2 Peter 2

Yet everything of God, and therefore good, is counterfeited by
Satanic power, consequently chapter 2 begins with a warning. When in
old time the Holy Ghost was moving holy men to give us utterances from
God the great adversary moved and brought in among the people false
prophets. We have many examples of this in the Scripture. In the days
of Ahab things had reached such a pass that Elijah could say, "I, even
I only remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four
hundred and fifty men" (1 Kings 18: 22), and even after the destruction
of the prophets of Baal there were about four hundred prophets luring
Ahab to his death against one prophet, Micaiah, the son of Imlah, who
told him the truth; and all these prophets spoke not in the name of
Baal but said, "Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper; for the LORD shall
deliver it unto the king's hand" (1 Kings 22: 12).

Now once again God was giving prophetic testimony by inspired
utterances through the apostle and others, and the adversary was
preparing to repeat his tactics. Peter therefore warned these early
Christians that they must be on their guard against false teachers who
would bring in privily "damnable" or "destructive" heresies. Satan is
never more dangerous than when he works privily or by stealth; when
instead of delivering a frontal attack, boldly denying truth, he creeps
in on the flank, making merchandise of the people of God with feigned
words, as verse 3 puts it. Indeed the very word translated "privily
shall bring in" means literally "shall lead in sideways."

The flank attack invariably succeeds in much larger measure than the
frontal attack. Illustrations of this are common. Many years ago, a
bold direct attack on the Deity of Christ was launched, and a Unitarian
body was formed. It remains to this day a comparatively insignificant
movement. Of more recent years unitarian doctrine has been brought
sideways into professedly orthodox denominations and the plague has
spread like wildfire.

Be on your guard then against these false teachers. They will have a
wholly pleasing exterior and their words will be "feigned" or
"well-turned"-cleverly adapted to throw the simple believer off his
guard. They will tell you how they believe in "the divinity of
Christ"-but then of course they hold every man to be more or less
divine. They accept the truth of "the atonement"-as long as you permit
them to print it, "at-one-ment." They can juggle marvellously with the
word "eternal" and show you that it merely means "age-long" when it
stands in connection with punishment. And so on.

They go even to the length of "denying the Lord that bought them." He
bought them
for by His death He bought the whole of the world for the sake of the
treasure hid therein (see, Matt. 13: 44). It does not say that He
redeemed them,
for redemption applies only to the true believer. Revealing thus their
true character they bring upon themselves swift destruction-which
means, not that destruction will reach them in a very short time, but
that when it comes it will fall upon them swiftly for their guilt
admits of no question, and no lengthy judgment process will be
necessary to establish it. Their judgment will not slumber. Yet alas!
many will follow them, as we see; and the effect of their heresies is
not merely the ruin of themselves and of their dupes but the bringing
of the way of God into disrepute so that it is blasphemed. This is ever
Satan's way. In his blind hatred he may desire to ruin souls, but he
even more ardently desires to discredit God and His truth.

God, however, is more than equal to dealing with the situation thus
created. He is perfectly able to disentangle all the confusion, as
verses 4 to 10 tell us. Read those seven verses, and notice that not
one full stop comes until the last word of verse 10 is completed. They
are one tremendous sentence. "If God spared not the angels . . . and
spared not the old world . . . and . . . condemned with an overthrow
[the cities] . . . and delivered just Lot . . . the Lord knoweth how to
deliver the godly . . . and to reserve the unjust . . . to be
punished." A most consoling fact this for the believer, however fearful
it may be for the ungodly.

The "god" created mentally by "modern theology" who being too weak
or too indifferent, spares everybody and everything, that thereby he
may show himself to be "love", is no more the God of the New Testament
than he is of the Old. The God of the New Testament is the God of the
Old as this Scripture emphasizes. When of old the angels sinned He did
not spare them, but holds them in chains reserved for judgment. When
the ante-diluvian world had filled up the cup of its iniquity God did
not spare them though He saved a little remnant of eight souls in the
ark. Later He overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha yet He delivered righteous
Lot. So it shall be again. He will deliver the godly and reserve the
unjust to judgment, and this specially when they are marked by
licentiousness and the despising of authority.

