In this sermon, Pastor Babij continues teaching from 2 Peter 2:1-3 about the different dangers of false teachers. Specifically, Pastor Babij discusses how false teachers slander the way of truth and greedily fabricate clever words. Pastor Babij also takes time to discuss a proper definition of “truth” and why any definition of “truth” that excludes God has insurmountable problems.
Good morning again. Today we want to again look at the word of God, continuing in 2 Peter chapter 2. So take your Bible and turn there. We’re going to be looking at other passages this morning, but I want to just again remind you that we’re looking at the dilemma of false teaching. We know we live in a world and really there’s always been false prophets. There has always been false teachers. There always will be, even as we get closer to the end, there is going to be more. So the church has to be more discerning now than ever.
Remember, as we look in and read 2 Peter, we know that in this book Peter, getting close to the end of his life, thought it very necessary to teach on the things that are contained therein because in it is the true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. That knowledge and the truth that were given in the word of God will make us more holy and useful as we are cooperating with the Spirit of God to sanctify us. He will make the church more ready for the Lord’s coming and for living the Christian life. Also it will make the church more discerning to know what’s going on out there, what’s being caught out there, to be able to pick up a book, to be able to listen to somebody speak and quickly discern whether they’re speaking the truth or they’re not. The reason for that is because we have a more sure word of prophecy, the word of God, the written word of God that is reliable. It’s illuminating. It’s revealing. It’s trustworthy. And of course because it is, we ought to pay attention to it. That’s what it says in 2 Peter 1:19:
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.
Until the Lord comes back, we are to spend spend a lot of time in the word of God. So it transforms our minds, our thinking, our heart, every part of our life, and that we’re able to know what’s going on.
So the Scriptures are God’s communication to us. It is authoritative. The Spirit of God enables us to understand the word of God. It is the source of our authority. As in the case of the false teacher, the word of God is not the source of their authority. The great danger that faces the church are false teachers. The spirit of the age in which we live kind of likes the idea that when it comes to spiritual matters and matters of truth and things of truth, they like things to be fluid. They don’t want to arrive at any kind of convicting truth. The idea that the Christian message should be kept pliable and ambiguous seems especially attractive to young people today. They’re more into the music and the cultural part of Christianity than they are the very truth of the word of God. They’re in love with the spirit of the age. They can’t really stand authoritative biblical truth applied with precision as a corrective to worldly lifestyles and worldly mindsets and ungodly unholy behavior. So as it says in the book “The Truth War”, the poison of this perspective is being increasingly injected into the evangelical church. That’s why we need to be discerning as believers. So as we get into it, let me just have a word of prayer and then we’ll look at the word of God.
Lord, thank You this morning for bringing us together in this way, as we sit around our tables, as we sit on our couches, as we sit in our homes, You’ve given us a beautiful day. I pray Lord, you would keep us unified during this time. I pray that you would keep us from any kind of schism or division or suspicion. I pray that we would grow in our love for You and each other, and that You would help us to keep the unity the Spirit of God has given us in bond of peace. I pray Lord that we would be giving ourselves over to examination and to learning the truth of Scripture, that they would be welded and embedded upon our heart. I pray that for us Lord. And bring us back to assemble together sooner than later, Lord, and give us the wisdom to know when and how to do that. And I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
So we’ve been looking at discerning the threat of false teachers to the church. We have been looking at six reasons false teachers are a threat to the church. So far, we have discovered number one – false teachers cleverly teach destructive heresies in chapter 2 verse 1. Secondly, false teachers deny the God of the Bible. They even deny the Master who bought them, that the false teachers deny the Lord God their Creator who made them and as Creator, He owns them. These false teachers claimed to be part of the household of God, but refused to submit to the Master. They deny Him by disobeying the word of God. They deny Him by teaching aberrant teaching, false teaching. They deny him by their very behavior by a sinful lifestyle. They are living actually in contradiction to His life and His teaching. The false teachers, they knew the truth. However, they turn from the truth. They are professors in word, but reject the authority of the Creator and actually deny the redemptive offer and purchase that God has offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. So they say no to the One who has the power and the authority to genuinely save them. And it’s not like they ever were genuinely saved.
