Tuesday, May 19, 2009

II Peter 2:3a Examining False Teachers

When professional athletes prepare for games, they study. They look at their opponents to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. In doing so, they can determine how best to get ready so they have the best chance of victory. As Christians, we have a main adversary who roams about looking for a chance to devour us. Unfortunately, however, he has people who pretend to be Christians who are trying to help him out. As true believers in Jesus Christ, we must constantly be on guard for false teachers because of all the harm they can cause in the church.

First of all, Peter gives us insight in this verse as to why these false teachers do what they do. He says they are motivated by “greed”. This is exactly the opposite of the attitude of a child of God or rather the attitude we should have. To be greedy is to be in a state where you are never satisfied with anything. You’re like a black hole. You can’t get enough to satiate your hunger for “stuff”. The implication, then, is that you deserve more than what you’ve got—you have a sinful sense of entitlement. Generally, people who are greedy and who are in the ministry believe that the church owes them something and that something is usually a big, fat paycheck. They usually point to the verse in I Timothy about “double honor” as justification for their high compensation without taking into account the context of that scripture or the meaning of the word “honor” as it is used in the Bible. These people are motivated to fleece the sheep by a selfish, self-serving, greed that poisons their soul.

Secondly, observe with me how these false teachers go about their fleecing. Peter says their greed will motivate them to “exploit you”. To these men, ministry is a business. It is a capitalistic enterprise from which they, in their minds, should be able to create wealth for themselves and their families. To do that, they have to sell their congregants on their product. In fact, the word translated exploit (emporeuomai-1710) mean to travel about selling merchandise. You find these men telling people what they want to hear. Of course, word of faith preachers like Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland do just that sort of thing with their unbiblical prosperity theology. They use their false doctrine to tickle peoples ears or paint false hopes for them. In any case, these false teachers use doctrine as a raw material to build their economic kingdom.

Finally, Peter tells us what these teachers use to sell their goods. They use “false words” to exploit the sheep. The Greek word “plastos” (4112) is translated “false” in this verse and is the root of the word “plastic”. The word was used to describe the molding or fashioning of any soft substance (i.e. wax). In other words, they are using “plastic words” to deceive people. They distort the truth in order to deceive people and exploit them. Their doctrine, however, is flimsy and will not stand the test of time in contrast with true biblical doctrine from God’s word. They manufacture their own version of the truth and use it as a commodity, selling it to whoever will buy their poisonous garbage.

As Christians, we need to be discerning about those we allow to have influence in our lives. We should be constantly mindful that it only takes a little bit of false doctrine to ruin a whole bunch of true doctrine.

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