It is very important for believers to read the Bible, to pray, and to pursue knowledge of God. Otherwise they will follow whatever sounds nice, even if it is in complete opposition to the Gospel. They can begin to believe the well-woven tales of liars who take parts of the Bible and present them with their strange logic. They appeal to emotions and fleshly desires. They are about feeling good and being positive. Peter exhorts the church to beware of those people. Verses 1-3 read,
“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 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 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.”
The same demons who infested people in Noah’s day and in Sodom and Gomorrah are infesting them now to keep as many as possible from the truth. In Peter’s day, the false prophets and false teachers had to go into each church to spread their heretical doctrine. Today, they only have to appear on television. They still go into the churches, some even start their own churches. They look good. They seem so positive and pleasant with their big smiles and agreeable words. They can make people believe the lies they tell, because they sprinkle in enough scripture to make them think it is biblical. They offer freedom in prosperity, perfect health, and power. And desperate people searching for good news, seeking relief from their problems throw money at them and exalt the false teachers as their saviors.
We must know the Bible ourselves. We must read the word ourselves instead of only listening to what this preacher or that preacher says. A good preacher wants you to read it yourself, he wants us to question him about what he has taught. We are seeking God, not a preacher. In 1 Corinthians 15:34 Paul has some harsh words for people who don’t bother learning for themselves, who believe the false teachers who denied Jesus’ resurrection and brought other lies to them.
“Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”
We must remain diligent in our pursuit of the Kingdom of God. We have to recognize truth and lies. We have to be assiduous in our godliness. Lot lived in Sodom for years. All around him people gave way to the most base of desires. Yet, he remained righteous. Imagine the derision he faced day after day as everyone in that city called him hater, Pious Pat, and evil. But he remained steadfast and never let their vile life become normal and acceptable to him. Verses 7-10 read,
“and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”
The Lord brought Lot safely out of Sodom when he destroyed the city for its sin. The Lord has rescued us from the punishment of sin to the awesome hope of eternal life. Let that promise keep us persistent in following God instead of man. Allow the promise of our salvation to keep us diligent and deliberate in partaking of God’s nature instead of the flesh nature.
Peter gives a lengthy description of false teachers in verses 10-22 and I highly recommend you read it for yourself in case you recognize people that fit that description. Verses 14-15 read,
“They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing,”
It is the unsteady soul who falls for the lies. Not only must we be careful about what we listen to and believe but we have to watch out for our brothers and sisters who are weaker, less mature, or going through trials that make them vulnerable to these vultures. Verses 18-19 say,
“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. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”
We’ve all seen brothers and sisters teetering on the edge. We must step in and be Jesus to them to keep them from following lies instead of Jesus. They will either be overcome by Jesus or overcome by false promises of pleasure. We can be the difference.
Once a person hears and understands the truth about Jesus, if she goes back to living as a slave to lies, her punishment is much worse than the one who never heard the Gospel. We can’t let that happen to her. Verses 20-21 say it like this.
“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. 21 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”
Are you following a false teacher or Jesus? Do you know God for yourself or are you taking someone else’s word for who He is and what He has said? Is there a brother or sister who may fall victim to a false prophet? Pursue God. Pursue Truth.