THE FALL OF FALSE TEACHERS: 2 Peter 2:1-22
Facts about false teachers.
(2 Peter 2:1) The presence and work of false teachers. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
But there were also false prophets: Even as there were holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), so also there were false prophets – and false teachers today. Peter states this as a fact, not a possibility; and he says they are among you, not only on the outside of the church. False teachers were around back in the day of the Apostles and there are many false teachers around today. They come from outside the church, and they come from inside the church as well. They look real good and they talk real good, but there are many who do not teach the truth and those are the very ones Peter is talking about here.
Who will secretly bring in destructive heresies: False teachers work secretly. It isn’t that their teaching is secret, but the deceptive nature of their teaching is hidden. They have a way of twisting the truth so it says/sounds what they want it to say and they can smile all the way through their teachings which are not complete teachings of the Lord. Of course, no false teacher will announce himself as a false teacher! Most times what they say can have a form of sounding okay but if you know what the word of God says you will get pretty much an uneasy feeling by what they say to you. There have many that were very charismatic sounding but the words and actions of them were not/ and are not of our Lord. Oh, they toss words in just like the devil does. Just like the devil did to Eve in the garden. They give half truths or no Jesus and salvation messagesâ¦or they give their messages of what they want you to hear but it is not the complete truth.
Destructive heresies: False teachers bring in destructive heresies that destroy by telling lies about Jesus Christ and His work for us and in us. Some deny the diety of the Lord, some say He was a good man, some say By these heresies people are hurt and destroyed. Heresy isn’t harmless. They mix a bit of the truth with a bit of liesâ¦and everything that is not 100 percent of God’s word is still a lie. They tickle people’s ears all the while sounding very godly.
“How can I recognize a false teacher / false prophet?” Jesus warned us that “false Christ’s and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says. Yes, you can study the word for the truth!!!
Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:
1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is an antichrist-he denies the Father and the Son.” Don’t listen to Him. You must teach God’s entire word to be a true teacher and to deviate from it and teach anything else is falseâ¦false is a lie!
2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. Something can have half truths and sound right to you if you don’t know what Jesus really saidâ¦but still be a lie. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted (at the beginning/God’s truth), let him be eternally condemned (accursed)!” (Galatians 1:9). Wowâ¦.those are some hard words for sure to be condemned/accursed if you do not teach the truth. Being a pastor, teacher, preacher etc., you have a responsibility for what you teach them. You should never go into ministry lightly (and if not called to it by God) and do for you are held accountable for the very words that come out of your mouth. Some do it for greed and money, lust etcâ¦but that is not the reason to go into ministry. Jesus is the reason to go into ministry by a calling on your lifeâ¦not for yourself, not to see how famous you can get, and surely not for the greed of money and lust. There are many “well known” men and women out there who are filthy rich living life styles you can hardly believeâ¦but worse is they are false teaching to get where they are and on the souls of countless people.
3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11 says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).
For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit. A counterfeit is very good at their wordsâ¦they look good, sound good, and can smile right through totally getting you off track so that you believe their lies and don’t follow the Lord Jesus correctly and they will be judged for their words to you. There are also great and mighty men and women of God out there, but there are a many who think they are great and mighty and are scum not teaching what God wants you to hear.
False teachers deny the Lord who bought them. At the very least, they appear to be saved, otherwise Peter would never say that the Lord bought them. At the same time, they are false, destructive teachers.
Just because a person has what appears to be a godly walk and relationship with Jesus Christ, they can still be bringing in destructive heresies. Often times, the worst damage is done by a good man who teaches lies. His lies are accepted far more easily because of the good character of the man, the money he/she has, and the size of the congregation. Againâ¦they look good, sound like they know what they are talking aboutâ¦BUT THEY ARE NOT OF GOD, NOR ARE THEY TEACHING THE TRUTH. God’s word never changes so if you hear that the church needs to accept things God says is wrongâ¦RUN!!!!!!!!!!!! God won’t change to be more “modern” or more “tolerant”â¦.GOD DOESN’T CALL SIN OKAY NOWâ¦IT IS STILL SIN TO HIM AND THOSE THAT SAY IT IS OKAY WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. Bring on themselves swift destruction: False teachers are promised swift destruction, even though they at least appear to be bought by the Lord, they are under His judgment.
