Book of 2 Peter Chapter 2 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Apostle Peter touches on a difficult subject—"false teachers" among the people of God. As Peter expressed it in Verse 1—"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." It's not a surprise. There were false prophets in Israel and it's a sad truth in our midst today. Jesus touched on it in places like the parable of Matthew 13:24-30—"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat..." God changes abject sinners into the "good seed in His field," but there is also an "enemy" producing bad weeds among the good wheat like a counterfeiter... and worse than making fake money... human beings are in danger of a Christless eternity.
False teachers often involve themselves and their people in "sensuality" of one sort of another, as seen in Verse 2: "Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned." You have to wonder—Why don't more people trust in the Lord Jesus Christ? It's because of the people who purport to be His. False people and corrupt religions often lack God's love, presenting "sensuality" instead of that which is true, misleading many and discouraging others. Jesus prayed that we "all may be one" (in love) as the Father and Son are one, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17: 21). God is not the problem...people are...often preferring money to the things of God, as in Verse 3: "in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." It's dangerous to present base motives as though they are from God. If your interest is "sensuality" and "greed," you are urged to repent—before it's too late.
Here's what can happen, as seen in Verses 4-6—"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter..." If He judged angels and other ancient sinners, He will judge ALL who sin, especially including those who purport to be His but are not. God is full of love, and He is also holy, set apart from the sins of this world. His love is righteous and pure and so is His capacity for judgment. He has destroyed nations and at one point the world, except for Noah and his family. He is the One who sets the standard for human behavior, and it was He who utterly destroyed the city-states of Sodom and Gomorrah for their grossly sinful thoughts and actions.
Viewing Abraham's nephew "Lot" as seen in the Book of Genesis, leaves us wondering: Did he know the Lord? Did he have faith in God? But God the Holy Spirit sees everything, including his heart and ours also. Peter, in the power of the Holy Spirit, recognized Lot as "righteous" in Verse 7, a condition only attained through faith in the Lord. Here are Verses 7-8: "If He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)." Lot deliberately chose to live in the area of Sodom, a bad choice, made because of the (then) rich grazing lands in the area. Gradually the culture was changed to allow behavior that increasingly tormented his soul. You can see it in Scripture—those who ignore God, lapse into idolatry. God removes His protection, and the people fall into gross activities that lead to destruction (Romans 1:18 & forward).
You can view the report of Lot's escape from the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19, including his own sordid response to what happened. He had been corrupted by his association with that place, but he still had faith, and, as in Verse 9, "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment." Lot was rescued, but the rest of the populace in Sodom and Gomorrah were so utterly destroyed that the remains of those places can't be precisely determined to this day. As seen in Verse 10, God will "especially (judge) those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties." Do you know that you are never alone. God is with you at all times and you are being closely watched by angelic beings, as in Verse 11—"angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord." It is the Lord, not them who will judge you.
It's disturbing to watch television and read reports about about today's world. Our present society perfectly fits Verses 12-14, written as a warning, 2000 years ago: "These, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children." That's our world right now, and it's frightening to become aware that God is going to judge those who behave in such a manner. Nations will fall and the end will come for those who are like "unreasoning animals...accursed children."
And note that God is especially troubled by those who have known something of the truth presented to the world in the Person of Jesus Christ, and then have rejected all the good He has done. They are compared in Verse 15, to "Balaam, the son of Beor," seen in places like Chapters 22-25 of Numbers. Balaam was asked to curse the people of Israel. He initially refused because God told him not to do it, but he wanted to please a local king and he eventually acted against God's people. He is the example of how not to be in Verses 15-16 of this chapter: "forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, 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 mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet." God spoke to the man through his donkey (Numbers 22:28), just as he will use our own situations to warn us about a course of behavior that will lead to trouble. God will protect us, if only we will listen.
Those who will not listen are described in Verse 17 as "springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved." Is sensuality, greed and vanity the story of your life? Watch out—God is not pleased and you don't want an eternity of "black darkness" to be reserved for you.
The "sensuality" named in Verse 18 is a favorite topic of music, movies, and simple lust of all kinds, which has been the choice that has led to the destruction of millions through the centuries. Verses 18-19 read this way: "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." Satisfying "fleshly desires" may provide a moment of escape from the cares of this world, but who wants to be "enslaved" by "corruption?" You might think you do, but that path leads to regret and remorse...unhappiness and destruction will surely follow.
The only freedom offered to us is found in Jesus Christ, but to dabble with religion, to merely discover who He is, isn't enough. Peter informs us in Verses 20-22, "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 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. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'A dog returns to its own vomit,' and, 'A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.'"
You can tell who they are by what they do. Billy Graham referred to the people who have come forward at his crusades as "seekers." An impulsive move toward the Lord can be good, but honest faith in the Lord becomes a lifetime of devotion to Him. We need to utterly place our trust in Him in order to receive His good intentions for us. And yes we can stumble along the way, but if He is in us, He will restore us to the road called "salvation." Don't follow a false teacher or be one...instead, TRUST in the Lord.
Lord, we have stumbled in our thoughts, words and actions. We confess our sins and place our trust, our faith in You. Help us, Lord...we cannot do it alone. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.