Actually, they are apostates. Apostates are not necessarily people who leave the institutionalized church. They leave the truth. That’s what an apostate is. They usually stay in the church, but they leave the truth. So an apostate is a defector from the truth, someone who has known the truth, has even shown some affirmation to the truth, and even at points proclaim the truth, but they end up rejecting it. An apostate ends up opposing the truth and then ultimately undermining the truth. But remember, not all apostates are aggressive. Not all always know full well that they are apostates. Many are so blinded by their evil desires that they really imagine that they are serving Christ when in fact they are doing the opposite. They are opposing Christ and His truth. It was the apostle John who mentioned in his gospel. He said in John 16:2:
They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.
There are some faiths and some religions out there that do evil things in the name of “God”. They do things thinking they’re doing it in behalf of God, and they’re doing it in behalf of themselves and the enemy Satan himself. So false teaching actually attacks the church like a parasite, affecting the church’s corporate testimony and inoculating people against the real gospel, multiplying false and half-hearted disciples, filling the church with people who are actually unbelievers and not believers, but think they are believers. So that’s dangerous.
Thirdly, false teachers bring certain judgment upon themselves. We already saw that in verse one of chapter two:
bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
So it seems like what they are teaching comes back upon them. The condemnation has been long hanging over their heads. It’s just a matter of time before the Lord brings down the boom and judgment comes. Just because they don’t believe there will be a judgment does not exempt them from it.
Then fourthly, false teachers seduce many to follow their evil teaching and shameful lifestyles. The false teachers are popular. It says in verse two of 2 Peter chapter 2:
Many will follow their sensuality,
Many will do that. Many will derive guidance from their teachers who move often outside the church and outside the word of God to pursue their false ideas and false practices, like teaching that comes from people who teach positive thinking and certain psychological methods and worldly philosophies and mystical teachings. All those things are kind of like piled into it. But from verse number two, the main reason for their popularity is it’s a sensual type of teaching. Sensuality is the main reason because they appeal to people’s base desires and felt needs. They advocate a freedom of the flesh, an unbridled living. Live the way you want. God’s forgiven you of all those things.
The false teachers are really propagating a wicked and shameful lifestyle centering on a shameful immorality. Now, they’re not teaching it that way. This is the word of God and the spirit of God exposing what’s really going on in their heart, because they have twisted sexual desires. They indulge in evil pleasures. And of course it leads to often committing adultery and multiple marriages. They are not obeying the Lord. These false teachers believe that following their own lust and showing no restraint were signs of maturity. False teachers teach that freedom in Christ is to follow your own sensuality. Your own truth, not the truth.
false teachers lure people into their worldview and how they can think that you ought to live and get the best you can out of the life on this earth. For false teachers, freedom in Christ is to follow their own lusts, their own desires, their own passions, not the truth. Actually, they are slaves to corruption. Chapter 2 verse 19:
promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
False teachers actually are feeding the strongest urges of the fallen nature of humanity – to be wealthy, to be healthy, to be prosperous. The highest goal these teachers offer for their followers is to pursue the passing pleasures of the world. For them, the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s influence in a person’s life is material prosperity, mindless emotionalism, seeking spiritual experiences, and supposed miracle encounters. If you don’t encounter these things, the result will be or the retort will be – you don’t have enough faith. So instead of the real evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer that Peter has been teaching – growth in spiritual maturity, holiness and godliness, Christlikeness, where the Holy Spirit convicts the person’s heart of sin and helps that person combat worldly lust and cultivates the spiritual fruit in that person’s life so they can be the people of God and show that they are. According to Scripture, someone claiming to be a Christian and a teacher of God, if they display an immoral character, it invalidates the gospel message, which is characteristic of false teachers and false prophets. MacArthur rightly observes their message of independence, personal freedom, and self-exaltation is inherently appealing to the fallen human heart who would rather serve themselves than submit to Christ.
So what is the result and what is the effect of such godless living? The effect is this – a life contrary to Jesus’ life, a life that is not transformative by the gospel of Christ, a life that doesn’t produce moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. It doesn’t produce that. But true healthy doctrine from Scripture produces all of that in our life, and that’s what we ought to be looking for.
