely saying, “Get serious about your sin.”
The severity of the language is jaw-dropping. Using a metaphoric hyperbole, Jesus says, “Mortify sin. Kill sin. You must crush sin in order to survive. Hate sin because of its devilish destruction. Kill sin, or it will kill you.” This is grim. The Lord is visualizing amputation of body parts–hands, feet and eyes, symbolically picturing everything you do (hands), everywhere you go (feet), and everything you see or even think (eyes).
This covers everything in your life–all behavior. These three body parts are symbolic of your entire life and the tenses of the verbs are all present tense–meaning you will face this type of temptation not one time, but you’ll deal with them continually in an ongoing struggle with sin. Notice verse 47 and the phrase, “Kingdom of God”–that is describing salvation, Heaven, God’s eternal rule, which you want to enter. In verses 43 and 45, it’s called “life“, meaning eternal life. You want an eternity with God in Heaven forever.
So the point is gaining salvation on the positive side and escaping Hell on the negative side is so important, you need to get rid of anything that’s a barrier, prevention or a distraction to that–that’s the point. And Jesus says it’s so serious, it’s like an amputation. Jesus wants you to take severe action against anything that stands in the way of the pursuit of holiness, righteousness and purity. The point–you do not want to be judged to end up in Hell.
And friends, today in our study of 2 Peter, the great apostle reminds us the false teachers who are harassing the churches in Turkey will certainly be judged and their punishment for deceiving God’s people, misleading believers, corrupting make-believers, modeling impurity, justifying gross immorality and distorting God’s truth will be Hell. You and I need this passage in order . . .
To truly celebrate the magnitude of what Christ did in rescuing you from Hell
To understand the difficult truth that God will not overlook sin
To remember you will certainly face a judgment over the fruitfulness of your life
To embrace the truth that all those without Christ will be judged, leading to forever torment
To be motivated to share the Gospel with those who are humanly kind, nice and giving, but will still suffer torment in Hell because of their sinful internal rebellion to God. God will judge false teachers because God is the Judge who’s already been judging.
Turn to 2 Peter 2:1-10a and read what God has to say about these sneaky, evil men. As you do, notice the conditional phrase, “for if,” which begins the sentence in verse 4, and runs all the way through verse 8. It is summarized with a “then” in verse 9. If this has happened, then this is true. Start reading aloud in verse 4.
“1But false prophets …3their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. [now everyone]4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8(for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.”
Peter has already alerted believers in verse 1 that false teachers are among us–they teach damnable heresies and will not submit to Christ’s lordship. Verse 2, they live immorally and are a horrible testimony for the truth of God’s Word. And verse 3, they are driven by money–they’ll make up any story, state it as true, to get you to give them money. Therefore, their judgment is certain. Notice the last line of verse 3, “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” This leads Peter to prove their judgment will come.
So in verses 4 to 10a, Peter continues his denouncement of the wicked false teachers by pointing to three familiar examples of God’s judgment from the book of Genesis. God has already been judging severely, so the false teachers will be judged as well. Some believers had already suffered false teacher abuse. Marginal family members embraced their lies, the testimony of the Church was smeared. It seemed no matter what they did, false teachers were actually getting rich, gaining in popularity and living grossly immoral–and all of it in the name of Christ. And since God allowed them to continue, some real believers started to doubt they would be judged by God at all.
Quite the contrary, Peter makes certain they know God’s wrath will be poured out. In fact, John MacArthur explains with these examples, Peter exposes the height of God’s wrath with the angels, the breadth of God’s wrath with the flood, and the depth of God’s wrath with Sodom and Gomorrah. There are no creatures too lofty, too numerous or too base to escape God’s judgment. His just vengeance will be meted out on all who oppose Him. God will judge the false teachers since . . .
#1 PAST examples of God’s Judgment of the ungodly and rescuing the godly PROVE God will judge Verses 4 to 8
Verse 4, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” And verse 5, “and did not spare the ancient world,” and verse 6, “and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction.” Verses 4 to 8 prove, since God did not spare these three groups, and since God rescued Noah and Lot, we know God will punish the ungodly false teachers and rescue godly believers. Last week we studied verse 4, that . . .
First Angels were judged by God–the HEIGHT of God’s wrath
Verse 4, “For if [since] God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” Angels are a race of beings specially created to be the servants of the Most High God. When a third of the angels were led into a rebellion by the highest angel, Satan, they were still powerful and awesome creatures, but now evil and unredeemable. Some of these demons went beyond the limits God had set for them and tried to stop the redemption of humankind by corrupting the human race, preventing a future Redeemer to become a man and die on behalf of men.
