In this sermon from 2 Peter 2, Pastor Babij continues discussing the different threats of false teachers. Specifically, Pastor Babij explains how false teachers seduce many to follow their shameful and immoral lifestyle. Pastor Babij outlines how Christians should respond to such a dangerous spiritual threat:
1. Avoid the two most common human strategies for dealing with sin: antinomianism and legalism
2. Adopt a godly strategy of walking humbly by the Spirit instead
3. Deal with sexual sin and temptation in light of Scripture (1 Thess 4:3-8)
4. Discipline yourself for purity
Alright this morning let’s take our Bibles and turn to 2 Peter 2. We’re looking at the next reason that comes up of the 6 reasons that false teachers are a threat to the church. I do want to let you know that as we have been going through 2 Peter, continual growth in the Lord Jesus Christ that comes from the Word of God will make you holy and useful. It will make the Church more ready for the coming of Christ as we are looking for and waiting for Him. It will also make the Church more discerning in the situation that any church would find themselves.
A continual growth will take place by a regular transformation of the will, mind, and affections by the Scriptures. They are sure and reliable, they are illuminating as light, revealing as truth, and they originate from within God not man. The Apostle Peter has already confirmed that for those who read this epistle, they have a more sure witness as it is written in 2 Peter 1:19:
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
So Scriptures are God’s communication to us. They have been ordained by God’s authority by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. As it says in 2 Timothy 3:16:
All Scripture is inspired by God.
The Scriptures are for God’s people the only source of authority. Let’s pray. God we thank You again this morning for bringing us together in this way and that we can gather in our homes around our computers and devices and living rooms. Thank You that we can enjoy this service and be a part of this worship and preaching of the Word. Use it and get me out of the way so that You can press the truth upon our hearts to make us strong and discerning in these days that we live. There’s so much false teaching flying every which way and it’s being packaged very well as truth even though it’s not. So we have to have a discerning Spirit. I pray that in Your Name, Amen.
So for us the only source of authority is the Word of God. But let me just tell you that there are courts of appeal that claim there are other sources of authority other than the Word of God. For example one area is reason. This is the foundation of liberalism which claims to be a rational system. The mind of man and his reasoning abilities become the source of authority. They would give allegiance to science, philosophy, psychology, and other sources as their authority.
Well there is also a second one which is tradition. Authority is understood to be vested in the church embodied in tradition. Romanism exemplifies this approach which they say is the church’s authority plus the Bible. So they say the church plus tradition is the source of authority and the Word of God is either put on an equal level or pushed down so that it’s not as authoritative.
Then there is the encounter, which is a neo-orthodox emphasis on authority. It emphasizes existential encounter with God in the individual’s experience. So other groups stress religious experience where these theologians do not accept the Bible as the Word of God propositionally. They would say that it becomes the Word of God through an existential encounter that would say the Bible is not divine revelation but a witness to the truth. So for them revelation is not communication but encounter and experience. That has slipped into much of charismatic teaching today, where there is heavy emphasis on encounters with God. Now we do want to encounter God but we have to do that through the Word of God.
Now the fourth court of appeal is the Bible itself. Evangelicals emphasize the Bible as our sole authority. Even though different groups present a mixture of these positions. True believers who hold to the fundamentals of the faith once delivered to the saints maintain complete sufficiency of the Bible as our only court of appeal. The Scriptures alone become the source of authority. So the Bible does us no good if it is not read, heard, meditated upon, obeyed and loved.
God is the power that will sustain the Christian as they walk with God because they come to know that the Bible is the source of truth, guidance, power, victory, God’s blessing, spiritual growth and also included with that it is where we learn the proper hermeneutic on how to handle the Scriptures accurately. If you neglect God’s Word, you become prey to your own laziness, spiritual blindness, and all kinds of false teaching and religious error. You give room for all kinds of things to be taught because someone is a nice person or has the ability to teach. But that doesn’t mean they are a true teacher of God. So as we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ, we need to stick close to the Word of God for all our truth, life, and guidance for living a holy life.
It was J.C. Ryle who said, “ignorance of Scripture is the root of all error and makes man helpless in the hands of the devil.” Only by the Word of God will you and I be more able to detect the threats to the Church, which include false teachers. Just as false prophets were a threat to the unity and purity of Israel, false teachers will be a threat to the true church.
