God’s Warning about Wicked Teachers - Part 2
2 Peter 2:9-22
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - April 14, 2013
*Almost everybody knows about the woman who got burned by spilling a hot cup of coffee on herself. She sued McDonalds, and won because they didn’t warn her that the coffee was hot. After that, companies went overboard with the warning labels.
*I like these examples:
-On a frozen dinner: "Defrost before eating."
-On a chain saw: "Do not stop chain with hand."
-A fishing lure, with this warning: "Harmful if swallowed."
-A baby stroller warned: "Remove child before folding."
-And a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard warned, "Do not drive with sunshield in place." (1)
*Those warnings are silly. But God’s warnings are always serious. And here Peter continues to give us a strong warning about false teachers.
-What lessons can we take away from God’s warning about false teachers?
1. First: Avoid their ways.
*We must avoid their wicked ways. That’s why in vs. 9-16, Peter went into detail about their corrupt way of life.
 In vs. 9-12, the false teachers are rebellious and presumptuous:
9. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
10. and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries,
11. whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
12. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption,
*What Peter says here can be applied to both human and angelic authority: We should respect their place of authority. Of course, Peter is not telling us that we should put men or angels over God. He is not telling us that we should respect the evil ways of fallen angels or sinful men. And Peter is not telling us that we should obey governments who command us to disobey God. But we should respect their place of authority.
*The Book of Jude gives us insight on these verses, when it says:
8. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
9. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!''
10. But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.
*We should never respect what the devil does. He is the enemy of God and everything that is good. But as confusing as it may sound, we are to respect his place of authority. The bottom line is that God wants us to respect authority.
*Some of you know that before I answered God's call to preach, I had the privilege to work for the Air Force for six years. One of the best things that came out of that work was this: For the first time in my very rebellious life, I learned to respect authority.
*I had a great boss named Henry Hearne, and I will always be grateful that he taught me to respect authority. But false teachers are rebellious and presumptuous.
 In vs. 13-16, they are also adulterous and covetous:
13. (They) will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you,
14. having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.
15. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16. but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
*The story of Balaam is told in the Old Testament book of Numbers. Three times the king of Moab tried to get Balaam to curse Israel, but God would not allow Balaam to do that. Instead, bountiful blessings for Israel poured out of Balaam’s mouth.
*But Balaam did love the wages of unrighteousness. And that greed led him to teach the king of Moab how to seduce God’s people. The Lord Jesus Himself told us this truth, as He spoke to the church in Pergamos in Revelation 2:14.
*There Jesus said, "I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality." Balaam caused great harm to the people of God, and he did it for greed.
*Max Lucado gave this testimony about greed: "When we lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I went to visit a member of our church. He had been a strong leader in the congregation, but for several Sundays we didn't see or hear from him.
*Friends told me he had inherited some money and was building a house. I found him at the construction site. He had inherited $300. With the money he'd purchased a tiny lot adjacent to a polluted swamp. The plot of land was the size of a garage. On it he was constructing a one room house by hand.
*He gave me a tour of the project. It took about 20 seconds. We sat in front and talked. I told him we'd missed him, and that the church needed him back. He grew quiet and turned and looked at his house.
*When he turned again his eyes were moist. 'You're right, Max,' he confessed. 'I guess I just got too greedy.' -- 'Greedy?' I wanted to say. 'You're building a hut in a swamp and you call it greed?' But I didn't say anything because he was right. Greed is relative.
*Greed is not defined by what something costs. It is measured by what it costs you. If anything costs you your faith or your family, the price is too high." (2)
*The false teachers here were greedy. They were rebellious, presumptuous, adulterous and covetous. We must avoid their ways.
2. We also must avoid their words.
*In vs. 17-19 they were seductive speakers:
17. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, to whom the gloom of darkness is reserved forever.
18. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.
19. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
*These false teachers try to "allure" real Christians. That means they try to trap us, entice us, or catch us with the bait of their smooth words. But God wants the message of the gospel to be the plain truth of the cross!
*As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
1. I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
2. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
3. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
4. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5. that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
*Down through the ages God has given the world great preachers with special gifts of communication. I think of Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, R.G. Lee and Peter Marshall. In our day I would include men like Charles Stanley and Chuck Swindoll, just to name a few.
