For today’s Bible devotional we are reading 2 Peter 2. This is one of those chapters that some people want to skip over, it shows us the God of wrath and vengeance. And He is not so easy to swallow as the God of love and mercy. But remember this, God is God in all of who He is, He is the God of love and justice and mercy because He is the Lord of Angel Armies, jealous for His people. Where would the love be, if He did not exact His justice on those who set out to steal, kill, and destroy His people? Where would the mercy be, if there were no threat of condemnation? People want to imagine God as no a two-dimensional mythical figure in the sky, He is real, whole, and His many faces are all about His love. Could we say a father loved a daughter, if that father let people rape her and didn’t demand justice, but instead said, “It’s all cool, man. Have a daisy. Let’s smoke a peace pipe.” Justice requires payment for the crime.
Believers know that Jesus paid that price for us and God in His grace and mercy considered Jesus the propitiation, or the appeasement for our sin, but not everyone has allowed Jesus to be their Lord and accepted the gift of grace from God. And some have not just refused Him even in the light of hearing the truth, they have sought to pervert the truth and hurt God’s people for their own gain, pleasure, and personal devices. Our Father will not sit by as we His children are raped and led astray. He shows us mercy by taking His vengeance on anyone who dares hurt us.
Peter wrote to the church to encourage them to continue to walk the straight path with Christ, to build on the instructions that he and the other apostles had given them and so conform to the image of Christ. But now, he had to warn his beloved church that there would be people who would come in and twist those teachings to their own benefit, people who would turn that straight path of godliness to one I-thesism, self-improvement, and carnal indulgence all for their own pockets. 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 devil tried it with Jesus in the wilderness, he and his minions are going to try it with you as well. It is especially a danger to those who do not know the word of God well yet. Those false teachers take a verse out of context, or distort a phrase to sound biblical, or even a concept that sounds like a good thing and use it to lure people away from the Gospel and toward their feel-good self-improvement doctrine. It feels so right, it seems so good, that the follower doesn’t ask to see this in God’s word, they stifle the Holy Spirit, they suppress His discernment and they clamor for the good feelings, the enlightenment and self-actualization.
That path leads to destruction and their destruction is not asleep. Peter told us in the previous chapter that our goal is godliness and he gave us the step-by step building plan for reaching that goal. These false teachers offer short-cuts which rather than build us up together in the kingdom, tear us down and feed into selfishness. Paul said it this way in Philippians 3:14-21
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
17Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Though it may look like they flourish now, their destruction, their end is waiting and it will come. Jesus does not take kindly to people who mess with His people. In Matthew 18:5-9 Jesus said,
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”
Jesus said that, loving, kind, beautiful King Jesus. What is a millstone? It is the stone, a large quartz or similar circular stone which grinds wheat or corn into flour. It weighs between 1,500 and 3,000 pounds. Have one of those tied around your neck and you are headed very painfully and very quickly to the depths of the ocean to drown in terror, fully aware and unable to move or swim to the surface. God is serious when He says not to mess with His children. Hell is real and waiting for the enemies of Christ. Peter continues in verses 4-6
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell[ and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly
God didn’t spare the angels who sinned and followed Satan to tempt, hurt, and enslave God’s creation, He will not spare the false teachers who do the same. He cares about you! He cares about His church. God loves you and He will avenge you. He hasn’t forgotten you. I know a lovely woman, a dear friend, and as I listen to her talk, I hear that someone is teaching her falsely. Her doctrines are distorted, spiritual and self-centered. I believe she gets her misinformation from TV shows wrongly labeled Christian when they are spiritual but not Holy Spirit. I have asked her on more than one occasion to tell me where in the Bible she gets her ideas and she cannot tell me. I would love to punch her false teachers in the face, kick them, and tie a millstone around their necks before throwing them over the side of a boat. But, I pray for my friend, I teach her the truth, I see others doing the same, and I trust God to be God when it comes to those false teachers trying to steal my friend’s heart. Leviticus 19:17-18 reads,
You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
In Deuteronomy 32:35-39 God says,
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
36 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.
37 Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
38 who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you;
let them be your protection!
39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
Do you see that God loves us so much that He will in His power, wisdom, and sovereignty deal with those who come against us? We don’t have to. We can trust Him, He is the One True Living God, God Almighty, Lord of Hosts. If He is with us, who can stand against us? And this great and mighty God cares for you! He has not forgotten you. 2 Peter 2 continues with verses 7-16
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.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 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, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness.
It is not okay to let these people into our midst. Peter has given us descriptions of them and we can use those descriptions to recognize them and send them away, give them over to Satan, and let God deal with them. God wants them to come to Him and He is able to do whatever must be done. It is not our job to save them; He can and He knows. Let God be God. To keep them among us does not help us nor them. Peter continues describing them and the effects they have on the body of Christ in verses 17-22.
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 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. 20 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. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
They heard the truth, they chose to sully it with worldly philosophies. They take the pure Gospel and taint it with selfish ambitions sucking life, trying to dirty the Living Water with egotism and greed. God loves you so much that He will take avenge you, He is Justice and we are free to live fully in Him and pursue godliness as sons of Righteousness, filled with the Holy Spirit, to love as Jesus loved us. Romans 12:9-21 in The Living Bible reads,
Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. 10 Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.
12 Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always. 13 When God’s children are in need, you be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.
14 If someone mistreats you because you are a Christian, don’t curse him; pray that God will bless him. 15 When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. 16 Work happily together. Don’t try to act big. Don’t try to get into the good graces of important people, but enjoy the company of ordinary folks. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. 18 Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible.
19 Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don’t take the law into your own hands. 20 Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be “heaping coals of fire on his head.” In other words, he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you. 21 Don’t let evil get the upper hand, but conquer evil by doing good.
I know today’s devotional had quite a bit to say about punishment, wrath, and destruction. But Believer, there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). The Day of the Lord is all good and life for you and all darkness, wrath, and death for the enemies of Christ. So, be about your Father’s business, love others, make disciples, build-up the kingdom, and trust the Lord to be the LORD.