God judged them and condemned them to an especially secure dark prison pit–a class 5 angel prison, the toughest Alcatraz prison for these disobedient and especially rebellious angels. Imagine these fallen angels once lived in the splendor of joy and blazing glory, where God sits enthroned in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16). Now they cower in grim darkness, where they’re locked up in chains, under guilt, facing the terror of final judgment and eternal, fiery torture (Hebrews 10:27). If God will judge His angels so severely, then He will certainly judge false teachers and all people who will not submit to Him as Lord and are opposed to His will. But Peter is not done–God not only judged His angels, but . . .
Second All people at the flood were judged by God–the BREADTH of God’s wrath
Verse 5, “and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” This is the second example which serves as a precedent for God’s future judgment on false teachers. God judges the ancient world through the worldwide flood. This judgment is so severe, the entire human race is reduced to merely eight people. If every person alive is judged and punished for their wickedness, then surely those few false teachers will be judged for theirs.
Verse 5 tells us God did not spare the ancient world, but He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly. Turn to Genesis 6 and stay there while looking at verse 5 on your outline. The height of God’s wrath is seen in God judging a category of fallen angels severely. Peter now emphasizes the breadth of God’s wrath–God went beyond judging a unique sub-group of super evil beings. God judged the entire earth filled with people through a universal, worldwide flood. Peter says in verse 5, “God did not spare the ancient world.” The same God you worship for His grace, mercy and love, also wiped out the entire population of the whole world by drowning every ungodly man, woman and child.
The ancient world refers to the people living at the time of the flood, all of whom were very wicked. Why was the world destroyed? Because Genesis 6:5 to 7, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”
Moses describes humanity as wicked, and Peter describes everyone as ungodly, except for eight people. Ungodly paints ancient people with a complete lack of reverence, no worship, and no fear of God. The Early Church fathers used ungodly to describe atheists and heretics. And by living un-Godlike through rebellious sinfulness, the ungodly of Noah’s day chose to manifest their depravity so severely they brought judgment upon themselves, just like the false teachers did in Peter’s time. It’s overwhelming that every single person on the planet died.
It’s also overwhelming that all of them except for eight died by drowning. Drowning means you will hold your breath for 30 seconds to 4 minutes. Then, unable to stand the lack of oxygen, while you’re still conscious, you will take a breath of water. And while you experience frightening and uncomfortable involuntary apnea and spasming, the water will now flood your lungs, ending any transfer of oxygen to the blood. Half-conscious and debilitated by oxygen depletion, you will not be able to fight your way back up to the surface, since like a sinking boat, the process of drowning makes it harder not to drown. While gagging, at some point you will lose consciousness, then die.
The entire human race, except eight, drowned in a universal flood. In verse 5, the word flood gives us our English word cataclysm. The Genesis account, along with current geological evidence, indicates the Flood truly was cataclysmic in every sense. Genesis 7:21 and 22, “All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.”
Noah’s flood was more destructive than any 40-day rainstorm. The fountains of the deep broke open for 150 days. Earthquakes, volcanoes, and scalding geysers were pouring out, along with non-stop rain for 40 days. Noah and his family were on the ark for over a year. In this letter, Peter, in 3:6, will tell us this flood destroyed the world that then existed. Because of man’s ungodly sinfulness, God destroyed every person and every land animal (except those in the ark), covering the entire planet with water. Genesis 7:19, “The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.” Verse 20 tells us Everest, Whitney and McKinley, if they existed at that time, were under at least 22 feet of water. God judged every person but eight.
That’s the good news in verse 5–in the midst of judgment, God preserved Noah, who was righteous. Noah was a true worshiper of God immersed in a wicked society. Resisting the suffocating evil around him, Noah walked with God, along with his wife, his sons, and their wives, who constituted, verse 5, the seven others whom the Lord preserved from destruction in the ark. The verb tells us God himself preserved Noah’s family. More than a century before the flood came, God revealed to Noah His plan for coming judgment.
From Genesis 6:8 to 13, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. … Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; … Noah walked with God… Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.’ ”
It might be, when Genesis 6:9 says Noah was blameless in His time–that word blameless may be Peter referring to the fact that only Noah and his family were not actually physically or genetically corrupted by the demonic attack of verse 4. Second Peter 2:5 also informs us what Noah did besides build an ark. Look at verse 5–Noah worked as a “preacher of righteousness,” warning people of the impending death and coming judgment, calling everyone to repent and turn to the Lord. Noah preached to the conscience. In the days of Noah, conscience was a strong standard of righteousness, because the Law had not yet been given–even the institution of human government was yet in the future.
