TOO Many Christians are Shallow in Their Beliefs
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority….
-2 Peter 2:1-10
Peter has just completed talking about the prophets in chapter one. He points out that there were false prophets back then as well. He is warning his readers that there are and will be false teachers in the church (universal). These individuals will, and have, introduced heresies into the church. His readers must be careful of these teachers.
In verse two Peter tells us the sad outcome for those Christians/people who follow these teachers. That is, people will be lead away by false teaching. But why? Because they do not actually study the Scriptures and are not rooted in its’ teaching, no they think they are alright, but they deceive themselves and thereby follow corrupt teachers who are deceiving others. By doing this they give the church (universal) a “black eye.”
False teaching often is mixed with truth. Many people then (and today) think they can pick out the truth from error, but such thinking is in itself error. Being around subtle false teaching spoils the whole teaching because it changes the meaning of what is written (i.e. improper application to an individuals life). False teaching very rarely starts outside of the Christian church. No, it usually originates within a fellowship and then evolves into blatant heresy; by the time anyone notices the false teacher usually has a following, and thereby splits the fellowship and creating their own based on heresy (a good example is false sects that call themselves Christians).
In verse three Peter tells us their character. He says they are greedy. In our Americanized culture we associate greed with financial greed, but this is not always the case. Greed can be more than for money. Many false teachers seek sexual pleasures, places of honor, money, and many other things. The point here is that these people are very self-centered and self-focused. The outcome, according to Peter, is that false teachers will exploit you. They will use you until there is nothing left (i.e. you are burned out). Peter has already pronounced false teacher’s judgment. He states that though they may seem to be getting away with their false teaching, in reality God’s judgment is hanging over their heads. When this judgment is metered out to them (either in this life or the life hereafter) we may be assured that it will happen.
Verses four through ten are Peter using examples from scripture to prove his point. Christians who have read the Old Testament will recognize these events. To the first-century Christian, who was mostly Jewish at the time of this writing, would definitely have understood these analogies as they were familiar with the Torah (Old Testament writings).
The angels that Peter speaks of in verse four are fallen angels. There is a passage in the Old Testament where angels left their abode in heaven and had “relations” with women (c.f. Genesis 6). Now there is a debate, albeit small, in the “church-world” about who these angels are. However, most Biblical evidence would seem to point to these angels who had “relations” with women.
Now Peter continues his thoughts on the judgment of some of the Old Testament history. He brings up the destruction of the world and Noah’s family being the only survivors (c.f. Gen 6); Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed and brought down (c.f. Gen 19:24-28).
In verse nine he concludes his final thoughts on God upholding the righteous and eventual punishment on the wicked. In verse ten he tells us that this kind of judgment is especially true for false teachers. This is because these teachers follow their corrupt and sinful nature, though they hide it in self-righteousness and piety, and despise the authority of God and those God has placed above them (i.e. The Apostles).
How about you today? Do you know enough of God’s Scripture to know if something is false? The Bible says we are supposed to study the scriptures diligently. It isn’t addressed to just clergy, but to everyone. Will you come and allow God to deepen your walk today? or will you stay in the shallow end of the pool and possibly be deceived and hurt due to false teachers? The choice is yours.