Mingled in with the false prophets are high-profile ministers who are very influential and have a lot of exposure. We have to know who these false teachers are and what they’re teaching. We need to be discerning with these people and the only place we’re going to get that is the Word of God. We have been looking at the six reasons that false teachers are a threat to the Church and we need to be ready for them so that we can know who they are by what they say and live.
The first reason is that false teachers cleverly teach destructive heresies. In other words, their words don’t square with the Bible and what they are introducing is not that easy to catch because it its packaged in Christian lingo. It also utilizes terminology of Biblical Christianity with absolute freedom. They redesign theological terms in their own design and making just like the Old Testament false prophets. It comes from their own imagination. However their teaching does not have a sanctifying effect because it doesn’t make people godly or holy.
Actually it says in our passage that it is destructive and not healthy because they are teaching claims the deny the essential truth of Scripture from the deity to the return of Christ. They sometimes say they believe the Bible but they’re not actually following it. So the word heresy is a good word because it carries the meaning of a view or opinion. A doctrine that one chooses for oneself and thereby separates oneself from the whole body of those who choose to believe differently.
A second reason is that false teachers deny the God of the Bible. That means they deny the Master who bought them. We always have to ask the question if your god is the same God of the Bible. One day I was looking out a telescope and someone came over because they were interested in what I was doing. I began to share the gospel with this person and I began to talk about the judgment and wrath of God on sinners. And he immediately said that’s not what he believes and that’s not his Jesus. And I told him he has the wrong Jesus. That’s how people think today. They don’t want to look at the negative or tough part of the gospel that leads to why we need to be saved from the wrath of God.
You better make sure that your God is the same God of the Bible, is He portrayed in Scripture? If you love Him and follow Him you will obey Him and follow His Word as the only rule of faith and authority in your life.
Now in this passage we have people who denied their Lord and Master. It is the word despotes, which means Sovereign Master or Creator. It gives the idea of an owner, especially a ruler over a household. When I mentioned it last time, really what it’s saying is that the master purchases them which is how a household would acquire slaves. A despot who buys something owns something. The false teachers are denying the Owner who paid for them. They are His property. They claim to be part of the household of God but they refuse to submit to the Master of the house.
They do this by not obeying Him and not following the Word of God. They adhere to other sources of authority, not the Word of God. They also deny Him by their sinful lifestyles since they’re still locked in their old patterns. Just as Jude tells us that they deny their only Master by their licentiousness. They claim to be believers but they reject the authority of the Creator and actually deny His redemptive offer and purchase. The reason why is because they want to live the way they want to live. It takes difficult decisions to live a holy life. It means denying yourself of things that you used to enjoy that were sinful. A holy life is a difficult and narrow life but it’s a life of real freedom. That’s what they don’t get and it’s not like they were ever genuinely saved.
A third reason for what we have been mentioning here is that false teachers bring certain imminent judgment upon themselves. Their teachings are destructive to others and finally it comes all the way around like a boomerang. Their judgment according to Scripture is imminent and their condemnation has been hanging over their heads. Just because they don’t believe there’s a judgment doesn’t mean there is not.
So this morning we are looking at the fourth reason and that is false teachers seduce many to follow their evil teaching and shameful lifestyle. It says in 2 Peter 2:2:
Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned.
The first part of that verse is where I like to focus this morning and look at what the Word of God says about how we’re supposed to live. So you’ll notice that many false teachers will follow their sensuality. They can get a crowd and they know how to manipulate people to get them to give money and buy into what they’re teaching. Many will derive guidance from these teachers and of course they move outside the church and the Word of God to pursue their false ideas and practices. They are eclectic religiously and often ecumenical and invite all kinds of groups into their religion and are inclusive of others. If you say that you believe in God, you’re in and don’t have to prove anything.
But if you notice their sensuality, that is the reason for their popularity. They appeal to people’s base desires that we all have. They appeal to the felt needs and advocate for the freedom of the fresh and unbridled living. False teachers are propagating a wicked and shameful lifestyle that centers mainly on the shameful immorality in one’s life. Well look at 2 Peter 2:10 where it says they have twisted sexual desires. It says:
Especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
In 2 Peter 2:18 it says:
For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.
In 2 Peter 2:13-14 it says:
They suffer wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin.
