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True or False

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
October 31, 2022 2:00 am

True or False

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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October 31, 2022 2:00 am

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Truth Talk
Stu Epperson

If you would turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Peter, we are beginning chapter 2 tonight as we continue our journey through 2 Peter. We'll be looking tonight at the first three verses, but I want to read this in context a little bit.

If you would back up to, let's start verse 19 of chapter 1 and read through the third verse of chapter 2. We have something more sure, the prophetic word to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the master who brought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed, they will exploit you with false words.

Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. Let's pray together. Father, this chapter is a daunting passage and is a needed warning that there would be those who would lead us astray from the truth. Father, may we be guided by your Spirit tonight who is sent to guide us into all truth. May we discern that which is true, that which is false, and walk in the way that you have given. Open our ears to hear your voice.

Guard my lips against error. Exalt Christ in this place tonight. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Let's be seated. Paul uses a phrase that I think describes not only the age in which he was writing, but our day as well. He speaks of this present darkness. And we look around the landscape of America today. We see crime rampant.

We see corruption at every level of government. We see the result, really, of the cosmic evil against which we war. In his letter to Ephesians, Paul spoke of the fact that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Sadly, the darkness not only is out in the world around us, darkness has infiltrated the church in our day. Scripture tells us that in God, who is light, there is no darkness at all. And yet among his people in our day, we find the darkness of this age infiltrating. Look back across the last century, we see the church struggling against liberalism and modernism and then post-modernism and coming to the point where words have no meaning.

Truth is something that is not even considered to be a possibility that there is any such thing as objective truth. We see the social gospel pushing out the true gospel. We see the prosperity gospel, feminism and homosexuality and New Age mysticism.

One of the best-selling books of our day on the shelves of Christian bookstores all across America, grounded in and inspired by a book that was really nothing more than New Age mysticism and kind of put now in a Christian so-called context and adapted for Christians to read and believe. There is great danger in false teaching and it is prevalent in our day in the world. We need to be alert to the fact that false teaching is very seductive at times. It leads many astray and that is because I think it panders to the flesh.

It promises satisfaction and self-fulfillment and success. And so the proposition that I bring to you tonight from these three verses of 2 Peter 2 is that because false teaching ultimately leads to destruction and death, we must know the truth of the faith once delivered to the saints. We must know the truth by which we can test the spirits.

And so turning to our text, we see first of all that there are false teachers present. Peter spoke in the previous chapter in the closing verse of those men who spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. And now in verse 1 of chapter 2 he says, but there also arose among the people false prophets. Both false and true were present among God's people at the same time. And so while there were true prophets who brought the Word of God to his people, there were also false prophets who arose. It was true back in the Old Testament and Peter says that it will be true among you as well. But false prophets arose among the people just as there will be false teachers among you.

This is an ever-present battle. Satan twists and distorts the truth and brings that distortion right into the church. It's always been one of his tactics to distort God's Word and to twist it.

He started that in the Garden of Eden when he came to Adam and Eve and he pointed to the fact that God had said something about their eating of the trees of the garden. And he said, has God really said? And he twisted and distorted what God had said.

And he continues to take that tactic. False teachers were present in the New Testament church. Notice where he says these false prophets, these false teachers are. He said false prophets arose among the people and there will be false teachers among you.

It is an ever-present danger. And Paul also warned about the false teachers. He cautioned the elders at Ephesus back in the book of Acts.

He had gathered them together and he warned them. He said, I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.

Therefore watch and remember. And so we need to be aware that there are false teachers present among God's people, even today. Next let me call your attention to the fact that these false teachers have a method that is subtle and seductive. Jesus and his apostles preached openly and transparently. And when Paul was on trial before Festus and Agrippa, he declared, I am persuaded that none of these things have escaped your notice, for this has not been done in a corner. The things of Christ were not hidden away, they were not secret, they were not subtle.

He was transparent and open in his teaching. But false teachers, on the other hand, use secrecy. Peter says here in verse 1 that they will secretly bring in destructive heresies.

False teachers tend to work under cover. They don't advertise the true content and consequence of what they are bringing. They are like what Jesus spoke of, and they're wolves in sheep's clothing. Jesus said, beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Not only do they work secretly and hiddenly, they pander to the flesh. Peter says here in verse 2 that many will follow their sensuality.