However much destructive heresies are brought in, and consequently
people are deceived and the way of truth blasphemed, the Lord will know
how to disentangle His people and judge the ungodly. We usually find it
impossible even to discern, and much less can we disentangle. Who of
us, reading only the story of Lot as unfolded in Genesis could discern
with any certainty what was his true state before God? He shared
Abraham's path for a while, but did he at all share in Abraham's faith?
His subsequent history did not look like it, so who of us could tell?
Our Scripture however sets all questions at rest. He is pronounced to
have been a righteous man, though sadly enmeshed by the world and
living a life of continual vexation in consequence. God knew him and
delivered him by angelic hands.

What a voice this has for us. How pitiful for us if we get so
entangled that, though true believers, it would not be possible for our
fellows to decide that we were such except God Himself made a
pronouncement on the point. It is intended on the contrary that we
stand out from the world clear and distinct as epistles of Christ,
"known and read of all men" (2 Cor. 3: 2, 3). This will be profitable
for us in the day that is coming. It will deliver us too at the present
time from much of that vexation of soul, that mental torment, that Lot
suffered. The worldly believer is well nigh the most miserable of all

The two evils mentioned in verse 10 seems always to accompany
"damnable heresies" as their natural result. The flesh finds an
attraction in the heresies, because it loves to gratify itself and to
do its own will and to despise and speak against all that would hold it
in check. The truth puts the sentence of condemnation on the flesh; the
heresy on the contrary fosters it.

These twin evils-
self-gratification and that of the lowest character, and
insubordination under
the plea of obtaining a larger liberty-are very prominent in the latter
part of this second chapter. The contrast between verses 11 and 12 is
very striking. These false teachers are but men. Angels who are greater
than man in their power and might would never impeach those in dignity
or authority, however much they might deserve censure, in the reckless
way these men do. But as a matter of fact these teachers, who speak of
dignities in a way that would suggest that they themselves were greater
than the angels, are really just like-not angels-but "natural brute
beasts made to be taken and destroyed." The poor animal
without reason-for
that is what the word "brute" means-may heedlessly destroy what it is
not capable of understanding, like the proverbial bull in a china shop.
These men are like that; they violently attack and destroy, as far as
words can do it, what they do not understand.

Many teachers there are of "modernist" persuasion who exactly
exemplify this. How trenchantly they attack the old foundations of the
faith. What is the authority of a Paul, a Peter, a John or even indeed
of Jesus Himself before their slashing words and pens? As a matter of
fact however the simplest person, who being born again has become a
child of God, is conscious that they have not the least comprehension
of that which they attack. The most costly china is to a bull just what
the truth of the Scriptures is to them.

Are some of us, who are old-fashioned believers in Christ, to
tremble and be intimidated by these assaults? There is really no need
for it. It may look as if nothing can stand before them in their mad
career, but it is only so because God is very patient and has plenty of
time in which to settle accounts. We remember a nursery picture and
rhyme book which amused us in childhood's days. There was the story of
the bad dog who ran amuck and bit a large slice out of a man's leg. The
last words of the rhyme however were:

The man recovered from the bite

The dog it was who died!

We are irresistibly reminded of this by the closing words of verse
12. The faith of God survives in unbroken health; the false teachers
"perish in their own corruption," and receive the due reward of their

How terrible is the indictment laid against them in verses 13 and 14! The adultery laid to their door may not be
literal in all cases, but in its
spiritual significance it certainly applies to all false teachers, for they all either teach or sanction
unholy alliance with the world. Hence
not only do they sport themselves in their own deceits-the foolish
ideas engendered in their own minds-but they beguile unstable and
unestablished souls. They destroy themselves, but they also bring
themselves under the curse of destroying others.

