2 Peter #10
False Teachers’ Depravity
2 Peter 2:10-16
March 25, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
We want to welcome you this evening to the midweek Bible study here at Sugar Land Bible Church. Everybody is cloistered in their homes because of the COVID-19 issue, but we’re going to continue teaching as long as we can keep our regular schedule. We’re continuing our Wednesday night Bible study here at Sugar Land Bible Church, 7-8 PM Central.
We’re continuing our study this evening through the Book of 2 Peter. Open your Bible to 2 Peter 2:10; we’ll take a look at verses 10-16. Let’s remind ourselves where we are in this book. Second Peter, you’ll remember, is a book written by the Apostle Peter at the end of his life, and he’s basically warning about something that’s on his heart, which is the coming false teachers into the Asia minor area. And we’ve detailed that pretty carefully in past studies.
The Book of 2 Peter has a three-part outline. Each chapter of the book represents a different part of the outline. Chapter 1 is a call to maturity. The basic point of chapter 1 is to grow as a Christian. Why is that? Because it’s difficult to deceive a growing Christian and a maturing Christian. If a Christian is immature and is not growing in the faith, then they’re easily picked off by any number of false teachers or teachings. So, the best insulation to protect his audience from false teachers is simply to show them how to grow.
We are now in chapter 2 where Peter shifts the subject and begins to talk about the characteristics of false teachers. It’s one of the most really amazing chapters in the whole Bible giving you the nitty-gritty of false teachers. We’ve looked at their predicted arrival (look at our outline of chapter 2) and their devices. The last time I was with you we took a look at their doom (2 Peter 2:4-9), and we saw that they are doomed because God has a pattern of judging sin and protecting the righteous. That’s happened, actually, through three lessons of history. And if God has proven Himself faithful in doing such, He will certainly deal with these false teachers in due course.
Now we move into number four on our outline of 2 Peter 2; we’re moving away from their doom and we’re looking at their depravity. We’re going from “devices” to “doom” to “depravity.” Their depravity is described in verses 10-16.
Here is a mini outline, if you will, of verses 10-16. This is what we’re going to try to march through this evening as time permits, Lord willing. Notice, first of all, their licentiousness. Take a look at 2 Peter 2:10; notice what Peter says there. He says, “…and especially those [false teachers, in other words] who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires…” The word for “flesh” here in Greek is SARX, and it here is being used as a reference to the sin nature.
It’s kind of interesting when you look at false teachers; they are pushing you one of two directions. They push you into legalism, where basically you are brought under some sort of control—external control—outside the Holy Spirit—some kind of rules or regulations to control the sin nature. That’s really what the Pharisees (whom Jesus interacted with in the Gospels) were doing.
Or—false teachers will take you to the opposite extreme; they’ll say, “Indulge the sin nature. Sin doesn’t matter. Holiness in the life of the child of God, practically speaking, is irrelevant.” And this is what Peter predicts these false teachers are going to do when they come. This is an outworking of Gnosticism which we know was going to come into that Asia minor area just a few years down the road.
The Gnostics taught dualism. They taught that the spiritual world is good and the physical world, by nature, is evil. And if you believe that matter is evil, it was a convenient way to excuse one’s sin while denying moral accountability. You know, “It’s not me gossiping; it’s just this tongue that’s evil. Rather than me making a moral decision to gossip, I could blame it on what was evil (in this case, matter).”
That’s what these false teachers would do. They were just going to come in, and they were going to give Christians the freedom to sin up a storm. You know, “It’s not your fault that you’re sinning.” And there’s no such thing as moral accountability or responsibility.
Of course, such a teaching goes directly against divine revelation. Paul the apostle in Romans 6:12 says to the Christian, “Therefore do not let sin reign [or rule].” In other words, it has the ability to if we let it! “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts…”
He says in Romans 13:14b, “…make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Paul said in Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit…” In other words, it’s not legalism that will control the sin nature; it’s the walk of the Spirit. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
So, if somebody says, “It’s okay to sin as a Christian,” although sometimes as Christians we do sin… But if someone says, “You’re allowed to sin. You’re allowed to have a lifestyle of sin and God doesn’t care,” which is what these Gnostic false teachers would teach, it goes directly against what God has said elsewhere—particularly in the writings of the Apostle Paul.
