October 25, 2015
Trusting in the Lord
2 Peter 2:1-10
(Advance Slide #1)
It is easy to get lost.
- You think that you more or less know the right way to go.
(Advance Slide #2)
- Maybe you have been there before, and if only you could see certain landmarks you’d find the way.
- But no, it’s not that easy...somewhere a wrong turn was taken.
- So what happens?
- You find yourself wandering the wrong trail or going up and down unfamiliar streets in different town.
No harm was done, except to our pride.
- The lesson is obvious...don’t just assume.
- I’m a cheerful sort of person and don’t like to think about possible problems so the way will be clear and simple.
- It very often won’t be.
(Advance Slide #3)
This applies especially in that long, twisting, complicated journey called Christian discipleship.
We would like, of course, a nice straight path, a smooth and easy road.
(Advance Slide #4)
- This would allow us to follow Jesus cheerfully and without the worry that we might at any minute take a wrong turning.
- But Jesus warned us things are not like that.
- Think about it, even among His followers there was one He called Satan, and one who did the work of Satan.
(Advance Slide #5)
1 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 bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 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. 2 Peter 2: 1-3
Peter, remembering perhaps how easily he himself had been led astray.
(Advance Slide #6)
- In these verses unleashes a stern warning against false teachers and prophets.
- Oh how he wishes it wasn’t so.
The same early Christians who tell us to be kind and gentle also tell us to be on our guard against being deceived.
(Advance Slide #7)
- Jesus himself told us to be not only innocent as doves but also wise as serpents.
- It’s a difficult combination.
- We won’t get very far in the right direction unless we work hard on both sides of our character.
- Wouldn’t it be so easy to assume that people who claim to be speaking the truth did!
- Wouldn’t it be so easy if Christians actually taught the things that pertained to the Christian faith!
Let’s spend a few moments seeing how it is that Peter said that we can identify these false teachers.
- We will also be able to see how easily we can be lead astray!
(Advance Slide #8)
Hearing the False
There are false prophets and false teachers.
- The problem is that they don’t wear a label round their necks giving the game away.
- The devastating thing about such prophets and teachers is that they sound all too plausible.
- When you listen to them, your first impression is, ‘Yes this is good; I like the sound of it.’
Sometimes, of course, that is the sign that the teaching is genuine and true.
- But sometimes this is a sign that all is not well.
- But there is also such a thing as deliberately shutting your eyes to things, assuming or pretending that something is all right when in fact it’s all wrong.
(Advance Slide #9)
The Danger Signs
Peter is putting up a sign which says, ‘Danger this way!’
- Right off the top he is offering danger-signs.
- False teaching will regularly ‘deny the Master’, saying that Jesus is only one among many teachers, or that perhaps his death didn’t really ‘pay the price’.
- False teaching will encourage ‘disgusting practices’ - not a lot of specifics.
- Then he warns that ‘the way of truth will be blasphemed’ -
- Finally, they may use their fake prophecies as a way of boosting income.
- Apparently, there are always plenty of people who want to be told that proper full-blooded Christian faith and life is a mistake and that there’s an easier way.
(Advance Slide #10)
Example from the Past
Before he goes into any more detail, Peter sends his readers back to stories they might be more familiar with than we are.
- From the early chapters of Genesis
- The first example refers back to the famous story of the wicked angels in Genesis 6.
- God has kept them guarded until the day of judgment.
- Judgment was swifter in the second case, that of the world at the time of Noah.
- The third case is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rescue of Lot.
The lesson seems simple:
- When teachers emerge who remove the normal restraint that Christian faith, like Judaism, had imposed on human desires, we should beware.
- It would be a bold person who claimed that no such problems existed in today’s church.
- It is easy to get on the wrong road—easier than you might think.
Peter isn’t simply highlighting the dangers of false teaching and behaviour, but the fact that God will bring judgment upon such things.
- There is also encouragement.
- He is stressing that God will rescue his people out of the mess.
- Judgment and mercy: those are the solid promises upon which you can rely.
The underlying point, though, is the positive one, and Peter states it clearly in verse 9.
(Advance Slide #11)
You are not left to your own devices.
- Yes, you will be tested, and yes, wicked and unscrupulous people will appear to flourish.
- But God is not mocked.
- He knows how to rescue his people from the test.
- And he knows how to keep the wicked ready for the day of judgment.
(Advance Slide #12)
God’s judgment and mercy are the twin characteristics which correspond to the command that we should be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
- Life would be very pleasant if it was all mercy and innocence.
- But it isn’t...it’s easy to get lost.