A believer may get caught in sin but they don’t have habitual patterns of sin anymore. False teachers have habitual patterns of sin even though they can give a good front, they have sin in their hearts behind the scenes which truly expose who they are. This is what the Spirit of God is telling you about what is there.
False teachers believe that following their own lusts and showing no restraint are actually signs of maturity and freedom. For false teachers, freedom in Christ is to follow their own sensuality and not the truth. The lure of false teachers is to bring one into their world and that is how a person can live their best life now by doing whatever they want.
Look at 2 Peter 2:19, which shows they are slaves of corruption:
Promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
In other words, they are still enslaved to sin but preaching freedom. The false teachers feed the strongest urges of human nature and that is to be wealthy, healthy, and prosperous. It means to get what you want now and not wait for the Kingdom. The highest goal that these teachers really offer is for their followers to pursue the passing pleasures of this world. For them, the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s influence in their person’s life is material prosperity, mindless emotionalism which is to let yourself go, and seeking spiritual experiences. And if you don’t encounter those things that they say, then it must mean that you don’t have enough faith or haven’t contributed enough money.
Instead for believers, the real evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work is the believer’s growth and spiritual maturity, practical holiness and godliness, Christlikeness, and where the Holy Spirit of God convicts the heart of sin. The Holy Spirit helps us combat worldly lusts and old Adamic nature that has died. The Holy Spirit cultivates fruit in the lives of God’s people.
In fact, Paul wrote in Romans 8:12-13:
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
So what is our responsibility? What are we to do as believers? We are to put to death the deeds of the body and we have the authority to do that because we are dead to sin and alive to God. That is a key in Romans 6 for you to live righteously and to not live by the dictations of the flesh or the voices of sensuality that wants us to sin again. According to Scripture if someone claiming to be a Christian and a teacher for God displays immoral character on a regular basis that completely invalidates the gospel message, which is a characteristic of false teachers and prophets.
On the other hand, Christians who are growing in the true knowledge of Jesus Christ develop a radically different way of dealing with sin. They learn a gospel oriented strategy for battling with sin as believers learn what to do and what to avoid. Living for Christ is freedom. Living for flesh and fleshly desires and sin is slavery. But that’s not how the false teachers package it.
If we’re going to live a radically gospel oriented strategy to battle sin, there are two common human strategies that we must avoid. Just as Jesus was crucified between two thieves, so the gospel is crucified between two things: antinomianism, which means that people have freedom to do what they want, and legalism. Anti means against and nomos means law, so together it means being against the law. It was Martin Luther who used the word to describe the rejection of the moral law as a relevant part of the Christian experience. In the New Testament, Paul refutes the suggestion that the doctrine of justification by faith alone leaves room for persistence in sin or leaves room for licentious behavior or sensual behavior.
In fact in Romans 6:1-2 Paul said this:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
It’s the believer reconciling in their mind and being taught in Scripture that the Spirit of God gives me the ability to say no to my sin, put it to death and finally be done with it in my life and go on to walk in my sanctification.
This is also in antinomianism. Today it’s called hyper grace and love teaching, which is false teaching because it leads Christians to believe that they can live anyway they want. Their rationalization is that it’s no big deal to sin because they are forgiven. Isn’t that what the Christian life about? Being forgiven? So they rationalize their behavior based on this freedom that they have in Christ to do what they want and live according to their desires and passions.
Their presumption is that when they do sin, they can just confess it. In fact this morning, Dave was teaching on a passage of Scripture that I want you to turn to. Let’s look at 1 Samuel 15:19-23 where we see Saul thinking he was doing God’s will when he actually wasn’t. It says between Saul and Samuel:
Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD? Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”
In other words, King Saul presumed that he was doing the Lord’s will when in fact he was not. Samuel had to remind him of that and bring the exact words of God back to him. Saul was rationalizing his sin and presuming that he was doing the right thing when in fact he was disobeying. That is something we have to be careful about, using human strategies that we all commit in one time or another. We think that we can sin and we won’t hurt anybody and just confess when we’re done. A presumptuous sin often brings judgment like it did in this case.