You’ll notice what Peter says here in verse 10, “They’re going to give you permission to indulge the flesh.” Notice what he says here, “in its corrupt desires.” The desires of the flesh are essentially corrupt. Why is that? Because, according to our slide here, Mark 7:20-23, they originate from the fallen heart of man.
I mean, you could have a desire to do a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that desire is of God. Many desires that we have emanate from our sin nature. Jesus said in Mark 7:20-23, “…‘That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.’”
So, these desires come from within. That’s why they’re called “corrupt desires”; they are emanations of our fallen nature. Sometimes these are called “works of the flesh.” Paul the apostle refers to them as “works of the flesh” in the Galatians 5:19-21. He says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” You’ll notice that these desires come out of a corrupted sin nature.
And this is why the Apostle Peter refers to returning to the sin nature as going back to these corrupt desires of the sin nature. Romans 6:21 tells the Christian not to do this. The Christian has the power to tell the sin nature, “No.” Paul says, “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”
Paul says, “Did it really profit you a lot when you were in the flesh as an unsaved person? Why then would you ever go back to the flesh as a Christian?” It’s really important to understand this because we’re living in a culture and a society where people are telling us, “If you’re born that way (if you have a proclivity toward something), that means whatever it is you’re born with guarantees you some kind of legal status.” And I’m here to tell you that there are all kinds of things that I’m born with the desire to do—and you’re born with the desire to do—that are not right in God.
Paul the apostle tells about this in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. He says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…” So, if you have a tendency to be a fornicator, a thief, or you are given to impulses of anger, what we discover here is that the power of the Holy Spirit can help us say “No” to those sins. But, you see, these false teachers are going to come along and say, “It’s okay to go back to the sin nature.”
Notice that “homosexuals” is mentioned. The Greek word there is ARSENOKOITAI. In that word you might recognize the word “arson.” What is an “arson”? It’s a fire out of control. What is homosexuality—along with all of these other sins? It’s a desire that’s essentially out of control. And it’s highly likely that Peter here, when he mentions indulging the flesh in its corrupt desires, is speaking of homosexuality.
The Charles Ryrie Study Bible says this, of 2 Peter 2:10, “indulge the flesh. Some sexual perversion, likely homosexuality…” Why does he say that? Because Peter has just written about Sodom and Gomorrah in the prior verses, which we studied last week.
So, these false teachers are going to give you permission to go back to the sin nature in a lifestyle called licentiousness. They’re even going to say, if you have an impulse towards homosexuality… By the way, how does the Bible deal with homosexuality? Just like it deals with the desire to be an adulterer, a fornicator, a thief, a drunkard. Being a homosexual is just like all these other sins. “But, Pastor, wait a minute. They’re born that way, and they have a desire to do it.”
Well, homosexuality may not be my particular weakness, but some of these other ones might be my area of weakness. And you’ll notice that homosexuality is put on the same level as all these other sins. So, the Bible is very clear that if you have a desire to do something of a fleshly nature, that doesn’t necessarily make it okay, it doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t mean a person can’t stop doing it under the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, homosexuality is very different than, let’s say, skin color. Skin color you cannot change; it’s what we would call an immutable characteristic. What people are trying to say is, “Being a homosexual is the same thing as being a racial minority,” and the Bible knows no such idea. Homosexuality is a behavior that comes from the sin nature—just like all of these other sins—which can be controlled under the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, Peter is essentially saying, “These false teachers are going to come in. They’re going to promote licentiousness of such a caliber that they’re actually going to say, “It’s okay to be a homosexual if that’s what your proclivity—or your desire—is.” And it is so interesting to see how many churches are now ordaining homosexuals to the ministry. Of course, they’ve gone far beyond that; they’re ordaining transgender and all these other “isms” to the ministry when God says such lifestyles are displeasing to Him.
In fact, I was raised in an Anglican church, an Episcopalian church. We were involved in a conservative parish in that church, but the diocese went in the direction of wanting to ordain homosexuals to the ministry. And there was a great fight over the title of the property of our parish. “Is it owned by the parish, or is it owned by the diocese?” Sadly, over the course of time, the diocese won. That little parish that I was raised in—a conservative parish within the Anglican church—was forced to forfeit their property there in the state of California.
