2 Peter #8 2 Peter 2: 10-19 Making Yourself the Ultimate Authority Leads To Sin
2 Peter #8 2 Peter 2: 10-19 Making Yourself the Ultimate Authority Leads To Sin
Peter has refuted the false teachers that say there is no judgment, teaching that it doesn’t matter how you conduct your life, refuting those who think God is going to forgive and allow them to live in His presence for all eternity. Peter affirms that what we do does matter, we will be held accountable for our actions. For those of us who are not sure if we are secure in Christ, we also received a word of encouragement. As long as we are in the fight, our heart intends to do the will of God, even when we sin there is forgiveness when we confess, repent, and ask. Our faith still holds and passes the test of scripture, the tradition of the Church, reason, and experience. God’s grace is sufficient to deliver those who are continually aligning themselves with Him.
In the next verses, Peter is going to tell us what happens to the person who propagates lies about living in the Kingdom of God, especially those who lead others astray. For you Star Wars fans, these are folks who gave into the dark side, transforming from Jedi to Seth. Now you have no idea what I just said, oh my.
2 Peter 2:10-11 (MSG)
God is especially incensed against these "teachers" who live by lust, addicted to a filthy existence. They despise interference from true authority, preferring to indulge in self-rule. Insolent egotists, they don't hesitate to speak evil against the most splendid of creatures. Even angels, their superiors in every way, wouldn't think of throwing their weight around like that, trying to slander others before God.
Before we start considering the character of these brothers and sisters that have moved from the path of truth to one that leads to a bad end, we need to get a handle on Peter’s meaning in the last portion of these two verses, slander, splendid creature, and angels. Concerning these splendid creatures, what they are, and what they do, there is nothing but needless speculation. The Bible is silent and we are left with another heavenly mystery. We know something of angles from the scripture, they are God’s servants, and they exist in the presence of God, which suggests that their knowledge of God exceeds humanity’s. Given the context, whatever the splendid creatures are, they have authority that even angels recognize and respect. What Peter wants us to understand is that there is a huge problem when a person refuses to recognize any authority other than themselves.
When a person assumes the role of ultimate authority for directing their lives there is a deterioration of relationships. Make no mistake You are responsible for what you decide to do. But when a person believes that they are the authority, then they are the right one. Their opinions are facts. This strains relationships as every differing opinion leads to arguments.
When a person assumes the role of ultimate authority they are prone to overconfidence bias. They are so certain that what they think is the only correct understanding prevents them from hearing opinions, advice, or counsel from others. They go so far as to undermine recognized experts because they know best.
Because of their bias, they often make poor decisions. Such a person thinks they have what it takes but in reality, they don’t. They don’t realize that they are hurting themselves by pursuing ineffective strategies and incorrect solutions. Everything is determined by their experience.
Self-proclaimed authorities tend to spread misinformation. If a person says something often with passion and conviction, even if what they are saying is a complete fabrication, it becomes believable. Their influence can create negative outcomes for the people who follow their advice.
One of the Genesis revelations is the disregard for divine authority leads to sin. When we commit ourselves to be a slave to Jesus we hand him the trump card for our thoughts and behavior. He becomes the authority to lead, guide, and direct. Even if we do not know why, even if we don’t understand, the admonishments to do certain things or the prohibitions to refrain from certain things revealed in scripture, we seek to be obedient to His authority. The choice is always yours to make. As a disciple of Jesus, you know that the scripture is useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way” (2 Tim 3:16 (MSG). We make the written divine revelation to be authoritative and this leads to living life to the full.
Peter has some very nasty things to say about self-acknowledged Christ followers that reject the authority of scripture and refuse correction even from the Apostles. The false teachers live by lust, they are addicted to a filthy existence, they despise any authority but themselves, and they are insolent egotists. Peter writes a biblical cussing out.
2 Peter 2:12-19 (MSG)
These people are nothing but brute beasts, born in the wild, predators on the prowl. In the very act of bringing down others with their ignorant blasphemies, they themselves will be brought down, losers in the end. Their evil will boomerang on them. They're so despicable and addicted to pleasure that they indulge in wild parties, carousing in broad daylight. They're obsessed with adultery, compulsive in sin, seducing every vulnerable soul they come upon. Their specialty is greed, and they're experts at it. Dead souls!
15 They've left the main road and are directionless, having taken the way of Balaam, son of Beor, the prophet who turned profiteer, a connoisseur of evil. But Balaam was stopped in his wayward tracks: A dumb animal spoke in a human voice and prevented the prophet's craziness.
