There have always been false prophets and heretics, every generation will be visited by them. The Old Testament is full of stories about them and here the NT 2 Peter the second chapter we find Timothy dealing with a recurrence of such. We should be aware today church that they still appear from time to time. These people can do damage to the church and its teachings, can and have brought disaster on a nation by leading God’s people astray. These false prophets told people, what they wanted to hear, we see the same thing even today. We find in the OT in Jeremiah 6:14, Ezekiel 13:16 that even though the Lord God was saying there was no peace these false prophets were seeing visions of peace. Zedekiah because of his popularity was able to lead Jehosapht to a bad decision involving the Syrians that was a total disaster. False prophets always will tell people what they want to hear and not the truth they need to hear. We can continue to add character flaws to these false prophets but the important thing is to remember that these same things occur in the church today. They used the God’s word for personal gain, using religion as a money making thing, being desirous of others possessions, greedy and acquisitive individuals who preach and taught so to deceive and exploit people for their own ends. They were immoral in their own lives. Their lifestyles led people astray, their recklessness and total abandonment of Godly morals led people to evil ways. These false prophets more than any others drove the people away from their God and into a state of being separated from God by their sins. The characteristics of these false prophets are still the same in our world today. Isaiah relates how these false prophets smell of strong drink, they are confused by their overindulgence in wine(Isaiah 28: 7) Jeremiah said in reference to the prophets of Jerusalem whom he found to be committing adultery and lying, they have strengthened the hands of the evil doers and led the people astray. (Jeremiah 23: 14, 23:32) They presented a temptation to evil rather than an attraction to lead a holy life. These are a few of the things that Peter finds difficult to accept. It is Peter’s thought and mission to destroy these prophets who are leading the people in the wrong direction. It is time for the church to stand in the gap, we can no longer accept such behavior because social convention deems it necessary to promote tolerance and inclusiveness, two words that have weaken the resolve of the church because the contextual meaning of such is misunderstood. Continuing in chapter 2 verse 1 Peter then addresses the actions of these false prophets. Here we add a new word to our discourse. He accuses them of subtly introducing destructive heresy into the struggle to control the message and mission of the church.
What is happening here is the confrontation of the God given truth challenging the heresy of the false prophets. There was a time when heresy was nothing more than one of the definitions of a word. The Greek word is heiress from the verb haireisthai, which means to choose, and originally it was a perfectly honorable word. I chose to keep this simple by just pointing out that as with all things, things change. Why this sudden change and opposition to other choices being offered? With the coming of Jesus, God’s truth came to the world, and people had either to accept or to reject it. Now there was the way, the truth, the life. The certainty of Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the promise of life after death revealed these false prophets and heretics as someone who believed what they wished to believe and not accepting the truth of God. They were a sly group as they did not assume the position of an adversary, they sold themselves as the very best and learned of available Christian thinking. They were so good that little by little and subtly Peter’s people were lured away from God’s truth and began embracing the false opinions of these prophets and heretics.
Before Christ purchased us with his death and resurrection on the cross, we were slaves to sin. Paul reminded us that we were bought with a price… 1 Corinthians 7:23. We who have accepted him as our Lord and Saviour belong to him. The cost was great and should not be marginalized by the false teachings of these people. These heretics were denying the Lord. There is so much to share here but the bottom line is that the things they taught and did were a complete denial of Him. They were teaching SIN and that would lead to their condemnation.
Parousia, Eschatology and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and Second Petter’s defense of such against false teachers has brought us to this weeks blog. We have now met these false teachers and I hope have a better understanding of how important it is for the Church to know that the Jesus who died on the cross will be the Jesus that will preside over the completion and joy of God’s gift of salvation. Peter set out to defend the faith, we today need to be doing the same. Here in our day false prophets and heretics are still among us. They continue to believe what they wish to believe, not accepting the truth of God.
Life is Good