The Christian’s path is often hard. Though there is eternal life and joy in knowing Christ (John 3:16; 17:3), the faithful Christian often must endure persecution, strain against sin, and work hard to serve Christ and others. As Pastor Babij mentioned in his Sunday sermon, the difficulty of the Christian life can cause a person to look for an easier way—even the way offered by false teachers. After all, false teachers seem to offer the same outcome as true teachers (God, salvation, joy) but without all of the trouble. False teachers also offer freedom in the struggle against sin (often by totally excusing sin). And, if the false teachers are really so bad, than why are they so successful? Why does God seem to bless them? Why doesn’t God judge them at all?
You may be noticing how the letter of 2 Peter deals with exactly this kind of situation. The apostle Peter reminds suffering Christians in the early church to keep holding fast to Christ and his word and not be swayed by the allure of false teachers. And why? Because true Christians have the sure word of God, a word that is even more certain than any spiritual experience (2 Pet 1:16-21); because false teachers show themselves to be false in their deviant doctrine, arrogant words, and sinfully indulgent lifestyles (2 Pet 2:1-2, 10-22); and because God is indeed taking note of false teachers and will judge them and their followers at the appropriate time, just as God judged evildoers in the past (2 Pet 2:3-10; 3:3-9). For those who keep holding fast to the Lord, as God’s faithful remnant did in the past, they will receive salvation and vindication (2 Pet 2:4-9).
People sometimes use the phrase, “It was too good to be true.” These words apply again and again to false teachers. We must beware of those who promise a quick fix or a silver bullet to the Christian life, for such does not exist. We must instead take seriously the words of our Lord about the difficulty of following him (Luke 13:22-30; 14:25-33). Indeed, Christ’s true disciples must follow their Lord with a striving and persevering faith (Rom 8:25; Jam 1:12). Of course, there is still joy and even rest amid the difficulty (Ps 16:1-11; Mt 11:28-30), for Christ is with us every step (Mt 28:20; Heb 4:14-16). And whatever sufferings come our way, we know that they are worth it.
Philippians 3:7-8, But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
Questions to Consider:
1. Are you looking for a shortcut to the Christian life? Are you therefore departing from what God’s word actually calls you to do?
2. The Bible sometimes likens participation in false religion to adultery (e.g. Hos 4:12). How is a false teacher, then, like a spiritual seducer?
3. Why should the Lord Jesus’ going before us give us confidence for following God even amid difficulties?