(2 Peter 2:2) The popularity of false teachers. They are popular. They give feel good messages, they tickle your ears, they tell you what you want to hear but not what you need for salvation. They throw in their sermons all is well and how happy God wants you to be, and he surely wants you rich and healthy all the time. Does God say that? God said to be content, and that in this world (it is a fallen world until His return) we would have tribulations. So a pastor who tells you that God just wants you happy, financially set in life, and you won’t get sick or die or have problemsâ¦they are lying to you. Run! Many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. Many will follow their destructive ways: This shows that just because something “works” in attracting a crowd of followers, it doesn’t mean that it is of God. We know that God’s work will always bear fruit, but the devil’s work can also increase.
The most distressing aspect of the work of false teachers is not that they are among you (2 Peter 2:1). False teachers always have been and always will be among Christians. The most distressing fact is that so many Christians will follow their destructive ways. Because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed: When false teachers are at work, and when crowds are following them, the way of truth is blasphemed. God’s holy name and honor are disgraced.
(2 Peter 2:3) The strategy and destiny of false teachers. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. False teachers use covetousness – both their own and in their followers. It is amazing how many of today’s false teachers present a gospel that has self-gratification at its heart. All this is presented with deceptive words, because false teaching never announces itself. Their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber: Peter assures us that false teachers will be judged. Even though it seems they prosper, their judgment is not idle. God’s wrath pours out on them in allowing them to continue, thus heaping up more and more condemnation and hardness of heart in themselves. At some point their (false teachers) kingdoms will fallâ¦but it will be in God’s timing!
God knows how to take care of both the righteous and the ungodly.(2 Peter 2:4-6) The ungodly will be judged. For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; If God did not spare the angels who sinned: God judged these wicked angels, setting them in chains of darkness. Apparently some fallen angels are in bondage while others are unbound and active in the earth as demons. The sin of angels can be thought of in two main ways: in the original rebellion of some angels against God, and in the sin of the “sons of God” described in Genesis 6:1-2. By not keeping their proper place, they are now kept in chains of darkness. Their sinful pursuit of freedom put them in bondage. Those who insist on freedom to do whatever they want are like these angels: so free that they are bound with chains of darkness! True freedom comes from obedience. Cast them down to hell: The ancient Greek word translated hell is literally Tartarus. In Greek mythology, Tartarus was the lowest hell, a place of punishment for rebellious gods. Peter borrowed this word to speak of the place of punishment for the angels who sinned. And did not spare the ancient world: God judged the ancient world, the world before Noah’s Flood, because the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction: God judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, making them an example of His judgment, because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave. (Genesis 18:20) d. Making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly: These three examples of judgment show us the important principle that Peter wants to highlight.
- God judged the angels who sinned, so no one is too high to be judged.
- God judged the ancient world before the flood, so God doesn’t grade on a curve.
- God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, so even the prosperous can be judged.
Therefore, what makes the ungodly think they can escape God’s judgment? Their coming judgment is certain.
Jesus put it in Luke 10:10-12 to those who reject the truth: But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.” But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.
(2 Peter 2:7-9) The righteous will be delivered. And delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds); then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, And delivered righteous Lot: Peter already told us how the Lord delivered Noah (2 Peter 2:5). Now, he shows us that the Lord delivered righteous Lot. Lot was righteous in God’s eyes, though perhaps it was hard for others to see his righteousness. Yet the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah tormented his righteous soul from day to day. Lot’s soul was tormented, but he failed to follow through with godly actions and separate himself and his family from the ungodliness of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord delivered Lot because of his righteous soul; yet Lot lost everything because of his too-close association with those wicked cities. Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations: Even as the Lord delivered Lot, He knows how to deliver us from the temptations we face, and He knows how to reserve the unjust for the day of judgment. We can trust in God’s deliverance of the godly because it is just as certain as His judgment of the ungodly. The unjust have reservation made for them: they are reserved for the day of judgment. But believers have no such reservation. God will deliver us from the very day of judgment, from the very time of wrath that He pours out on the earth (Revelation 3:10).
