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“False Teachers among You” (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2023 3:00 am

“False Teachers among You” (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 9, 2023 3:00 am

Political correctness wasn’t Peter's concern when he warned the early church about the danger of false teachers. Do you have the courage to be a biblical Christian in today’s world? Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg examines Peter’s warning.



The Apostle Peter clearly was not concerned about being politically correct when he warned the early church about the danger of false teachers. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg examines Peter's warning and asks the question, do you have the courage to be a biblical Christian in today's world? Peter, as he says in chapter 2 verse 1, about false teachers who are introducing destructive heresies. And this false teaching and destructive heresy obviously was prevalent in the immediate context to which Peter wrote historically.

But in the wonderful way in which the Bible speaks to every passing generation, we discover, albeit with sadness, that the kind of nonsense that was pervasive at the time of the writing of this letter is something that is known to us even today. And what he seems to be addressing is a mixture of skepticism and immorality. And they were skeptical about the notion of the return of Jesus. They were skeptical about the notion of the judgment of God.

And when that begins to creep into the mindset of men and women, then moral laxity and immorality will almost inevitably follow. And Peter is addressing that. Our last study closed with the picture of judgment and its inevitability, the essential nature of righteousness, and also of the keeping power of God as we look to the future. We tried to finish last time on that note, God rescuing, verse 9, godly men from trials and holding the unrighteous for the day of judgment while continuing their punishment, the reminder that God is sovereign and in control of all of these things. And as he addresses there in verse 9 this notion of the unrighteous being held in order that their judgment may be executed upon them, he then goes on in verse 10—and this is where we pick it up—to say, this is actually especially true of these individuals who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and who despise authority. Now, all of the details of what Peter has in mind cannot be immediately known to us, because he is writing to express circumstances which would be within the precinct of the thinking of the people who received his letter and were obviously known to him. But while we may not know the specific details of the issues he addresses, the general emphasis that he brings and the message that he conveys is as clear as a bell. And if you notice his terminology as he describes these individuals in verse 12, brute beasts—he describes them in verse 13 as blots and blemishes, a cursed brood of individuals at the end of verse 14—you find yourself reading and saying, Peter, I wonder if you might… Don't soft-pedal this, Peter.

Tell us exactly how you're feeling about these folks. It is tremendously powerful, isn't it? Some commentators said that what we have here is Peter's violently and colorfully expressed tirade. Violently and colorfully expressed tirade.

Now, just in case we never get to the end of this, let me import the end to the beginning so to give a broader context. When you read this for a moment, and when we go through this study, you'll find yourself, as I have found myself, recoiling at moments from what's going on. Does he have to be so graphic? Does he have to be so forceful? Does he have to be so condemnatory in his judgment? After all, but if you think in parental terms and imagine individuals moving amongst your children—think of your daughters in their tenderness, think of your sons in their growing years—if you imagine people moving amongst your children, drawing them away, teaching them insidious lies, introducing them to filthy practices, there is not a parent among us who does not understand the rightful emotion of arising to defend their children and to dispense with these characters immediately and forcefully. Now, this, you see, is the responsibility of the shepherd of the souls. And Peter is the shepherd of this little group of sheep. And all of these wolves are moving amongst his sheep, and so he is dealing with them in this very striking fashion.

Now, I want to move as quickly through it as I can without trying to skip anything, but you will notice that the slander of these individuals knows no limits at all. That he says in verse 12 that their blasphemy is, frankly, unconstrained. They blaspheme in matters they do not understand. In other words, they are so far out there when it comes to denying God that they are beyond the realm of their own capacity to fathom what they're saying. Michael Green says they are dominated by lust, their passions are given free rein, with the result that they behave like animals while the mental and spiritual sides of their humanity suffer atrophy.

It's a graphic picture, isn't it? They behave like animals, but their brains and their spirits are atrophied. They don't exercise the angelic restraint to which he refers there in verse 11. They choose instead to be creatures of instinct. They neglect rational thought.

