Wednesday, October 28, 2009

II Peter 2:10-11 Mr. Bigstuff, Who Do You Think You Are?

Bullies are ultimately cowards wrapped up in a blanket made of their own temper. They try to intimidate people into doing what they want and they tend to pick on people who won’t stand up to them. But make no mistake, when someone stands up to them it doesn’t take too long for their inner coward to show up. They act all “big and bad” until someone challenges them at which point they tuck their tail between their legs. In much the same way, the false teachers being described by Peter in this epistle are spiritual bullies who have no respect for those with true spiritual power.

We see Peter in verse 10 describe the attitude of these false teachers about themselves. He describes them as “daring”. Now, it is not necessarily bad or wrong for a person to be daring. In fact, that can be a heroic quality or it might lead someone to take a chance and do something like start a business or rescue a child from a burning building. The idea behind the word is that someone who is daring is bold, fearless, and doesn’t think about the consequences of their actions. Again, in some situations that might very well be a good thing. However, given the context of how Peter is describing these false teachers, this is decidedly not a good thing. Given the context, we can conclude that Peter means daring in the sense of thoughtlessness and unwillingness to be considerate of others. Their attitude, then, conveys the idea that in the end it’s all about them.

This attitude of selfishness also is evident in their priorities. These false teachers think of themselves and what they want first. They claim to be teachers of God’s word but neither God’s word nor God’s will is important to them. Rather, they are “self willed” (authades-829). Basically, they seek their own pleasure first. As one of the characters on South Park used to say “Whatever! I do what I want!!” They don’t take anyone else into account as they live their lives. Like a bull in a china shop, they go where they want and do what they please while leaving a trail of brokenness in their wake. Instead of having their priorities set on God’s will and living in a way that pleases Him, they live to please themselves and serve no God but a god of self. They behave as if they are the center of the universe and fail to have a proper perspective about themselves and their place.

For instance, these people blaspheme (“revile”) the “glorious ones” as the NET bible translates this verse. The Greek word “doxa” is not clear enough that we can be dogmatic as to who Peter was referring to in this verse. He could have meant earthly church leaders, angels (as the NASB translates it “angelic majesties”) or possibly even Christ Himself. However, it’s not really important who these false teachers are blaspheming, but rather we should note the fact that these puny, flesh and blood mortals take it upon themselves to “talk smack” about people or beings to whom they should give reverence. They overestimate themselves and underestimate the ones to whom they should give reverence. Instead of having a holy fear and respect for those who are greater than they are, these false teachers “do not tremble”. Let me tell you something, if you and I were ever to actually encounter an angelic being, we would be scared out of our wits. People in churches talk about spiritual warfare and engaging demons in battles as if they are somehow to be commended for this. I prefer to take the attitude of Martin Luther when he said “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing”. As Peter says in verse 11, even angels know their place better than these clowns.

Peter writes that angels “are greater in might and power”. Make no mistake about it, angels are supernaturally powerful. They have intrinsic power (“might”) like a weight lifter. You don’t have to see a weight lifter pick up a huge bar of weights to know his muscles are powerful. They have the potential to do miraculous, awesome deeds (“power”) that no human could ever do. Even with all their supernatural might, these angels do not go to the Lord with a “reviling judgment”. As we see in the parallel passage in Jude, an archangel would not even rebuke Satan but left that judgment to the Lord. If these angels who see the face of God and are more powerful than any human ever thought about being don’t speak up against Satan or other “doxa”, then what possible justification could these false teachers have for doing so.

There is no justification. That is Peter’s point. Instead of a humble heart that seeks to follow after God, these people have a proud heart that seeks to follow after their own lusts.

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