II Peter 2:14-16

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

Text:   II Peter 2:14-16

CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS

INTRODUCTION:

 

In II Peter 2:10-19 we see some of the chief characteristics of false teachers, and we also see that believers must repudiate and reject the sinful and self-centered way of life of the false teachers.

 

False teachers are to be expected to come and to bring their dangerous teaching with them. Although the Lord will judge them, they will still have some opportunity to spread their false teachings. In this section Peter describes the false teachers’ spiritual characteristics (vv. 10-13), their moral characteristics (vv. 14-16), and their practical characteristics (vv. 17-19) so that they will able to be easily identified.

We have seen –

    I.     THE SPIRITUAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS – II Peter 2:10-13

 

Spiritually, the false teachers live according to the old sin nature with immoral cravings while despising authority and speaking blasphemously. They are also characterized by audacity and arrogance. They blaspheme glorious angelic beings; whereas, these angels although greater in power and might, do not dare to speak evil of them. These false teachers are like unreasoning animals made to be captured and eaten; they speak evil of things they do not understand; they will thoroughly perish because of their own corruption; and they will be appropriately rewarded.

 

II Peter 2:10-1310 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. 12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.

Next, we see –

  II.     THE MORAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS – II Peter 2:14-16

 

Morally, the false teachers are always looking for immoral women and enticing weak people (v. 14). They are trained in greed and are under a curse (vv. 14-16).

 

II Peter 2:14-1614 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

 

            1.   They have eyes full of adultery – v. 14

 

Peter describes them as those having eyes full of adultery where adultery is literally an adulteress. It means that they have eyes full of (desire for) an adulteress with whom they may commit adultery. They are immoral men seeking an adulterous relationship.

 

            2.   They have eyes that cannot cease from sin – v. 14

 

They are also described as those that cannot cease from sin which means that they are restless for sin. They are just itching to get into sin.

 

            3.   They beguile unstable souls – v. 14

 

Next, they are described as beguiling unstable souls.

 

Beguiling means luring or enticing. The same word is translated allure in verse 18.

 

Unstable is literally not fixed and indicates that they are weak in that they cannot stand alone. By contrast people who are well grounded in the Word of God will not fall victim to their enticement. One is reminded of what Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:6-7 .

 

II Timothy 3:6-7 – (6) For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly [i.e. weak willed, gullible] women laden [i.e. weighed down, loaded down] with sins, led away with divers lusts [i.e. controlled by various evil desires], (7) Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

            4.   They have an heart exercised with covetous practices – v. 14

 

Heart speaks of their innermost being. Does the fact that heart is singular and their is plural suggest that these false teachers as a whole are united in attitude and manner? It seems so.

 

Exercised means trained, and its tense indicates an action taken in the past with its result continuing on. They have in the past trained their hearts in covetous practices with the result that they are now well trained in covetous practices.

 

With covetous practices may indicate the means by which they had trained their hearts, but it is better to understand with in the sense of in and the phrase to indicate the thing in which they had trained their heart.

 

Covetous practices is covetousness, insatiableness, avarice, or greediness. They seem to be out to get all they can for themselves.

 

            5.   They are cursed – v. 14

 

Cursed means accursed and suggests that they are accursed by God, i.e. that they are under a curse pronounced by God in His righteousness.

 

            6.   They have forsaken the right way and gone astray like Balaam – v. 15-16

 

II Peter 2:15-1615 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

 

Which refers to the false teachers, and which have forsaken is those who left behind.

 

What they have forsaken or left behind is the right way, which is literally the straight way, the straight road, or the straight path.

 

And gone astray means and are misled or and wander about and is another way of stating that they have abandoned the truth. They have moved away from a proper doctrinal and practical position regarding Christianity.

 

Where they have gone is made clear by following the way of Balaam.

 

Following is obeying.

 

The way of Balaam is the path that Balaam took. Lest there be any doubt as to which Balaam Peter refers, he describes him as being Balaam, the son of Bosor. Bosor is the Greek spelling for Beor.

 

Similarly, note Peter’s response to Simon the Sorcerer when Simon offered the apostles money so that he could have the power to impart the Holy Spirit to whomever he laid his hands upon. Peter said, Thy money perish with thee (Acts 8:20 ).

 

The account of Balaam is found in Numbers 22-25 . The Israelites were encamped in the plains of Moab near Jericho. Balak, the king of Moab, and the Moabites were intimidated by the Israelites because of their number and because of their success against the Amorites. Logic told them that they were next in line for conquest by the Israelites. Balak, therefore, sent messengers to Balaam in an effort to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites so that the Moabites might defeat them in battle. Although Balaam should have refused the messengers and their rewards outright, he lodged them overnight so that he could allow the Lord to speak to him. God had promised to bless those who would bless Abraham and curse those who would curse Abraham.

 

Genesis 12:2-32 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

 

By his even asking the Lord about the matter, Balaam demonstrated himself to be interested in the financial gain from the rewards of divination being offered to him near Jericho.

