God’s wrath and rescue – 2 Peter 2:3-11
The following is a lesson presented by Mark Ramsey along with some of the responding comments from the class.
- A brief review of what was happening in the life of Peter when this book was written
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
(2 Peter 2:1-2 NASB)
Peter wrote this letter from jail while knowing his execution on the cross was soon coming.
He wrote it wanting to prepare the church for the false teachers who had started introducing false teachings into the church.
Seeing these conditions in the early church, do you feel persecution? Do you see your time as being abbreviated? Do you see false teaching as entering into the conversation?
One class member responded by pointing out how her grandchildren have started to not want to hear about the Bible.
Another class member related the same problem while another recalled the words of 2 Timothy 4:3 and 4.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4 NASB)
- The Promise of God
2 Peter 2:3a
and in their greed they will exploit you with false words (2 Peter 2:3a NASB)
The primary motivation driving false teachers is an unbridled love of money.
Satan’s goal is to deceive as many people as possible, inside and outside of the church, by means of false teachers. In contrast, God’s desire is to identify and expose such hypocrites.
How would you grade Satan’s success with false teachers? What do you attribute this success to?
- One class member rated Satan’s efforts with an “A+” due to a certain mega-church in Houston where the health-and-wealth false gospel finds center stage. Although that class member would not name the mega-church spreading a false gospel, the teacher (Mark Ramsey) pointed to the church lead by Joel Osteen (and the class agreed).
- Another class member pointed out how Islam sprang from an mixing of the Jewish Torah with Christian scriptures and a predominance of the Bedouin culture of the Saudi Arabian area.
Remember Paul’s admonition to the elders at the church of Ephesus: Acts 20:28-31
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:28-31 NASB)
- 2 Peter 2:3b
their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:3b NASB)
Although false teachers will not face their eternal judgement until death, their sentence was decreed by God long ago.
- Wrath and Rescue
Two sides of God — His compassion and His judgement — come together in 2:4-11. For the false teacher, judgement is coming. For those who are saved, God will rescue them from wrath.
- 2:4 (fallen angels)
“For if” is better translated as “since.” Since God did not spare the angels when they sinned against Him, humans who pervert His truth will not escape His vengeance either. Peter is probably referring to the demons who were cast into the abyss.
Peter used this illustration to emphasize that God severely judges all those who oppose Him and His truth. Like those angels, false teachers will face divine wrath.
- 2:5 (ancient world)
God wiped out the people living at the time of the flood, all of whom were wicked, except for Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives. Genesis 6:5-7.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7 NASB)
God, however, preserved Noah (who was righteous, a true worshipper of God) who was immersed in a wicked and corrupt society. Genesis 6:8-13.
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.
Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:8-13 NASB)
While Noah was building the ark, he also labored as a preacher of righteousness, warning the people and calling them to repent.
Can anyone relate to Noah?
One class member responded that he has been forced into a position of choosing between his job of almost 40 years and his Christian faith due to LGBTQ influences at work.
How does our world/culture compare with the world during Noah’s day?
After a bit of silence, one class member replied that the current world might be only slightly less evil (due to the restraining effect of the Holy Spirit).
- 2:6-8 (Sodom and Gomorrah)
Because of their gross sins, God condemned both cities to destruction. Genesis 19:24-25.
Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. (Genesis 19:24-25 NASB)
More than 20 time in Scripture, these cities are used as an example of those who would live ungodly lives and the consequences of such lifestyles.
Knowing the Genesis account, why do you think that Lot is designated as righteous three times?
One class member responded that Lot (like his faith example, Abram) followed God by faith and that faith was counted as righteousness.
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, (Romans 4:4-5 NASB)
Genesis 13:8-13; Genesis 19:30-35.
So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord. (Genesis 13:8-13 NASB)
Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. (Genesis 19:30-35 NASB)
Peter is pointing out that Lot is righteous in his heart and was distressed by the filthy lives of those around him. At times, he may have been materialistic and morally weak, but he did not want any part of the sensual conduct of Sodom’s culture. Their conduct “tormented his righteous soul” — the phrase conveys the idea of exhausting someone and deeply troubling his soul.
Do you think that many Christians are like Lot today? Explain.
One class member pointed out how the Methodist church has split over two disagreements:
- Acceptance of the LGBTQ agenda in the church and
- Removal of references to “the blood” in sermons and songs
What are some everyday situations that challenge followers of Christ today? What helps a Christ follower from surrendering to the cultural norms that are antithetical to the gospel?
- 2:9-11 (the pattern of judgement)
God know who to judge and who to rescue in the past and He knows how to do the same in the present and future.
Malachi 3:16 – 4:3
Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the Lord of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:16 – 4:3 NASB)
In 2:10b and 2:11, Peter re-emphasizes that pride and arrogance are the primary characteristics of God’s enemies. “Bold and arrogant” or “reckless and self-willed” is translated to mean they exalt themselves and are determined to have their own way at any cost.
- 2:4 (fallen angels)
How can we avoid from being deceived by false teachers? (The following was attributed to a Chuck Swindoll sermon.)
- Stop! Compare the views being taught and discussed with the clear teachings of the Scripture and the central doctrines of our faith. Don’t be afraid to leave if things don’t feel right deep within your spirit.
- Look! Observe the life of the main spokesperson. Do they model Christlike values and virtues in how they treat their staff and their congregation (the flock)? Is there accountability and transparency? Do they exhibit true humility? Do they submit themselves to the authority of the Word of God? Never be swayed by somebody’s apparent charisma.
- Listen! Pay close attention to the words that the teacher uses while he teaches as well as in his informal discussions. Listen to not only what they say, but how they say it. Also note what is not being said. Listen closely and think critically.
Now, do you believe that you can identify a false teacher? If so, do you know what to do if you find yourself under the leadership of one?