2 Peter Chapter Two
© 2000 William R. Cunningham
Now let’s look at 2 Peter Chapter two verses one and two, which continues from chapter one.
Let’s analyze verses one through three and then let’s look at what the Bible tells us about the main topic of these verses.
2 Peter 2:1-3 (NKJV) 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. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
At the end of chapter one, Peter stated that the prophets of the Old Testament times spoke as God moved them. Now he says that there were false prophets in addition to the true prophets of God. Just as the Old Testament times had its false prophets, there will also be false prophets now, which is still true today.
At the time of the writing of this epistle, false prophets would underhandedly bring in false teachings that would cause destruction of the people including themselves. These false prophets would actually deny the Lord Jesus Christ and cause others to do the same. Unfortunately, many people would fall from the truth as a result of following the false prophets to destruction.
We should notice that the origin of the false prophets was among the Christians. It’s not clear if the false prophets came from outside of the Christian community and then mingled among them not truly converting or whether they were Christians that had gone astray.
Verse three is very important! Let me quote it from the New Century Version of the Bible, which has a much more contemporary wording.
2 Peter 2:3 (NCV) Those false teachers only want your money, so they will use you by telling you lies. Their judgment spoken against them long ago is still coming, and their ruin is certain.
The false teachers will use the people so that they can get more money and possessions. Just because someone says that they have a word from the Lord or claims to be a prophet does not mean that God actually sent them or that they are operating in the name (authority) of God. These false prophets/teachers will reap what they so and pay the consequences of leading people astray.
I want to elaborate on verse three some more because I see this operating in the Christian community all to often. Consider a person that wants to do the right thing by living a life acceptable to God. This person assumes that the best place to learn about God and what to do to live a good Christian life is in the church. He or she may also assume, and understandably so, that the words of a prominent preacher is valid and consistent with the word of God. However, there are some ministers that will use the ignorance of some Christians to obtain the riches that they desire.
Christians are told to give 10% of their money to the local church and God will bless them. We are told that we are robbing God if we don’t give this 10% to the local church and told that we are violating the law of the tithe. We are told to support our pastors with unquestionable loyalty. We are told to be completely loyal to our local church. Notice that you will rarely hear teachings on knowing God for oneself, or how to study the Bible. We are spoon-fed by ministers so that they can indoctrinate us. This doesn’t mean that all ministers are dishonest because I know some very godly ministers that truly want the best for people.
The point here is that some ministers use hype, suggestion, and the "name of God" to persuade you to give them what they want, which is usually your money. They basically have ulterior motives for their exciting teaching sessions. You give and give and give hoping for that great blessing from the Lord when all along you have been supporting the lavish lifestyle of the minister or pastor that you are supporting. I have seen people struggle and yet give their money to the church only to be left alone when they were in need.
Again please understand that I am not saying anything derogatory about a pastor or minister having nice things. The problem that I have is when they have these nice things at the expense of the people. Some ministers and pastors have nice things because they simply can afford it. They rightfully receive offerings from the church and some pastors even have a fulltime job. However, not all ministers (or those claiming to be such) are honest.
The false teachers will tell you anything so that they can get your money or other possessions (time and loyalty for example). Your only protection against these false prophets is to seek the truth and to respond only to what you truly know is the word of God. Don’t agree with a minister just because they have a mega-church or drive a Mercedes. Don’t agree with a pastor just because he or she is your pastor. Agree with people if you know that they agree with the Word of God that you know. Of course if you don’t know the word of God then you may fall for anything.
I want to reiterate that we should only respond to those things that we know to be from God. How can we do this if we don’t know the subject of the teaching or prophecy? The same way you would agree because you know the teaching to be true is the same way that you would disagree because you know the teaching to be false. If you don’t know one way or another then you are not obligated to do anything. It is best to defer your decision until you can determine if what you are told is true. I should point out that you would tend to give those ministers that consistently agree with the word of God (according to your knowledge) the benefit of the doubt. This is only natural because you have learned to trust them because they consistently teach what the Bible actually says. You know this because you study the Bible too.
Don’t Follow a Prophet That Pulls You From God
Let’s look at some references of the activities of false prophets in the Old Testament. I think this will help us to have an accurate perspective of false prophets, their affects on the people, and how they are dealt with and perceived by God.
There are some very important things that we need to see in the above verse. The first thing that I would like to do is define the terms prophet and "dreamer of dreams."
A prophet was one that received a word (message, revelation) from the LORD and then declared that prophecy to the people. A prophet was one called to speak the words of God. A dreamer of dreams was simply someone who claimed to have received a vision from a dream or during the night season.
Now a typical way that a prophecy was validated was when it came true. So if someone spoke a prophecy that actually happened then that person is considered to be a true prophet because his or her prophecy was validated by the fact that the events prophesied occurred. However, God says that even if the prophecy came true that the people should not follow the prophet if he or she attempts to pull them away from HIM. Therefore, we cannot judge a prophet as true merely on the premise that his or her prophecies came true. We must also judge the actions of that prophet as to whether he or she pulls us away from God or draws us to Him.