This Lord’s day, I want you to focus your attention on verse 2 and what it says at the end of that verse. I’ll read the whole verses 1 and 2. It says:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
See, I want to look at that. The fifth thing is that by false teachers the way of truth is slandered. By them – notice the word “them”. That’s the false teachers. The way of truth will be maligned. Now the way of truth is synonymous with the word of God. It’s synonymous with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s synonymous with repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So specific truth that leads to true faith in Christ and a godly life. That’s what the way of truth is. These false teachers have actually abandoned the gospel. When the world of unbelievers look on the church and see no difference than themselves and in some cases worst behavior, what do they usually do? They blaspheme God and the gospel message gets a black eye. The word in our text “malign” is the Greek word “blasphemeo”, and that we get the word “blasphemy” from. That means to speak injuriously, to defame the reputation of God and the gospel message. True christianity is given a bad reputation and condemned by outsiders who look on. In fact, if you remember in the book of Acts, the followers of Jesus Christ were called the way. For it says in Acts 19:9:
But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people,
So this group of disciples that were following Christ and were being serious in their Christian walk were considered the Way. That means they were following a particular teaching and a particular person and caused a specific way of living one’s life. Here these people in Acts were actually speaking abusive language against the Way and denouncing it and insulting it. The apostle Paul was saying to a group of Jews, and it’d be good for you to turn to this passage in Romans 2:17-24. He was speaking to a group of Jews and saying to them – listen, if you claim to know God, if you claim to follow Him, then your lifestyle should line up with what you are believing and what you are teaching. If you notice the passage in Romans chapter 2 verse 17, it says this:
But if you bear the name “Jew: and rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?
And then notice what he says after the question:
You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhore idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?
And then notice in verse 24:
For “the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.
These were the Judaizers here. These are the ones who are trying to add something to the gospel. Because they were doing that and claiming to be a Jew connected to Abraham and in that lineage, God says no, by your lifestyle you have blasphemed God among the gentiles. So when the gentiles look upon you, they don’t see the sincerity of the truth that is the knowledge of the truth that is in the Law. They see your corrupt behavior. So instead of pointing people to the path of truth that leads to genuine salvation for the saved and to holy and godly living for real disciples of Christ, the way of truth instead is disdained. It is evil-spoken of. And when a person who talks the talk, but they don’t walk the walk, see that is not good.
If you look over to 2 Peter 2:21, notice what it says there, and I’ll get there of course when I get to that part of this passage. It says:
For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
In other words, they are denying the truth of Scripture. Therefore because of that, their heart is not changed and they are living not according to the Spirit of God transforming them but according to their own lusts, passions, and desires.
Now a great example of this is found in 2 Samuel 12:14. What’s going on there is King David. That’s when King David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan came to David and says:
However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.
So David, because of his bad behavior being a king and being a commander of an army and committing adultery, committing murder, what did he do before his enemies? He didn’t get his enemies to bring praise to the Lord. He got his enemies to blaspheme the Lord. So imagine this – bad lifestyles of people who call themselves Christian can cause people to treat God and His word disrespectfully and irreverently. Now, we should all take that to heart. We may not be a false teacher, but our behavior does reflect what we believe, even in our home with our wife and children, as we function on our jobs, as we just live our regular life. It’s going to tell what we really believe, what are the deep convictions of our heart. Believe me, none of us want to have such a bad lifestyle that causes people to treat God and His word disrespectfully and irreverently and of course the word being used here to blaspheme God. To say to you – I don’t see God in your life. I don’t see that the transformation of the Spirit of God in your life. I don’t see any change in your life. Well, that’s definitely an indictment against where we’re at spiritually. You have to question even one’s salvation if somebody cannot even determine whether you’re a believer or not by the way you behave.
So it both goes together as a Christian. God saving us changes us. I’ve been preaching for years and is always coming up in the word of God. This is not moral behavior. This is spiritual transformation that is produced by the Spirit of God and our cooperation with the Spirit of God and our minds being embedded in the truth of God’s word, seeing the world from God’s perspective, seeing the world through the lens of Scripture, taking everything and running it through the Scripture so we determine whether we are believers or not.