So, Peter is describing things here that have actually materialized in our lifetime. I can think of things like this that have affected me and my Christian world and church world very, very personally. So, these false teachers are to come in and they’re going to promote licentiousness.
He goes on says, “They’re going to come in and they’re going to promote lawlessness.” Notice the second part of verse 10 into verse 11, continuing to describe these false teachers. Those who, “…despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.” In other words, they’re going to come in and they’re going to have such a distaste for God-ordained authority. I think the saying goes like this: “They’re going to trample where angels fear to tread.”
They will not respect the angelic authorities in God’s creation hierarchy. And they’re actually going to revile angels. Most people understand this (when you cross reference it with some of the things Jude says) as reviling even Satan. Now, I don’t like Satan and I know what the motives of Satan are, but at the same time I don’t utter slanderous, reviling statements against him because he’s much more powerful than I am.
Because I respect how God has made him in His creation hierarchy. He is fallen, but he still is angelic. You see that there in the Ezekiel 28:12 where Satan is called a “cherub (an angel) who covers.” In verse 16 God says through Ezekiel, “…And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub…” Satan, of course, is an angel. And when Satan originally fell, he deceived one third of the angels into falling with him. We know that those who fell with Satan are angels as well.
Revelation 12:9 refers to “the devil and Satan.” It says this, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Matthew 25:41 speaks of “the devil and his angels.” So Satan, even in his fallen state, still retains the creation hierarchy of an angel. Not a good angel—but an evil angel. And because he retains that position—or that created status—he is far more powerful than we are.
Angels, by nature, are more powerful than we are. Matthew 28:2 says that one angel of the Lord, on Easter Sunday, “rolled away the stone and sat upon it.” We know that the Romans placed over the tomb of Christ a giant stone. It was so big because they didn’t want people to say, “Someone stole the body.” So, they put this massive stone over the tomb of Christ. And we’re told in Matthew 28:2 that just one angel rolled the stone away as if it was nothing.
Second Thessalonians 1:7 talks about, “Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” They’re not just angels—they’re mighty angels, they’re strong angels, they’re powerful angels! So, if somebody starts to revile Satan, slander Satan, obviously they’re someone who doesn’t have any sense of God’s authority structure because they’re reviling still an angelic being who is far more powerful and greater than they.
So, that’s why Peter uses this example—to show the absolute lawlessness of these false teachers. I mean, if they’re not going to respect even the angelic hierarchy, they’re not going to respect anything else in terms of authority either. They despise authority, they slander fallen angels, they are daring and self-willed, and I think our posture toward Satan ought to be one of respect—not approval, but respect—understanding that he is far more powerful than we are. And you see so many ministries ignoring this.
You see people on so-called Christian television screaming at Satan, yelling at Satan, giving you the impression that they’re going to give Satan a black-eye and run him out of town. And when they act like that, who are they really acting like? They’re acting like these false teachers that Peter here is describing.
The fact of the matter is Satan is progressively defeated in history. Right now he is running the world system, and he’s not going to be bound or incarcerated until the Millennial Kingdom. That’s what it says in Revelation 20:2, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”
Now, we’re not in that time period today. Until that time period comes, subsequent to the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, Satan is running this world system. So, we don’t “bind Satan.” Many people today are “binding Satan”; you can’t bind Satan because the Bible says he is not going to be bound until the thousand year Kingdom.
We’re not on offense against Satan. These false teachers think they are, because they have no respect for the created order of God. So what are we to do relative to Satan? Well, it’s interesting that when you study this in the epistles, the Bible in only three places tells the Christian what to do relative to Satan. There is no biblical text in the epistles for Christians to go around screaming at Satan and binding Satan—and praying down territorial spirits and all of these kinds of things that people sometimes get involved in today.
What the epistles say is just three verses. The first one is James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” How do you resist the devil? Well, you resist the devil by submitting to God. That’s why the verse says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
First Peter 5:9 says, concerning Satan, who is prowling about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, “But resist him, firm in your faith…” Then you have the famous Ephesians 6 passage where we are told to put on the whole armor of God. It says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” What it says here three times is, “We’re not on offense; we’re on defense.”
We’re to resist him in the power that God gives us to do so, but we’re not on offense against him, we’re not yelling at him, we’re not screaming at him, we’re not slandering him, we’re not having our kids in church sing songs that border on reviling angelic majesties. In many churches kids will sing a song, “The devil’s mad and I am glad” and “If the devil doesn’t like it, he can sit on a tack,” and all of these kinds of things we do in our naivety and ignorance. We don’t act like that—that’s what false teachers are doing!