A description of the ungodly among them. (2 Peter 2:10-11) They are fleshly and proud. And especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. And especially those who walk according to the flesh: These ungodly ones are especially reserved for judgment. They live according to the flesh, not the spirit, and are marked by uncleanness. They are presumptuous, self-willed: These ungodly ones are proud, despising authority. In their presumption they will even speak ill of spiritual powers (Satan and his demons) that the angels themselves do not speak evil of, but the angels rebuke them in the name of the Lord instead.
Much of what goes on under the name of spiritual warfare shows this kind of pride and presumption. While we recognize our authority in Jesus, we see that it is only in Jesus that we have it – and we leave the reviling accusations to Him alone. (2 Peter 2:12-13 a) Their spiritual doom is sealed. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime.
Like natural brute beasts: Since they function in the flesh, not the spirit, they are like animals. They are fit only for destruction (made to be caught and destroyed) and they are ignorant. And will receive the wages of unrighteousness: The ungodly will be “paid” for their evil – and their fleshly lives will be paid the wages of unrighteousness.
(2 Peter 2:13-17) A list of the sins of the false teachers. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Carousing in their own deceptions: These ungodly false teachers are a dangerous and corrupting presence in the body of Christ, not only deceiving others but deceiving themselves.Having eyes full of adultery: Their heart is set on the flesh, and their eyes on adultery, both spiritual and sexual. They prey on the unstable to join them in their ways (enticing unstable souls). Literally, Peter says that their eyes are full of an adulterous woman. “They lust after every girl they see; they view every female as a potential adulteress.” They have a heart trained in covetous practices: They are equipped, but not for ministry, only for selfish gain – they are truly accursed. We all train our hearts in something, either training them in covetousness and lust, or in godliness . Following the way of Balaam: They are like Balaam, who was guilty of the greatest of sins – leading others into sin, and that for the sake of his own gain. Balaam had to be restrained by a dumb donkey because he would not listen to God. These are wells without water: These ungodly false teachers are empty – useless as wells without water – and like clouds that bring only darkness, and no nourishing rain.
(2 Peter 2:18-19) The allure of the false teachers. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. They speak great swelling words of emptiness: The message of the ungodly false teachers is empty of real spiritual content, though it is swollen big with words. Their allure is to the lusts of the flesh in their audience – just as the crowds who wanted bread from Jesus, but didn’t want Jesus Himself (John 6:25-27; John 6:47-66). While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves: They promise freedom, but freedom can never be found in the flesh, only in God’s Spirit. Freedom isn’t found in what Jesus can give us, but only in Jesus Himself. When we seek freedom in the wrong way, we become slaves of corruption (decay and death). By him also he is brought into bondage: In being overcome by the flesh and the false teachers, they become slaves to both.
(2 Peter 2:20-22) The danger of falling away and following after false teachers: For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” The latter end is worse for them than the beginning: It is better for a person to have never known a thing about Jesus than to hear some truth, hold to it, and later reject it. Greater revelation has a greater accountability. A dog returns to his own vomit: Their nature as dogs is displayed by the way they return to the vomit of the flesh and the world. They are like the brute beasts described in 2 Peter 2:12, more animal that godly because they live for the flesh. “The dog which has got rid of the corruption inside it through vomiting it up cannot leave well enough alone; it goes sniffing around the vomit again.”
Many people who are duped by the false teachers. People being drawn into sin by the false teachers are those “who have actually escaped from those who live in error” and who “have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Only believers fit that description. It is evident that Peter is concerned that his readers – believers – might fall into a sinful lifestyle as a result of the wiles of the false teachers whom he knows via prophecy are coming soon. Peter urges his believing readers to be diligent so as to keep from stumbling and falling. We err if we read into 2 Peter the idea that anyone who fell away would prove to be a false professor. Peter never questions the faith of his readers. Rather, he acknowledges it. What he questions is the progress of their sanctification.
