This is the final post in this series on the wolves spoken of in Matthew 7 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5). I have felt urged to give attention to what the scripture says about these wolves because of how serious their threat is to the church.
We’ve now come to the 2nd chapter of the 2nd Peter; this whole chapter is given to the topic of false teachers and the damage they will do to churches that they sneak into when left uncontested.
Forewarning of havoc
1But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
The Spirit testifies in Peter the same warning as we have received from Jesus and the same warning as we have received from Paul regarding the falling away; these wolves are already among us, but they are guaranteed to come in greater force and will lead a great many into their destructive way.
We see that they will secretly introduce destructive heresies to the church. These wolves bring in the doctrines that teach the children of God to walk contrary to His word and holy calling. By their deception sin is accepted, lawlessness abounds, and the true self-less love of Christ will grow cold in the hearts of many.
They cause the way of truth to be distorted and even hated and it is because of these false teachers that we see many people spewing hatred against the call to walk holy before God (1st Thess. 4:1-8). Though God has commanded His children not to love the world or the things of the world (1st John 2:15), false teachers entice unstable souls through the lusts of the flesh to once again love the world and the things of the world.
And the Holy Spirit bears witness that false teachers will exploit and deceive through covetousness; with covetousness in their heart they will take advantage of the covetousness that rests in the hearts of those who listen to them and their deceptive words.
The destruction of False Teachers and deliverance of the Righteous
4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
The promise is that God, who did not spare the fallen angels, will not spare these false teachers, but will deliver them over into chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment; God will spare the righteous and deliver them from His impending wrath as He consumes all those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and who despise authority.
We’re reminded that these false teachers presume what they do not know and are arrogantly self-willed, even speaking evil of dignitaries. A lesson to the wise to warn us should the seed of despising authority begin to be planted in our hearts!
The Depravity of False Teachers
12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
The Spirit reveals something to us when it speaks of their carousing in the daytime; these false teachers have no shame for many of their sins. Many of them do not seek to hide or cover up their shameful deceptions and destructive ways, but run openly in them. As the wolves in our time begin to move about more freely, we are seeing how they are no longer ashamed or afraid to deny sound doctrines and teach lies or even to deny Christ Himself as the One and only way.
Instead of being without spot and blameless, as Christ presents the Church (Eph. 5:27), they are spots and blemishes running freely about in their deceptions as they fellowship with you. Their eyes are full of harlotry as they have denied faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ and welcomed in the spirits of error and sin. Because of this they cannot cease from sin and they entice unstable souls who do not know sound doctrines nor stand firmly on the foundation of Truth.
The Spirit again reveals through Peter that they have hearts trained in covetous practices as they are consumed by all kinds of greed (for sin, money and wealth, power, fame and glory, etc).
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
Again the Spirit reveals that these false teachers speak many beautiful but empty words; their words being devoid of truth will instead allure their victims through the lusts of the flesh and lewdness.
And we receive a warning from the Spirit; it is revealed that they will allure even the ones who have actually already escaped from those who live in error. We should take very seriously with a sober mind the warning that these false teachers will deceive Christians (the only ones who have escaped from error) and cause them to err through the lusts and lewdness of the flesh.
This is one of the reasons why I am do deeply grieved by how lewd and sensual pastors have become because I see wolves enticing away y brethren into all kinds of lusts of the flesh (whether sensual or of greed and wealth).
This condition, having once escaped the corruption of this world and again becoming entangled in them again, is far worse than if we had never escaped them in the first place.
A Final Word of Exhortation to the Brethren
Who among us can say that they did not need the warning of the Holy Spirit but were wise enough in their own understanding to resist the deceptive ways of the false teachers? Their way is hidden in secrecy and craftiness under the veil of darkness, but, we are not left as blind children groping in the darkness, rather, because of the mercy of God and the Holy Spirit who now dwells in us, we are the children of Light, even now capable of exposing the deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11).
When I first read these warnings in 2nd Peter 2, I was startled and deeply troubled as I feared that I was beginning at that early time in my life to go astray; I want to encourage and exhort my brethren to first turn these things we have seen from the scriptures inward and put to death any seed of the flesh by which Satan may be given place to deceive you in your own life. Having done this, then to take of these scriptures as a sword with which you can defend yourself from the onslaught of the enemy.
We are in a day when sensuality rules, even having blinded many, and the way of truth is hated for its purity.
Consider your ways and test the spirits; do not be deceived by anyone, rather, in understanding, gird up your mind and be sober! May the grace and peace of Christ be with all the brethren, Amen!