The Book of Second Peter

Lesson 6 - "Heeding God’s Warning"

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

II Peter 2:1-3, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

We’re continuing with a series from II Peter entitled “The family of like precious faith.”  We already talked about the power, the promises and the partakers of this precious faith, we looked at adding to our faith these seven things (virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity), we saw that having “these things” in our lives had several promises attached to them, we looked at Peter’s account of the transfiguration of Christ, and we looked at the importance of the Scriptures. Today we want to look at what Peter wrote concerning heeding God’s warning concerning what he calls in verse one, “false prophets and teachers.

When we come to chapter two of II Peter, we find God’s warning to His people as it is given to the human penman, the Apostle Peter. It is a warning concerning false prophets and teachers of His word. You see the real issue in the Christian life is to know the truth of God’s word and then to live our lives in total obedience to that truth. The most dangerous error is that error that is nearest to the truth. Many millions of people have heard and believed something that has been substituted for the truth.

The result of believing a lie is the greatest enemy that we face as Bible believing Christians who are commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The sad result of keeping people

from hearing and believing the truth of God’s word is that they will live and die without a saving knowledge of Christ and spend an eternity separated from God in hell!

And so Peter, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, issues a warning here in II Peter chapter two. Its God’s warning to His people. It is no doubt a very strong warning. If you think perhaps that this warning is a little overdone, then consider with me Jesus’ address to the religious leaders of His day from Matthew 23:1-10,

   “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”

Jesus continues to warn the people about these so-called religious leaders of His day in verses 13-15, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

Jesus continues in verses 23-39,

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Wow! We have just read the warnings of our Savior towards His people concerning the false prophets and teachers of His day! Nowhere else in the Bible do we find a more scathing message. Why? Because nothing is more important than a person placing their faith in Christ. The eternal souls of men are at stake!!! The most serious crimes in our nation are not those for which people are dragged in court, but the ones committed by so-called religious leaders who are supposed to represent the Lord and do not speak the truth!!!!!

Yes we must speak the truth in love, but we must never sacrifice the truth, because the souls of lost men and women are at stake. When you find someone who preaches the truth boldly and weeps over sinners, you find one who has the spirit of Christ! Let’s look at three things here,

#1) The false prophets.

Look again with me at 2 Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

-Jeremiah 5:31 says, “The prophets prophecy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jeremiah spoke out against the false prophets of his day. He said that the people love to hear it!!! That’s so sad!

-Jeremiah 23:21 says, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” Here Jeremiah is telling what God said to him, that these so-called prophets haven’t been sent by me and I haven’t spoken to them. In other words, these are not my words even though they are saying that they are!!!!

That’s exactly why you and I need to know our Bibles to be able to discern truth from error. And so when someone gets up and speaks falsely, we will know that it’s not from God and it’s not God’s word, it’s false!!!! The problem with most people who follow these false prophets is that false prophets attract people to themselves. They are very capable speakers, with winsome personalities and positive messages. Look at what Paul tells Timothy to do in II Timothy 3:1-8, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”

Paul tells Timothy in verse five what we are to do with false teachers. He says, “From such, turn away!”

When we recognize error and false doctrine, we must turn away from it and reject it. When you love God and His word more than you love the approval of men, you will turn away from error! This is why our spiritual forefathers could hand down the truth to us, because they jealously guarded the truth. They were vigilant in the matter of the truth.

There were not only false prophets, but there are also people who have seducing spirits which is a supernatural ability to draw people to themselves no matter how farfetched and incorrect their doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:1 says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” This is why crowds of people will flock to hear false prophets and false teachers. They are spellbound by these seducing spirits.

Peter said that these false prophets bring into the church “damnable heresies.” Look again at 2 Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” What is heresy? The word heresy comes from a word meaning a “choice.” When certain doctrines are clearly spelled out in God’s Word for example like the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ, a heretic chooses to believe something different than the clear teaching of the Word of God. It’s his choice over God’s word. These are called “damnable” because these false teachings often damn people to an eternity without Christ.

#2) Their pernicious ways.

In 2 Peter 2:2 in the first part of that verse, he says, “And many shall follow their pernicious (damnable, destructive) ways.” This is an alarming statement! Their lies and false teachings are not things that just a few people will follow. False religion, cults and the denial of the truth is alarming because so many are caught up in it!

Not only that, but besides the error of their teachings, they justify their error by attacking those who preach the truth. Look again at 2 Peter 2:2, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” They speak evil and talk against those that who believe the truth. Remember is II Timothy 3:3, Paul said in the last days that these false teachers would be, “Despisers of those that are good.”

Again the Lord Jesus deals with false teachers in John 8:42-47 where He says,

“Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”

There are many people today preaching a “religious” message; on television, on the internet, in stadiums and conference rooms, on the radio and from our pulpits. They may be very kind, courteous and civilized in their behavior, but when the message they preach does not agree with the truth of God’s word, then we are to turn away from them. The problem is that many will follow their pernicious (damnable and destructive) ways. Not only that sad fact but they will speak evil about those of us who choose the truth over popularity.

The fact of the matter is that if Jesus were preaching today, many would be very critical of His messages also.

#3) Those that use feigned words.

Look again with me at the first part of II Peter 2:3, “And through covetousness shall they with feigned (artificial, fake, fictitious, or made up) words make merchandise of you.” The motive of false prophets and teachers is found here. Their motive is not to please God. Their motive is really covetousness! They want to draw things and people to themselves. They will do whatever it takes, and whatever is necessary in order to get people to follow them.

They take people, eternal souls for whom Christ died, and merchandise these people. They place tremendous value on things that are temporary and in so doing, they merchandise the eternal souls of men or in other words, they use people for their own personal gain. But remember this; the Lord says that their day of judgment is coming. Again 2 Peter 2:3 says, “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

We must preach the truth in love yes, but we must do it as Christ did and as Peter did, knowing that these false teachers are not only preaching damnable heresies, having pernicious ways, and using feigned words but they are also despisers of those that are good!

Let’s be like Christ, and Peter and like Paul who said to the Ephesian pastors in Acts 20:26-27, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”

May God help us to heed the warning given here in II Peter chapter two. That we would clearly see the false teachers and help us to see their use of feigned words, damnable heresies and pernicious ways. May we always preach the truth in love and follow the admonition of Jude to “Earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered.”

-Let’s pray.

Next Lesson  —>