In verse 15 their secret motives are unmasked. They have followed
the way of Balaam. There is then nothing original about their
performances. They follow in a well beaten track first trodden by
Balaam of infamous memory, who sold his prophetic gifts for money. He
was not the first person to prophesy for hire, for this has always been
a custom in idolatrous religions, but he appears to have been the first
to offer to prophesy
in the name of the Lord for hire. With
Balaam the supreme question was "Will it pay?" If a paying proposition
he would prophesy to order-as far as he could. This was terrible
madness involving terrible moral degradation. In verse 12, notice, the
false prophets are
on a level with the "natural brute beasts"; in verse 15 Balaam is
below them. A dumb ass was able to rebuke him.

What then is the secret motive behind the many and various
onslaughts of the modern false teachers? It is the same old story. The
real drive behind them is in this-IT PAYS.

Generally it
pays financially. When years ago the late
"Pastor" Russell conducted a great campaign in London, hiring the most
expensive halls and advertising on lavish scale, he was reported by a
daily paper to have said, that he really did not know what to do with
the money that poured in upon him.

It always pays if fame
and notoriety is the desired thing.
The sensational newspaper always patronizes the man retailing a false
novelty. Thoroughgoing modernism is alas! a high road to preferment in
ecclesiastical circles.

And when preferred and in high office, what have they to give? Just,
are "wells without water" and so no spiritual thirst can ever be slaked
by them. They are as "clouds carried by a tempest" which deposit little
or nothing to refresh the weary earth.

Do they accomplish anything? Yes, alas! they do. They speak "great
swelling [or, high-flown] words of vanity" to the ensnaring of many
souls. Oh! with what deadly accuracy are the inspired words of
Scripture aimed. Certain secular papers have recently been making merry
over the amusing medley of scientific jargon used at the recent
meetings of the British Association. "Great high-flown words" were in
plenty of evidence; and "words of vanity" they were also, wherever they
touched upon "the things of God" known by no man "but the Spirit of
God" (1 Cor. 2: 11). By these vain words they capture some "who have
just fled those who walk in error" (N.Tr.), promising them liberty.

! That word has a very familiar sound. Has
not someone said to you in effect.-"Why be enslaved by blind adherence
to a Bible which you imagine to be inspired? Why not adopt the
enlightened modern view? Treat it as an ordinary book, classical and
interesting of course, but of no supernatural authority. Thus you will
emancipate your mind from its trammels and begin to move with full
liberty in
the vast fields of modern speculation." Oh, how enticing the
proposition! How fatally it works amongst well-meaning folk of
unsettled minds, just fled from those walking in error and from the
gross pollutions of the world, yet though thus reformed not born again.
It opens up before them a way, quite high class and scientific, right
back into the old corruption from which they had just emerged.

The poor victims of these false teachers, who are thus freshly and
finally entangled in the world's pollution so that their latter end is
worse than their beginning, are not truly converted souls, but merely
people who through a certain knowledge gained of the Lord are outwardly
reformed in their ways. They are consequently likened to the dog and
the sow, both unclean animals. Such is dog nature that it has the
unpleasant habit of returning to its own vomit. Such is sow nature that
however well washed it lovesthe mire and plunges into it at the first
opportunity. The person who may be intellectually enlightened and
consequently reformed in outward actions, yet without that fundamental
change of nature produced by the new birth, falls an easy victim. The
false teacher promises him liberty and by his great high-sounding words
of vanity cuts the slight mental leash that held him in restraint, and
there he is back again in the old ways of sin, whether
vomit-uncleanness generated from within, or mire,-uncleanness from

They had a "knowledge of the Lord and Saviour," they knew "the way
of righteousness," they "escaped from them who live in error," yet back
they went to their own eternal loss. Sad, sad for them, but what pen
can portray the judgment that will overtake the false teachers who have
encompassed their ruin? In due season it will not slumber, as verse 3