And of course it was also in Psalm 19:13 which says:
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
So he was putting the sin of presumption at a very high level of transgression before God. We should not want to be there as believers. So the second common human strategy is that of legalism. This says that Christ died for your sins but you earn favor with God through what you do. So the emphasis is on doing something and adding something to what God has already done for you. In antinomianism or freedom living or hyper grace, the end motive is to blow off sin and make it not a big deal. Legalism is to work off sin. Both of them are human strategies and are destructive.
If you care to turn to Romans 6:12-18, Paul lays out there this whole thing about dealing with sin in our mortal bodies where he says:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
In other words, here is real freedom. You are truly free from sin when you obey God in righteousness. Christians are slaves to righteousness and no longer slaves to sin. When you are slaves to righteousness, that is when you experience the real freedom of the Christian life. What is the godly goal and strategy for dealing with our sin? It does say in Proverbs 28:13:
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
For the believer, sin grieves God and we know that. We must not downplay the seriousness of it in our lives. We must come to terms with the fact that God’s grace is greater than all our sins. But that doesn’t meant that we can use human means to deal with it. What it means is that we need to be repentant and ask for mercy and God’s grace. When we bask in God’s mercy and grace, that is our highest moment. We take our sin and bring it to the Lord which is why it says in 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You see here that you and I will fail and when we do, the Spirit of God will work on us and bring us to the foot of the Cross where Jesus carries our failures. This could be a glorious moment for the believer when they learn to deal with their sin in a godly way. They learn to not run from God but run to God and name what the sin is. When you bring your sin to God, you experience a relationship with the Lord that is now restored. We walk with the Lord in the light which exposes more and more of our sin.
This is a glorious moment when we learn to practice this. The Lord says He will forgive us of all our unrighteousness. In that moment, we are to accept God’s abundant grace and mercy and follow a Biblical strategy for dealing with the sin. Of course we fail because we shifted our attention from God’s grace and mercy to something else, which is our base desires that want to disobey God.
So a person who draws on God’s mercy and grace is quick to repent but also slow to sin. They have this understanding that has been given to them by the Word of God. It says in 2 Corinthians 7:1:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
See that is what we ought to be doing but that also leads us to dealing with sin in light of Scripture. Scripture is very clear when it comes to sensuality and immorality and any kind of lustful passion or sexual sin. The Bible is absolutely clear about it. I want us to turn now to 1 Thessalonians 4, where it talks about why we should abstain from committing this sin. If you know God’s Word, you would know that it is not God’s will to live according to our sensuality, fleshly desires, or evil pleasures. That becomes absolutely clear in Scripture.
Now what the false teachers is they twist the Scriptures. And in 2 Peter 3:16 it says:
As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Now here in Thessalonians, the first reason that we should abstain from any kind of sensuality is that it is God’s will for us. Look at what it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.
Scripture demands sexual purity on the part of men and women married as well as unmarried. If you know God and are a believer, then this is clear for you no matter what anybody else says. Now wy should we restrain ourselves and give our bodies over to the Holy Spirit for living righteousness? It’s for this reason because you know and love God and want to please Jesus. That is the primary reason for abstaining from any sin, not just sexual immorality. It’s because you love Christ and He sees you and knows you. You want to give yourself over to Him.
So the next reason is really to keep yourself pure for your marriage partner if you are not yet married. It is God’s will that ever Christian is to know how to act in this matter of sex so as to be pleasing to God. It’s very clear about what it says in Scripture.
A third reason why we should abstain from sensuality, fleshly desires, and evil pleasures is that sexual immorality and lust fraud other people. You end up taking advantage of others by this sin. In 1 Thessalonians 4:6, it says:
That no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.
Anyone we lust after or even if we lust after pictures, it is incredibly destructive to the Christian walk. Don’t say that you are walking with the Lord when you fill your mind with the filth of pornography. Whether you are a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter. It is everywhere! We need to guard ourselves otherwise we defraud other people and ourselves and our spouses when we’re involved in behavior like that is completely against what God’s will. And it says that the Lord is an avenger of those who practice that. You’re not going to get away without losing greatly your joy, peace and you won’t have the peace of knowing you’re growing in the Lord. You will be dissatisfied, discouraged, disillusioned Christian because you’re living in sensuality and sin.
A fourth reason for abstaining from this sin is that you and I are called to holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 says:
For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
So we must always remember who called us to salvation and for what purpose we’ve been called. God has called us all for a pure sex life. All immoralities must be avoided as being inconsistent with God’s gracious call. You cannot live as if you do not know God and what He requires. That is impossible to do if you are a believer and in the Word of God.