We’re to respect the authority of Satan—not to approve of it—respect it and understand that we’re on defense against Satan and understand that the binding of Satan will not be accomplished until the Kingdom of God materializes on earth subsequent to the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. And that’s living a Christian life ordered according to the priorities and the hierarchy that God has revealed.
You don’t think this way unless you respect God’s order of things. But, you see, these false teachers are going to be so daring, so self-willed, that they will disrespect the authority of God even to the point of slandering and reviling angelic majesties.
He goes on and says, “Not only will these false teachers be licentious, not only will they be lawless, but they will also be animalistic.” Take a look, if you could, at verse 12. “But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed…”
So, these false teachers are animalistic in the sense that they will be driven by lust rather than logic. The capacity for logic and proper thought is one of the great things that God has given to us as His image bearers. We are made in God’s image. And yet the false teachers of the last days will not be driven by rational faculties that God has given them; they’ll be driven by their own sinful lusts which will override logic and rationale.
Peter develops three points of contrast in verse 12.
- They’re going to be like unreasoning animals.
You can’t reason with an animal. Animals don’t produce Shakespearean masterpieces. You can’t sit down and ask an animal to do a mathematical or logical syllogism. I mean, they know when it’s time to eat; they know when it’s time to go to the bathroom. They’re pretty clear when they want to be petted or patted or whatnot. But other than that, animals are not driven by logical faculties. That’s what these false teachers are going to be like.
- Also in verse 12, they are going to be creatures of instinct—no impulse control, in other words. Just reacting to their instincts.
- They’re going to be reviling these angelic majesties because they really don’t have a knowledge of what they’re doing. They have never really taken time to investigate God’s creation order and creation hierarchy.
You’ll notice at the end of verse 12 that they will do this to their own destruction. “…they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed…” Kind of like an animal caught in a trap. God says, “You want to act like animals? Okay, I’ll treat you like animals.” I’ll put you in a trap—like a bear trap for example—that’s fit for an animal. So that prediction of their destruction fits very nicely with verse 1 and verse 3 which predict the destruction of these false teachers and their doom, as we saw last week in verses 4-9.
There is something else these false teachers are going to be like—in addition to licentious, lawless, animalistic. They are going to be shameless pleasure seekers. Notice, if you will, verse 13, “suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you.”
Notice there in verse 13 that it talks about “the wages of their wrongdoing.” Why would it say “the wages of their wrongdoing”? Very simply, the Bible teaches in Romans 6:23, “For the wages [which is a cost] of sin is death…” Sin always has a price tag.
But, you see, the problem is this window of pleasure that sin brings often times overrides any rational thought concerning the price that will be paid down the road. If you’re driven by lust rather than logic, the only thing you’re really focused on is your next fix. You’re not really focused on the consequences of a long-term nature that are going to show up.
It is true that the Bible teaches there always is a brief window of pleasure associated with sin. You see that in Hebrews 11:25. Concerning Moses it says, “…choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin…” Yes, Moses could have had an easy life in Egypt had he not identified with the Hebrews, but it would’ve been just passing pleasure. Pleasure certainly—but very, very momentary—very, very fleeting. So they are suffering the wage now—these false teachers—of this lifestyle because they have never really given thought to the consequences that sin always brings.
So, what are they focused on? They are focused on pleasure, reveling (mentioned two times here in verse 13), and also carousing. Not to be overly repetitious, but this is perfectly descriptive of Gnostic dualism which gave, as I tried to explain before, permission for people to sin but at the same time avoid moral accountability.
Peter actually says here at the end of verse 13, “…reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you…” He says there, “in their deceptions.” Why does he say “deceptions”? Because that’s always the deception of sin. The deception of sin is—you are completely focused on the fix. And Satan is very good at setting our eyes on the fix and taking our eyes off the long-term consequences of sin.
You think of Eve in Eden in Genesis 3:6. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate…” That’s where she was focused—on the fleeting pleasure. She was not thinking at that particular point about what she was about to do in terms of plunging the human race into sin, costing God His only Son—Who died on a cross for us 2000 years ago and then rose from the dead to redeem fallen humanity.
