Watch Out for Fakes!
Several years ago I was walking down the streets of Kusadasi, Turkey, when I saw a sign that proudly advertised, "Fake Watches." So I went over and sure enough, there were the best fake watches I had ever seen. So I bought one. Later on, I was with a friend who knows watches pretty well, and he couldn't even tell it was a fake. But then he said, "You know what, if you opened it up and looked inside, you could tell it's fake." Today we're going to look inside the mind and heart of false teachers in 2 Peter 2. This is a difficult passage to read, but the central thought behind it is this: God loves you enough to warn you about false teachers. So let's look at three principles from this chapter for dealing with counterfeit teachers: be aware of their falsehood, be assured of their fate, and be aligned with the faithful.
First, be aware of their falsehood -- know the things that characterize a false teacher. First of all, they're always around: "There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you" (v. 1). And as we near the end of days, you can expect it to get worse (see Matthew 24:5, 24).
Secondly, false teachers distort the truth -- they "secretly bring in destructive heresies" (v. 1) or teachings. In other words, they use all the right terms -- Jesus, Savior, salvation, inspiration -- but not the right meaning of these terms as defined by Scripture. They also deny Christ: "Even denying the Lord who bought them" (v. 1). This means they deny His incarnation, His salvation, His substitutionary death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension. In short, they deny Who Jesus claimed to be.
False teachers also broaden the way to heaven -- "Many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed" (v. 2; see also Matthew 7:13) -- and cover up their motives: "By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words" (v. 3). And finally, they "despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries" (v. 10), meaning demonic dignitaries. They act like experts on all things spiritual, even when speaking about things they're ignorant of. So be aware of their falsehood.
The second principle in the text is be assured of their fate. Woven throughout the text is the fact that these false prophets have a severe judgment waiting for them (see vv. 1, 3, 12-13). That's because there's nothing more offensive to God than those who falsify facts about Him, and it really does matter what you eat, spiritually speaking. What you take into your life and listen to really is important, because it can either bring you life or destroy you over the long haul. False teachers who enter the true church will face certain judgment. So be assured of their fate.
The third and final principle is be aligned with the faithful. In the text, Peter mentions Noah and Lot as two examples we ought to follow (see vv. 5, 7-8). Neither of them were perfect, but both did what they did because they believed God's promise of judgment and thus escaped that judgment. As verse 9 tells us, "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment."
Here are two thoughts I want to leave you with: First, be thankful that God loves you enough to warn you about the "fake watches" of the spiritual world. And second, find examples of faithful people to emulate. May you grow in discernment and shun those who try to broaden the way to God, instead being encouraged by -- and encouraging -- those who truly live, believe, and teach the good news.