But God condemns false teachers
2 Peter 2:2-3, 13, 18-19 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed. … Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. … They delight in deception even as they eat with you in their fellowship meals. … These people brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. … They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you [has mastered you NIV].
I’m tempted to skip this entire chapter, for fear of offending someone. But Scripture is meant to warn and teach us, as well as inform, inspire, guide, and comfort us. We can’t just pick and choose the parts we like.
And this chapter offers the counterpoint to the pattern of godliness Peter gave us in chapter 1. Those who claim to follow God, yet live according to the ungodly pattern of chapter 2, cannot be our guides, pastors, teachers, and leaders. If we follow them, we will get hurt. We may embrace their ungodly values and objectives. We too may begin to see the Kingdom of God as something to exploit for our own ends, rather than a place to learn humility and submission and joy at the foot of the cross.
This chapter emphasizes God’s love of truth and integrity. He condemns those whose lifestyle of deception leads to a plethora of other sins, including sexual predation. For a word of hope to victims, see verses 9 and 10: God sees, and we can trust him to avenge suffering at the hands of these people. We don’t have to carry the heavy burden of vengeance.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy in this chapter is the loss of the false teachers themselves, who if they gave themselves fully to the Lord and to his transformation of their character, could use their leadership gifts and abilities FOR God’s Kingdom instead of against it. As Casting Crowns expresses it, “All You’ve Ever Wanted Was My Heart.”
If you’ve been victimized or influenced by a “false teacher,” get help! Find a godly person to support you in breaking the chains the enemy of our souls has fastened around you through someone claiming to love God but in truth only loving him or herself. The process will be painful, but it will save your life.