- Vs. 1 Who is a false teacher
Peter wanted his readers to have confidence in the Word of God so that they would not be persuaded to follow after “new experiences” and “new information” in their hunger to grow in their relationship with Jesus. Peter doers this first by emphasizing the positives:
- Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration was an amazing encounter but it wasn’t enough to keep him from denying the Lord 6 months later.
- The greater encounter we can have that will always leave a greater impact upon our lives is through the word of God. Peter want ed his readers to know that they can have complete and absolute confidence in the Word of God. He does this by writing on the uniqueness of Devine inspiration as he wrote describing:
- What Prophecy is
- Who is a Prophet
- How we can appropriate prophecy in order the mature spiritually
Peter now address this from the negative as he looks at the inadequacies of false teaching. The purpose of this is to alter believers from following their “destructive heresies”. The descriptive language of this chapter causes an immediate impact as there is nothing else like it in the entire letter as to cause it stand out in all its darkness.
Vs. 1 Who is a false teacher
Vs. 1 In chapter one, verses 19-21 Peter spoke of the “Prophetic Word Confirmed” and the emphasis upon divine inspiration and now he warns against false ones. The chief ministry of the First Testament prophet was to communicate to their own generation about the darkness that they had allowed and how to alleviate it from their lives. But the New Testament teacher is engaged in a different word as they teach the doctrine of grace to those made aware of their own sin. Here on the negative, we learn a threefold aspect of what constitutes false teachers and teaching:
- Who is a false teacher: Vs. 1 “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.”
- What is false teaching: Vs. 1b, 2, 3a “Destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them,…..And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed…. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words…”
- How do we avoid following them: Vs.1c, 3b“Bring on themselves swift destruction…For a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
Peter reveals three things about “false teachers”:
- But there were also false prophets…even as there will be false teachers: The Greek words “there were” indicate that their position wasn’t by calling but by self-appointment. One of the characteristics of false teachers is “self-appointment and promotion”. God never “drafted them into their calling” they sought it out and pushed themselves into it!
- Who secretly bring in: The second point Peter makes is that their false teaching was alongside truth as they are cleaver in the distribution of false teaching. The word used in the Greek for “secretly” is one in the Greek that describes a spy or traitor. What this tells us is that such false teaching was not by ignorance nor accident but rather a deliberate introduction to pass along side of truths, lies! While they may enter through the front door of the Church, they get their teaching from the back door so as to spread it openly.
- Destructive heresies: The Greek word “destructive” speaks of the loss of everything that makes human existence worthwhile. Whereas the word “heresies” is a Greek word that means a choice of an opinion contrary to what is usually received. Peter gives an example of the most serious heretical teaching that these false teachers peddled when he says that they even “denied the Lord who bought them.” They denied the cross of Jesus as being necessary for atonement for their sins. The word “bought” in the Greek is a word that was used of purchasing a slave and what Peter says that they deny the precious blood of Jesus that was used to pay the ransom for our sin nature and actions! The reason for this appears to be an inadequate view of the Person and work of Jesus and a two high of regard to their own relationship to personal sin. These were not misguided Christian Peter says, they were heretics involved in misguiding Christians.
It is here that before we move on to “What is false teaching” and “How do we avoid following them” that we address where this began in those that would teach such lies. As mentioned, it seems to come from “an inadequate view of the Person and work of Jesus and a belief that their own personal sin doesn’t necessitate the need for the blood of Jesus.” The truth is that a person’s thoughts on Jesus will always determine the moral climate of their lives. It is as Proverbs 23:7 says, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
- What we think about the things that are the greatest will always determine what we do with the things that we consider are the least!
- What are our thoughts about God will be visible in the common courtesies towards others.
That is what Peter is speaking against in the second chapter of this letter. We often think of this in reverse as if it is our bad habits that influence our good conscience towards God. It is the other way around; our lack of understanding towards God, our lack of appreciation of His character and nature changes everything about us. Jesus thought of asking this same question to His disciples in Matthew 16:13 when He asked, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The defective thought is not relegated in being wrong about God’s character alone but in not understanding who Jesus is in the first place! The essence of heresy can be in having the wrong characteristic about God above or to the exclusion of the RIGHT ONE.
- If you start with the chief characteristic of Jesus as Love you will soon remove the very oxygen from the affection you proclaim you have towards Him.
- If you stand upon the mercy of God as the abiding characteristic, then you will eventually deprive yourself of the benefit of the mercy you seek.
- If you stay and gaze at the humanity and humility of Christ, you will never be unable to fully appreciate or appropriate the benefits of it into your life.
What is missing in those Godly attributes is the location of where you view them! They can only be understood when we see them from heaven, from the very throne of God! If we are to know the depths of God’s love, mercy, and humility we can only truly do so from the heights of His holiness! When Isaiah was whisked into his calling as a prophet he was not brought into the realization of the love of God, neither was it the mercy of God or the incarnation that caused him to exclaim that he was a man of unclean lips. No, it was into the throne of God where he received a glimpse of the holiness of God; where he heard the angles who were so affected by the presence of God’s holiness that they covered their faces as they called to one another “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah’s thinking was changed. All destructive heresies begin with a low view of the holiness of God and the unnatural conclusion of it causes a lack of discernment of the Lord’s atonement. If we do not have as Isiah moment of: “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Without that encounter we will never get to verse 6 where “a glowing coal from the altar touches our lips, and our iniquity is removed, and our sin is atoned for.” No holiness, no sin; no sin, no Savior!!!! Redemption becomes unnecessary and the ministry of Jesus upon the cross an unwelcomed tragedy. Peter’s statement is that heresy comes from those who have no vision of God’s holiness and as such have no perception of their need for Jesus’ atonement! The person who cannot or has not kneeled before the holiness of the living God will never be upright in the heart and no conversation about the love of God, mercy of God or humanity of Jesus will ever correct that heart. To not bow to the holiness of God is to be a “master of nothing” because you have never been mastered by the Master of your souls! It is to the throne of God’s holiness that we worship at and if not, we will have no desire to see our sin expelled. The apostle John saw Jesus in whose breast he had laid his head upon on earth but when John saw Him in heaven he fell at His feet as though dead! Our hearts must always stoop in reverent adoration when we view the holiness of our Lord and in this we will be cleansed! Our primary conception of the Lord will determine what we believe and how we live, the depth or shallowness of our ministry. Whatever dethrones or disparages the holiness of Jesus will impair and impoverish the person who does! Anything that cheapens Jesus will make us worthless, any teaching that places Jesus as anything less then everything denies Him and is a destructive heresy!