The fifth reason is that sexual impurity without repentance actually rejects God. Look at what it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:8:
So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
Now just a little side note here that many times false teachers will soften sin. There was a preacher called Joseph Prince who was giving a definition of repentance and he said that repentance means to change your mind. Now he’s partly right by way of definition of the Greek term for repentance, metanoia. The question is to change your mind about what? He said that repentance means people who think negatively need to think positively. Well that’s not the definition of Biblical repentance, which actually includes repenting of your sins.
Jesus preached repentance, the Apostle John preached repentance, the Apostle Paul preached repentance, all the gospels say to repent and believe the gospel. Repentance means to change your mind and to change direction. It means that you want to put away your sin. It is a conscious recognition that you are a sinner and you need to run and turn to the Savior and reconcile yourself to Him.
See, false teachers redefine things to mean other than what the Bible actually teaches, which is very dangerous. Sexual immorality without repentance rejects God. Anyone who treats sexual sin as no big deal is actually treating God and His Word as of no account. Whoever despises this teaching about holiness is not just despising some human rule but is despising God Himself. If you go on to live in impurity, that is a direct insult against the divine Giver and a sin against the Holy Spirit who is the power until holiness. When we sin like this we grieve the fact that we’re believers or we quench God’s Spirit.
Remember this that God the Holy Spirit lives within believers and it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes our body the temple of God. It is by walking in the Spirit that we get victory over the flesh. You cannot have victory over the flesh alone. The Spirit of God may give you help to get on and as we yield to the Spirit He creates in us a holy desire.
He empowers us to walk in holiness and not to be detoured into the lusts of the world or the lust of the flesh. And to write off what God commands as nothing is to invite the judgment which also grieves the Spirit of God and cuts the power that you have as a Christian to even live and pursue and advance in the Christian life.
So it is God’s will to live a pure life and that’s what real freedom and joy and peace are. False teachers teach otherwise. The discipline of purity is to be accountable to someone about what’s going on in your heart and life. The second thing is to pray for pure thoughts and behavior. Fight for purity in prayer. Fight until you get victory over that sin. Also memorize the Word of God so that you’re able to resist temptation. It says in Psalm 119:11:
Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
Job says he has made a covenant with his eyes, how can he gaze at a virgin. It is also important to protect your mind from being tied up to sensual sins. Divert your thoughts onto other interests like it says in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
We need to put hedges around ourselves. Flight is usually the best approach to sexual temptation. To resist temptation is possible but it takes more sense to run. Like it says in 2 Timothy 2:22:
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
So it doesn’t mean you’re going to avoid temptation, but it means you know how to deal with it when it comes. Sometimes the best way to deal with it is to run as far as you can. Temptation is not a joke, We must pursue Christ through prayer, meditate on His Word, sing Christian music, read books, fellowship with His children, watch what you’re looking at on the internet.
But we also have to realize that we live in reality and we are red-blooded people so that means we cannot let down our guard. Keep the line between the unmarried state and the married state drawn distinctly and clearly. Chastity before marriage is what pleases God. All sensuality and lustful passions that are lived out and meditated upon are what displeases God. Chastity before marriage is what pleases God.
All of us should view marriage that is set apart, sacred, and special. It was always meant to be that for all people since creation. The culture is saying to shack up and that marriage is an old wives’ tale. God has not changed His mind on that matter. Marriage is the right of granting a special place and privilege to the believer.
Also live with divine awareness every day. Rather than turning to sexual purity for pleasure, turn to Christ for superior pleasure. The pleasure of knowing Him and which allows you to put your head on your pillow at night in peace. That’s what God gives us and that’s what the world seeks but can never find anywhere but in Christ. Repent of your sin, seek the Lord, and find salvation in Christ Jesus. Remember the Word of God will make you free from all the things that hold you down in bondage.
Let’s pray. Lord, may we be in command of our bodies and have the strength to flee from temptation and that we would find happiness in this life in You. Also may we stand before You unashamed one day because our lives have honored the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ. I pray that You would enable us to teach others how to live an honorable life and hedge against any kind of teaching where someone would say that to live sensually is to be free. That is a lie from the pit of hell. To live in Christ is the only way to be free. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.