In Their Greed
“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” (2 Peter 2:2–3a).
Thousands of years ago, almighty God redeemed Jacob’s descendants from slavery in Egypt, saving them from their cruel taskmasters. However, though all of them were redeemed in this temporary, earthly sense, not all of them were redeemed in a permanent, heavenly sense. Many turned their backs on the one, true God, revealing that they lacked true faith and thus revealing that their sin had never been atoned for.
Similarly, the Lord Jesus Christ in one sense has “bought” a type of redemption for all those who confess Him. However, that false teachers will arise and finally deny Him proves that the redemption purchased for them was not the final, ultimate redemption from sin given to the elect. Rather, Jesus only “bought” them by incorporating them into a set-apart community—the visible church. Though these false teachers, and others without true faith, receive some gracious benefits in that they are a part of this community, Christ never made atonement for their sin.
Scripture’s emphasis on divine election and on Christ bearing the penalty for His sheep (John 10:14–15) reveals that Jesus paid only for the sins of the elect. Only the elect will have true faith, and true faith perseveres in truth and love until death (vv. 25–30; Matt.10:22).
Peter’s discussion of false teaching in this letter is important, for we will not be able to persevere in the true faith unless we recognize falsehood. In today’s passage, Peter gives us two marks that distinguished the false teachers he deals with: sensuality and greed (2 Peter 2:2–3). However, given the testimony of church history, as well as the general nature of today’s verses, we are not surprised that these marks were true not only of Peter’s specific opponents, but they are also often true of false teachers in general.
Unfortunately, many people fail to discern biblical teachers from false teachers who blaspheme the way of truth. However, we can rest assured that God will recompense to each person according to his deeds, and every false teacher will receive his due punishment on the day of judgment.
Though fallen men will look for any excuse to malign the way of Christ, Christians must remember not to give extra cause for them to do this. And though most of us will probably never be guilty of intentionally spreading false teachings, our lifestyles may indeed contribute to another’s sin if we are not careful to follow Christ. (Matt. 18:5–7). Remember that you are being watched by others; therefore, endeavor to do nothing that would bring reproach to Jesus.
Passages for Further Study
Deut. 18:20; Ezek. 13:9; Matt. 13:41–42; Jude 3–4