They proceed purely on the basis of sexual and sensual indulgence. And verse 13, in the end, like beasts, they're going to be put down. Now, this kind of individual—and remember what we're describing here—are men living in the first century in the company of their wives, with their brother-in-law coming over for tea, with their parents concerned about their well-being and their coming and going, individuals with real souls who have slowly but surely turned their backs on all that represents truth and loveliness and goodness, and they find themselves now in the most dreadful of predicaments. William Berkeley says, for a while, such an individual may enjoy what he calls pleasure, but in the end, he ruins his health, wrecks his constitution, destroys his mind and character, and begins his experience of hell while he is still on the earth. Verse 13, they will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done, or they shall in their destruction be destroyed.

As they play the slot machines of life, they anticipate that they can beat the odds, but in the end, they're going to be robbed and not paid. Now, let me just say a word in passing. Let's take our first pause and say, whoa! The mindset in which all of us move from day to day is so coerced by the worldview of our contemporary culture that we have now come to the conclusion that no one is justified in speaking like this about anyone. Nobody is allowed to say such things. And anyone who would pronounce such judgment on any group of people or on any circumstances must themselves, somehow or another, be disengaged from their senses, or at least they are disengaged from contemporary thought forms and mores.

And this, I think, is one of the great challenges that we're now going to face in the twenty-first century. If we're going to hold true for what the Bible says, if we're going to stand for righteousness and for truth, then we are increasingly going to be on the receiving end of that kind of response. You people are bigoted. You people are this.

You people are that. You know, do you want people to like you in the immediacy and essentially despise you in eternity? Or would you rather have them despise you now for your straightforwardness and rejoice with you in eternity?

In other words, do you have the courage to be a biblical Christian? I don't find this easy. It would be much easier to do talks on seven ways to improve your finances and how to have a happy marriage and getting on with your teenage kids and so on, and I think we'd fill the congregation.

I honestly do. I think if I announce a series on seven tips for rearing teenagers that don't embarrass you in public, we can add another four or five hundred with great ease. But just to teach the Bible, the people say, No, we don't really need any more of that theological stuff.

What we need is this. Well, we daren't lose sight of the justice of God, and we need the power of God to speak with conviction in relationship to these matters. Surely that is the only way that Peter was able to do what he did. Look at how he heaps up these phrases. These individuals are doing these things not in caverns, not in caves. They're doing them in broad daylight. They are, if you like, shameless. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. Totally shameless. The loss of shame in contemporary culture is undeniable.

I mean, it is impossible just to flick the buttons on the screen and not be confronted by the fact that individuals do these things in broad daylight. Their blunts and their blemishes is in direct contrast to what he's going to refer to in chapter 3, in verses 12 and 13, where he says, In light of the fact that Jesus is coming back again, you should live holy and godly lives, and you shouldn't be marred by blunts and blemishes. You should be found without spot and blameless on the day of his return. In verse 14, they are insatiable in their pursuit of unstable prospects for their dirty deeds.

That's what verse 14 is saying. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning, and they're always on the lookout for those who are susceptible to their silly stuff. Well, the curse of God is on them. How in the world has all this come about? What happened? Did something get dropped on their heads?

Did it run into a wall or something? People say, Well, these people are not normal. They're not sensible that do these things. No, they're very normal, and they're very sensible. They're very bad. They're wicked.

What's happened? Verse 15. They have left the straight way. It makes you think of Pilgrim's Progress, doesn't it? They were going along for so long, staying on the straight and narrow, moving towards the shining light, moving towards the wicked gate, and then all of a sudden one goes off and says, I don't think we need to go that way. I don't think you need to be so straight-laced. I don't see, Pilgrim, why you are so strong in your convictions about this.