I mean, the price tag—the wage—is the furthest thing from her mind. So she’s under a state of deception at that point—and that’s what temptation does. And that’s why people who are driven by lust rather than logic are going to fall sway to these licentious false teachers on the horizon.
He goes on in verse 14 (first part of the verse) and says, they’re going to have “eyes full of adultery.” Notice what it says in the first part of verse 14, “having eyes full of adultery…” It’s interesting that he doesn’t condemn them for committing adultery; he condemns them for having “eyes full of adultery.”
Now, why would Peter do that? Because it’s related to what the Lord described in the Sermon on the Mount when He was dealing with the Pharisees. Matthew 5, beginning in verse 27, Jesus says, “ ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.’ ” Wow!
So, thinking about adultery, meditating upon adultery, ruminating about adultery, contemplating about adultery, is tantamount, as far as God is concerned, to actually going out and doing it. In fact, thinking about it, quite frankly, leads you in the direction of ultimately doing it. We don’t have to look any further than King David to see that.
Second Samuel 11:1 says, “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.” David, in other words, wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
Verse 2, “Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.” So, rather than leaving the situation and protecting his thought life, he starts to think about adultery. Private thoughts ultimately become public actions, don’t they?
Verse 3, “David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am pregnant.’ ” There is a cost that David wasn’t thinking about: unwanted pregnancy. But, you see, all of this started because he had eyes full of adultery.
That’s with these false teachers are going to be like. They’re going to see people of the opposite sex—even people of the same sex—or (God forbid) you even have adults sexually fantasizing about children. They’re going to have a mindset where they’re seeing someone else not as an image bearer of God, but they’re going to dehumanize people and see them as a sexual object necessary for sexual conquest. And it all starts with eyes full of adultery.
One of the verses that was taught to me as a very young man coming-of-age as a Christian was Job 31:1. We used to talk about this verse all the time. I can’t remember the last time I heard anybody bring up this verse. Job, stating his innocence, says this, “ ‘I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?’ ” (Job 31:1)
Job says, “I don’t want to end up in sexual sin, so I’ve made a covenant with my eyes. I’m not going to be like these false teachers who have eyes full of adultery.” And to be honest with you, that was a very common verse when I was coming up in youth group and so forth as a young Christian. I can’t even remember the last time I heard anybody speak of this verse or teach of this verse, because impure thoughts and the opportunity to allow one’s mind to go down a prurient direction is so commonplace in our culture now that it’s actually become normal.
I mean, how do I make a covenant with my eyes when I’m on my phone and sexually impure things come on the phone? Or texting with somebody and sexually impure things come on the text or the private Facebook message?
My goodness, folks, you can’t even watch the Super Bowl anymore, can you? I don’t know if you saw the halftime show this last time around? It was just absolutely unbelievable. That—20 years ago, 30 years ago—used to be called soft pornography. Maybe we ought to up the ante and call it hard-core pornography.
There used to be something when I was growing up called “family viewing time.” I don’t even think such a thing exists anymore. This is why passages like, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” are almost passages that seem so old-fashioned and out of date because our eyes are full of sexual immorality all of the time. And this is something that is ensnaring all of us—particularly with social media, electronics, the things that are coming onto television—pumping 24/7 impurity into our living rooms.
Even some of these so so-called “conservative” news pundits, some of the dresses that they wear. You know, you wonder why they’re called a conservative news pundit dressed like that. And I don’t want to come across as too puritanical—maybe I have already—but this is the kind of thing Peter is talking about here with this licentiousness: “They’re going to have eyes full of adultery.”
Continuing on here with verse 14, they are going to entice the unstable. Notice what it says here, “…that never cease from sin.” In other words, they’re not involved in a lifestyle of sanctification at all. They’re not paying any attention to 1 Peter 1:16 where God, quoting Leviticus 11:44, says, “ ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ ”
Peter, in his first epistle, talks about the duty of God’s people under God’s resources in the middle tense of our salvation through progressive sanctification, living a holy life (not a sinless life, but a life that sins less), making progress in the middle tense of our salvation. That is God’s expectation of the child of God. That, largely, is why rewards are given or not given at the Bema Seat Judgment of rewards following the Rapture.
