Destructively dividing the church and even denying the Lord

2 Peter 2:1-3

Chapter 1 ends with this declaration about the revelation and inspiration of the prophetic Word: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).

Despite that amazing revelation of the character and mind of God through His holy men, false prophets brought in contrary perspectives. Turning from truth, the people chose destruction…and those who should have lived by the revealed Word caused it to be blasphemed instead:

  1. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
  2. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
  3. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

“That was then,” Peter tells each reader. “Beware of the coming false teachers among you!”

They slip in and among God’s people, under the radar, skirting along the edges of the main stream. (Think “parachurch”?)

They entice and beguile and mislead with finely crafted words and well-turned ideas.

They drive in destructive heresies (sectarianism, schisms, divisions).

They even come to the place of the denying the Lord who ransomed them. They might not teach it directly or brazenly, but they de-emphasize and pass over God’s Passover Lamb. They substitute their words for His. They are the anti-Bereans.

They draw after themselves and their destructiveness many — the careless, the weak, the malcontents, the gullible, the ungrounded, the immature, the lambs, the rebels, the distracted.

God will judge these destructive false teachers and destroy them. Surely. Certainly. Suddenly.

A false witness shall not be unpunished (Proverbs 19:5,9)

Meanwhile, who will be so in tune with God so as to discern who they are and what they are doing? Who will reach out redemptively to them, showing them their error and peril, urging them to turn again to the Lord who redeemed them? And failing in that, who will expose them, countering them with the way of truth and the revealed prophetic Word?

As one who thinks and studies a lot, who writes much, and speaks plenty, I am also warned in these few verses to be very careful about my own heart and mind. About my own focus. About my own direction. About my own soundness and faithfulness in teaching.

Now let me explain why I added Destructive to the front of the post title and wove the idea into my post… Peter used the Greek word apoleia four times in these three verses. And the KJV translators saddled us with multiple English renditions of it:

  • damnable (v1)
  • destruction (v1)
  • pernicious ways (v2)
  • damnation (v3)

In his famous concordance and dictionary, James Strong assigned G684 to apoleia. He told us it means “ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal).” The KJV translators most often (13 times out of 20) rendered it perdition or destruction.

May God deliver us from apoleia!

I dedicate this post to Lyle Kropf of Berean Mennonite Church in Arizona (formerly in Phoenix, now in Wickenburg). Brother Lyle has been a faithful watchman against false teachers in the church (and parachurch). Is he always accurate in his discernment? Of course not. Is he always perfect in his approach? Of course not. But he is a learner. I honor him here in secret. I bless him and thank him. I am deeply in his debt. May I and his sons be like unto him in these things, only more so. Amen.

One thought on “Destructive: False Teachers With Well-Turned Ideas

  1. Brother Mark,

    This is so correct what you are saying, and as Paul warned the Ephesian elders in his last meeting with him, recorded in Acts 20, he did not warn them about those who were demon possessed, needing to be banned to the tombs, and chained for protection…………… Is it not clear that the most powerful tools of Satan are that which he seeks to copy the works of God, through having his servants pose as “angels of light?”

    Brother Jude capsulates many of the thoughts of your concern in one of the most tightly records in the all of the epistles. I fear there are far too many homes, even churches that are “spotted by the flesh” with their false garments of self righteousness, all the problems are not to be blamed on demons and such like, but are fruits of the flesh. Uncrucified flesh is the only part of human makeup that gives the devil any hold upon those who claim to follow the Lord. So stop blaming the devil for his deadly work of deception, when we have built the greenhouse for him to spread his deadly influence.

    Your thoughts this morning are the work of being a ” Jude fireman,” who seeks to risk their own reputation, charges of being judgemental, and so forth. Is it not ironic, that in the work of a first responder to a fire, the one who risks his life to rescue a child from a burning house is a hero, but one who does what Jude commands, is a religious fanatic?

    John Baptist got a change of address, and diet, from the desert to a prison cell, and ultimately his head showed up severed from the torso, on a platter for an evil woman, but he graduated with highest honors according the The Master Teacher !. The picture may not be pleasant, but the change in housing is incredible!

    I Thess. 5:12-22 gives some more specific instructions for spiritual, Jude, first responders. Read the whole book of Jude for an extended course.

    L K

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