2 Peter 2:1-3 False Teachers

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

False Teachers

I often will listen to John MacArthur on Moody radio.  His exposition of the scriptures is strong and his application to life is often encouraging.  However, he spends a lot of his time rooting out false teachers in the church.  His present argument is with the charismatics and Pentecostals and his arguments are now available on line http://www.gty.org/resources/sermon-series/325/ .  Should we go after false teachers with the frequency and the vehemence of John MacArthur and James MacDonald?  Should we show videos on our church websites that accuse former board members of being used by Satan to spread falsehood?

The passage above seems to indicate that we should be aware that in many congregations of believers there will be those who promote unsound ideas.  However, isn’t that part of growing pains.  Some children I know think that when we die we become angels.  The Bible teaches nothing of the sort – should I publicly out them and condemn them?  No, of course not.  They are not teachers and they are not leading others astray.  Should I throw myself out of the church because I have changed my position on some doctrines as I have studied scripture more?  No, that is part of the maturing process.  The key for recognizing false teachers is what they do with Jesus.  The word referring to Jesus, Master, is the word that we get ‘despot’ from.  False teachers are often those who use Jesus to get what they want.  They manipulate those around them, and manipulate God (in their own perception, but not reality) to get what they want.  Jesus is not the despot over them, they are despotic in their teaching in the church.

So, is John MacArthur right?  I’ll let you listen to his sermons and make up your own mind.  I believe that any person who promotes ‘believing for’ something should be regarded with suspicion.  Often today it is a phrase used for manipulating Jesus and the Holy Spirit rather than submitting to God.  We should look at 1 Corinthians 14 and ask why many churches speak in tongues without an immediate translation.  Should we then say that all those who practice such things are heretics, false teachers, or even damned?  It all depends whether their religion is really a sham and their faith is rooted in self or in Jesus.  The evidence that Peter sees of false teaching is that there is an air of sensuality or greed.  Do you know anyone who teaches from those motives?  If you do, stay away.

Prayer

Jesus, I am grieved when I hear preachers on air go after others with the fervour of witch-hunters of the Puritan era.  I wish there was no conflict in the church.  I am not a fan.  However, we need to pursue truth and we need to stand by it.  May we crave the truth of scripture and a sincere experience of the Holy Spirit.  May the Spirit lead us in prayers that enhance a true relationship and may the Spirit lead us to speak up when the truth is compromised but to hold our tongue if it will bring about true peace.

Questions

  1. How does the acknowledgement of false prophets transition from chapter 1?
  2. How does a false teacher differ from a false prophet?
  3. Why would Peter refer to Jesus as ‘despot’?
  4. Is John MacArthur correct to spend so much of his time addressing false teachers and false teaching in his sermons?
  5. What false teachers and teaching are you addressing in the lives of those you know?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to 2 Peter 2:1-3 False Teachers

  1. 33324bg says:

    In 2nd Peter 1:1 Peter describes the recipients of his letter as “those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours.” I was reminded in reading that, how crazy it must’ve been when Christianity was first beginning. Similar to how it is becoming here, it wasn’t that people didn’t have faith back then, and Christianity stood out distinctly as “the faith”- many people had faith in all sorts of gods! There were all sorts of off-shoots of Christianity spreading, cults that had similar beliefs, but differences that were too significant to overlook. It only makes sense, that if truth is as important as Peter was just emphasizing it was (ch. 1), if in God’s word we have His precious and magnificent promises through which we partake in the divine nature, then any teaching that seeks to dilute and destroy this truth would be strongly opposed.

    I don’t know the percentage, but I know a number of the NT epistles like Colossians, Galatians, I think Jude, Titus and possibly 2nd Corinthians were written specifically to address false teaching. Today unfortunately false teaching still abounds. It’s interesting because in my home church I never heard about false teaching. It’s been refreshing to hear unbiblical worldviews openly be deemed as “false” at Moody and my home church here in Chicago. I do think one can get caught up too much in fighting false teaching, or be fighting it in a way that does not please the Master. Though we should remain firm on the truth, our hearts should break over and over for these false teachers, keeping in mind that if it wasn’t for God’s grace this could be us, and if these people don’t repent they’ll end up in torment. This should hopefully lead us to be kinder in our tone and to agonize in prayer even for them.

