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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
 www.frcsr.com/fellowship/melville/
 
Title:Destruction awaits those who deny the Master who bought them
Text:2 Peter 2:1-10a (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2019-03-10
Added:2019-03-29
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 75:1,2,3

Psalm 40:5

Psalm 68:1,2

Psalm 76:4,5

Psalm 75:5,6

Read:  2 Peter 2; Jude.  

Text:  2 Peter 2:1-10a

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Brothers and sisters in Christ.

2 Peter chapter 2 has been described as “one of the most terrible and terrifying chapters in the entire Bible.”  It is difficult to read and, when we did read both this and the letter to Jude just now, perhaps it made you squirm.  False teachers are bad: we know that.  But did Peter have to go on about them in the manner in which he did?  Did he really have to describe them as being like “irrational animals” (verse 12), as “accursed children” (verse 14) and like a dog that returns to its own vomit or a sow that returns to wallowing in the mire (verse 22)?  Is that really necessary? And did we really have to hear this in church this morning?

  What Peter writes in this chapter of the Bible can hardly be called “politically correct”, and for most of us, it interferes with our sensitivities.  We live in a time when being tolerant of different beliefs is considered a virtue.  “We need to be more accepting of one another” many people tell us.  “We should not be so black-and-white, so dogmatic about the truth.”  And, “We need to live and let live.”  Now it is true that the Bible warns us not to be divisive, not to create schisms in the church, the body of Christ.  When we are one in the faith, one in the Spirit, and united in Christ, we need to preserve and maintain that unity.  But there is no unity when we are not one in Christ.  And we cannot be silent when the truth of the gospel is denied, we cannot sit idly by when people turn from loving God to loving themselves, and we cannot smile and speak about “alternative lifestyles” and the like when Bible calls these things “destructive”.

  We cannot do that do that because these things are an offence against God, these things blaspheme His holy name.  But we also dare not do that because false teaching and godless behavior will send us to hell!  False teaching and godless behavior separate us from the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ.  By what they say and what they do, 2 Peter 2:1 tells us, false teachers “even deny the Master who bought them.”  They deny the Lord, they deny the One who bought them, they deny the One who owns them.  And if you do that, there is no salvation left; if you do that, it is a one-way road to hell.  Destruction awaits those who deny the Lord who bought them.  And that’s my theme for this morning’s sermon.

Destruction awaits those who deny the Master who bought them.

  1. False teachers are among you!
  2. Judgment is coming!

1. False teachers are among you!

2 Peter 2 is such an important Word from God for us that the Lord has given us a very similar message in the letter of Jude.  We read from Jude together, along with the first half of 2 Peter 2, and when we read these two Bible passages side by side, you may have noticed that there are many similarities between these two letters.  Just as 2 Peter 2:1-3 speaks about false prophets and teachers “secretly bringing in destructive heresies” so Jude verse 4 warns that

“certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

And Jude goes on to write about the angels who fell and whom God has now

“kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” (vs6)

He also writes in verse 7 about Sodom and Gomorrah

“which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, [who] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire”

which is very similar to 2 Peter 2:6, where it says that God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to extinction,

“making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.”

Jude also writes in verse 18,19 that

“In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.”

There are also other similarities between Jude and Second Peter, similarities that are even more striking in the original Greek language in which these two letters were written.  In fact, the similarity is so clear that it is commonly accepted that either Peter used the letter of Jude when he wrote what he did or Jude used Peter’s letter.  Of those two options most conclude that Peter probably used Jude, and that does seem the most likely.  We should not get all nervous about the connection between Jude and Second Peter, however.  For Peter to use Jude’s letter for his own purposes does not contradict 2 Peter 1:21, that the Scriptures were written when “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  What this does demonstrate, however, is how important it was for this message about false teachers to go out in the days of Jude and Peter – and how important is still is today.  We detect great urgency and insistence from the Holy Spirit that we understand the danger that false teachers pose for our salvation.

  So let’s look at this more closely.

2 Peter 2 begins in verse 1 by saying,

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.”

What Peter is saying here is that false prophets and false teachers are nothing new: they have always been there, trying to trip up and lead God’s people astray.  When he wrote that “false prophets also arose among the people”, the end of chapter 1 makes it clear that the people he was referring to were the Old Testament people of God, the people of Israel.  And indeed, reading through the Old Testament, you will learn that false prophets did arise, and they did lead the people astray on a regular basis.  One example of this can be found in Jeremiah 23.   In Jeremiah 23 the LORD lamented that “the land is full of adulterers” (verse 10), and that “both prophet and priest are ungodly” (verse 11), and then it says further in verse 13-15,

                13           In the prophets of Samaria

I saw an unsavory thing:

                 they prophesied by Baal

and led my people Israel astray.

