For many people, the boundaries that separate good and evil seem to get crossed without any shame. We're disappointed, for instance, when professional athletes and political heroes are exposed for hidden compromise and corruption. They seem unfazed by their decision to deceive. Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll reminds us that God is not mocked.
He misses nothing, and all of us will give an account of our behavior one day. So how do we resist the temptation to compromise our moral values? According to Chuck, the answer is found in 2 Peter chapter 2.
I want you to pause in case you happen to be one of the souls that is enticed by the world lifestyle around you. If you find yourself on occasion envying those who run against God and for a while get away with it, listen closely to what Peter says. This book tells you the truth.
And note how verse 13 says it, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in deception. They carouse with you.
You didn't misread that. As they carouse with you. Please observe in verse 14 something that is raw indeed. Individuals like we are describing in this section on depravity have eyes full of adultery. They entice unstable souls. Do they ever, they prey on the young woman who is naive. Notice the end of 14, they have a heart trained in greed.
They are masters at getting money out of your pocket. If he is describing false prophets and false teachers, it isn't stretching the context to say this could refer to some who are in the profession of raising funds. Don't jump to the wrong conclusion. I am not saying all fundraisers are illustrated in 2 Peter 2.14. That's saying too much.
I'm saying however some are. They know how to jerk at the heart strings. They know how to appeal to your emotions in a letter. They know how to make it sound like they are on their last dollar as they present their program. And they through very slick presentations give you the impression that they are the next thing to bankruptcy.
They are experts in greed. He is warning us about them. Interestingly as he describes the scene in 12, 13, and 14, he is describing people who live in the fast lane as we say it today. When in fact, though rapidly moving through life, he calls them in the end of the verse the cursed children.
Why? 15 to 17 because they have forsaken the truth and therefore they are going astray. Now why would a reasoning individual, fairly good intelligence who may have graduated from a university or have a fine position somewhere, why would he give himself to some kind of lifestyle like that? The answer is immediately found at the beginning of verse 15. Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. The word forsaking means to abandon. So let's use it. I like it better.
I think it's more vivid. Abandoning the straight way, they go the wrong way. This is a word to those of you who minister to youth and those of you who minister to collegians. All of us in growing up years pass through times or passages kind of like the narrow part of an hourglass. And those passages occur in junior high years, in senior high years, in those college years. When the heart is moldable, winnable, soft and making decisions to move in one direction or another.
These are forks in the road. Let me challenge you who minister to those of those ages. Stay at it. Help them know the right path. Help them understand the consequences of abandoning the right way.
Model it best of all. Then teach it. Bring people before them who are models of the right way. Those impressionable years are when those decisions are made and they step into adulthood having formed wrong habits. How many of them become alcoholics while still in the university, while still in high school? Stepping into the adult life, they carry with them the baggage of alcoholism or drugs. They have hardly a chance to get on their feet because they weren't one in their early years.
Let's win them then. Let's get their attention then. Abandoning the truth or the right way, they have gone astray. And then Peter uses an illustration that many don't know about. He says, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor who loved the wages of unrighteousness, but he received a rebuke for his own transgression for a dumb donkey speaking with the voice of a man restrained the madness of the prophet. Now, what's that all about?
Well, I'm glad you asked. That is a story that is set forth in Numbers 22, 23, 24. It's the story of a prophet who was a hireling prophet named Balaam. He looked like the real thing, but he commercialized his gifts. He loved money and so he led Israel into sin. He could get messages from God because he was a prophet. But once he got messages from God, he led people astray, away from God, always to receive more and more.
You see the way he describes him? Who loved the wages of unrighteousness. He was eloquent, but he prostituted his persuasive gifts.
He's not the last one to do that, is he? He took what God gave him and he prostituted it for his own benefit. He made money out of the ministry for his own enjoyment and pleasure, all the while trying to ride the fence.
Rather comical that God rebuked him through a donkey, or as Peter calls him, a dumb donkey. A bank officer approached a junior clerk and whispered to him one warm afternoon, if I gave you $25,000, would you help me, well let's call it this, would you help me alter the books? The clerk heard his boss come at him with that temptation. He said under his breath, well yeah, I suppose I could do that, $25,000. His boss said, would you do it for $100?
Rather insulted, he said absolutely not. We think I am a common thief, he said we've already determined that, now we're talking price. Every person who is a Balaam has a price, everyone. It's just a matter of coming to the price. Lacking integrity, he was willing to do it for a price. All who were covetous have a price. Peter describes this person as mad.
Look at verse 16. Speaking with the voice of a man, this dumb donkey restrained the madness, the madness of the prophet. Which goes back to one of my personal theories that that kind of lifestyle is really a temporary insanity. You abandon the right way long enough and far enough and you move into the territory of temporary insanity.
