Larry Fain
Larry H. Fain

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Associate Editorial

False Teachers and 2 Peter 2

"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. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep"  (2 Peter 2:1-3).

With these words, the inspired Apostle begins to show his and the inspiring Spirit’s total disgust with those who are called here “false teachers.” Where is the emphasis in this chapter so as to alert us as to the danger of the false teacher? Some have directed us to the word in verse one “secretly”. Certainly Peter would warn us of the motive of the false teacher, and I grant that most false teachers today as well as then were of the stealth kind wanting to worm their way in so as to have an evil influence on a totally unsuspecting audience. However, what follows in 2 Peter 2 is absolute evidence that the danger of the false teacher has little to do with his motivation or his method, but, rather, the results of his teaching.

It seems clear that the best workable definition of a false teacher is one that teaches that which is false. I grew up on a simple gospel where Bible words meant what they said and that God used words which the simple man could understand, myself being a perfect example of such a simple man. I have no mind for the complex. A day in Genesis 1 is a day of the same length as a day in my existence. Adultery is unlawful sexual behavior. I am totally convinced that when Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets of the law that not one Israelite misunderstood what God meant with “you shall not commit adultery.”  Nor do I believe that in John 8, when those desiring to test the Lord reported they had caught a woman in the “very act” of adultery, that anyone had any doubt that the report had to do with the sexual behavior of the woman. Likewise, baptism is not a word with a mysterious definition. It has always meant to immerse. No genius I.Q. is required to be able to find that definition. Therefore, in the book of God when a sincere reader sees the term “false teacher” it has reference to the subject matter of the teacher, not the motive of his heart nor the method by which his teaching is introduced. That is the simple approach that has worked for servants of God for centuries.

In verse 3 of the text above reproduced, the Lord’s ambassador speaks of the exploitation of the people with “false words.” Again make note of the fact that motive, though mentioned (“in their greed”), is not the means of the destructive exploitation. It is the false words of the false teacher. The Bible emphasis is and always has been on the words (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; Acts 2:4; Acts 2:14; Acts 2:22; Acts 2:40; Acts 11:14 The true words of God are the means of man’s salvation (Romans 1:15-17) while the false words of the false teacher are the means of a man’s destruction, which is the point Peter is making in this chapter (2 Peter 2). At the end of verse 3, Peter declares that the judgment against the false teacher is from long ago and is “not asleep.”

Peter then begins to compare the false teacher to others in history who were subject to the destruction of God. He mentions sinning angels in verse 4; the ancient world destroyed while Noah and his family were safe in the ark; the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah filled with the men who had tormented Lot whom God rescued as He had Noah. What brought about the destruction of those cited? It was their deeds. Read verses 9 & 10, "Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties."  The unrighteous are the false teachers. They are likened to all sorts of lowness. Verse 12 likens them to “unreasoning animals”. Verse 13, “stains and blemishes” based on their “deceptions.” They deceive people, intentionally or unintentionally, the result is still the same. People are deceived and follow after things which are false and sin.

Talmadge and Edith Waddell of Athens, Alabama are two wonderful Christians. I love them dearly. They are a great team together. They have been married for many years. He does for her. She does for him. One thing which Edith refuses to allow her beloved husband to do for her, however, is to drive her to the store or anywhere else for that matter. Every time he and I would go to visit the sick, I would drive. He never offered one time in the four years we worked together. I am sure you have figured out the reason by now. Talmadge Waddell is blind. As good as his heart is, and there are few any better, he cannot any longer drive a car. "And He also spoke a parable to them: 'A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?'"  (Luke 6:39).  If the blind lead, both he that is leading and he that is following will fall into the pit. Edith Waddell always drives.

Verse 15 of our text puts the situation in terms totally understandable, “forsaking the right way they have gone astray...”  The problem with the false teacher is that his teaching is not right! Just as a good hearted blind man cannot drive a car, the good hearted wrong man does not teach what is right and can only be called a false teacher. The results of the error being taught are the same for the hearer if the teacher of the error thinks he is right or knows he is wrong.

Thanks to the good Lord of Heaven that we have His word, we can read His word, believe it, and obey it so as to be saved. May we hearken to the warnings of Peter and beware of those false teachers who are out among us.


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