Therefore, it is still imperative that we know God so that we always pursue him and not be drawn away by other false doctrines. We also see that we cannot judge a prophet solely on the fact of the seemingly validity of their prophecy.
A Word on Validity
It is quite common to judge a minister as a true man or women of God if it appears that the "spirit is moving." However, what spirit is moving? We cannot conclude that someone is moving in the Spirit of God just because people seem to be healed or some miraculous event occurred. Recall in the Old Testament how the magicians during Moses’ activities performed like miracles as Moses did.
Some Christians are too conditioned on the sensational that they don’t stand back and take a bird’s eye view of what is going on. We still have to follow God regardless of how things appear to us. Therefore, we must know the truth and God so that we can stay on track regardless of what is going on around us. We think that if people are being healed, speaking in tongues, shouting, crying, and other such gestures, that God is moving in the place. We see here that such may not be the case. The whole thing could be staged, the minister may be familiar with the philosophy of suggestion, or another spirit might be moving. We shouldn’t be so quick to validate the activities of God by sensationalism. Rather, simply know the truth and stick to it.
Remain True To God
God also told the people to stay loyal to Him (regardless of the words or persuasion of the prophet). God will test us to confirm our faith in him or in something else. Well, doesn’t God already know what we will or will not do? Regardless of the answer to that, the Bible many times tell us that God will test us to see what choice we will make. Our faith in him must be from our own will and that will can only be established if we make a choice. Therefore, we can argue that god tests us to validate our faith in Him.
Penalty of the False Prophet
Notice the severity of how the false prophet was dealt with. He or she was put to death. They are like a cancer because they bring others down with them. As more people follow after a false prophet, the higher the probability that others will follow. Therefore that prophet must be eliminated else he jeopardizes many. They are evil and must be put away from the people to preserve the faith.
God’s Word over the Words of Man
Here is an example that drives home the point stated earlier. It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you. Your first priority is to do what God told you to do. Period! Here was a true man of God that was specifically told what to do and what not to do (Read 1 Kings chapter 13). However, notice in verse 18 that a false prophet persuaded him to eat with him thus disobeying God. We can reasonably conclude that the man of God figured that it must be OK to eat with the man because he claimed to be a prophet too even though God had already told him what to do. How many times have you disobeyed God because you reasoned that the words of someone else somehow negated what God told you? Would you disobey God for the words of your pastor, teacher, or ministry leader? Well this prophet did just that and paid for it with his life.
The main point of this story, however, is how we can be duped by the claims of someone pertaining to the things of God. Just because someone says that he or she is a minister, pastor, evangelist, or any other leadership title in the religious community, does not mean that we have to follow him or her blindly. Our ultimate responsibility is to know what God told us and then stick to that.
Going Along With The Crowd
Let’s examine yet another illustration of the affects of false prophets. Consider 1 Kings 22:1-40. King Ahaz decided to listen to the words of the lying "prophets" instead of the prophecy of a true prophet of God, Micaiah. Micaiah was told to agree with the other lying prophets so as to encourage the king to go to battle. However, Micaiah first mocked the king and then went on to tell the truth. King Ahaz didn’t like the prophecy of Micaiah because it discouraged him from going to battle and winning a war. Instead, Ahaz had Micaiah put in prison as he went on to battle. Now Micaiah told Ahaz that he would be killed if he goes to battle. King Ahaz went to battle disguised but was still killed by a stray arrow.
King Ahaz lost his life because he decided to listen to the false prophets instead of the true prophet of God. He wanted people to tell him what he wanted to hear instead of the truth. It is interesting that the king demanded that Micaiah tell him the truth (after Micaiah mocked them) and yet he wanted Micaiah to say what he wanted to hear.
How many times did you respond to what you wanted to hear instead of the truth? How many times did you persuade someone to tell you the truth according to what you wanted? It is very important that we pursue truth even though it may not be what we want to hear.
We also see in this last illustration how peer pressure can tempt you to stray from truth. Would you go along with the crowd even though you have a different opinion? How much opposition does it take for you to abandon the truth and go along with the masses? Stand strong and stay with truth because there is a great reward as well as penalties for not staying with the truth.
Recognizing False Prophets
How can we know a false prophet? Let me briefly discuss this. Consider the following scripture.
Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV) "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
You will recognize a false prophet or teacher by what they produce. Are people delivered or are they bound? Do the prophet’s words produce closeness to God (edification) or closeness to something else, even himself or herself? The Spirit of God edifies and brings liberty (from bondage) whereas false prophets bring bondage to their ways and destruction.
Our lesson text today reveals the consequences of false prophets. We also see that many will follow these false prophets to destruction. It is important that we remain loyal to the truth so that we can defend ourselves against the false prophets
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