2 Peter 2:10-12 (NIV) 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12 But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.
On verses 10-12: In addition to the characteristics of false teachers that we looked at in verse 1-9, the false teachers of Peter’s day had three other harmful tendencies. First, the false teachers had a tendency to “despise authority” (v10). They would show no respect for the spiritual authorities that God had placed over them. “Bold and arrogant”, these false teachers had no qualms about speaking disrespectfully and slanderously about the spiritual authorities around them, including angels. In so doing, they would “blaspheme [that is, make false statements] in matters they do not understand” (v12), not realizing that the consequence of their blasphemy would be the destruction of their own faith and life in God.
What can we learn from this? Be careful how you think and speak about the spiritual authorities God has placed over you. God watches how we deal with our spiritual authorities and will hold us accountable for careless words. Also, do not let yourself be influenced by those who habitually treat God, God’s Word and spiritual authorities with disrespect and slander. If I don’t treat the authorities God has placed in my life with respect, I severely limit my ability to earn the respect of others in the future.
2 Peter 2:13-14 (NIV) 13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable…
On verses 13-14a: The false teachers in Peter’s day had a second harmful tendency: they would preach a “do whatever your flesh wants” approach to life. They unapologetically engaged in adultery and plunged headlong into drunkenness, preaching that it is spiritual to do so and misleading others to do the same. Thinking they were free to sin in whatever way they wanted to, they became “slaves of depravity” (v19). What can we learn from this? Good, effective teaching produces good results and a lifestyle that is more and more pleasing to God. Poor, ineffective or false teaching produces bad results and a lifestyle where sin is left unchecked. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:15-16 when warning about false prophets, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” No matter how learned or knowledgeable a teacher claims to be, you need to consider that person’s lifestyle and example when deciding whether or not to follow them.
2 Peter 2:14-16 (NIV) 14 …they are experts in greed–an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey–a beast without speech–who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
On verses 14b-16: A third harmful tendency of the false teachers in Peter’s day was their love of money. They would do what the seer Balaam in Numbers became famous for: they would preach anything and pray anything in the service of money. Their attitude was, “Whatever you want me to preach or pray, whomever you want me to bless or curse, I’ll do it if the price is right.” As 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Likewise, we need to ask ourselves this question: Do I struggle with the love of money? Do I compromise my faith and my relationship with God for the sake of money?
2 Peter 2:17-22 (NIV) 17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”
On verses 17-22: This passage shows us that we need to be careful not to be influenced by false teachers. But another powerful application of these verses is to ask yourself: What kind of teacher am I? What am I teaching the people around me about Jesus? Am I leading people toward Jesus or away from Him? The fact is: every Christian is a teacher in some way. Through our words, our actions, our example, we are – directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously – saying something about Jesus to the people around us. In fact, you may be the closest thing to a Bible that your unchurched friends will ever read. What does your life say to them about who Jesus is and the difference Jesus makes in a person’s life? Through our words, actions and example, by God’s grace that is working in us, may we let our light shine before people, that they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word which warns me against false teachers. I pray that not only would I be careful when it comes to false teaching, but even more I pray that I would not be a false teacher myself. Through the way I speak about the authorities over me, through the way I live this life, and through the way I deal with money, may my actions and words teach people about who You really are and how amazing Jesus is. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!