 

The Lord spoke to Balaam and told him in no uncertain terms not to go with the Moabites and not to curse the Israelites because the Israelites were blessed. Balaam then told the Moabite princes that the Lord refused to give him permission to go with them. The way he phrased it, however, left no doubt that he wanted to go because he was interested in the money. He demonstrated himself to be a typical hireling prophet.

 

More messengers were sent back to Balaam to persuade him to go to Balak. Balaam responded to them that he could not go beyond the word of his Lord, to do less or more. His words, however, appear a little empty. The Lord had already spoken, and His will was already known. There was no need for a second inquiry, but Balaam had an opportunity for wealth. Therefore, he inquired of the Lord a second time; but Balaam should never have done this. Surprisingly, the Lord granted permission for him to go; but He advised Balaam that he could only do what the Lord would say unto him. The next day the Angel of the Lord stood in Balaam’s way and told Balaam that his way was perverse before him. Now this seems to be a strange way for an ordinary angel to speak, but this was no ordinary angel. It was a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

 

The way of Balaam, which characterized these false teachers, was to make religion and religious practices into a money-making venture. The truth mattered not at all to them; what mattered was the financial gain no matter how great or complete the compromise required. For this reason Paul wrote that they that will to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition (I Timothy 6:9). Paul likewise was dealing with those who were attempting to make religion a means of financial gain as Balaam had done.

 

Balaam is identified as the son of Bosor, and Bosor is the Greek spelling for Beor.

 

Balaam is further described by who loved the wages of unrighteousness.

 

Who refers to Balaam.

 

Loved is the same term used of God in John 3:16 where God loved the world. It is not the term used to express fondness; instead, it is the term used to express a love which gives itself one hundred percent on behalf of the person or thing loved. What Balaam loved was the wages of unrighteousness.

 

Wages is pay or reward.

 

Unrighteousness is the opposite of a word which means righteousness or uprightness. Hence, it means wickedness or injustice. Unrighteousness can be used to describe wages in the sense of unrighteous wages or dishonest gain. It can also be understood in the sense of wages paid by (Balaam’s) unrighteousness. Both are grammatically possible; both are consistent with Scripture; and both make good sense in this context. It is difficult to choose between them. The pay was certainly not right to love, and the pay he loved was that for which he was willing to do wrong in order to receive.

 

II Peter 2:16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

 

But introduces a contrast between what Balaam loved and what Balaam was rebuked for.

 

Was rebuked for is had rebuke or had reproof.

 

The reason Balaam was rebuked was for his iniquity, i.e. his own iniquity. It was not someone else’s iniquity.

 

Iniquity is lawlessness or evil doing. Balaam had disobeyed the original order the Lord had given him, and he obviously coveted wealth to such a degree that he would knowingly do wrong in order to acquire it.

 

The dumb ass is an ass or a donkey which was incapable of speech, i.e. incapable of human speech.

 

Speaking indicates the means by which the donkey forbad the madness of the prophet. It was by means of the donkey having spoken in the voice of a man and is understood in the sense of by means of his having spoken in the voice of a man, the dumb ass forbad the madness of Balaam.

 

With man’s voice suggests by means of man’s voice or in man’s voice, where man’s is the generic term for human beings and is understood in the sense of a human voice.

 

Forbad is the past tense of forbid and means hindered, prevented, or restrained.

 

The madness of the prophet is the specific madness or insanity of the prophet named Balaam. In Numbers 22 when Balaam was on his way to Balak with the princes of Moab, the Angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against Balaam. His donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with his sword drawn, but Balaam did not see Him. The donkey turned aside and went into a field. Balaam struck the donkey and attempted to turn her onto the path. Next the Angel of the Lord positioned Himself in a path of the vineyards with a wall on both sides; and when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she thrust herself into the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. For this Balaam struck the donkey a second time. The Angel of the Lord then went farther ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. With no place to go when she saw the Angel of the Lord, the donkey fell down under Balaam. With that Balaam struck his donkey a third time, but this time he struck her with his staff. Then God opened the mouth of the donkey so she could speak to Balaam in a human voice and asked Balaam why he had struck her three times, protesting that she had faithfully transported Balaam as long as Balaam had owned her. All at once the Angel of the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw for himself the Angel of the Lord standing in the path with his sword drawn. At this time he apparently realized why his donkey had acted as she had.

CONCLUSION:

 

Now, we have lots of people living today who are horrified with the pointed statements the Apostle Peter has written. They would accuse him of being hypercritical and judgmental, of being unkind and unloving, of not being interested in winning the lost, of being negative, of being an isolationist, of being too strict, of being a literalist, of being a troublemaker, and of being harsh.

 

Some may want to say that all false teachers are not this way. They may want to limit these statements to being true only in a few isolated instances. We need instead to heed the warnings of the Word of God because God knows far more about this than we do and remember that this passage was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is, therefore, without error.

 

Having seen these Biblical characteristics of false teachers, is it any wonder that believers are commanded to avoid them like the plague?

 

Any believer who will fool around with them is going to get burned because he becomes a partner with the false teachers in their evil deeds. It is far better to listen to the Scriptures and do what they say without questioning them.

 

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

 

Titus 3:10-1110 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

 

II Corinthians 6:14-1714 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

 

II John 10-11 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.