The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 focuses on false teachers and those that follow after them. There is so much to learn here!
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. ~ 2 Peter 2:1-2
The first lesson we see is that there were false teachers and fake prophets in Peter’s day and he tells us there will be false teachers in our day. In other words, they’ve been around since the beginning of time and will be here until the end of time.
Lesson number two is in verse two, that many people will follow them. These two lessons in the first and second verses sum up the entire chapter. The remaining 20 verses describe false teachers so we can know what they look like, and we also get a description of what happens in the lives of their followers.
So what do false teachers look like?
Verses 3 and 14 tell us that they will trick you with covetousness and that they are trained in covetousness. What does that mean? Well, remember that Satan is incredibly skilled at fooling us into covetousness – which can mean jealousy and greed. He tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden by showing her how yummy the fruit looked and then telling her that God lied by saying she would die (Genesis 3).
By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
~ 2 Peter 2:3
That’s exactly what Satan did to Eve! “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words” – with greed and jealousy these false teachers will lie to you and deceive you.
False teachers of our day use the same kind of trickery that false teachers have always used. They fool us into thinking about ourselves, our wants, desires, and our own will rather than about the Lord and His will.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
~ Genesis 3:1-6
How did Satan use covetousness? “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Your eyes will be opened
You will be like God
You will know good and evil
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
~ 2 Peter 2:4
“God judged these wicked angels, setting them in chains of darkness. Apparently some fallen angels are in bondage while others are unbound and active in the earth as demons.”
“Those who insist on freedom to do whatever they want are like these angels: so ‘free’ that they are bound with chains of darkness (a powerful poetic description of their miserable bondage). True freedom comes from obedience.”
“It is clear that at some time, angelic beings had a period of choosing; of testing when their future destiny would be determined. “How long that probation was to last to them, and what was the particular test of their fidelity, we know not; nor indeed do we know what was their sin; nor when nor how they fell. Jude says they kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation; which seems to indicate that they got discontented with their lot, and aspired to higher honours, or perhaps to celestial domination.” ~ Clarke
and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;
and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;
and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked
(for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—
then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
~ 2 Peter 2:5-9
God punishes the wrongdoers as He did to the angels, the ancient world, and Sodom and Gomorrah. God also truly saves the righteous as He did with Noah and his family and with Lot and his family.
Peter also assures us that “Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment”. We have many examples all through the Bible where God delivers the godly out of temptations.
Joseph was tempted with Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. God delivered Joseph from that. Daniel was tempted to eat the king’s food in Daniel 1 and to worship the king in Daniel 6. God rescued Daniel from both circumstances.
But God also assures us all throughout His word that in the day of judgment, the unrighteous will suffer eternal punishment. So what makes a person “righteous” or “unrighteous”? It’s a choice left up to each of us. The solution is found in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. Jesus took the punishment on our behalf. We only need to choose Christ!
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. ~ 1 Peter 2:24
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
~ Acts 16:31
In choosing Jesus as our Savior and accepting His sacrifice for us, we are made righteous, clean, and acceptable to God.
and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries,
whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption,
and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you,
having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. ~ 2 Peter 2:10-14
Peter goes on to describe the false teachers us lustful, they despise authority, they are presumptuous, self-willed, they speak evil of those in authority. He calls them “spots and blemishes”, they have eyes for others, they have no resistance against sin, they entice and entrap others, and their hearts are bent toward jealousy and greed.
Verse 15 and 16 offer us a Biblical example of a false prophet.
They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
~ 2 Peter 2:15-16
Balaam was a prophet of God who was actually planning to curse the people God had called blessed so that he could collect a fee for himself. His heart was greedy for the money, and for that he was willing to say things against the Lord’s word.
These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. ~ 2 Peter 2:17-19
The key to avoiding the trap of false teaching is to stay in the word of God! Read your Bible. Read it every day. If you do that, you will be so much better equipped to discern the lies of a false teacher from the truth of Scripture.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
~ Psalm 119:11
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
~ Joshua 1:8
Biblical discernment only comes from reading the Bible.
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. ~ 2 Peter 2:20-21
“Peter described a picture that certainly has the appearance of people losing their salvation.
– He speaks of those who have escaped the pollutions of the world.
– He speaks of those who did this through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
– He speaks of those who had known the way of righteousness.
Christians warmly debate the issue of whether or not it is possible for a true Christian to ever lose their status as a true Christian and fall away to damnation. Perhaps the best way of understanding the issue is to say that it is certainly true that those who appear saved – those who fit the description of Peter here – can end up in a place where it would have been better for them not have known the way of righteousness.
To divide along the lines of this debate – which focuses on things that are unknowable to outside observation – seems to fall into the category of being obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, as in 1 Timothy 6:4”
He is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.
~ 1 Timothy 6:4
But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” ~ 2 Peter 2:22
This last verse gives us a picture of the incredible tendency that we humans to have to return to the same ways of sin over and over and over again. Obviously within this context it’s talking about those folks that know the truth and then turn away to a life full of son. But it also speaks to every single believer doesn’t it? We all do that in varying degrees. For each of us has sins that “easily entangle” us. There are sins in each of our lives that we tend to return to againa and again.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
~ Hebrews 12:1
God’s word calls us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. When a runner is running a race, they want to be as lightweight as possible. Have you ever tried to run while carrying something? It’s not easy to do! And the heavier the object is that you carry, the harder the run becomes. That’s true in our Christian walk as well.
Stay in the word of God, and throw off the entanglements of the world!