II Peter 2:17-19

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS

INTRODUCTION:

 

We are in the process of looking at Peter’s description of the false teachers with whom he was dealing in order to warn believers to repudiate and reject them along with their way of life.

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 these false teachers. The 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.

We have also already seen –

  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. They are trained in greed and are under a curse.

 

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.

Finally, we see –

 III.     THE PRACTICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS – II Peter 2:17-19

 

Practically, they promise more than they can deliver, and their teaching has no substance or consistent form. They are on their way to a Christless eternity in hell. Although they sound impressive, what they say is totally worthless. They entice people through sensuality and capture those who have just escaped from some other false religious group. Although these false teachers promise their followers liberty, they cannot keep their promises because they themselves are slaves of corruption.

 

II Peter 2:17-1917 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

 

            1.   They are wells without water – v. 17

 

These refers to the false teachers.

 

Are introduces a timeless truth, something which is always true.

 

Wells without water are waterless (or dry) springs (or fountains). A lot of good a waterless or dry spring will do for one who is very thirsty! It will certainly not meet his needs. Similarly, these false teachers will never meet the spiritual needs of their hearers by their teachings.

 

            2.   They are mists carried with a storm – v. 17

 

These false teachers are further described as clouds that are carried with a tempest.

 

Carried with is being driven by, and a tempest is a whirlwind or hurricane. It is a fierce storm, perhaps a tornado. As clouds they are merely a mist with no substance or steadfastness. They will be given to rapid change, especially when driven by a fierce storm. It implies that their teaching will have no substance or consistent form, and it will be constantly changing.

 

            3.   The mist of darkness is reserved for them forever – v. 17

 

To whom is for whom and refers to these false teachers mentioned throughout the chapter.

 

The mist of darkness is a combination of two words, both of which mean darkness or gloom and which can be understood in the sense of gloomy darkness. It is a description of what is awaiting them in hell. They have no spiritual light or hope in them, and they apparently never will have. It appears that they have crossed the point of no return in their rejection of Christ and that God will give them no more opportunity to be saved. From our standpoint, while there is life, there is hope of salvation. However, from God’s standpoint, there comes a time when some have had their last opportunity for salvation; but we cannot tell when this occurs until they have died.

 

Is reserved means is kept, is preserved, or is held. Its tense suggests an action which had already been completed in the past with the results continuing on. A place in hell had already been set aside for them and is waiting their arrival. This was done while they were still actively teaching their heresies. They were unsaved, and all hope of their salvation was already gone. Their fate is sealed. What a pity!

 

Forever speaks of all eternity which they will spend in Gehenna, the lake of fire.

 

            4.   They speak great swelling words of vanity – v. 18

 

For introduces an explanation of what has preceded.

 

As translated, when they speak great swelling words of vanity indicates the time that they allure or entice those that were clean escaped.

 

When they speak might instead indicate the means by which they allure or entice some. If so, it is understood in the sense of by means of speaking. It would be by speaking great swelling words of vanity.

 

Speak suggests utter or proclaim.

 

What they speak or proclaim are great swelling words of vanity.

 

Great swelling words are things of excessive size, things that are puffed up, or haughty things.

 

Of vanity means of emptiness, of futility, or of purposelessness and describes great swelling words. Thus, they speak haughty things characterized by emptiness. Their words sound impressive, but what they say is totally worthless.

 

            5.   They allure people through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness – v. 18

 

They allure is the same word translated beguiling in verse 14 meaning lure or entice (with bait).

 

Through the lusts of the flesh indicates the means by which they attempt to entice others to follow them.

 

Lusts is desires and has an evil connotation attached.

 

Of the flesh refers to the old sin nature and indicates the source of these lusts as springing from the old sin nature or as being produced by the old sin nature.

 

Through much wantonness indicates more specifically what Peter meant by the lust of the flesh.

 

Wantonness is licentiousness, debauchery, or sensuality. It is plural and refers to wanton acts or manners, like filthy words, indecent bodily movements, or unchaste handling of males and females. It carries with it a suggestion of moral impurity.

 

            6.   They gain the sort of people that are just escaping from those who live in error – v. 18

 

Those whom the false teachers attempt to lure through much wantonness are those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

 

It suggests those persons, who were impressed with Christianity and just about to embrace it, but who then turned from Christianity and rejected it.

 

Clean is really, certainly, or in truth.

 

When combined with escaped from, clean escaped from is understood in the sense of really escaped from, certainly escaped from, or escaped from in truth.

 

Those from whom they escaped are them who live in error.

 

The word translated live literally means to turn back and forth; and when used in a figurative sense of human conduct as it is in this verse, it means to act, behave, or conduct themselves.

 

In error describes where they live.

 

Error is literally a wandering or a roaming. When used figuratively as it is in this verse, it means a wandering from the path of truth, error, delusion, deceit, or deception to which one is subject. It appears that they had just escaped from one group that was in error and that the false teachers went right after them in order to lure or entice them into their error.

 

They have just escaped from those who conduct themselves in delusion or deception.

 

    7.     They promise liberty – v. 19

 

Verse 19 indicates that the false teachers make a promise to their intended victims which they are not able to keep.

 

While suggests time. It might instead be understood as although. Both make good sense in the context. Whichever is understood, the time that the promise is being made is the same as when these false teachers are slaves of corruption. Imagine that! Slaves of corruption promising liberty or freedom to others!

 

What they promise is liberty.

 

They refers to false teachers who promise or offer liberty.

 

Them refers to the individuals to whom the false teachers make the promise of liberty. Although all those promised liberty are viewed as potential converts, they do not necessarily accept the offer or fall for the promise.

 

Liberty is the opposite of slavery and is used in the sense of freedom.

 

    8.     They are the servants of corruption – v. 19

 

They themselves refers to the false teachers and is an intensive term used to point out the ridiculousness of these false teachers who were slaves of corruption offering liberty or freedom to someone else.

 

What they are is servants or slaves.

 

Whereas Peter was a slave of Jesus Christ in that he belonged to Christ, these false teachers were the slaves of corruption in the sense that they belonged to corruption. Corruption was their master. Corruption implies depravity.

 

For introduces the reason these false teachers are the servants of corruption or depravity.

 

Of whom means by whom and refers to anyone who might overcome someone else.

 

A man is the indefinite anyone, anybody, someone, or somebody and does not necessarily refer to an adult male. It could be a man, but it could also be a woman or even a child. It is a general statement and refers to anyone.

 

Is overcome suggests is defeated and pictures an individual being conquered by someone else. Its tense indicates an action completed in the past with its result continuing on. They were overcome by someone in the past and remain overcome.

 

Of the same is to this one and refers to the one who overcomes someone else.

 

Is he brought in bondage is emphasized by a word in the Greek text which was not translated into the English text meaning also, indeed, in fact, or certainly. Is he certainly brought in bondage means is he also enslaved, is he indeed made a slave to, or is he in fact subjected to. Its perfect tense indicates an action completed in the past with its result continuing on. One who has been overcome by another was at that time made a slave and remained a slave from then on.

 

These false teachers had been overcome by corruption or depravity in their own lives. As a result, they were enslaved to it; and for them to promise others liberty was ludicrous.

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.

 

We need to heed the warnings of the Word of God against false teachers because God knows far more about this than we do, and we need to 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.