The Story:Because false teachers are very subtle, it can be difficult to know when one is being led astray. Peter suggests some things to be alert for in what others teach. Does their teaching appeal primarily to sensuality – that is to gratifying merely fleshly desires or longings? Do their lives indicate a desire for material possessions – that is, do they show by their lifestyles that they are greedy for wealth and things? And are they impervious to challenge or disagreement – do they insist that their words are the right words, so that they beat their followers into submission to whatever they insist is true?
When you find yourself being taught by such a person, you should take heed. These false teachers were condemned long ago – before the foundations of the world, in fact. And that condemnation still stands. They may seem to be prospering now, and so to enjoy a measure of divine favor, but judgment is working against them and will catch up to them soon enough. You don’t want to be hanging around them when it does.
The Structure:In our day it has been fashionable for certain preachers and teachers to insist that the blessing of God comes in the form of good healthand overall prosperity. That would have come as news to Jesus, I think, who owned nothing and gave up His life for our salvation. Different ages of the Church feature different kinds of false teachers. In some eras the emphasis was just the opposite as in ours. In every era we must seek to emulate the Berean believers, who received Paul’s teaching with eager and ready minds, but who searched the Scripturesdaily to determine whether what he was teaching was really the truth (Acts 17.11).
Are your daily disciplines of reading and meditation sufficient to equip you to recognize false teaching? How might you encourage your fellow believers in a more "Berean"-like attitude?
Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Truth and Consequences: 2 Peter 2.1-11,” simply click here.
T. M. Moore
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.