FALSE TEACHERS IN THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION
1. In the old dispensation false prophets swarmed like locusts. If God had not spoken we never would have known that they had lived or died because they were the popular and influential preachers, much beloved and appreciated. Jesus said unto His disciples, “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you, for so they spoke of the false prophets who were before you,” thus revealing the fact that the false prophets were the beloved pastors, well spoken, while God’s prophets were the incorrigible cranks, disturbing the Church by their fanaticism, suffering terrible persecutions and sealing their faith with their blood. Were they not avowedly prophets of Baal? But Baal is a Hebrew word which means Lord, in contradistinction to Jehovah, the excarnate Christ of the Old Testament. Those false prophets claimed to be true, and they thought that God’s prophets were false. The simple fact of these false prophets is, they preached a bloodless and spiritless religion. They despiritualize the plan of salvation. Their successors are all round us, pursuant to Peter’s prophecy; their name is legion. Truly they have flooded the world with damnable heresies, which largely constitute the popular preaching of the day. “Denying the Lord that bought them, they bring on themselves swift destruction.” Satan fought four thousand years against the Fatherhood and broke down the divine Fatherhood, receiving full recognition before the incarnation. When God came incarnate he turned all his battering rams against the Sonship of God, dividing the Church into Arians and Trinitarians, the war sweeping hot through ten centuries. On that line he suffered signal defeat, the Christhood of Jesus signally triumphing. We are now in the midst of Satan’s last war period, i.e., against the Holy Ghost, the third person in the Trinity. He is stirring earth and hell against the Holy Ghost. When he suffers defeat on this battlefield, as soon he will, the apocalyptic angel will come down and chain him, and lock him up in hell.
The false teachers of the present day are preaching a bloodless religion, and fighting holiness, i.e., the personal Holy Ghost, just as their predecessors in the early centuries fought the divinity of Christ and four thousand years ago the Fatherhood of God.
2. “Many will follow their impurities; through them the way of truth will be evil spoken of.” They preach the doctrine of impurity, i.e., a sinning religion which, of course, suits the carnal mind.
3. “And in their covetousness they will sell you by their soft words.” How signally Peter’s prophecy is this day fulfilled. These anti-holiness preachers please the people with an impure gospel which tolerates sin in some form, and in this way they sell their congregations to the devil for filthy lucre. The picture is awful but the fact is worse. How many preachers, if paid money enough, will let their own members slip through their fingers into hell. These are the false prophets of the present, seen by Peter’s prophetic eye, and discerned by the Holy Ghost. “For whom,” i.e., these counterfeit preachers, who “in their covetousness sell” the people to the devil “by their soft speeches.” “Judgment of old tarrieth not and their destruction slumbereth not.” So surely as God is true an awful retribution is destined to overtake these men. God never forgets anything. Peter reminds us of the horrible judgments which overtook their predecessors.
4. In confirmation of the awful judgments awaiting the false preachers and teachers of the Gospel dispensation, Peter reminds us of the angels who sinned and were cast down to hell, destined to meet their appalling doom when they stand before the great white throne.
5. He portrays before us the dismal doom of the wicked antediluvians, where bloodless religion prevailed over holiness, especially after the holy people committed the sad mistake of intermarrying the wicked race of Cain, the great patriarch of bloodless religion.
6. Sodom and Gomorrah, whose very sites are now covered by the Dead Sea, are an everlasting reminiscence of divine retribution. Even Jericho, fifteen miles up the Jordan Valley, the successor of Sodom, was shouted down, and prohibited ever being rebuilt.
7, 8. Lot is here commended as a preacher of righteousness, true to God amid the iniquities of Sodom. He belonged to the patriarchal dispensation under which God called and sent His preachers, as under the Gospel.
9. Peter testifies to the perfection of the divine administration in rewards and punishments.
10. “Especially those going after depravity in the lust of pollution, and despising lordship,” i.e., the divine sovereignty. Dominion is kuriotees, from kurios , Lord, and means lordship, i.e., God’s government, i.e., holiness. These carnal preachers despise and reject it with contempt. “Audacious darers, they tremble not at glories speaking evil.” Such is their audacity that they criticize and speak evil of the glory which holiness gives.
11. The angels who are greater in power and majesty than men tremble with awe at the very thought of the slightest infringement on the divine administration.
12. “But these (false teachers) are irrational animals, having been naturally born for capture and destruction, speaking evil of those things in which they are ignorant, shall even be corrupted in their own corruption.” This is certainly an appalling picture, describing these false teachers as irrational animals which are brought into the world, like bears and deer, to be caught and eaten without mercy. So the counterfeit preachers, carnal, worldly, and opposed to holiness, are to be caught by devils and devoured in hell.
13. “Receiving the reward of unrighteousness, considering luxury, which is through the day (as well as night) their pleasure,” i.e., they make temporalities, fine salaries, and luxuriant living, their chief desideratum. “Spots and blemishes swelling in their delusions feasting along with you.” As they are the chief ministers, of course they are with you, not only in the sacraments, but in the church festivals, fetes and receptions, though so corrupt that the Holy Ghost anathematizes them as “spots and blemishes.” Satan has so wrapped them in his delusions as not only to fill them with self-confidence, but inflate them with the most imperious egotism.