Their subtlety and sensuality are seductive. We are easily drawn away from the truth, I think, because our flesh responds to the things of the flesh, the things that we desire in our flesh, in our sinful nature. Those things are pandered to by false teachers. Martin Lord Jones said, the false teaching panders to a man as he is fallen from God, and man welcomes the teaching because it excuses the life that he lives. We have a tendency to be drawn away by these things because it excuses the things that we have as a part of our sinful bent. So why do false teachers arise? What motivates them to bring these heresies? The motive of the false teacher is, first of all, greed.

Look at verse 3. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. This word greed has a broad meaning in scripture.

It is translated sometimes avarice, fraud, covetousness, extortion. One lexicon defines it as insatiable-ness, a desire to have more. It reminds me of the words of John D. Rockefeller when he was asked by a reporter one time what it takes, how much money it takes to make a man happy. He said just a little bit more. We desire more.

We want more. We are insatiable in our lust for stuff and things and recognition and all those things that lead us astray. That perverted desire for stuff will never be satisfied and neither will the greed of false teachers. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul includes this matter of greed in the list of sins that we are to put to death. He says, put to death therefore what is earthly in you, sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry. Note that he calls covetousness idolatry.

We put stuff and things ahead of God and make idols of them. And then there's the aspect of exploitation that motivates these false teachers. Looking back again at verse three, the first part of the verse, and in their greed they will exploit you with false words. This is a word of commerce.

It has to do with trading merchandise, with buying and selling. False teachers attempt to buy believers away from the truth. They treat them as merchandise. It's interesting that Scripture speaks of these false teachers as pursuing disciples, not for Christ, but for themselves. They gather men around themselves. They exploit those whom they lead astray. In Old Testament prophecy, when Israel's rulers and leaders were in rebellion, God warned his people that their princes in their midst were like wolves destroying lives to get dishonest gain. These false teachers are greedy and will exploit those whom they lead into error. They're motivated by what Paul warns against in Titus 1.11. He says, they must be silenced since they're upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

And Peter, back in his first letter, had warned the leaders and instructed them when he said that you are to shepherd the flock of God, not for shameful gain, but eagerly. So we see that false teachers are present within the church, that their method is characterized by secrecy and sensuality. They're motivated by greed and exploitation.

And then we need to see that there is fruit. There's consequence to what they're doing. The teachings of these false teachers, these false prophets, will destroy their followers. Peter says that they bring in destructive heresies. And in fact, in that process, he says they also bring swift destruction on themselves.

We must always be on the alert because our adversary, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. These teachers bring destruction to the body of Christ through their false teaching. They also lead followers astray. These false teachers arising out of the church, from among us, will attract many followers. Verse 2 says that many will follow their sensuality.

Those who are snared by false teachers will follow the sensual immoral way which leads to destruction. But just as importantly, if not more important, is the fact that because people in the church are led into those things, the way of truth is blasphemed. Unbelievers hold believers to a high standard.

They hear what we preach and they see when we don't live up to what we preach. When we fail to walk the talk, truth is mocked and God's way is blasphemed. So Peter says in verse 2, many will follow their sensuality and because of them, the way of truth will be blasphemed. Paul also warns that our conduct can lead to blasphemy among unbelievers. In Romans chapter 2, he said, you who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law, for as it is written, the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you. When we fail to live what we proclaim, we bring reproach on the name of Christ.

Finally here, Peter reveals the condemnation of false teachers. In the latter part of verse 3, he says their condemnation from long ago is not idle and their destruction is not asleep. That word condemnation is the Greek word krema. It's the root that we get our word crime from. It really is a word that means a decree of judgment, a verdict. It's what a judge does. He says that their judgment, their verdict, their decree of judgment is from long ago.

It's not idle. I think that in the long ago, he's pointing to ancient times as he goes on into this chapter, he will give us three illustrations of how this judgment comes and he will speak of fallen angels. He'll speak of those who perished in the flood in the days of Noah. He'll point to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in their judgment and destruction.

Condemnation has always been determined against evil and rebellion because it is God's nature to punish sin. The scripture says that God is angry with the wicked every day. It's not because he gets mad.

