The False Teachers of Today
Apostates and the Swift Destruction
The false teaching attacked by Peter and Jude has a great deal in common and are almost certainly manifestation of the same problem, although a few differences are also seen.
The heresy envisaged is in both cases a primitive form of Gnosticism. The main characteristics that emerge are as follows:
- The lives and teaching of these men denied the Lordship of Jesus IIPet2:1, Jude 4.
- They defiled the agape (love feast).
- They were immoral themselves, and infected others with their lascivious ways, through minimizing the place of law in the Christian life and emphasizing freedom (2Pet2:10, 12), Jude 4,12).
Apostasy is not to be confused with mere indifference to the world nor with error. Neither does it necessarily believe false doctrine. An apostate can acknowledge that certain doctrines are true, but fail to believe them in his heart. He can acknowledge Christ without accepting Him. On the other hand, a true Christian can fall into doctrinal error, but that is not apostasy. Apostates have received light but not life. They have known and accepted the written word but have never met Christ, the Living Word.
Apostasy is a deliberate rejection of the truth after it is known.1
Apostasy is expressed in the New Testament in the following books:
2 Thess 2:10; Act 8: 13- 14; Acts 21:21; 2Thess 2:3;
John 6:66; 2 Peter 2:20; 1 Tiim 4:1; and 2 Tim 4:3.
Peter was deeply disturbed by the false teachers of his day and spoke solemnly of the punishment that awaited them. Peter writes "They bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1); “whose judgment, now of a long time lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not (v3)”. This is a reminder that appearances may be deceiving. God is not idle, nor is He asleep. Later in the passage the apostle quotes that the Lord knows how to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished”. v 9
Peter cites three examples of God’s judgment from the Old Testament. Two lines of truth are obvious: (1) the certainty and terror of God’s retributive justice and (2) the loving care of God and His remembrance of His children.
A.The Angels Who Sinned:
The first illustration depicting God’s judgment of heretics is the angels who were cast into hell. The Apostle wrote, “God spared not the angels that sinned but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment”. (2Pet2:4).
Peter did not tell us when this event took place, how many angels were involved, nor what act of wickedness called for such a drastic punishment; but we do know that at some time in history, certain angels deliberately disobeyed God and they didn’t get away with it. There are various interpretations concerning this verse. One interpretation is that these angels refer to the angels who followed Satan in his original rebellion against God Isa14: 12- 15; Ezek 28:15; cf Rev 12:3-4; while others say it refers to the sin mentioned in Gen 6. Whichever interpretation one follows the point is clear, just as God judged the angelic realm, so He will judge these false teachers.
B. The Unbelievers Destroyed in the Flood:
Peter’s second example of God’s judgment within human experience is that of ‘Noah and the Flood’.
The apostle added an element that depicts God’s judgement with discrimination. He says that God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person” (2Pet2:5).
God’s punishment of evil doers is certain, but His judgment is discriminating. Those who trust in him are kept safe, while those who reject His word and authority are destroyed.
C.The Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah:
The third example of God’s judgment is that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Peter says that God transformed these cities into ashes, condemning them with an overthrow making them anexample unto those that after should live ungodly.
Jude gave three case histories of God’s judgment on apostasy. In verses 8-13 he then applies God’s attitude of Judgment to those present apostates.
In the past, the first generation of Israel murmured against God and was destroyed. They were apostates in the wilderness; they did not believe God. There were angels who corrupted their nature and left their heavenly dwelling place to dwell with women as some believe or others believe to rebel against God.
Coherently, we conclude that God who extends His mercy to those who seek His forgiveness and mend their ways, is also a God whose face is against them that do evil (I Peter 3:12). They are reserved to be punished (II Peter 2:9).
- God's warning
The Bible speaks about a merciful God who warns us of the danger of sin. God warned Cain, He warned Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, it will come in the days of tribulation and it comes to us today.