*These men are great preachers, but the greatest of the great will tell you: "It’s all about the cross." False teachers will use smooth words, trying to lure us away from the cross and from right living before God. We must avoid their words.
3. And we must admit our weakness.
*In vs. 19, Peter said that while the false teachers promise people liberty, "they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage." The problem is that all of us have been overcome by sin. Somehow, some way, all of us have given in to corruption.
*The problem is not just corrupt teachers. It is the corruption in us. In Romans 7:18, Paul said, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing." In Romans 3:10, God’s Word also says, "There is none righteous, no, not one."
*The great Christian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn once noted that it would be different, if there were "evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." (3)
*All of us have a terrible problem with sin, and we are helpless to fix it on our own.
*In a Peanuts cartoon Linus came running across the beach to Charlie Brown shouting "I can swim! I can swim!" Charlie replied, "Well, I'm glad to hear that Linus, congratulations!"
*"Yes sir" Linus says, "If I'm ever aboard an ocean liner, and it sinks four feet from shore, -- I won't have a thing to worry about!" (4)
*We are even more helpless when it comes to saving ourselves from our sin. So yes, we need to watch out for false teachers. But we also must admit our own weakness.
4. And we must accept the wonder of God’s salvation.
*How can we ever overcome our sin problem? How can we overcome our bondage to sin? There is only one way. Our only hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ!
*In John 8:31-36, Jesus said:
31. . . "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.''
33. They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free?'"
34. Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
35. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
36. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
*God’s Son can set us free! -- This is one of the great wonders of God’s salvation.
*Now let’s look at the people Peter described in vs. 20-22. At first glance, they appear to be people who have lost their salvation. But a closer look shows that they are people who never really trusted in the Lord.
*Listen to the Scripture:
20. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
21. For 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.
22. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit,'' and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.''
*John Gill explained: "This can be no instance of the final and total apostasy of real saints. For the house may be swept and garnished with an external reformation. Persons may be outwardly righteous before men, have a form of godliness and yet be dead in trespasses and sins." (5)
*In other words, the people in vs. 20-22 had head knowledge of Christ, but not heart knowledge. It reminds me of a Gospel tract I saw years ago that had a picture of a tape measure on the front. The tract asked this question: "What is the distance from Heaven to Hell?" And the answer was "about 18 inches," because that is the distance from your head and your heart.
*The people in vs. 20-22 had head knowledge of Jesus Christ. But they didn’t have heart knowledge. They had never opened their hearts to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. They had religion, but not a relationship with Jesus Christ.
*They had never been born again, and vs. 22 helps us to see this truth. There Peter said, "It has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'A dog returns to his own vomit,' and, 'a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.'"
*Sometimes we talk to our dogs like they are people, (especially around my house). But a dog is still a dog. You can talk to it all you want. You can love it, take it to the vet, feed it the best food, even dress it up in clothes. But a dog is still a dog.
*For a dog to be turned into anything else, it would have to be miraculously born again. And that is exactly what happens to us when we open our hearts to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
*We instantly go:
-From death to life.
-From darkness to light.
-From condemnation to liberation.
-From being a child of the devil to being a child of God.
*This is the wonder of God’s salvation and it comes through the cross of Jesus Christ.
-Believing that God loves us in spite of our sins.
-Believing that Jesus is our only hope of salvation.
-Believing in our hearts that Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the dead.
-Believing that we will find forgiveness and everlasting life in Him.
*Here in 2 Peter 2, God wants to warn us about false teachers. We must avoid their ways, and we must avoid their words. But that's not enough. We need to go ahead and admit our weakness. And accept the wonder of God’s salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ.
*If you have never trusted in Jesus, call on the Lord to save you as we go to God in prayer.
(1) SermonCentral illustrations contributed by Travis Fitch & Bill Sullivan
(2) "When God Whispers Your Name" by Max Lucado - Word Publishing - copyright 1994 - pp. 65-66 - Source: sermonillustrator.org email 04142004
(3) Robert J. Morgan, "Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations & Quotes"
(4) 08112002 email from Sermonillustratons.com
(5) "John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible" - 2 Peter 2:20