17 There's nothing to these people—they're dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they're dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they're addicted to corruption—and they are—they're enslaved.
Peter highlights the allure these false teachers use to attract followers, promising freedom while themselves being slaves to corruption. He compares them to Balaam, [Numbers 22-24] a prophet who misled others for personal gain. These are the kind of people who will play you and when you are no longer of use, disgard you.
It is pretty safe to assume that Peter does not have a very high opinion of those who have strayed from the authority of Christ. Remember that these people are self-proclaimed Christians. They started their spiritual journey by acknowledging their need for a savior, believing that Jesus is that savior, making a commitment to be Jesus' disciple, and asking God to receive their faith. But then somewhere along the line, they left the path of righteousness. Peter criticizes their deceitful and manipulative behavior, characterizing them as enticers of the immature believer.
Today we have exploitive prosperity preachers promising material wealth in exchange for donations. There are manipulative Christian cult leaders who control their followers, isolating them from friends and family. We have doctrinal extremists that cherry-pick their teachings to promote their ideologies. Pseudo Faith Healers prey upon the desperate promising physical healing in exchange for ticket sales. False prophets, prophets in the sense of foretelling, predicting the future, especially nowadays concerning the end times to gather a crowd, to sell a book. Along with the false prophets, there are the Christian Fearmongers who use fear and conspiracy theories to create a sense of urgency to gain people’s allegiance. We have the media’s favorite, hypocritical pastors who preach one set of moral standards while living in contradiction to those standards themselves.
These false teachers are addicted to corruption. Ever buy fresh fruit, put it in the frig, and forget about it. When you remember you find a squishy moldy something only fit for the trash. That’s corruption. The descent from good to bad, from integrity to dishonesty, from right motives to absorbed in selfishness is to follow the path of corruption. Peter paints such a horrible picture of the false teachers that you get the impression that the false teachers corrupt corruption.
This falling away from the true knowledge of Christ doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow burn. If you believe that once you acknowledged, believed, committed, and asked that they were forgiven to such an extent that you can do anything you wanted and still be in God’s good graces, Peter says think again. This is a deadly error.
Let’s examine this slow burn. People gradually fall into sin through their own choices and actions. There is a gradual progression that begins with small transgressions and can eventually lead to more serious offenses. For instance when it comes to physical pleasures, doesn’t matter which one, but for the sake of example lets go with sexual immorality and use it as an example of the law of diminishing returns to illustrate how corruption becomes addictive. Let's say it starts with an attraction to a magazine model, then to moves to a nude model, then to video, then pornography, then more explicit and deviant porn, to strip clubs, then paying for your fantasies. It’s a slippery slope of desensitization into more egregious immorality. What happens is the thrill disappears as you get used to indulging, so it takes more to satisfy the next time. It becomes a search for more, more intensity, more pleasure, the further you slip the less and less able you become to enjoy your pleasure of choice, so you need a stronger dose. The road of corruption starts when a person disregards God’s authority and replaces God’s rule with doing what they want.
Like the false teachers, we start well, to stay well we must keep bending our knee to God’s authority. God’s grace is sufficient to keep us on the path of righteousness. You know the tools that help empower you to walk worthy of the gospel of Christ. Bible study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, contemplation. The Fellowship of your faith community keeps you accountable. Those who are your companions in the faith can speak truth into your life. Your spiritual friends, your spiritual mentor, has earned your trust to confront when you step out of line. They can help you when you are tempted to sin. They can be your sounding board, listening to what you are going through, supporting you in the fight, and lifting you in prayer. In this spiritual journey, you need the company of like-minded believers to keep you humble
Another way to keep from coming beastly is to remain teachable. Don’t catch the disease called the hardening of the categories. Hardening of the categories occurs when you become rigid and inflexible in your thinking. You get stuck in your ways. Stuck in your ways you are not able to consider the opinions of others. No new information will change your mind. Your thinking becomes biased. You allowed yourself to become the ultimate authority.
Peter has given us a description of the false teacher. They look good on the outside but inside, oh my, it's corruption. They exploit other believers for their purposes. “Peter condemns false teachers for their destructive actions, their exploitation of others, and their deviation from the path of true faith” (ChatGPT August 6, 2023).
From the teaching today we have learned that we are to guard against desentization to immoral behavior. We have learned that fellowship guards us from error. We have learned the need to stay teachable avoiding a hardening of the categories. You now have tools to help you discern if someone is off in their teaching of Christianity. You have tools to help you stay on the path of truth.
Put them to use.