“THE GREAT LIE”
(A Godly People – Series in II Peter)
Westgate Chapel 7/1/01 2 Peter 2:10-22
PROPOSITION: The great lie is that you can be born again, escape God’s eternal judgement, receive the gift of eternal life, regardless of how you live your life after your salvation.
- THIS morning we are returning to the 2nd epistle of Peter, after a two month break for vacations and special meetings.
- SO please open your Bibles to 2 Peter 2:10 (page 1205) for thirteen of the most startling verses in all of the Bible.
- REMEMBER Peter’s 1st epistle was written to strengthen the churches in Asia Minor against attack from the outside; great persecution, loss of property, and even loss of life.
- THE apostle Peter writes his 2nd epistle to strengthen the same churches against attack from within; false teachers had infiltrated the church with a great and potentially devastating lie.
- THE threat was potentially more damaging than any loss of property or even loss of life….and as a pastor, Peter is furious at the damage being done to the church of Jesus.
- HE is furious because a great lie has been perpetrated on the churches from within by people posing as experts in spiritual matters.
- AND this was the great lie: that you can be born again, escape God’s eternal judgement, receive the gift of eternal life, regardless of how you live your life on earth after your salvation.
- BY their teaching and the example of their lifestyle these Christians taught that the most important thing was a personal experience with God….an ecstatic experience which they could lead you into and would become the cornerstone of your Christian life.
- AND that through their teaching they alone could lead you into a deeper and deeper knowledge of God and experience of His glory….that was so great in the spiritual realm that what you did in the physical realm would be insignificant.
- IN fact, they taught, since this physical world, including your body, was destined for destruction anyhow, it meant nothing, and what you did in the physical realm meant nothing.
- JUST your spiritual ecstatic experiences mattered for salvation.
- THESE are the people Peter is dealing with in his 2nd epistle as he warns the churches about them and their great lie.
II. the lifestyle of the great lie
- AND in verses 10-16 Peter describes the lifestyle these Christians were living….the lifestyle of the great lie.
- BUT to get the context of verse 10 we have to start with verse 9 where Peter writes,
“…the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.”
- THEN, speaking of God’s coming judgment, Peter writes in verse 10,
“This is especially true of those who…”
- AND in the next 7 verses he lists eleven attributes of their lifestyle…what I have called the lifestyle of the lie.
- THE lie is that you can live like this and still be a Christian.
- PETER says…
1. THEY follow the corrupt desires of the sinful nature (verse 10).
* Those lusts, those appetites that are perverse and corrupt….these Christians walk after, they follow.
* Which is the exact opposite spirit of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24,
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
2. THEY despise authority (verse 10).
* The Greek words used here imply a resistance to all heavenly and earthly authority.
* These Christians refuse any kind of restraint in their lifestyles.
* Which is the exact opposite spirit of Paul’s words in Romans 13:2,
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
3. THEY are bold and arrogant (verse 10).
* And verse 11 describes disrespectful comments about those things that are holy and glorious.
* This is making boastful, joking, or reckless comments about spiritual matters that are extremely serious.
* Which is the opposite spirit of Paul’s instruction to Titus in Titus 2:8,
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness (8) and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned…”
4. THEY blaspheme in matters they don’t understand (verse 12).
* They have turned truth upside down, and don’t even realize it because in their sin they have lost all spiritual sensibility.
* They are making claims for the Christian life that God never intended and His Word doesn’t support.
5. THEY act like brute beasts, creatures of instinct (verse 12).
* An animal does not have the benefit of reason, but simply acts on instinct to find gratification.
* These Christians were driven by what pleased them.
* This is the exact opposite spirit of Ephesians 5:10 where Paul writes,
“Live as children of light…. (10) and find out what pleases the Lord.”
6. THEY carouse in broad daylight (verse 13).
* The pagans at least have the sense of propriety to wait until dark to indulge their sensual desires.
* These Christians had such an inordinate sense of their freedom that they didn’t even wait until dark.
7. THEY are blots and blemishes in your communion services (verse 13).
* Christians living the lie out in the world, and then participating in communion services as if everything is fine between them and the Lord.
8. THEY have eyes full of adultery and never stop sinning (verse 14).
* Every woman is seen as an object of their sexual fantasies…with no desire even to reign in that lust or stop the sin.
* Which is the opposite spirit of I Timothy 5:1 where Paul writes,
“Treat younger men as brothers, (2) older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”
9. THEY seduce the unstable (verse 14).
* New Christians or Christians with a shallow root system are vulnerable to the persuasive words and apparent liberty of this kind of spiritual example.
10. THEY are experts in greed (verse 14).
* The Greek says that they have trained themselves to always want more…of everything they see or posses.
* This is the opposite spirit of what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:33,
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness….”
11. THEY have left the straight way to follow the way of Balaam (verse 15).
* All through Scripture the “straight way” is obedience to God.
* These Christians have forsaken that way of obedience for a lifestyle that is more immediately satisfying to their appettites.
* Well, Balaam was a Bible character every Jewish believer would immediately identify with.
* He was the prophet from the Old Testament who repeatedly rejected God’s directives because he would rather get paid handsomely by king Balaak to curse Israel….and then later Balaam was behind Israel falling into sin with Moabite dancers.
