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Last time we were in 2 Peter, we saw that prophecy of Scripture does not come from any human source and neither does its interpretation. There can’t be different meanings for prophecies or Bible verses depending on who you are. As we move to Chapter two, we’ll see the link between them is prophecy. Peter told his readers to pay attention to the prophecies of Scripture because their source is God. Since the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets, the Scriptures should be trusted because both the revelation and its interpretation are from God. This morning Peter tells us that not all prophets come from God.
2 Pet. 2:1 says, “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.”
Our reality is that false prophets are here. There is a but. Peter just finished saying that the source of prophecy and interpretation is the Holy Spirit. Here’s the contrast to what he just said. “False prophets also arose among the people.” This is not shocking, it’s not unusual, it’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last time. As long as God has been around, there have been forces and people that have attempted to discredit God, discredit His power, His ability, His love, and His judgment. People have tried to prove He doesn’t exist. This is the reality. Not everyone who comes in the name of the Lord is from the Lord. Just because someone says it doesn’t make it true. Please take the time to read Ezekiel 13:1-9. It is a powerful example of false prophets. False prophets should not scare you. I assure you God keeps tabs on all of them. False prophets have always been around. How can you spot a false prophet? Their prophecies do not come true. The prophecies of true prophets of God always come true. If someone tells you that God told them something, don’t automatically dismiss them as a false prophet. Line up what they say with Scripture. Remember no prophecy was made by an act of human will. The false prophets God told Ezekiel about were prophesying by their own inspiration. We combat this with truth.
Is it just false prophets? Nope, toss in some false teachers too. What’s the difference? Both are dangerous. Both are a sign that we are in the last days, but remember that Peter’s words are 2000 years old, Ezekiel’s even older. Mark 13:22, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” In Ezekiel’s day, the prophets were telling the people, “Peace! When there is no peace.” (Ez. 13:10) They were lying, God did not send them. Are they still around today? There are people that claim to come in the name of the Lord, but they do not. What do they do, why are they so bad? Peter wrote about the need to live a godly life. False teachers arose in the church who denied the need to live a godly life and ignored the truth of the second coming. If there is no future coming of the Lord, then the foundation for ethics and morality disappear and the path is laid down to live a life of licentiousness. Jude 4: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” This is a serious threat to the church. They, “Secretly introduce destructive heresies.” (2 Pet. 2:1) They’re not just poor, misguided souls who mistakenly interpreted Scripture. They are bad news; they are rotten to the core. They aren’t just lost; they’re on a mission from Satan. No, I’m not being overly dramatic. Their goal is to lead you astray and they do it secretly. That’s the kicker.
How do they do this? Can heresy actually lead someone off the path of righteousness? First we need to understand what heresy is. Heresy is any teaching that is contrary to what is generally accepted. Scripture is filled with examples of heresy. We see idolatry throughout the Bible. In 1 John, we saw the heresy of Gnosticism. In Galatians, religious leaders taught that you had to keep the Law and be circumcised for salvation. Gal. 2:4, “But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.” Recent heresies in the church are numerous. There is no absolute truth. There is no need for Christian living. There is no literal hell. All roads lead to heaven as long as you’re sincere. There is a difference between false teaching and bad teaching. Some errors are more serious than others. Some scriptural issues are more significant than others. Some doctrines are more important than others. These teachers were, “Even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” That’s the bottom line. The worst of it is that they deny Jesus Christ.
We’ll see exactly what this type of heresy leads to next week. In the mean time, the best way to combat heresy is to know and live the truth.