                14           But in the prophets of Jerusalem

I have seen a horrible thing:

                 they commit adultery and walk in lies;

they strengthen the hands of evildoers,

so that no one turns from his evil;

                 all of them have become like Sodom to me,

and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”

                15           Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets:

                 “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food

and give them poisoned water to drink,

                 for from the prophets of Jerusalem

ungodliness has gone out into all the land.”

And Jeremiah 23:16 goes on to say,

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.”

But in the days of Jeremiah, the people did listen to these false prophets and they rejected the word of Jeremiah the true prophet:  Jeremiah was put in prison and at one time they even threw him into a pit.  And because they turned away from the true Word of God and followed false prophets, Jerusalem was destroyed and the inhabitants of Jerusalem were sent away to die in exile.   “Make no mistake about it!”, the Bible warns us.  “To follow false prophets is dangerous.  If you do that, not only will they die but you will die with them.”

But it is not only in the Old Testament that there were false prophets.  Peter warns in 2 Peter 2:1 that just as false prophets arose among the people in Old Testament Israel, so there will also be false teachers among you today!

  And Peter is not the only one who warns about this in the New Testament.  In fact, the Lord Jesus himself said in Matthew 24:11 that

“many false prophets will rise up and lead many astray.”

And in Acts 20:29,30 the apostle Paul told the elders of the church of Ephesus,

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

Therefore watch out!  False teachers are a reality in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And if you follow them, you will be following them all the way to destruction.

But Peter does not only warn against false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1-3; he also describes them.  And there are a number of things to note about these false teachers.  The first thing to notice from verse 1 is that they will “secretly bring in destructive heresies.”  Reading verse 1 again,

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…”

They will smuggle things in.  Sometimes they will do this secretly as in, in a quiet manner, slowly changing things to suit their own agendas.  But the emphasis is not so much on doing things “in secret” but bringing something in from the outside.  It is something foreign, something false.  It doesn’t belong to the teachings of the gospel and it does not belong to those who are in Christ, living in Him and for His glory.  This can happen when people introduce doctrines or teachings that do not agree with the Bible.  It can happen when people say “I think” and when they emphasize “what is true for me” rather than what God says and what is true according to His Word.  This can also happen when the church fails to be separate from the world but instead allows the thinking, the philosophies and the practices of the world determine what they say and do.  There are people today who say that the Bible is out of date, that it is irrelevant for our times, who say that instead of focusing on what God wants us to hear, you need to find out what the people want to hear. “Meet them where they are at”, they will say, “and give them what they want.”  But the result of all of that is that “destructive heresies” will be secretly brought in.  False teachings that destroy!

And the false teachings that Peter is referring to not only affected what one believed but also how he lived.  2 Peter 2:2 says,

“And many will follow their sensuality”

or as the NIV has it,

“Many will follow their shameful ways.”

What Peter is referring to here is not so much false teaching but a false way of life.  Specifically, many will follow their wrong, shameful sexual behavior.  The Greek word the ESV translates as “sensuality” and the NIV as “shameful ways” comes back in 2 Peter 2:7 where the Bible speaks about Lot being “greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked.”  What is in view in verse 7 are homosexual acts, what Jude calls “sexual immorality” and pursuing “unnatural desire”.  That may be included in verse 1, but the destructive and shameful ways of verse 1 is more likely to be sexual immorality in general since 2 Peter 2:18 says that

“they entice by sensual passions of the flesh”

and Jude verse 4 also speaks about perverting the grace of God into sensuality.

Now this is an important point with respect to these false teachers, because it was not just what they said that made them false – although they did twist the Scriptures – but it is how they lived.  “You will recognize them by their fruits” the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:16, and that was clear with respect to the false teachers that the apostle Peter was writing about.  They did not follow Christ, they did not walk in the ways of the Lord, the way of truth, but they became entangled in their sin.

And it was because of their sin and their sinful way of life that 2 Peter 2:1 says that they denied the Master who bought them.  The “Master who bought them” is the Lord Jesus Christ, but calling Christ our “Master” here, Peter is making the point that the Lord who bought us is the Lord who owns us.  We are Christ’s servants, His slaves, and we need to follow Him and obey Him.  “You are not your own” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19.  And verse 20,

“You were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.”

