First and second Peter, two short books with a lot to say. I found myself there this week. Many times when I am reading the Bible I come across things that I just have to share. Almost like I have the only remaining Bible on the planet and I must share what I am seeing. It’s not the fact that I may have never read that verse before that makes it new and exciting. Rather, it is events, circumstances, and my own experiences in the world that have changed to the point that the verses now has a deeper meaning.
You probably have your own stories of people in a position of religious authority who may not be teaching or expounding upon the word quite the way you remember hearing it taught in the past. Maybe it is totally wrong and void of theological correctness, but it is more inclusive and less harsh. Yet it gets more people on-board, and the tithes roll on in.
Let’s look at what the Apostle Peter has to say.
Some of these people say they believe in God, but they try to twist around the word of God and manipulate the meaning of verses in order to fit their desired lifestyle. In the Bible, Paul tells us in both his letters to Timothy what to look for in the later times concerning marriage, diets, and all sorts of daily activities that will be twisted around. (1 Timothy 4:1-4, 2 Timothy 3:1-5). He said that false teachers and prophets would suggest that what is right is bad and what is wrong is good. These people have consciences that are seared. They will quarrel about words and meanings and will give up their beliefs for money (1 Timothy 6:3-10). Paul gives Timothy this charge: 1 Timothy 6:20-21 – “20Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.” (www.Bible.com)
Our job as believers is not to pass judgement, but to point these people back to grace and truth in Jesus. (Romans 2:1-16) We are not sinless. We are not perfect. We will not be perfect or without sin as long as we live in this world in these fleshly bodies. We simply have to believe in Jesus, that He is God’s son, that He died on the cross and took our punishment, then do our best to live without sin and accept His mercy and grace when we fail.
1 Peter 4:2-6 “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.”
You see, it won’t be enough for them to lead children down the wrong path and to confuse those who do not take time to test their false teaching. No, their desire will also be to try and discredit the true believers, the ones who know and keep the Lord’s commandments. They will call us haters, war mongers, and any other name you can think of to make people turn against the truth. Giving a person a label is the quickest way to turn people against them. Think on that a minute. Any time someone comes out with a differing view from the mainstream, almost immediately a label is spewed out on them. Hypocrite, bigot, racist, climate change denier, conspiracy theorist, pro-lifer, redneck, backwoods, so forth and so on.
Jesus spoke of the false prophets this way:
Matthew 7:15-20 “15 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (www.Bible.com)
In their book “Are We Living in the End Times”, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins write this about false prophets: “Most false prophets have a faulty view of Jesus. Some are blatantly false; the more dangerous ones will accept Him as a god but not God in human flesh. Never trust any teacher who does not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, His sinless life, sacrificial death, bodily resurrection, and His promise to come again physically to this earth.” (Chapter 4) “Many false teachers are endowed with a natural charisma, which at first makes them seem tremendously spiritual and insightful.” (Chapter 4) They will use the same old tricks they always have. The same type of trick that Satan used on Eve in the beginning. Don’t be deceived.
Even more so now, as the time of Christ’s return draws nearer, false prophets and teachers are popping up almost everywhere you look. Social media web sites are a perfect tool for these false teachers. It is the closest thing that Satan has to being omnipresent. Think about that a minute. How would you distribute false teachings and plant seeds of poisoned fruit to the masses if you were not an omnipresent being? This may be another post topic later.
Grace be with you all.