* Interestingly he is mentioned three times in the New Testament in connection with leading God’s people into sin…in Jude 11, Revelation 2, and I Corinthians 10….when money or sex is at the heart of the problem.
- WELL, that is the lifestyle of the great lie. Christians, claiming to be born again, and maybe starting out with the best of intentions, but ending up living the lie in their day-to-day existence.
- IT is not unheard of in the Bible.
* In the time of the prophets in the Old Testament you had men of God like Isaiah, Elijah, but you also had side-by-side false prophets who claimed the title but were motivated by greed, power, or position.
* In the time of Israel’s kings you had men who started out leading God’s people with prophetic anointing, like Saul, but ended up possessed by evil spirits and committing suicide.
* In the time of Jesus’ disciples you had one of the twelve (Judas) who healed the sick and cast out demons, but lived the lie long enough that Satan finally took up residence in his life.
* In Paul’s time he writes of a close friend and faithful co-worker in the kingdom,
“Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.” (2 Timothy 4:10)
III. the impact of the great lie on others
- WHAT angers the apostle Peter, as a pastor, about these Christians is their impact on others.
- LOOK at verse 17,
“These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.”
- THESE Christians have all the promise of being a blessing to others, but…
* They are springs that provide no water to quench the thirst of new Christians.
* They are clouds driven by a storm that provide no rain for the church.
- LOOK at verse 18,
“For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.”
- THE biggest problem to the apostle is the influence these Christians are having on those who have just escaped from the pit of the enemy…and don’t have the discernment or strength to stand on their own.
- LOOK at verse 19,
“They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-- for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”
- THIS is the reason for the urgency in the apostle Peter….it is the new Christians whose lives are going to be impacted by the great lie.
- REMEMBER, the great lie is that you can be born again, escape God’s eternal judgement, receive the gift of eternal life, regardless of how you live your life after your salvation.
IV. the end of the great lie
- WELL, before the end of the chapter, the apostle Peter takes one more angle on the subject.
- HE has described the lifestyle of the great lie.
- HE has warned us about the impact of the great lie on new Christians.
- AND finally he tell us about the end of the great lie.
- WHERE does it all end?
- AND here is where verses 20-22 get somewhat controversial in the Body of Christ.
- BUT I don’t find it controversial at all.
- JUST read what Peter says about the end of these Christians who live the great lie….starting in verse 20,
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.”
- THERE are some key words that help immensely in understanding what Peter is saying here.
- THE first word is “knowing.” There are three words that Peter could have used in the Greek for “knowing” and he chose the strongest, epignosco, which means “full knowledge.”
- IT is the same word used in I Timothy 2:4 where Paul that God wants,
“…all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
- EVERY commentator I read on this verse agrees that these people about whom Peter is writing in this chapter had at some time been genuine Christians. They had “escaped the corruption of the world.”
- BUT then something happened in their lives….and this is where every one of us must sit up and pay close attention.
- WHATEVER it was that happened in the lives of these people happened in two stages:
1. They were again entangled in the corruption of the world.
• Caught in the net of sin.
• Still able to get out if they wanted to and responded in repentance to the call of the Spirit in conviction.
2. Then they were overcome by the corruption of the world.
• They dismissed the Spirit’s repeated calls for repentance and got deeper and deeper into sin.
• And eventually the became captive to the very thing that promise so much pleasure to begin with…but was just a trap.
- PETER says that in the end they were worse off than at the beginning.
- HOW can that be?
- JESUS answered that question in Luke 11:26, where He tells the story of the man who had a demon cast out, and his house swept clean and put in order, but left empty of life in the Spirit. And when the demon comes back, he…
“… goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
- LOOK at 2 Peter 2:21, for more on the end of these carnal Christians,
“It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
- AND then Peter closes the chapter quoting two proverbs about these Christians in verse 22,
“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’”
- THAT is the end of the great lie.
- YES, you can be a Christian and end up like this.
- NO, I don’t think it is easy to do that.
- IT is not sin alone that caused the terrible end of got these Christians Peter describes in these verses.
- WE are all human and unfortunately while God will always provide a way of escape when we are tempted…and while His Spirit in us is able to keep us from sinning…we will all likely sin.
- AND when we do what God looks for is a speedy trip to His throne room of grace.
- JOHN the apostle writes,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (2) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)
- IT is a lifestyle of willful resistance and rebellion against God that eventually hardens the human heart….and you become entangled and overcome.
- HEBREWS 10:26 describes this condition,
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, (27) but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
- HERE is the bottom line saints: The Christian life is inescapably connected to obedience to God’s Word.
- YOU can’t be a Christian, expect to escape the judgements of God, expect to receive the gift of eternal life, and live the lifestyle of the people Peter just described to us in this chapter.
- IT is not that your righteousness or mine will save us….but that true salvation will result in transformed living.
- WOULD you examine your life today for evidence of the Christ life in you?
- DO you need the Lord to soften your heart so that you will be sensitive to the things He calls sin?
- DO you need to come to Him in repentance today for things in your lifestyle that really are part of the great lie?
- DO you need to come back to the Lord today?
- DO you need to be born again today?