He's not like us. He's not aroused in that same sense, but it's just a part of his nature to be opposed to evil and his wrath is directed toward that. It was true long ago, but it's still true, he says. That condemnation is not idle. That destruction is not asleep.

Interesting, a little parallelism there, which is typical of Hebrew poetry. He says there, condemnation not idle, destruction not asleep. Though we may not see it, God is always at work judging evil and dealing with evil. Simon Kistemaker in his commentary says, these teachers who've received God's verdict are like prisoners on death row.

Their condemnation is hanging over them. God's judgment of evil is not quiet and asleep, not idle. God is one who will neither slumber nor sleep.

The judgment and the destruction that he has determined for these false teachers will be affected. God is just. Even when it seems that the heretics and the charlatans prosper and get away with what they're doing, we know that one day we will sing with the angels, just are you, O Holy One, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments. I love what the psalmist says in Psalm 19. He goes through the witness to God in creation and then the witness to God through his word. And the last thing he says about that is that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous all together.

God's justice will come out in the end. So what do we take from this? What is the lesson that we are to learn from this?

How do we apply this? First of all, we are to test, to prove, to try those who teach. John wrote in his first letter, Beloved, believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are going out into the world. We are to test, to try, to prove those who teach, those who speak to us in behalf of God and expound his word.

How do we do that? Like the Bereans back in Acts chapter 17. Scripture says of the Bereans, Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica. They received the word with all eagerness, examining or searching the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. We test the spirits by the word of God, by the truth. We test the teaching by the truth.

We have to know the true in order to discern the false. Never in the history of the world has the word of God been as accessible as it is to us today in America. We have a multitude of translations.

Sometimes I think that's not so much a blessing as it is a difficulty because we tend to get confused sometimes. I remember a professor at seminary talking about the fact he'd worked on a book that was called The New Testament in 26 Translations and it was kind of a compilation thing and he said, you know, I used to know a lot of scripture from memory and now I'm absolutely confused because he'd worked on so many different translations. But we do have a plethora of translations that put God's word in language that we can understand. There are missionary organizations that make that their purpose to put the word of God into the heart language of people around the world.

We have study tools that are just marvelous. We have lexicons and commentaries and cross references and we have software that makes the word of God available to us. We have the freedom here in America to teach and to preach and sermons are readily available to us. God has done such a wonderful marvelous thing in making the truth of God's word available to people around the world. Back in the early 90s, I had the privilege of traveling in Russia and ministering there for a couple of weeks after the kind of the dismantling of the Soviet Union.

And one of the things that we did was go into schools and then get to know some students and go into their homes. I had the privilege of going into a home one afternoon with young teenagers who were high school age and two of them had come to know Christ without any outside missionary coming in. One of them had come to Christ by hearing J. Vernon McGee on shortwave radio. God has made his word available in unbelievable ways and we have access to it. We have computers and radio and television and internet and we need to obey Peter's instruction. Back in chapter 1 verse 19, he said, you do well to pay attention to this prophetic word. We need to make use of the tools that we have to feed on the word, to live by the truth.

Jesus said when he was tempted, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. And he prayed to the Father in John 17, sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth. And he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is infinite and eternal and he ever lives, Hebrews tells us, to intercede for us.

I believe he's still praying that prayer for his people today, sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth. We need to be living and feeding on the word of God. Jesus said in John 8, if you abide in my word, you're truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. We have to determine what's true, what's false. Live in the truth, reject what is false. So don't be led astray by the seductive lies of false teachers.

They promise you heaven on earth, they're really leading you into destruction and death. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. Abide in him, abide in his word, know the truth so you'll recognize the false.

Let's pray. Father, we are so vulnerable. We can so easily be led astray. Our sinful bent wants to satisfy our flesh, our lusts, our desires for self-aggrandizement, for self-fulfillment, for self-satisfaction. Father, by your Spirit, guide us into truth, empower us to live in the truth, to feed on it daily, to be kept from the destruction and the death that are brought through false teaching. May we glorify you and not bring reproach on the name of Christ. We pray in his name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-10 09:57:38 / 2022-11-10 10:06:24 / 9

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