by Mike Ratliff
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)
False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology ‘ gives them a green light.
I am not discounting God working in His people to increase their knowledge of Him, teaching them the truth, so that they will believe, repent, and be saved. No, God does that and uses the truth in our salvation and spiritual growth. No, I am not arguing against that, but notice the difference between the two approaches to knowing what is true and what is not. Those who love their own version of the truth more than God’s truth are using their ‘thinkology’ which is corrupt because it has as its foundation nothing more than humanistic philosophy. On the other hand, those whom God has drawn into His light by His grace are led to believe the truth from a completely different foundation. This foundation is not humanistic philosophy, but instead is God’s Word.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
The Word of God, when used correctly, powerfully works in the heart through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It destroys idols. It shatters pride. It teaches the believer the truth and confirms it in the heart as his or her faith believes and trusts God’s Word as the truth. This is why it is imperative for believers to know God’s Word, to immerse themselves in it always seeking to know God as He is through His revelation of Himself to us, which is His Word. When believers know God’s truth they can very clearly see the evil of destructive doctrines which so many in our time have fallen for and are now in the grasp of our enemy’s darkness. They are ensnared by lies, which hide the truth from them.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)
In this age, prior to the age to come, false teachers continually beset the Church. These heretics secretly bring in destructive heresies. They will ‘secretly bring in’ their teachings. This is one Greek word, παρεισάγω or pareisagō. It means, “to lead in aside, that is, introduce surreptitiously.” Think of a pastor or other Christian leader who has been in ministry for quite a while, but over time he writes, preaches, or teaches things that are not biblical, but he mixes these things with a certain amount of truth so that the false is very difficult to see for what it is. These false teachers, of course, will eventually reveal enough of their false and destructive doctrines so that discerning Christians will be awakened to it by the moving of the Holy Spirit in them to compare what is taught with what the Word of God says. Then as God awakens these things to those He has assigned to be guardians of the truth, the Church is made aware.
When Peter said that these heresies are so bad that these people ‘even deny the Master who bought them’ he is not speaking of genuine believers losing their salvation nor is he saying that Christ’s atoning work on the Cross bought even those bound for Hell. No, what he is referring to here is made clear in v17-22.
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:17-22 ESV)
These false teachers are not genuine believers, but are apostates. They were never regenerate Christians. I had a Pastor in Oklahoma several years ago who shared with us one Sunday the sad story of a friend he had in college who went to seminary and became a pastor. However, he lost track of his friend over time because of his own ministry. Then, by chance, they did meet in their old hometown one day. My pastor’s friend had totally abandoned the faith. Not only was he no longer in the ministry, but also was living a reprobate lifestyle pursuing every vice imaginable. My pastor asked him about his former profession of faith and his testimonies, et cetera. The response was, “I was just faking it.”
That should be quite sobering for us my brethren. Now think of the so-called Christian leaders out there who hang in there continuing to ‘minister’ even though they are not regenerate and, therefore, have not the Holy Spirit nor are they anchored in God’s Word or our Lord Jesus Christ as the foundation of their ministries. They go after whatever it takes to please people. They invent their false doctrines based on their own necessities of keeping their ministries going. They fall into the trap of the secularization of their churches in order to fill the pews with the unsaved. They never preach the real gospel because that would drive these folks out. They devalue it anyway because it is ‘so’ offensive.
Since the Gospel is not at the center of their ministries neither is its purpose, which is to redeem a people out of the world into the Kingdom of God. Eternal issues are ignored so the focus of these ministries become temporal. The Christian liberal’s focus is on making this a better world according to latest mantra such as ‘Being Green.’
These false teachers may indeed have large ministries and a great number of followers. Several months ago, I wrote a few pieces on Rob Bell. His defenders swooped down upon this blog attempting to shut me up. I was amazed at their diversity. Several of them were into ‘other religions’ that spoke of Jesus as being just another Avatar. In any case, we must never hesitate to speak or write the truth when it comes to destructive doctrines that attack God’s truth. We must tell the truth and reveal to the Church those who are proving themselves to be among those for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.
Soli Deo Gloria!