But not these false teachers with their licentious doctrines and teachings—they are going to not only have eyes full of adultery, but they are actually never going to cease from sin. The sin pattern is continually picking up over and over again in their lives.
You’ll notice what it says here: enticing the unstable. And now we know why we have chapter 1 in our Book of 2 Peter—the call to maturity. Peter calls his audience to grow (chapter 1) because he writes in 2 Peter 2:14 that part of the devices and tactics of the false teachers is to entice the unstable. If you’re not a growing Christian, you’re easily deceived by false doctrine.
After an evangelistic crusade you have mass salvations—let’s say a Billy Graham crusade, or a Luis Palau crusade, or Greg Laurie crusade. And please don’t write me angry emails saying I endorse everything that is said in those crusades. I don’t necessarily do that; I’m just using this as an example where you have many, many people saved all at once.
There’s a reason why, when you go into the parking lots following these crusades, you see the kingdom of the cults in the parking lots distributing their literature. Because you have a situation where you’ve got someone that’s regenerated, is now open to spiritual things, and has had almost no time to grow. So they’re “easy pickins” for anybody that happens to pull out a bulletin or a book or piece of literature, as long as it quotes the Bible.
They don’t understand context, they don’t understand false doctrine, and they’re pulled away very quickly because they’re regenerated but unstable. You see? So these false teachers, Peter is saying, will prey on the unstable. That’s why Peter tells us to grow.
And that’s why one of the purposes of the local church is to help people to grow. Ephesians 4:11-16 is very clear on this. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
I cannot think of a paragraph in the New Testament that better describes the divine purpose behind the local church. The whole purpose behind the local church, according to Ephesians 4:11-16 is to help people to mature. How does the local church do that? “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Then Paul says to Timothy, a pastor, in the next chapter, 2 Timothy 4:2, “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Why does Paul say that to Timothy, who is pastoring at Ephesus? Because he’s explaining what the purpose of the local church is; it’s to teach the Word of God in a way that’s understandable and relevant and applicable that people who are saved can begin to mature in the things of God so they can be equipped for every good work as the promise here describes it. So they will not be unstable and tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and the deceit and the cunning and the scheming of man.
“Oh! You ought to see my local church! Man, we’ve got some great programs at my local church. You ought to see the programs we’ve got for the youth. You ought to see the ministries we’re doing. You ought to see the great show we put on at Christmas and Easter. You ought to see the offering. You ought to see the budget. You ought to see how big our parking lot is—filled with cars. I mean, our local church is doing great!”
And maybe your local church is like that. But let me just say this to you: If it’s not equipping the saints through the systematic teaching of God’s Word, it doesn’t matter how good the youth program is (or any other program in that church); it’s failing God’s purpose for the local church. God gave the local church for the purpose of helping the child of God grow in the things of God. And if it’s got all of these bells and whistles and it’s not fulfilling that function, then it’s failing the design of God.
I would much rather go to church that maybe doesn’t even have a building and is just a few people crowded into an apartment somewhere that is teaching the Word of God, than go to some mega complex where they’ve got all the bells and whistles and some guy gets up there and gives a 25 minute motivational speech that maybe will casually interact with the Bible every once in a while. I mean, I don’t want to go to a place like that; give me that little group in the apartment. Because that little group in the apartment is doing what God said; the big mega complex “Six Flags Over Whatever Church” is failing in the mission that God gave.
See, we’re very deceived today because we’re looking at all the wrong things; we’re looking at all the externals, and we’re not really thinking about exactly what God is doing through the local church and why He gave to this world the local church—to help the Christian grow. So, you’ll notice that these false teachers will come in and they will entice the unstable.
One more here, and with this we’ll finish. They’re motivated by greed—as you might imagine—these false teachers. End of verse 14 all the way down through verse 16, “…having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.”
So, these false teachers are motivated by greed. Now, Peter is going back into your Old Testament and he is reciting a story from the Book of Numbers. Remember, the nation of Israel came out of Egypt, went to Mount Sinai and received the Law. And they were making their way up north. There was a failure at Kadesh Barnea.
God started to work with the next generation. They were moving Northeast, and they were coming into the Transjordan. And from the Transjordan (east of the Jordan) they were poised to enter the land of Canaan under Joshua. And there was a land there that they transgressed through; it was a land called Moab. And Balak, the king of Moab, did not like these Hebrews coming through his territory there in the Transjordan. So Balak hired Balaam, a prophet, to curse the nation of Israel.