14. “Having eyes full of an adulteress, and can not cease from sin.” Throughout the Bible God’s Holy Church is represented by a pure virgin, while the counterfeit church is symbolized by a harlot. These carnal creatures are devout servitors, not of God, but of the fallen ecclesiasticism, here denominated an adulteress. We now live amid the awful fulfillment of this prophecy. Every young preacher is forced to face the emergency and decide between God and fallen churchism, i.e., the “adulteress,” settling the question whether he will be loyal to the Holy Ghost or to some one of Babylon’s daughters. In his conservatism and rigid loyalty to the “adulteress,” i.e., the fallen church, of course he can not “cease from sin.” “Beguiling unestablished souls” in the economy of grace. When regenerated people get sanctified they must move forward into the establishing grace, or get caught in some of Satan’s traps, especially those set and manipulated by his unconverted preachers, with whom the world is flooded. “Having a heart which has been made fat with covetousness, the children of the curse.” These preachers are actuated by the love of money, big salaries, fine houses, luxurious living, social position, pomp, pageantry and popularity. “Children of the curse,” is an orientalism, significant of the most appalling divine retribution.
15. “Leaving the straight way they have wandered off.” We see in 2 Peter 2:21 that these preachers were once converted, but backslid because they would not seek sanctification. Hence they have become false prophets and money lovers, like Baalam.
16. Who, despite the miraculous rebuke of the donkey on which he rode, persisted in his enterprise, cursing Israel, for Baal likes gold. Myriads are the followers of Baalam this day, who, despite all of God’s faithful warnings, persist in cursing Israel, i.e., God’s holy people, in order to please the fallen churches and get their gold. Despite of all of Baalam’s good resolutions, he fell in the Moabitish war, fighting against Israel, and lost his soul. So these anti-holiness preachers, despite a thousand conscientious compunctions, providential warnings and spiritual awakenings, predominated by the love of gold, continue to curse Israel, till they drop into the pit. As in case of Baalam, of course, God turns their cursing into a blessing to His true people, causing the “wrath of man to praise Him.” It is wonderful how God uses the opposition to confirm His true people and scatter holiness over the earth.
17. “These are fountains without water and mists driven away by the storms.” In vain do the people look to these preachers for the water of life to revive their famishing souls, for they have not a drop. We hear them preach, but receive not a drop of water or a crumb of bread to satisfy hunger and thirst. When they rise in the pulpit the people hope they will send down a rain to save their famishing gardens and fields; but how badly are they disappointed. They have neither rain nor dew. “For whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved.” We see here in the clear revelation of the Holy Ghost the preacher’s hell is the blackest, darkest, deepest and hottest abyss in the dismal regions of irretrievable woe. In my humble way I have been a preacher forty-three years. Good Lord, deliver me from a preacher’s hell! I would prefer that of any other reprobate in all the gloomy dungeons of damnation. An apostle lost his religion and went to hell for money. I doubt whether any other apostle has a larger ministerial following this day than Judas. Oh, the preachers who for the love of money oppose holiness.
18. “Speaking great swelling words of vanity through the lusts of the flesh, by their impurities they beguile those who have but slightly escaped, being exercised in the delusion.” These are the men who preach grand, eloquent sermons, containing everything but Gospel, which Paul says is God’s “dynamite unto salvation to the believer,” thus “speaking great swelling words of vanity,” i.e., preaching these eloquent, despiritualized and degospelized sermons, to feed the vanity of the carnal people who pour out their gold, till they live like kings. Meanwhile their poor souls slip through their fingers into hell. If you have not been converted, sanctified and established in holiness, you are very likely to be caught by the sophistical eloquence, soft palaver, etiquette, socialism, mannerism and galvanized diabolism of these men, led away, alienated from God, your experience evanesced, your soul lulled to sleep, till you wake up in hell.
19. “Promising them liberty they themselves being the slaves of corruption, for to whatsoever any one has been made inferior, to this he has become enslaved.” These carnal preachers denounce holiness as “narrow, fanatical, illiberal and cranky,” alluring the people with their generous proclamation of liberty, thus in fact teaching a broad way to heaven, flatly contradicting Jesus, amid all their boasted proclamations of liberty, themselves are the slaves of their own carnal appetites and corrupt predilections, from which nothing but entire sanctification can deliver. They are utterly ignorant of the freedom which belongs only to God, and becomes His gracious gift to the wholly sanctified.
20. This verse justifies the conclusion that these false preachers have once known the Lord, but as hopeless backsliders are now in an infinitely worse condition than before they were converted.
21. “For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than knowing it to turn from the holy commandments, having been delivered unto them.” This verse furnishes us the key which unlocks the sad problem and reveals the mournful secret of the miserable condition and appalling doom of these “false teachers” (2 Peter 2:1), certifying that they backslide and become confirmed reprobates, because they “turned away from the holy commandment which was delivered unto them,” i.e., they backslide because they did not get sanctified; became carnal, worldly and covetous. Meanwhile they gather up great libraries, study hard, becoming able pulpit orators, standing in the front of the clerical ranks.
22... “The dog having returned to his own vomit and the sow that was washed unto the wallowing of the mire.” The metaphors vividly enforce the indisputable possibility and fearful probability of apostasy. The dog gets terribly sick and vomits. What a vivid picture of a true penitent down at the mourner’s bench, vomiting up his sins. How strange to see the same dog ere long go back and eat up his vomit, and still more so to see a man who has been born from above, going back and taking up his old sins, which he vomited out when he drank the bitter cup of repentance. While the preachers here described in Peter’s prophecy are backsliders for the want of sanctification, doubtless many of their comrades never did know the Lord. Rest assured we are living amid the momentous fulfillment of these terrible latter day prophecies.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Peter 2". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany