As I began by saying this is not the kind of chapter we enjoy reading. But not all medicine tastes good. God, the great physician, knows our need. And every word is profitable for out teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness if we are going to be competent Christians. If it increases our earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope to the end, it will have succeeded. May the Lord make it this afternoon. You should so much rejoice if you have never been captive to false teachers and their teachings. Look around and talk with people who have been in Charismatic Movement. They will tell how much they have suffered in the hands of preachers, who extort people of their money, who bring many to spiritual ruin by their deceitful teachings and win for themselves follows who will do anything to follow them. You have to be on your guard lest you be also taken captive by this flood of deception in our day brought by false teaching.
This is for the strengthening us to resist the temptations of spiritual pride and self-sufficiency (11–13), the love of money and all its destructive tendencies (14–16), and the summons to unbridled sexual license (2, 7, 14, 18). In these verses Peter continues to unmask these false teachers by a way of
1) Describing false teachers further
2) The certainty of their destruction
In his doing this, he is negatively exhorting us to make our election sure, having made a positive exhortation of the same in chapter 1.
A. Who are false teachers?
Peter uses the following phrases to describe them:
I. Bold and willful in blasphemy
Notice the self-willed attitude of false teachers. They are bold and arrogant. They are so rash and brazen. They speak presumptuously in their conceit. They call it the power of positive confession in our day… they tell their hearers to claim it and possess it! One of the reasons why the Charismatic movement has spread like wild fire is because for whatever reason, most of the preachers bold and arrogant. So arrogant are they, Peter says that they slander the angels and some preachers have interpreted this to mean that just like they are described in 3:3,4, they scoff at the second coming of the Lord! Yet even angels who are greater in might and power, therefore more justified, do not pronounce judgment against the fallen angels before the Lord. Upright angels have many reasons to accuse fallen angels, yet the faithful angels carefully avoid raising accusations against Satan and his followers and leave this matter to God as the final and ultimate Judge. C.f. Jude 9
One of the ways of knowing false teachers is that they ascribe glory to themselves and their entities that they call churches or ministries. I know of a church that is called “The Nairobi’s church of excellence”! What of these big names they give to themselves: Great Global Ministries, World Changers International – most of these churches are international, although they meet in mabati sheds and it is the headquarters!
The other way of knowing false teaching is that it devotes so much time in slandering the devil that they have so little time to honor and worship God. A whole song of a young woman who supposedly come to faith recently is devoted to ‘kupiga Shetani mateke!’ How this is God-honoring I do not know as it is not even the Lord who is kicking the devil around – it is people. We know of other songs like – “Shetani nimsema kwa Baba”. All these is at best a waste of time and at worst slanderous, blasphemous and conceit (since even angels would never do such a thing!). Peter H. David has rightly said, “The devil himself is not to be object of insult”. When you see people who are devoid of decency and propriety in their language, know for sure that they are not among the company of God’s people. Let there be no cursing among us… do not be into carelessly using God’s Name or into such common phrases like “Damn it!”
II. Irrational, led by instinct like animals
False teaching is wild and beastlike. It is denying the truth and glorifying a lie. For this reason, Peter describes them as irrational – for they fail to use common sense. They refuse to use the intellect God gave them. They are brute beasts led by instincts because they have neglected their rational faculties and are led by their depraved passions. For this they will soon be trapped and snared in their own folly of thinking and be destroyed. Licentiousness is self-destructive. When a man or woman gives himself to pursuing pleasure, he soon self-destructs. While someone may enjoy what he calls pleasure, he soon ruins his health, destroys his body, ruins his mind and loses his integrity and before long he will be living hell on earth. Look at drunkards, soon they have cirrhosis and liver cancer, soon smokers get to be diabetic, soon the sexually immoral are dying of AIDs and other STI, drug addicts are raving mad and so forth. While this is true of physical engagements it is also true of those who live in error for they soon suffer spiritual ruin.
III. Ignorant of what they teach
These people pour out abuses about things they do not understand. Maybe the reason for their constant blasphemy is because of their ignorance. This reminds me of the evil men of Sodom who wanted to sexually abuse the angels in their ignorance and depravity so that they were struck with blindness. Their lack of understanding is evident in things that they do. They talk of God that they do not know. They open up Bibles that they do not understand. They talk of heaven and hell that they do not comprehend what is there. Yet they are teachers. Therefore they give fairy tells. They have endless stories of where they went and what they did and said, which has nothing to do with eternal life of any of their hearers. Yet thousands of people follow them supposing that they are the best teachers they have ever known. They talk of things they do not understand. The ignorant of many preachers is shocking. You just need to listen to them keenly to see their folly.
IV. Revelers in daytime
They carouse in broad daylight… The term rendered "carousing with you" in verse 13 means literally "eating feasts with you." The picture seems to be of an all-church banquet where these men show up as spots and blemishes. What is the better way of describing false teachers than they love for pleasure. They do during the day what is done in the night. They are idlers and do not want to work. One of the reasons why pastors are considered idlers is because most of the so-called pastors do so little to show that they study of their profession. Their knowledge of the Bible is terrible because they barely read the Bible. When they visit they spend time in politics. When they rise up to preach they beg for money. The money that they obtain is spent in pleasure…like where I come from pastors are ever in suits of borrowed money so that some churches are expected to have fundraising to obtain money for pastor’s suit! Always remember that pleasure and delight are pressed into the service of sin because they are enslaved to their wild parties and so are devil’s servants. Do you remember the Finger of God led by Joseph Hellon and Esther Arunga? Then they came with the Placenta Party of Kenya! This carousing reminds me of these people.
V. Eyes full of adultery insatiable for sin
They can't look on a woman without thinking about sexual relations. With hearts well-trained in greed they try to isolate the unstable new-comers and draw them away in licentiousness (v. 2). Women are the same and the result is that lust is the common currency here. There is so much evil when you have roaming eyes that will simply not see a saint in another Christian of the other gender. Paul instructed Timothy to treat older men like fathers, older women like mothers and younger women like sisters. When this is not happening, then your Christianity is inverted. I know that there may be struggles here but when these struggles are lacking, then there is something that need to be dealt with otherwise you fall into the pitfall of these heretics.
You notice who the false teachers go after the "unsteady souls." We get an even clearer picture in verse 18: "they entice . . . people who have barely escaped from those who live in error." In other words, new converts; people who are unstable in their grasp of truth. This is a strong admonition, first, to establish our own doctrinal stability in the Word, but then, also to labor seriously to ground our children and all new converts quickly in the truth of Scripture. Let's be a church where we are constantly helping each other to send our roots ever deeper into the rock of God's truth. How do they entice them? By what promises they give them – freedom from poverty, diseases, etc. they offer to them a problem-free life (only if you do their bidding, e.g. them money)
VI. Hearts trained in greed
These heretics are “experts in greed”…literally they exercise (as in gymnasium) their hearts in greed. Covetousness is what defines them. I remember when two years ago I passed by a church and the preacher was teaching people how to claim and possess and with my seven-year old Asaph, who immediately pointed out to me that the pastor was teaching people to covet and that we should leave! Covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5) because the person worships material things instead of worshipping God. They have made money their god that they worship day and night, crying out, “money is good!” worthy is a rich man they say. Materialism preached by many is training people to be greedy. Remember that Peter has already told us that, “in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (3). For this reason these are accursed brood! God has condemned and cursed them eternally. They have left the straight path of truth and righteousness and wandered off to the way of Balaam. Balaam who loved gain from wrongdoing, specifically, gain from someone willing to pay for his prophetic services. Probably, then, the false teachers were not only enticing young converts away into sexual sinfulness, but were charging them for their own special teaching! Did you know that if you pay for something, you take it more seriously!
VII. Waterless springs and mists driven by storm (v.17)
False teachers are ever offering heaven on earth. They promises delight and happiness. They offer thrills and bliss. They also promise freedom, but in reality they are as empty and barren as dry cisterns or waterless springs. Imagine in desert, where you see an oasis and run only to find out that there is nothing in spite of the green trees! They are like mists that seem to promise rain for the land, but are quickly blown away. Waterless clouds! There is a great need for discernment for us to be able to distinguish between waterless springs and springs of living water! The one bubbles up unto eternal life. The other sinks down into the gloom where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. We must become a deeply discerning people, as Pastor Piper so well puts it.
Yet they are full of loud boasts about their power to heal and dispense wealth to their followers. For this reason they advertise their wares on billboards and on the T.V. promise healing and wealth pap! Please do not follow them for they are themselves slaves of corruption. Although they may themselves want to be set free, they cannot because they have no way of escape having been trapped there in by their depravity. Their own greed has brought them to utter ruin. Be on the lookout lest they bring you down with their destruction.
B. Their destruction is certain
You notice that Peter speaks with certainty that their destruction is long written and so he uses such words as:
1) They are born to be caught and destroyed (like pests) (v.12)
2) They will be destroyed in their destruction (v.12)
3) They will suffer as wage for their wrong doing (v.13)
4) They are accursed children (v.14)
5) They have gone astray (v.15)
6) For them the gloom of utter darkness is reserved (17)
7) They are slaves of corruption (v.19)
8) They are entangled in their defilement and overcome (v.20)
9) They are worse than they were (vv.20, 21)
10) They wallow in the mire (v.22)
In these ten statements, the Lord is assuring those who faithfully follow Him that their detractors will not go on for long, they will soon be vanquished in their folly and error. The purpose though is to help you to be solid in what you believe so that in this information you made wise for the true salvation that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is meant to bring to you the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (v.20). While these heretics deny Him, while they turn back from the holy commandment to their own peril, the Lord wants His own to be informed and be grounded in the true salvation. The Apostle of the Lord is instructing us so that we may never be like these men. Sure the more you know, about the Lord and about salvation, the more is expected of you so that if you turn back, then a severe judgment awaits you.
Peter is not teaching that God's elect can lose their salvation – He is teaching the opposite, that believers cannot loses salvation even when rocked by the false teachers and their teachings. He is most definitely teaching that church members can be lost, and people who make outward professions of faith and even begin to clean up their lives can turn away from Christ and be lost. The illustration of a dog returning to the vomit and pig to the mire shows that he is speaking of those who only had an appearance – a clean dog is a dog just like a clean pig is still a pig! Those who leave the way of righteousness to never to return, simply show that their inner nature had never been changed.