Peter has laid a foundation so far in 2 Peter 2.
First, he concisely explained that false teachers spread destructive heresies even to the point of denying Christ. To that, we are to be both discerning and humble.
Second, Peter explained their fate using the examples of God’s past judgment upon evildoers.
Now, in 2 Peter 2:10-22, Peter gives a detailed and vivid description of false teachers and their destruction.
Description (2 Peter 2:10b-16)
1. False teachers are Rebellious
2. False teachers are Animalistic (v. 12)
The word Peter uses is alogos (Gk. ἄλογος – without reason, irrational, absurd). They (false teachers) are creatures of instinct and don’t possess any more capacity than an animal. In their destruction, they will be destroyed.
3. False teachers are deceptive (v. 13)
Peter uses word play to illustrate that false teachers will be caught in their own wrong doing. In other words, God will recompense them for their wrong doing. The text says they (false teachers) revel in the daytime – their evil doesn’t even wait for the cover of darkness, but the revile in their reveling in broad daylight and their own evil will be their snare.
Peter makes it clear that false teachers will get away with nothing. Scripture is clear that we need to be discerning, but we can also be confident that God will deal justly with false teachers.
4. False teachers are insatiable (v. 14)
Peter’s accusations continue: false teachers think only of immorality all the time.
It’s worth noting here that antiquity always had idolatry and immorality. This text was written almost 2,000 years ago and Peter is saying “eyes full of adultery that never cease” – false teachers promote this kind of thing, they think only of immoral thoughts. Yet, this is so relevant in our culture today where technology has increased the ease of access to immorality. Through constant exposure to sexual imagery and immorality, our culture has changed dramatically. Pornography and redefinitions of sexuality bear the fruit of insatiability.
But Jesus says in Matthew 5:28 that you’ve heard it said immorality is wrong, but he says if you look at something immorally, you’ve already committed that sin in your heart.
This levels the field: we’re all sinners and the only righteousness that’s found in Christ, is in Christ. We cannot make our flesh better. Apart from God’s word and God’s spirit transforming the believer, we are unrighteous and without hope. And, in a way, this is a liberating truth. If you’re caught in immorality, Christ made a provision for you.
God designed sexual intimacy to be beautiful and blessed in a life-long, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. That’s where a relationship is a wonderful thing, without guilt and shame. God’s design for sexual intimacy has been twisted by insatiable sin nature and by pressure from people to redefine what God designed.
v. 14 continues that false teachers entice unstable souls and their hearts are trained (Gk. γυμνάζω – ‘gumnazo,’ disciplined) in greed. They prey on the weak, those who are not disciplined, and in doing so they discipline themselves in greed. False teaching is the deception that the bigger, newer, better, more will satisfy you. This greed is insatiable.
5. False teachers have gone astray
Peter uses the OT teaching of the prophet Balaam (Numbers 22:22-35) to illustrate that false teachers have gone astray. Balaam was not a prophet of God, and this story illustrates that an animal was smarter than Balaam – and that false teachers are just like Balaam. They don’t see the obvious things of God or sin in the same ways that Balaam didn’t see them, blinded by unrighteousness and madness. They are insane.
Destruction (2 Peter 2: 17-22):
-v. 14, accursed children or “children of wrath” (cross reference: Ephesians 2:3)
-Springs without water, dry where you expect refreshment
-Black darkness has been reserved is likely a reference to hell, as if the place for false teachers in hell has already been reserved
-Speaking arrogant of vanity, or we might say “blowing smoke”
-Entice by fleshly desires, or lure, arousing someone’s interest.
False teachers promise freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption.
Who does the “they” refer to in verse 20?
Michael suggests it’s safe to presume it applies to the unrepentant who follow these false teachings.
1. Christianity requires constant re-education.
Christian education is an ongoing, never-ending challenge. We’re not teaching something new; rather we are re-educating, re-affirming, reminding, and teaching others who have yet to learn.
As soon as you loose the moorings of God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people, you’re now in muddy water, and that’s where culture will always be.
2. How much change is enough change?
If you and I have truly trusted Christ, I believe we will want to obey, want to love, want to change.
But how do we measure change? It has to be fundamental. Meaning, do you know that Christ died for you? Apart from Christ’s work, you have no hope. He offers salvation to any and all who put their trust in Christ and Christ alone. That’s the benchmark.
Anyone who puts his or her trust in Christ and Christ alone is given the free gift of eternal life, their sins are forgiven, they are a new creation in Christ. They aren’t perfect, complete, or sinless – but when God looks at the believer, He sees Christ’s redemptive works, not ours.
It doesn’t matter what a person’s choice or struggle is, they are either in Christ or not, and we can’t know that about another person for sure.
What Peter is saying about false teachers and those who followed them in v. 20-22 is that their nature was unchanged and they went back to who they were before they knew the way of righteousness. Those false teachers never embraced Christ, were never made a new creation.
3. The warning is clear: False teachers and those who follow them are in eternal danger.
The penitent comes with no demands or pride.
Luke 23:32-43: two criminals were crucified with Christ, and they responded to him in opposing ways. All of humanity lines up on one side or the other: “Do something about my circumstance!” or, “Will you remember me, will you have mercy on me in my sin?”
Those on one side want to escape their guilt, on the other we know we are guilty and trust in Christ’s righteousness.
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