God always begins with the conscience, because conscience is the vice-regent of God in the human soul. Commentator John Phillips says, “The conscience is God’s watchdog, set in the soul to bark at the door of our misdeeds. But the conscience is not an infallible guide. The conscience is more of a goad than a guide because it howls the loudest in our souls after we’ve done something wrong.” When you and I are genuinely born again, the Holy Spirit quickens our conscience and uses the Word of God to strengthen it. So as Noah was preaching, John 16:8 tells us the Spirit was at work “to convict people of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come.”
Noah preached to the pre-flood populous, called antediluvians, about their sin, God’s righteousness, and doubtless he warned them of judgment to come. Envision the ark finally being finished. Then Methuselah dies. Methuselah’s father, Enoch, had been a prophet and preacher, and the name he gave to his son was prophetic–the name Methuselah means, “when he dies, it shall come.” The death of Methuselah could have given Noah the text for his last sermon.
Can you picture people at the graveside as Noah preached the funeral service? “Methuselah is dead! And now the flood is about to come–an ark is ready! God has provided a way of escape–all you need to do is come aboard. Who will come and find God’s only refuge from this lethal storm on the ark? Nobody came. Noah was faithful and didn’t experience a single convert in 120 years of preaching.
For you to dismiss or reject Noah and the flood is to reject Christ who affirmed it is all historical fact in Matthew 24:37 to 39, “ ‘For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.’ ” And Peter’s point–if God would judge the entire world of people except eight for their rebellion to Him, then God will also judge the false teachers for their rebellion.
And friends, the danger of false teachers is real, even to God’s elect, Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” And like Noah, God will not only judge the ungodly, but also preserve the godly. And Peter demonstrates this truth with his third example.
Third Sodom and Gomorrah were judged by God–the DEPTH of God’s wrath
Verse 6, “and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter.” The third example of future judgment on the wicked is the total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and some surrounding cities. People under this judgment didn’t drown–every person in that region was destroyed by incineration. Sodom and Gomorrah were the main cities of the Jordan basin, located near the southeast corner of the Dead Sea.
Before the judgment, Genesis 13 describes the entire area as abundantly fertile–an ideal place for raising crops and animals. But because of their gross sin, God condemned both cities. The judgment described in Genesis 19 was small compared to the worldwide flood (450 years earlier). Like Noah and his family, Lot and his daughters were the only ones to escape. All other citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah were obliterated, this time by incineration and asphyxiation.
Genesis 19:24 and 25 sum it up. “Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” Peter says, “He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction.” The word for destruction is our English word for catastrophe, describing total ruin. The devastation was so complete, it reduced those cities to nothing more than ashes.
The phrase in verse 6, “reducing them to ashes” is covered with ashes. God’s judgment was so complete, the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah remain undiscovered, and the cities’ precise location is unknown. They are probably buried under the southern portion of the Dead Sea. Would you like a physical illustration of the wrath of God? The Dead Sea is 1,000 feet below sea level and 1,000 feet deep–the most probable location. Besides being crushed to death by falling brimstone, the citizens of these cities would have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. And if they burned, their skin peeled away, and their body would begin to decompose while they were still alive. Then they died from shock, blood loss, suffocation, heatstroke and heart attack from the pain.
Peter says in verse 6, “having made them an example.” God designed this judgment as an example–an unmistakable message to all future generations that wickedness results in judgment. Jude 7 says the same thing, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” In a moment, those vile cities were engulfed in fumes and flames. They were burned to the ground, and their remains sunk to the bottom of the Dead Sea, as a message to all of the terror of God’s wrath. Divine judgment not only buried the people’s bodies under the ash, then sea–but it plunged their souls into forever torment in Hell.
Although the citizens probably knew the message of righteousness and judgment Noah preached after the flood, they rejected it. Instead, Genesis 19 teaches they chose to live in lawless sin, perverted lust, and were given over to homosexuality. More than twenty times in Scripture, these cities are used as an example to those who would choose to live ungodly lives, and to give themselves over to uncontrolled lust. You know these warnings. Matthew 11:24, “It will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” Luke 17:29 to 30, “But on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”
God used the judgment of those cities to send an unmistakable warning to future generations and to us today that people cannot pursue ungodliness and think they’ll escape God’s vengeance. Judgment will come. Romans 2:5, “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
Prior to their destruction, God revealed the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham. In response, the patriarch expressed his sincere concern for any people who might be righteous still living there. He begged the Lord to withhold His judgment for the sake of the righteous. In Genesis 18:23 Abraham said, “ ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?’ ” The Lord was willing to spare the city if merely ten righteous people could be found. But when that minimum could not be met, the Lord destroyed the wicked populace.