After all, God is much bigger than your tiny views. And off they go. And the Bible says there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death. And you can get off the path in a moment of inattentiveness, it seems. And unless you're quickly alerted to your condition, your being off the path may become a fixed condition. The first time that Sue and I drove to Augusta, Georgia, we were having—it was a beautiful evening, and we were having a very nice time in the car, just the two of us.

It goes without saying, actually, but I don't mean without friends, I mean without children. And we had maps, and we had a clear idea of what we were doing. And somewhere along the line, in that evening, as the sun began to set, I said, I said, The sun is not setting this evening where it's supposed to set.

As soon as I said that, I realized, that's probably not true. Well, I won't bore you with the details, but there is a point on the journey where seventy-seven and eighty-one part from each other. And I had stayed on seventy-seven, I guess, rather than going on eighty-one or vice versa.

I don't even remember. Now I'm dangerous. But it was so pleasant.

The conversation was so nice. I didn't say, You know, I think I'll go wrong this evening. I went wrong. And by the time I discovered that I was wrong, I was fifty-eight and a half miles wrong.

No. Fifty-nine and a half miles wrong. It's two times fifty-nine, a hundred and… Two times fifty-nine is a hundred and nineteen. Yeah, that's right. Fifty-nine, fifty-nine and a half miles wrong. I only know that because when I finally clocked from where I was back and I doubled it, it came out at a hundred and nineteen. And so I told myself, Idiot, I'll never do that again.

Do you know I did it a second time, at the exact same place, with a lapse of two years? The thing that should absolutely stand us up on our heels about studying 2 Peter is this. 2 Peter is not about them.

2 Peter is about me. You see, just go to the very end of the book and look. What is he saying at the end of chapter 3? Therefore, he says, Dear friends, my friends, you know this stuff, but listen, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.

The promises of the Bible are real promises, but the warnings of the Bible are real warnings. They left the straight way. They may have got up in the morning and said, Well, that's fine, we're ditching this. But the chances are they didn't.

They simply slipped off. They should have taken 81, and they stayed on 77, theologically, morally, spiritually. And somebody said, You know, there's a Bible study going on, and there's a fellow got a thing going about Balaam, the son of Beor. It's really good. I mean, it's fairly ordinary, and I don't think it's deviant anyway. It's sort of good stuff.

It's got a little Balaam twist to it. Well, the person says, Well, you know, I'm getting rather bored with the kind of stuff we're getting. It's the same stuff all the time. It's continually reminding us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why don't we go off of it? What's one Bible study going to do to you? Somebody said, You know, it's not really that big of a deal.

It's not the kind of thing that'll bring you down. And so, who are these people? Well, he describes them in the closing paragraph.

Verse 17. What are their characteristics? Well, first of all, they're empty. They come and go. They don't have any settled principles or convictions.

Springs without water mistriven by a storm. Dick Lucas, in a wonderfully characteristic sentence or two, says, You have only to visit a secondhand theological bookshop with its piles of unsaleable rubbish, once the latest thing in theological audacity, to see the force of this. Their clouds of obscure, unhelpful nonsense that is represented in their teaching simply cast unhelpful shadows. But the shadows they cast is as nothing compared to the darkness which awaits them. They mouth empty words which are also boastful words. They're big.

They sound ponderous. The word in Greek is huperonka. Their words are huperonka. It's a great word, isn't it?

You may want to write that down and use it, at least in your Anglicized version. Huperonka. Sounds like tonka, doesn't it? At least, you know, that's the way my mind works.

That's how brilliant I am. Other people say, This is an amazing Greek word, and I say, This is a Greek word, and it sounds like tonka truck. But tonka trucks are big trucks, as far as I know.

Most of them. I remember Cameron wanted a tonka truck when he was small, and it was enormous. Well, it's the same thing.

It's huperonka tonka. They're just the words appear to be tremendous. They have a presence to them, but they're absolute rubbish.

