Monday, June 7, 2010

II Peter 3:3 Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt Part I

Some people want to ignore reality. I had an acquaintance in college that ran up a significant amount of credit card debt and would transfer the balance between cards in an attempt to mask how bad her debt load was. Her idea seemed to be that if she stuck her head in the sand and pretended like everything was ok, that it would be. That, friends, is not how things work of course. We can’t simply ignore the truth. Peter writes to these believers in the first two verses of chapter 3 telling them to remain grounded in the truth. He now goes on to explain way—because their will be people who will deny the truth and lead others astray.

Peter’s message in verses 3 and 4 to these believers is of upmost importance. In fact, he tells them “Knowing this first of all”. In other words, there is a reason they need to continue to study scripture. There is a purpose to their exegesis and it is not to puff themselves up with how smart they are but rather they are to be prepared. As we’ve seen in chapter two, false teachers are coming. They’re going to spread their theological filth among the church and are going to lead people astray. The life-giving truth of the gospel saves people. The message these false teachers will proclaim will damn people to hell. In order to stand against that, these people must be prepared. There’s a fight coming and they have to be ready to stand against the false doctrine.

That is why Peter tells them that in the “last days” false teachers will come. Peter doesn’t exactly identify what he means by “last days” but it’s safe to say that until we’re all home in glory at the end of the age we are living in the last days. Now, during this time, there are those that will come to teach false doctrine in the church. In order to do that, they must first deny true doctrine. Peter describes them as “mockers…with their mocking”. In the future (“will come”), these people will come making light of the word of God. Even if that had not happened in the early church (which it did--Gnosticism) we know it has happened today. While Peter gets specific about what these people mock regarding God’s word, we can certainly attest that mocking the word of God has become something of a national pastime. Turn on the T.V. and you won’t have to watch more than 30 minutes of programming before you see something that mocks the Bible—and that’s just on Cartoon Network. . The ideas that Jesus is the only way to heaven, that the Bible is inerrant, the creation happened in six 24 hour days are assumed to be nothing more than old wives tales that only weak minded simpletons believe. The saddest part is that it’s not just those outside the church, but as Peter predicted, these mockers come from inside the church.

What motivates these people to mock God’s word? Peter goes on to tell us—they are “following after their own lusts”. In contrast to Christians, who are lead by the Holy Spirit and exhibit the fruit thereof, these false teachers with their mockery of true doctrine follow their own base appetites. Their vile passions are their guides. Is it any wonder that they fall into sin—Genesis 6:5 tells us that our heart is totally wicked doesn’t it? If a person does what comes naturally I will guarantee you on the authority of God’s word that it will be sinful 99% of the time. Therefore, as these false teachers come mocking the word of God, they reject its guidance and eschew its truths to follow the god of their own bellies.

Peter wrote this about 2,000 years ago and as Charles Spurgeon noted this is “a prophecy which has been abundantly fulfilled. You need not go far to find them; they come in the form of living men, and they swarm in the form of their books. They are to be met with almost everywhere; like the locusts, they fill the air, and hide the light of the sun:” Because of their pervasiveness, it is paramount (“first of all”) that we continue to study and teach scripture as saying what it says and meaning what it means.

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