But the good news is, like Noah, Lot and his daughters were rescued from Sodom, verses 7 to 8–“and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8(for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds).” As in the previous illustration of the flood, Peter comforted his readers by reminding them of those who escaped punishment. During the flood, God graciously preserved Noah and his family. During the demolition of Sodom and Gomorrah, God rescued righteous Lot along with his two daughters.
Those of you who have studied Lot will wonder why Lot is called righteous in verses 7 to 8 three times. When Lot first appears in Genesis 13, Lot is described as superficial, selfish, and worldly. During the events of Genesis 19:6 to 8, Lot displayed moral weakness and incredibly poor judgment when, in substitute for the visiting angels, he offered his daughters to the lusting Sodomites. Later in verses 15 to 22, Lot hesitated when the angels urged him to leave the city immediately. Even after Lot escaped God’s wrath in verses 30 to 35, he displayed shockingly sinful behavior, including drunkenness and incest.
Yet you can call Lot righteous and see him as a believer. Genesis 15:6 says, “Then [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Like his uncle Abraham, Lot was righteous in the sense of being a believer to whom God had credited him righteousness by faith. That doesn’t mean Lot or Abraham were free from sin, but that God had imputed His own righteousness to them because they were true believers. So Lot, like Abraham, is an Old Testament illustration of justification.
Lot also showed signs that the Spirit was at work in his heart. He revered the holy angels who visited him, in contrast to the perverted advances of his neighbors. Plus Lot ultimately obeyed God’s command to leave the city and warned his sons-in-law about the impending doom. Plus when Lot finally left, he obediently refused to look back. God saved Lot, not because Lot was better than the Sodomites, but because God had given Lot His righteousness by faith, and made Lot right with Him. Peter makes certain we understand Lot’s heart was changed by God by describing his struggle with the sins of Sodom. Peter explains in verse 7 how Lot was “oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men.” Lot’s abhorrence over the sins of those around him was a certain indicator he was a believer.
At times, Lot might have been morally weak, but he did not want any part of the sensual conduct that characterized Sodom’s unprincipled culture. God describes the lifestyle of Sodom’s homosexuals as sensual, even filthy. The word paints a picture of wantonness, licentiousness, and lasciviousness. The term sensual means outrageous behavior, while unprincipled denotes actions that are unrestrained and without lawful standards–violating both the conviction of conscience and the commandment of God. The blatant immorality of his fellow citizens greatly oppressed Lot. Oppressed contains the idea of wearing someone down and deeply troubling his soul.
The depth of Lot’s dismay is found in Peter’s parenthetical statement in verse 8, “For by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds.” The word tormented means to torture, and proves how excruciating being surrounded by lewdness was to Lot. Peter knew the readers of 2 Peter, while in their corrupt culture, could identify with Lot’s difficult position. Their own situation was equally soul-distressing as they witnessed the morally degrading Roman culture and suffered the immoral excesses of false teachers and their followers. I believe many of you can identify as well. You know what Peter is teaching here.
1 Judgment is certainly COMING
God promises in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 He will be dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. There are several ways to respond to coming judgment.
One is to be thankful that in the future, there will be a just punishment doled out to those who have done evil to you or to those you love. They will face a just Judge, who will deal out a just punishment to those who remain in their sins.
Two is to be deeply motivated to share the Gospel with those you know who are not in Christ, because of the judgment they will face at their death.
Three is to live in such a way in Christ that your actions are rewardable. Peter wants to make certain you know that judgment is coming.
2 Judgment falls upon the UNGODLY, not the godly
The only way anyone is godly is to be born again, where Christ lives through you. Externally, you can appear to live godly, but only Christ in you can make you godly. If the pattern of your life is un-Godlike, then you’ll be judged and punished in Hell. But those like Noah and Lot, who are in Christ, made righteous, will be rewarded and blessed with Christ’s eternal presence in Heaven. As bad as drowning is and being burned alive is, that is nothing compared to the eternal torment awaiting all those who are not in Christ.
3 Judgment falls on you or on CHRIST for you
If you are not in Christ, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 to 12, “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” If you are in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Second Thessalonians 2:13 and 14, “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let’s pray.