They mouth boastful, empty words. They appeal to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, and they're particularly strong with people who are just trying to extricate themselves from the realm of paganism. Now, again, we don't know the details, but the chances are that they were teaching some form of gnosticism. Gnosticism essentially separated the soul from the body, said that God was really interested in the soul. Once you had your soul dealt with, you could do what you liked with your body, because your body didn't really matter, in direct contrast to what the Bible says. The Bible says that we are a unity, and what we do with our bodies affects our personalities. So don't ever have anybody tell you that you can do this with your body.

It doesn't matter, because after all, your soul is secure with God. And often what happens with these groups, and it happens still today, is that they offer to individuals knowledge. They have a leadership structure where individuals have the knowledge. You have to go in the room to meet the leader if you want to get the next stage of knowledge.

And if you make it through that stage, you could go in another room and meet another leader who will give you another little bit of knowledge. And when you interweave that with sexual promiscuity, then you have branched Davidian. Do you remember that? What was he saying? Sleep with me, and you will find the ultimate spiritual experience. I'm a holy person. I have the knowledge of God. You can tune into God through me. This is how it happens. And he seduced unstable women who were interested in all of this kind of rubbish.

And I only bring up Branched Davidian, because it was his name that came to mind. And what they were doing in verse 19 is that they were promising freedom. You see, this is the thing. You have to be very, very careful. It's not these individuals who are saying, If you come to our study, you're going to get involved in deep darkness. You will become a blot and a blemish. You will be destroyed. And no, no, they say, If you come and join us, you can get away from that Parkside nonsense.

You know, it's people who say what they're saying about the Bible and Martin Luther and all of that jazz. Get away from that. We can give you freedom over here. And he says, Well, they promised freedom, but they're slaves of depravity. And then it sounds as though Peter had been listening to Jesus, doesn't it? For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. You remember when Jesus says to the Pharisees, Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. And Peter must have made a note of that in the back of his mind.

He said, I'll use that someday, and there he puts it in in his second letter. A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. Like drug dealers who are held themselves in the grip of addiction, they seek to sell others the wonderfully freeing experience of getting high, which, of course, they know is the most dreadful bondage.

Says Seneca, To be enslaved to oneself is the heaviest of all servitudes. It should be our regular posture as followers of Christ to be on guard. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with a compelling message called False Teachers Among You.

We'll hear more tomorrow. False teachers can be both subtle and seductive. As Alistair pointed out, we can get off the path of righteousness in even the briefest of moments. It's important that we understand and apply God's Word so we can discern truth from lies and resist temptation to sin. That's why we teach the Bible every day here on Truth for Life. Our mission is to help you understand what God's Word says and to apply it to your life every day.

That's also why we make it our practice at Truth for Life to offer as many free or low-cost resources as possible. We want to provide clear Bible teaching to anyone who wants to learn. Our prayer is that God's Spirit will work through his Word so that unbelievers will become committed followers of Jesus, believers will grow in their faith, and local churches will be strengthened and built up. Every time you pray for the ministry or donate, that's the mission you're supporting. And you should know that your prayers and gifts help bring the message of the Gospel through Truth for Life to listeners all around the globe.

So thank you. When you give a donation today, we'd like to show our appreciation by offering you a book called Habits of Grace, Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. Many of us kick off a new year with a new exercise program.

We want to get back in shape. But what do we do when we become spiritually flabby? Well, that's what the book Habits of Grace is all about. As you read this book, you'll learn daily spiritual workouts that will help you strengthen your faith and grow in grace. This book keeps the approach to spiritual disciplines simple, focusing on three components. Hearing God's voice through his Word, having his ear through prayer, and belonging to his body through fellowship. Request your copy of Habits of Grace today when you give a donation to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life.

You can give online at slash donate. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. When false teachers try to entice you with the promise of freedom, be careful. Don't believe them. Listen tomorrow to find out why. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-09 05:13:20 / 2023-01-09 05:22:09 / 9

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