Wednesday, August 6, 2014
“Opponents of Spiritual Growth”
You’re listening to The New You, the daily broadcast for people who have been made new by the blood of Christ. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s Scripture:
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed (2 Pet. 2:1-2).
One of the major themes in 2 Peter is spiritual maturity. Peter wants Christians to mature. Consequently, he begins this second epistle with some ingredients for spiritual growth. In chapter two, Peter’s attention is devoted to opponents of spiritual growth.
It seems to me that Peter lists five opponents of spiritual growth in this chapter. First, false teachers are identified in 2 Peter 1:1. Second, there is false doctrine mentioned in 2 Peter 1:3 when Peter describes false teachers’ “deceptive words.” Third, there are false attitudes mentioned in 2 Peter 1:10. Peter says, “They are presumptuous, self-willed … not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.” Fourth, there are false promises in 2 Peter 2:19. Peter says that the false teachers promise liberty, but “they themselves are slaves of corruption.” Fifth and finally, we see false living. These deceitful teachers have made their deceptions a part of their lifestyle; this is who they are! Peter says that “they are again entangled” in the pollutions of the world, and that “it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Pet. 2:20-21).
Peter’s warnings and rebukes are clear. The Holy Spirit doesn’t mince words. I think this shows us why we must be so concerned about the doctrine that people teach and practice. To have any part in supporting false teaching will condemn our souls and the souls who are influenced by that deceptive dogma.
Let’s turn our attention from the chapter as a whole to the first three verses of 2 Peter two. Perhaps this will help us to see a clearer picture of these false teachers and why they are opponents to spiritual maturity.
In 2 Peter 2:1, the Holy Spirit (through Peter) gives four descriptions of the false teachers. First, they will come in “among you.” Those two words “among you” are chilling. They would be among the Christians! They would come in secretly, he says. The Greek word literally means to slip in by the side of. Here’s what I take from this: we must be on guard for false teaching. How will you know the difference between truth and error unless you grow in your knowledge of the truth? Once again, we see the necessity and the urgency for spiritual growth.
The second description of the false teachers is actually a description of their teaching. Peter says that they will bring in “destructive heresies.” The word “heresies” refers to their opinions, that is, their personal views or opinions that did not agree with the truth. Peter says that these heresies are destructive, that is, they are perishing. Notice that this is destruction, not annihilation. He says that these heresies will cause ruin, loss of well-being. More on this in a moment.
The third description is this: they deny the Lord who bought them. They disown Jesus! Notice again that these false teachers were once faithful Christians! They had been bought by the Lord, meaning that they had applied the blood of Christ to their souls through obedience to His will. However, now they deny Him. In 2 Peter 2:15, Peter says that “they have forsaken the right way and gone astray.” You cannot forsake a way in which you have never been.
Here’s the fourth description: they “bring on themselves swift destruction.” The destruction is swift in the sense that, when it comes, it will be sudden. Notice that this destruction is sure to occur. There’s only one way to avoid it and that is to repent immediately! If you continue reading in 2 Peter two, you will notice that Peter gives several examples that illustrate the certain doom of false teachers. Peter says that “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Pet. 2:9).
Let’s wrap it up: I wish it wasn’t the case that we have to be on guard for false teaching, but this is just the way it is. Some false teachers are greedy, like the ones mentioned in 2 Peter 2:3. Others are sincere in their motives, but they are sincerely wrong. Still others let their ego take control, which makes their teaching about themselves and their followers rather than about leading people to follow Jesus. Whatever the case, this is what Peter teaches us in 2 Peter two: follow and teach the truth – only the truth – and God will be pleased with you.
Memory Verse: As we come to this week’s memory verse today, we see in perhaps a new light why we must grow. It’s about our spiritual well-being through maturing as well as protecting the new you.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen (2 Pet. 3:18).
Sometime today: Take a look at 2 Peter 3:10-13. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the motivation for spiritual growth.
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This is The New You, I’m Robert Hatfield, and I hope you have a great day!