Now, I call Balaam a prophet for profit, because he prostituted his prophetic gift and gifting. And instead of using that in a God-honoring way, he tried to curse Israel. And the problem is, God turned it around. Every time he cursed Israel, he ended up blessing Israel. And there are seven oracles of Balaam there in your Bible; Numbers 22 through 24 gives you those seven oracles.
But Balaam originally tried to curse Israel, because Balak paid Balaam the right price. So, Peter uses this as an example of how these false teachers are going to be motivated by greed; they are going to be motivated by a price tag.
He mentions that they’re going to be greedy, verse 14. Of course, we’re reminded of 1 Timothy 6:9-10 which says, “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
We think of Judas. John 12:4-6 (of Judas) says, “But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” “I don’t like this perfume being poured out on Christ. It’s expensive. Let’s sell it and give the money to the poor.”
But then these verses talk about Judas’ true motive. “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor…” Oh my goodness! You mean everybody that voices a concern about the poor is not really concerned about the poor? They’re using the poor as a smokescreen for some sort of ulterior motive?
“Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” In other words, sell the perfume and put the cash in the money box so I can steal out of it. But that true motive that I have I’ll mask as “I really care about the poor.” It’s an example of someone that is motivated by greed.
In fact, Judas, Matthew 26:14-16, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. “Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?’ And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.”
By the way, when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, he was fulfilling a prophecy written about him 500 years in advance by the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 11:12 which says, “I said to them, ‘If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!’ So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.” This is a prophecy about Judas and what he would sell the Lord out for, roughly 500 years later.
Isn’t it interesting that Judas didn’t even sell Jesus out for gold? I mean, isn’t gold more valuable than silver? Remember the statue in Daniel 2: head of gold; chest and arms of silver; belly and thighs of bronze; legs of iron; feet of iron and clay. And commentators will tell you that the value of the metal deteriorates as you move from head to toe in that statute that Nebuchadnezzar saw in Daniel 2. And if that order is correct, then silver is less valuable than gold.
Judas didn’t even sell out Jesus for gold; he sold Him out for something second-place, silver—and only 30 pieces of silver. That’s how silly we get when we become motivated by greed. I mean, can you imagine selling out the Prince of the Universe, the Second Member of the Trinity, for silver—let alone 30 pieces? That’s what Peter here is speaking of concerning these false teachers: they are greedy, their hearts are greedy, they’re accursed.
Verse 15—they have forsaken the right way. Balaam had a gifting as a prophet, but he sold out for money because (verse 15) he “loved the wages of unrighteousness.” It’s a situation where he didn’t have money; money had him.
And verse 16 tells us—this is very interesting—he had to be rebuked by a donkey. Why is that interesting? Because, if you go back to verse 12, we learned that these false teachers are going to be like unreasoning animals. So, isn’t it appropriate that God would correct someone acting like an unreasoning animal by an animal?
This is really quite a paragraph reviewing the depravity of these false teachers. They are licentiousness (verse 10). They are lawless (verses 10 and 11). Animalistic nature (verse 12). They are shameless pleasure seekers (verse 13). Eyes full of adultery (verse 14). Enticing the unstable (verse 14). Greedy (end of verse 14 into verse 16).
Now, the next time I’m with you on Wednesday evenings, we’re going to pick it up right there in verse 17 and look at their retrogression. But before we look at their retrogression, we’ll be looking at their emptiness, how they’re called “clouds without rain” and other metaphors. We’ll see what that means next time.
So, I hope you’re enjoying our series on 2 Peter. I hope you’ll be with us during this time of COVID-19 lockdown. If you’re looking for some Bible teaching on Sunday morning, please join us here on the Sugar Land Bible Church live stream. We’re going to be finishing our Angelology series at 9:45 AM Sunday morning Central Standard Time. Then we’ll be looking at our first sermon on the Book of Philippians this Sunday morning around 11:30 AM Central Standard Time. We’ll see you then.
We’ll be right back here Wednesday night continuing with 2 Peter one week from tonight. Thanks for watching. Have a great evening. Stay close to God’s Word, meditating on it daily. It’s the only fortification we have towards standing up for God in these uncertain times. God bless you. See you next time.