So we as believers are to adorn the gospel. The reputation of the gospel should be for all of us our foremost concern when it comes to the lives that we live every day. Always examining ourselves. Always repenting of the sin, putting it to death. Wanting and desiring to want to live for Christ should be something that the Spirit of God is actually doing in our life.
There are several passages of Scripture where it really admonishes that Christians ought to believe and live in a way so that the gospel and God’s character are not blasphemed, but are actually adorned. It was the apostle Paul who said in 2 Corinthians 6:2-3. He said that Christians are to adorn the gospel by the way that they live so they don’t discredit the gospel and that they should have put no obstacles in anyone’s way so no fault could be brought to the gospel. This is what he says in 2 Corinthians 6:2-3:
for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”-
And then he says in verse three:
giving no cause for offense anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited,
Paul wanted to live in a way that when he offered the gospel, his life wouldn’t be a discredit to the gospel, but it would be a credit to the gospel. Then here’s a passage of Scripture that you should all turn to. It even uses the word that Peter uses here, in 2 Timothy 2:2. That’s the word “blasphemy” where it says in Titus 2:3-5, speaking about wives or older women. And it says there that the wives or the older women ought to adorn the gospel by adding to their faith so that their husbands and their children will not treat God or His word disrespectfully or irreverently because of their lifestyle or their behavior. If you notice in Titus 2:3, it says:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands,
Why do they live that way?
so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Do you know what that word “dishonored” is in the Greek? “Blasphemeo” – so it will not be slandered, so it will not be spoken of lightly or profaned or in any such way, but it will be exalted. It will be reverent in their heart and it would be treated as something precious and a precious gift in the home, not only to the younger women but to their own husbands and to their own children. See, that’s the motive. There’s the motive right there. Of course this could be applied to husbands too in loving their wives, that their prayers are hindered when they don’t treat their wives the way they ought to. It’s the same thing. If your prayers are hindered, that mean God’s looking at you in not a favorable way, but He’s withholding answer to prayer because you’re not obeying His word. And in the same way, things could be blasphemed. Then take for example employees that work on the job. Employees ought to adorn the gospel by the way they live before their bosses and fellow workers. For what reason? So they don’t discredit the way of truth. 1 Timothy 6:1:
All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.
The term “spoken against”, could you guess what Greek word is there? Blasphemeo, so they don’t blaspheme God and the word of God, so they don’t slander it or speak lightly of it or profane it. So our lifestyles, how we live before the world, is significant to our conversion. It goes with it. It goes together. So Christians are to live before the critics of the gospel in such a way that they will be silenced.
We learned that in 1 Peter when we were in that epistle, where 1 Peter 2:12 says:
Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
That’s what we want. We want to glorify God, even if they hate us, even if they come against us. They really honestly, when it comes right down to it, can’t find any real fault because of the character that the Spirit of God has been developing in our life. In 1 Peter 3:16 where it says:
and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
Here’s the bottom line. One commentator said it well – the only way to make the gospel believable is for Christians to live the kind of righteous lives that make it believable. That’s good. That is what ought to happen. We ought to be convicted about this. We ought to be convicted about every single area of our lives. Yes, this is talking about false teachers, but believe me, if we’re going to live a life that does the same thing false teachers do, then what’s the point there? We ought to be examining ourselves because we ought to know better. Not knowing what we believe is not authentic christianity. Authentic christianity is we know what we believe and we know what we ought to do. So advocating ambiguity, exalting uncertainty, or otherwise deliberately clouding the truth is a sinful way of really nurturing unbelief. It is not a way of nurturing belief.
A key characteristic of those actually who reject the truth and don’t love the truth is that they’re ultimately going to be judged. In fact, a key characteristic of those who perished in 2 Thessalonians 2:10, who are damned by their unbelief – what does it say there? Because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. That’s it. Every true Christian should know and love the truth. That’s what they ought to be doing. In fact, the false teachers, what do they usually do too? They add to the truth. They take away from the truth. They ignore the truth. They twist the truth. They twist it from what is already written in Scripture. They add extra rules to be saved and sanctified. They often say stuff like – if you don’t speak in tongues, you’re not a believer. Not all groups say that, but that would be one of the things.
The word of truth give ample warning not to do that. In fact, there are five places in Scripture that warns. In Deuteronomy 4:2 it says:
You shall not add to the word…
And it says also in Deuteronomy 12:32:
you shall not add to nor take away from it.
