Tuesday, August 18, 2009

II Peter 2:10 False Teachers-Depraved Character On Display

Sometimes, the phrase “what you see is what you get” doesn’t hold true. Something can be ugly on the outside but beautiful on the inside. My alto saxophone is about 60 years old and looks like junk. However, it plays really sweetly when it’s in good adjustment. In the case of false teachers though, more often than not if you’re paying attention you can see them for what they really are. In fact, Peter gives in this verse some practical clues to look for in the lives of these people in order to recognize them.

First of all, observe with me that, as Peter says in the previous verse, God will punish the ungodly. However, His punishment on the false teachers being described will be particularly harsh it seems. Peter begins this verse saying that God will punish these teachers “especially”. This recalls the words of Jesus when He said that sin would come into the world but pronounced woe upon the person through whom it comes. In fact, His harshest words were directed squarely at the Pharisees who were supposed to be the teachers in Israel but did not teach the truth of God. Instead, they taught their own brand of do-it-yourself religion that couldn’t save anyone. Those who lead others astray will certainly be subject to particularly severe judgment of a righteous, holy, and omnipotent God.

Peter goes on to describe the actions of these false teachers. He says they “indulge the flesh”. In Greek, you could translate this to mean they “walk after” the flesh. These men purport to be leaders and teachers in the church. They call for people to follow them. In fact, they are not leaders at all but they follow after “the flesh”. Their passions guide them. Their unredeemed “flesh” with all its sinful desires is their leader. They act out in a regular, persistent manner of living the things that their flesh leads them to do. As Paul says in Galatians, the flesh and the Spirit have desires that are diametrically opposed and to serve one is to not serve the other. As Christ says in Matthew, you can’t serve two masters.

Peter further clarifies this picture of their sinfulness by describing their flesh as having “corrupt desires”. Instead of being controlled by the word of God or the Holy Spirit, these people follow passionate cravings (“desires”-epithumia 1939) to for things that are sinful. Therefore, these desires are tainted or stained (“corrupt”-miasmos 3394). Rather than having their garments washed white in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb, these people have their very actions and character stained with sinful lusts.

These false teachers lead others astray but are themselves led by their own sinful desires. As we examine their lifestyle and actions, we should compare how they live with what scripture clearly teaches and ask—“Are these people following God as revealed in the Bible or are they following sinful passions?” Praise God for giving His word to be a measuring stick so we can discern truth from lies.

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