There's no limit at that point, insane reasoning. Then he uses three vivid pictures to describe the truth of their lives. Verse 17. These are springs without water, these are mists driven by storm for whom black darkness has been reserved. I told you God spoke the truth.
Listen to this. First, they look like the real thing. They are springs but they have no water. I call them spiritual mirages. From a distance it seems right, but there's a mirage, there's no water at all. They are mists driven by a storm. Normally you have clouds driven by a storm full of rain and ready to fall on the land.
But these are just little mists driven by loud torrential storms. So they sound like the real thing, but they are not. Reprobates are empty people. Third, they promise the real thing, but they have black darkness and despair as the ultimate to give you. Perhaps the most appealing part of all the message of the false teacher is the message of freedom and everybody likes that message. They promise a freedom, but in fact they and you will become enslaved.
Look at 18. 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, promising them freedom. While they themselves are slaves of corruption, for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. Please notice the allurement of false teachers is an allurement of words. I hope we will never forget this exhortation. Speaking out arrogant words of vanity. The word arrogant means great and swelling.
It's the thought of making a good impression on the unsuspecting. And you hear this rather regularly. Have you heard so and so? I mean you talk about a great teacher. You talk about somebody who can speak in public. You see that's the appeal of the religious leader.
He or she speaks really well in public, holds people in the palm of their hands, is a master at persuasion and the manipulation of an audience. If you've ever been in the scenes like that you know what I'm talking about. You find yourself ensnared.
I'm going to tell you the truth. A great deal of ministry can easily become a flesh trip. There are always enough people to follow individuals to give those leaders a flesh trip. They are verbose. They have impressive words.
They do not convey truth. They lure. They give the impression that they're providing reliable information, but it's a flesh trip. It's a flesh trip.
There's a lot of sensuality in it. Little tip, no extra charge for this one. Be suspicious of people who are too smooth. Let your antenna go up and get really sensitive when you're around a teaching that is just too slick, where there is an absence of vulnerability, where there is pride, where there is arrogance, where there is unaccountability. Be especially wary of those who frequently put down other ministers of the truth for the purpose of convincing you that they are the sole authority. Watch out for folks like that.
And those of us who teach, let's learn a lesson. We do not build ourselves or our message up by tearing down another person's message. You see, the truth is these people don't love you. They don't love you. They abuse you.
They take advantage of you. Wouldn't it be great if God had some way of signaling the fact that somebody is not on the level? Wouldn't it be great if really and truly his nose did get longer?
Wouldn't that be helpful? Look at that nose. Let's leave early. Somebody sent me an Irish prayer.
It is great. May those that love us, love us, and those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts. And if he doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping. Wouldn't that be good?
That would be helpful. He doesn't love me. Look at him limp. I know. Now I know.
But he doesn't do that. So you have to perk up your ears like a German shepherd. You have to be discerning like a Doberman. You've got to listen.
You can't be impressed with the stuff. You've got to look at your book and listen. Is that what he's saying? Is he leaving out something that's very significant?
Is he doing this because he wants to get a following or he's got something in it? There's a hook there. Pay attention. The discerning mind is a mind that will not fall for this slop. It'll spot it.
That slop, that's not good. That'll hurt me. And pay real close attention when they talk about freedom, because freedom hasn't been properly presented unless you have been warned about taking it to an extreme. Freedom that has no limits is anarchy.
It's like Charles Ryrie describes it. It's like a river that leaves the banks of discernment and truth is a river that floods. Watch out for the river of freedom that lifts above the banks of truth and floods the country. They promise freedom while all the while they are slaves of corruption. And when you get deep enough into their message, you find out, yes, indeed, that is exactly what is true.
In the words of Romans 6, they sin that grace may abound, which Paul says is anathema. These springs without water, these mists driven by a storm promise freedom, but they themselves are enslaved. For by what a man is overcome by this, he is enslaved. God tells us the truth about everything. Peter writes a truth about apostates.
Perhaps we have enough to chew on for a while. Let me wrap it up by talking about how we're to live the truth no matter what. So how do I do it?
What's the answer? Go to more meetings? Listen to more teachers? First of all, walk closely with God. Walk closely with God.
Talk openly with him. I had a very dear man ask me after morning service about what kind of prayer he should offer to God for this particular situation. He's a very sincere man and he was telling me the anguish of his heart for this brother that he knows who was in need. And what kind of prayer should I offer? He really wanted, he was under the impression it had to be a certain kind of prayer.
It doesn't. God wants your heart. If you are in anguish, tell him you are in anguish. If you are confused, tell him you're confusion. If you are uncertain, tell him you do not know even what to ask for. If you're afraid of running ahead, tell him you're afraid of running ahead.
Tell him you're waiting for him. Keep putting it in his lap. Casting your burden on the Lord and he says he will sustain you. So walk closely with God.