Third, the real question is this: What does Peter warn his readers will happen if they fall? He says that it would be better for a believer never to know the way of righteousness than to have known it and then turn away in a licentious lifestyle. Is it a mistake to understand those words to mean hell though. If they do, Peter is teaching that believers can lose their salvation – something he did not believe (cf. Luke 10:20; John 13:10; Acts 10:43-48; 11:16-18; 15:7-11; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 1:9; 3:8-13). Rather, is Peter simply saying that if a believer grovels in a life of sin, his life here and now will be worse than if he had never become a Christian. While both non-Christians and Christians experience the terrible consequences of their sins here and now, those consequences are even worse for believers because we are God’s children with the Holy Spirit living within us. Certainly conviction of sin is greater. So, too, new consequences for our sins come on the scene. And, the more a believer resists God’s discipline, the more He turns up the heat. That is not necessarily true for a non-Christian. God wants His kids to do right and when we don’t then He has to be “Dad” and take care of the situation.
The reference to dogs and pigs is often cited as proof that false professors are in view. Actually I think the references show that believers are in view. Notice that the dog and pig are said to have been free from their filth. Only believers are free of their sins. Surely the reader of 2 Peter would harken back to 1:9 where Peter refers to his readers as being purged from their old sins. Peter was not referring to forgiveness there. All our sins, past, present, and future are forgiven in Christ. He was referring to our new natures. Believers have a nature which is free from the sins which used to enslave us. Whenever a believer walks in the darkness he has forgotten who he is (2 Peter 1:9) and has allowed the flesh to rear its ugly head.
The word “better” in 2 Peter 2:21 is crucial. When explaining this passage ask your audience, “better WHEN?” The text, properly understood, only allows one answer: better in this life. The false teachers promised their potential dupes liberty (2:19). They actually delivered bondage and temporal judgment. May we all take heed. Sin pays lousy dividends.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall
make you free.” -Jesus in John 8:32
Notice: And doctrine to be true must conform to the Word of God. Whatever religion one is (denomination) “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20)
Take for example: The Roman Church says it never changes; yet, it has done nothing else but invent new doctrines which are contrary to the Bible, and has practiced rites and ceremonies taken bodily from paganism. Some scholar has found that 75% of the rites and ceremonies of the Roman Church are of pagan origin. My point here is not to pick on any denomination of church butâ¦if one knows what one is teaching is wrong then one has the responsibility to state that fact. There are many churches teaching the truth and have good preachers and teachers in them, but there are some who teach what you want to hear because not knowing the truth and believing a lie somehow makes you less responsible for your actionsâ¦the only thing is God tells you personally to search the scriptures and you will know the truth. It is your responsibility to do so.
HERESIES are those doctrines and practices which are contrary to the Bible. They are also called “human traditions” or “doctrines of men”. Both Peter and Paul predicted and warned that in the later times “false teachers” would rise within the Church and bring in “damnable heresies” and “doctrines of devils”. (Read 2nd Peter 2:1-3, and 1st Timothy 3:2-5). Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, for they transgressed the commandments of God by keeping their traditions. “in vain,” He said, “they worship me by keeping for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:3,9).
BRETHREN! The Word of God commands us to get out of Babylon, saying: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4). All true Christians will remain faithful to the religion of Christ as taught in the Bible, and heed the warning of the Apostle Paul, who said: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8).
To know and live the a godly life is freedom, not being enslaved to lies/false teachings. It is your responsibility to find out the truth so that you won’t be deceived.
False teachers will fall. It may not be today or tomorrow or next year, but God says they will fall so they surely will. It will not be good for false teachers. I, know of many false teachers out there who are leading God’s kids astray. You will know of them too. Some have huge churches with thousands upon thousands of followersâ¦but that does not mean that what they say is the truth. You will know the truth if you listen to them and you personally search out what you are being told. Don’t fall for the deceptions just because many people go to a church, or they smile, and tell you that you that God wants you rich, famous, and all the other lies. God wants you godly and to know His truth.