In Proverbs it says:
Do not add to His words or He will reprove you and you will be proved a liar.
In Ecclesiastes it also says:
I know that everything God does will remain forever; there’s nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.
And of course the Revelation passage 22:18:
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
So the way of truth is a very important concept, doctrine for the Christian. Just think of it for a moment. How do we know what is true? that’s what people would say. What is the definition of truth? First and foremost, God is truth. God and truth are inseparable. God is what makes truth true. If we just take a brief examination of Scripture, we find out that God is actually truth. For it says in Psalm 31:5:
Into Your hand I commit my spirit; you have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.
And then in Isaiah 65:16:
Because he who is blessed in the earth will be blessed by the God of truth; and he who swears in the earth will swear by the God of truth;
So God is truth, but it also tells us that Jesus is truth. The incarnate Jesus Christ, coming in the flesh, that God is the very essence and embodiment of truth itself. That is why God incarnate in Jesus Christ is also called the truth. Jesus says:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Then it also says it right here in 2 Peter:
seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him..
Again in chapter 1 verse 8:
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So God is truth. Jesus is truth. God is the source of all that exists. God alone defines what is true. He is ultimate revealer of all truth. He sets the boundaries. He sets the meaning of what is truth. Every truth revealed in nature was authored by Him in Psalm 19. God gave us minds and consciences to perceive the truth and comprehend right from wrong. God gave us the perfect infallible truth of Scripture. He gave us sufficient true revelation of everything pertaining to life and godliness, we’ve been learning in 2 Peter. See, God sent Christ to be the embodiment of truth, where it says in Hebrews chapter one:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son,
See, God gave us truth to lead us to Him as Savior and Lord. What does it say in 1 Peter:
for Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God,
Scripture also tells us that the Holy Spirit is truth, promised and sent by the heavenly Father. John 14:16-17:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that he may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
Also John 15:26:
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth…
And then in John 16:13:
but when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
See, the truth of the Father, of Jesus the Son, of the Holy Spirit, and the truth of the Bible are the very same thing. It tells us in Ephesians:
in Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
The epistle of 1 John, chapter 4 verse 6, a very significant passage of Scripture where he was telling his people, his audience that if you know God, you know something else. And this is what he says:
We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
When we know God and listen to Him from His word, we know what truth and what error is. We know these things that is vital for our discernment against the threat of false teachers, to know the truth.
But let me just say this. Have you ever try defining truth apart from God? It is impossible to do. When someone tries to define truth apart from God, and many have tried, one runs into right at the start three serious problems. There’s a fine little book called “What is Your Worldview?” In that book is contained – if you want to know what your worldview is, read through this book. It kind of examines it and comes to certain conclusions, which is very interesting.
So the first problem is the problem of definition. Take, for example, someone handling the truth question about their objective reality. Some believe or claim to believe that all truth is relative. Relativism is the view that there is no objective truth, whether it’s for an individual or for a cultural group of people. Relativism is surprisingly widespread in our day. Relativists say that what’s true for one person need not be true for another person. Or what’s true for people in one culture needn’t be true for people in another culture. Now, such people often insist that truth isn’t something out there to be discovered, but they insist that truth is something we choose or create for ourselves. They ultimately say that truth is always inside of us rather than outside of us. That is not true. That is a lie. While the statement there is a God may be true for some people, it doesn’t have to be true for everyone, they say. They say we shouldn’t speak about truth as though truth is the same for everyone. Rather, we should speak about my truth and your truth and their truth. How incredible is it to think dynamite is explosive could be true for some people, but not for others. Would you be willing to test out that theory? I don’t think so. Could a statement such as the planet earth has one moon really be true for people in one culture and not for people in another culture? You see, it becomes a fool’s errand if you don’t start with objective truth.
As soon as you disassociate truth from the knowledge of God, you just can’t accurately defined truth. In the end, it’s hard to deny that there really is objective truth. By the way, truth is outside of ourselves rather than inside of us. The fool has said in his heart – there is no God. And because of that, it says in psalm 14:1:
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.