That's the first way to live out the truth. Fellowship with him in worship and praise. Keep it on a daily basis.
Don't wait until Sunday. Sing to him in your time with him. Spend quiet moments of worship and praise.
Keep your heart soft. Listen in the stillness of your time with him. Walk closely with God. Second, heed the counsel of his word more than any teacher. Heed the counsel of his word more than any teacher. Pay attention to his warnings. Take what he has written seriously. He's not pressed to fill up the page.
He has been careful with what he has included in his word. So let it speak for itself. Don't feel you have to have some tape on. Or you have to have some guide to direct you into an understanding of the scriptures.
Those things might help, but they're not essential. And you don't necessarily have to write something down. Though if that is your style, then let it be what God is showing you.
Not just the musings of someone else's study. Take his word seriously. Heed the counsel of his word more than any teacher.
Now third, I seldom talk about this, but I want to say it. Respect the promptings of your heart. God has given you as his child a heart, an inner being where his spirit lives. Learn to respect the restraint. If your spirit is being restrained, there's a reason. Don't just, you know, barge right on in. Hold back.
If there is a release, then give yourself more. If there is a question, then seek to find an answer. Respect the promptings of your heart. If you feel reluctance concerning a certain teacher or leader, honor that. Don't support that kind of teacher. Don't follow that kind of teacher. Don't give to that teacher's ministry. It's the spirit of God's way of tapping you in your inner heart and saying, Watch out.
Be careful here. I followed a certain kind of teaching for a period of time in my life when Cynthia and I were early in our relationship, and little by little, as we discerned the scriptures and grew in the word, and my, my, we were in that book a lot, and with a little time away in the military, I began to pick up things that made me uneasy. I'm so glad I obeyed the promptings of my spirit because I realize now how far astray that teaching was.
Now, I didn't know it. Here I was young and gullible and teachable and fairly intelligent, and I loved the Bible, and I had time, and I had a young bride that felt the same with me, and my, we could have just turned off all of our inner restraint and gone right on, but my, I'm glad we didn't. These false teachers, hmm, as I think back, I suddenly realize the many things we heard about liberty, which were just such an extreme, and when I got alone with God, and I realized it was antinomianism, things which are, which have no law at all.
They have no restraint whatsoever. That's heresy. That isn't freedom, that's slavery. Our example, and I'm through with this, our example is Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ. No human being deserves our worship, nor should have our praise. All glory and Lord and honor and praise unto him who is on the throne. That's what we will sing unto the eternities. An antiphonal voice unto him goes the praise and the glory, and all of us who have taught a little bit on this earth will stand and give praise with you to the Lamb who deserves it all.
That's truth, and that is our desire. You're listening to Insight for Living and the Bible teaching of Chuck Swindoll. Stay with us, because we'll hear Chuck's closing prayer in just a moment. As we pause for a moment, I want to remind you that Insight for Living offers a number of ways to deepen your understanding of 2 Peter. For instance, if you're accustomed to waking up in the morning and seeing what's going on in your life, and you want to know what's going on in your life, and you want to know what's going on in your life, and you want to know what's going on in your life, Chuck and his creative team have prepared online study notes for you. We call this feature Searching the Scriptures. These study notes are interactive, meaning you can type your thoughts directly into the online document, or feel free to print out the PDF and use the notes during your personal quiet times. To access these Searching the Scriptures study guides for Chuck's daily messages, go to insightworld.org slash studies.
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If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or give a donation online at insight.org. And now let's conclude our time together as Chuck Swindoll leads us in prayer. It's possible that you have never personally placed your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who is worthy of our praise. Perhaps you feel distant from the living God, the one who made you. Perhaps there are things in your own life that you look back on and you think, well, that disqualifies me from knowing him personally.
No, no, don't believe that. His grace, which is his way of giving us what we don't deserve, his grace reaches out and offers you eternal life. All you need to do is to take it. Trust Christ and what he did on the cross for you, and you will have his life given to you.
And along with that, so many other benefits. Let's pray. Lord, thank you for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We extol him as our one true God.
We lift our voice in praise to him. We thank you that you have patiently dealt with us through all of the disobedience of our lives. You have continued to give us truth when we have wanted to follow error. You have watched over us when we have run the wrong way.
You have very carefully brought us back to yourself. In this moment, at the end of this message, I thank you for doing that. And I pray that you will be honored and magnified in the lives of those who have heard these words of truth. And thank you for hearing the prayers of those who have this day turned to your Son by faith. We're grateful for you, and we give you our praise. In the name of your Son, Jesus, our Lord and our Savior. Amen. I'm Bill Meyer. How should we respond when a friend denies their faith in God? Don't miss Chuck Swindoll's answer next time on Insight for Living. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-02 14:30:00 / 2023-08-02 14:39:07 / 9