But the false teachers and those who followed them did not do that.  They were not interested in following the Lord Jesus Christ.  They were not interested in the virtues of knowledge, self-control, perseverance, brotherly kindness and love.  They called themselves Christians, but they would not bow down in obedience to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

And that hits me hard.  That convicts me.  And perhaps it convicts you, too.  For as long as we think of false teachers as those who push some weird and wacked theology, we can point our fingers at others, at those Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny the deity of Christ, at Word-of-Faith Pentecostals who have strange views on the Trinity at people such as Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer or the people at Hillsong who preach a health-and-wealth gospel.  For as long as we think of false teachers as those who willfully twist the Scriptures, allowing themselves to be dictated by the changing norms of society, we can speak about them as being a somewhat distant threat.  But to deny the Master who bought you means that you do not receive the Lord Jesus as Lord and Master over your life.  And if you are living a life that does not bow down to God’s holy law, if you are one of those who scoff, who does not care, who come to church but enjoy a bit of drunkenness, a bit of debauchery, a bit of willful sexual sin on the side, then you also are denying the Master who bought you!

  You see, this is why Peter is so strong in urging us to supplement our faith in chapter 1, to grow in godliness, to be partakers of the divine nature, to live as one who has escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire – and not to return to the filth of this world as a dog returns to its own vomit and a sow goes back to the mire.  Since Christ has bought you with His blood, since you belong to Him, you must live for Him, you must serve Him as your Lord, as your Master.  If you do that, you will be blessed.  If you do that, you will never fall.  If you do that there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10,11).  But if you don’t, Peter warns, judgment is coming.   We will see that in our second point.

2. Judgment is coming!

With respect to these false teachers, 2 Peter 2:1 says that they are

“bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”

And the second part of verse 3,

“Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

From 2 Peter chapter 3 we learn that people were scoffing about the return of Christ and about the threat of a day of judgment.  2 Peter 3:3,4 says

“knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

It also appears that these false teachers and those who followed them could not understand how Judgment Day could be a day of terror for those who lived their life outside of Christ but, at the same time, a day of blessing for men and women of faith.  And so Peter explains this in 2 Peter 2:4-10 as he goes through three examples of God’s judgment in the past: the judgment of angels, the judgment over the world through the Flood but the salvation of righteous Noah, and the judgment over Sodom and Gomorrah and the salvation of a righteous man called Lot.  And the basic argument of Peter in verse 4-10 is that “if” God punished those who sinned in the past while saving the righteous, then, verse 9,10

“then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”

So let’s have a closer look at these three examples of God’s judgment.

The first group who experienced God’s judgment that Peter refers to are the angels, in 2 Peter 2:4.

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment. . .”

It is likely that Peter begins with the angels because the angels were the first ones to sin.  Although there have been different interpretations as to just when and how the angels fell and were delivered into chains of darkness, the Bible teaches us that when Satan fell, a third of the angels fell with him.  These are the ones who, even though they seek to destroy us today, have been sentenced to damnation, and their final judgment is coming.

 

Next Peter goes on to speak about the Flood and about Noah.  Verse 5 says that God

“did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.”

2 Peter 2:5 does not simply say that Noah was righteous, but he was “a herald” or “a preacher of righteousness.”  He served as a warning to the people of his generation: repent or perish.  That’s what Hebrews 11:7 says also:

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.  By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”

God’s judgment was inevitable, but it was not inescapable.  The biblical story of the Flood demonstrates that God can and will bring final judgment on the world and He can and will spare the righteous while destroying the unrighteous.  And therefore, watch out!  Listen to the call to repent, to turn to our Lord Jesus Christ, to receive Him as your Lord and Master, to live in Him and for Him and to grow in godliness.  If you do that, you will be saved on the day of Judgment.  If you don’t, you will perish.

And from Noah and the Flood, Second Peter turns to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Although Lot, who was greatly distressed and tormented by the wicked deeds that he saw and heard, was saved from destruction, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were turned to ashes, condemned to destruction and made an example to those who afterwards – including today – would be ungodly.

  And so the Bible teaches us that judgment is coming, that God will punish the ungodly, but that He is able and ready to save the righteous.  As answer 52 of the Heidelberg Catechism puts it,

“He will cast all his and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but he will take me and all his chosen ones to himself into heavenly joy and glory.”

Right now, we live in days that were like the days of Noah and the days when Lot lived in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Right now, we live in a time of ungodliness and wickedness.  Right now, there are even false teachers, people claiming to be Christians, claiming to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ but who through what they say and what they do deny the Lord who bought them.  But the time is coming when the Lord will deliver the righteous, while those who practice evil will experience the coming judgment.  The Bible accounts of the fall of the angels, of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah teach us that judgment will come.  And therefore, Peter will go on to say in chapter 3:11-13,

“. . . what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

Beware of false teachers.  Watch out for those who scoff at the Word of the Lord, who deny the Lord who bought them and who mock the call to a godly life in Jesus Christ.  Do not be deceived:  judgment is coming, just as it has come to those who mocked God in the past.  But the righteous will be safe.  Those who believe the gospel, who are joined to Christ and live a life of godliness through the power of the Holy Spirit will be safe.  And for us there is the promise of a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells.  Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2019, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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