But in contrast to that, other people insist that many truths, including the most important truth, are objective truths. Objective truths are true for everyone everywhere because they’re based on objective facts about reality that are independent of human desires and human ideas and human feelings. It makes no sense to say that the statement “there is a God” could be true for me but not true for you. Either it is true or it isn’t. That the end of the story. That’s what we ought to be considering as believers. So we have a problem of definition.
But a second problem when we disassociate truth from the knowledge of God is we have a problem with the i,mmoral implications that come. Because when we disassociate truth from the knowledge of God, it results in unrighteousness and wickedness and greed and evil and immoral living. That’s what the apostle Paul was telling us in Romans 1:28-32. He says:
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding,
And then it goes on to say:
although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
So immediately when you divorce and disassociate the knowledge of God with truth, then you have a moral problem. This is what the false teachers have. They have a moral problem because of this very thing. They malign the way of truth and then they go their own way, and then immorality is a given. Greed is a given. Wickedness is a given. Evil is a given. Immoral living and unrighteousness, they’re given.
But then you have an epistemological problem too, and that’s just the problem of knowledge. As soon as you you disassociate truth from the knowledge of God, how do you know what’s evil? How do you know what’s good? How do you know what’s right? What’s wrong? What’s the truth? What’s error? What’s God’s way? You don’t know. You don’t know because there’s no standard to judge by. If you are left with your own standards and the standards of the world, they are crooked standards. So God has established the standard of what is true and what is right.
Philosophers had their day in which they tried to define truth without God. From the time of Christ, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle – they tried. In the middle of the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Hegel, They tried. Right up into the modern system of our time, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, Marx, and the pragmatism of Henry James, they all tried. They all utterly failed to account for truth and the origin of human knowledge apart from God. So what we learn from the philosophers, not that we haven’t learned things from them. We have. But we learned from the philosophers is that it is impossible to make sense of truth without acknowledging the source of all truth, which is God.
False teachers are a threat to the true church because they are not just in search of truth. They have known the truth, even shown affirmation to it, and perhaps even proclaimed it for a while, but then they defect from the truth, then undermining the truth, which causes people to blaspheme God and leads their followers astray. Yes, even into the pit of hell. And then they are driven by what? The next thing that we’re going to look at in this passage of Scripture in 2 Peter is that in their greed, false teachers will fabricate clever words. In other words, in their greed they will lie to you. They will do everything and say anything to keep the money coming, to keep their lifestyle funded. That’s why we have to be discerning, to avoid and point out and yes mentioned by name and call out and know for ourselves that every book that is written in a bookstore and endorsed by people that have names, we should not just take that at face value. We should consider whether they are true or false because there is a lot of false prophets being proclaimed and endorsed as real believers and they are not.
So we have been given the reasons for the threat of false teachers and their doctrine upon the church up until this point. We find out that their teaching is not easily detected. It takes discernment. Their teaching leads to hell by the signs of heaven. Their teaching denies the Master and Creator. Their teaching caters to the masses of people. That’s why they can get great crowds. And their teaching gives truth a bad name.
Brethren, let’s be discerning as believers. Let us know what we believe and make sure that we’re not just talking to talk, but we’re walking the walk. The way we live backs up what we believe and what we believe backs up the way we live. Let’s live like that.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You again. Your kindness, Lord, to me and to our church has been over-the-top, Lord. We give You praise for answering our prayers. We give You praise for giving us a church like You’ve given us in this time. You’ve given us people who are discerning and people who want to discern more and want to grow in Christ. I pray, Lord, that that would never end. Don’t let us get lazy. Don’t let us slack, Lord. Let us always be ready to give an answer of the hope that lies within us because we know the truth. And Lord, continue to allow us to make our lives line up with the gospel, so we do not cause others to blaspheme Your name. Forgive us Lord when we sin, and help us to deal with our sin biblically and not deal with it in a short period of time. And Lord, help us to not just keep committing the same sin over and over again, but putting it to death so we don’t see that sin ever again and it dies off because we stop feeding it. And Lord, let our love for You grow to a point where we don’t want to sin because we know it grieves our Lord and it causes others to look at Him and His gospel in an evil way. So Lord help us today. We need the Spirit of God to guide us into all truth. And Lord, we want our lives to be an example of the way of truth and not be a stumbling block to it. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.