  2. Christina Zezulak says:

    I’m really glad the John MacArthur vs. charismatic movement issue was brought up. I have been following both sides for about a year or so, and I have found respectable arguments on both sides (the other side meaning genuine believing and submitting charismatics). For fun, I read Charismatic Chaos this summer as well as the 4 perspectives of spiritual gifts which was edited by Wayne Grudem. I think that the discussion is healthy and essential, although it is a non-essential issue as long as it is not affecting essential doctrines like salvation (ex. tongues equals salvation?), and not adding to Scripture. Most charismatics that I meet are not interested in adding to Scripture but seek personal guidance from the Lord in ways that agree with Scripture but are also more specific than Scripture can be. There are positives and negatives to this. MacArthur would argue that this would be unintentionally adding to Scripture, which is a discussion for a later time.
    I respect John MacArthur’s diligent study of the word and his teaching. However, I had a serious issue with his videos from the Strange Fire conference which said that Charismatics commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, mostly because some Charismatics have said that Cessationist do the same when they attribute the works within the Charismatic as demonic. Of course, I don’t think either side is right to accuse in this way. I know many genuine, Jesus-loving, Scripture-studying Cessationists and Charismatics. I don’t think it’s right for John MacArthur to single out the whole charismatic movement as completely demonic when I know he is mostly referring to the prosperity movement and word of faith movement, which I would agree with him 100%. Like I said before, there are false teachers on both sides. Pastors need to warn their sheep, continue to do their job as diligent handler of truth, and avoid godless chatter. I appreciate my own city pastor who does a great job of rebuking the Prosperity and Word of Faith movement and giving his flock a healthy Biblical understanding of the prosperity that we have in Christ, which is much more than mere finances.

  3. kevin w. says:

    In chapter 1 Peter was arguing for the reality of the second coming based on the reality of what Peter witnessed of Jesus. The negative of what Peter was arguing is probably what these false teachers were spreading. Jesus is to be the ruler over a believers life and teaching, which is clearly not the case for false teachers.
    I know very little of the MacArthur teaching against Charismatics. I believe it is important to uphold the truth of scripture and to rebuke those who teach falsehood (2 Tim 4). However, we all hold false beliefs about things without ever realizing it and this is just a part of our maturation process (as Mr. Worrall was saying). I read Christina’s post which gave some summary of the conflict and I find it sad. There is so much about the unity of the body of Christ in the Bible. This cannot be discarded when understanding what verses like those in 2 Timothy and 2 Pet which tell us to stand against false teaching. I think some issues are not worth the disunity and lack of love (it is rarely done in love and sounds like MacArthur is not doing it thus). Christina makes a good point which I wish others would adopt: there are key doctrines and issues which we should tenaciously hold fast to and others which we should hold in humility. This issue is actually one thing which has been frustrating at Moody. We are so quick to call someone a heretic and rip them apart when both views can be explained biblically and often are not salvific in nature. For example, 10 years ago the theology professors came together and decided that the doctrine of the passibility of God was heretical. Now there are many in the Bible and Theology departments which believe in a passible God.

  4. John MacArthur has been doing great things for the Lord. Strange Fire is nothing new, for MacArthur has been preaching this stuff for many years. I believe he has alot of good things to say but he is to overreaching with statements and putting John Piper and Bennie Hinn in the same group.
    I believe the reason why people are against signed gifts is because no one does it right. Paul has explicit rules, but I have never seen anyone follow those rules. But that does not mean they dont happen anymore, especially when the Bible is not clear. But we can also look at the trend in scripture and see them seem to be phased out. I am not totally for signed gifts, as I have heavy questioning for each experience I hear about but I am not completely against them as the Holy Spirit can work in amazing ways.
    I do believe John MacArthur is isolating himself from many believers and also the driving force behind a movement in the Blogging world called Discernment blogging. These bloggers take on the responsibility of being defenders of the faith, and funny enough only John MacArthur is correct. I think MacArthur is getting to an age he needs to step down and hand of responsibility to others.
    I believe the biggest false teaching in america is the teaching that is causing people to think they are saved but yet when they die Jesus will say to them, Depart from me, for I never knew you. I also believe that the charismatic movement is doing alot of damage because nothing is being done correctly the way the Bible outlines it.

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