Cover to Cover
2 Peter 2
A false prophet gives a message that he or she says is from God, but it’s not. Remember the Gnostics would emphasize the spiritual, mixing in Greek mysticism with Christianity. We have to be careful in our desire for the supernatural, not to get away from submission to the truth or despising church authority. False prophecy can be very dangerous, leading someone to make decisions based on something he or she believes is right. Also, opening oneself up to hear voices from the spirit realm could open a person up to evil spirits as well. Are their false prophets today? Yes. How do you identify them? Their messages do not come to pass or they have to make up excuses for those prophecies not coming to pass.
A false teacher teaches something as truth from God, but it’s not. Peter says these false teachers come in among you, the Christian church, and they come in secretly. The Greek word for heresy comes from a root word “to choose.” These are people who know what they are doing won’t be accepted by the pastor, so they come in under the radar. False teachers are looking for followers so they can promote themselves and gain influence. They would stir up trouble to cause dissension, disunity, and division. Remember the Gnostics were working to combine Greek mysticism with Christianity, and that was causing confusion, taking away from the truth of God’s Word. Do we have false teachers today? Yes. How do you identify them? One, know the Bible. Two, know the Holy Spirit who will show you how to interpret the Bible.
Peter said many will follow their destructive ways. The same is true today. It’s interesting to watch how many will stray away from a church that teaches a solid, well-rounded doctrine, in search of something that sounds pleasing to them. The motives of a false prophet or a false teacher is exploitation and covetousness. By gathering a following, these people promote their ministries in order to increase their ministries and fill their pocketbooks. Another recognizable trait is that they will put down a pastor for not being spiritual enough or finding fault in truth the pastor teaches. Stay away from ministers that criticize your pastor. Today, they often speak against them in private, with a whisper, or on social media, causing people to question their pastor or the ministry of their church.
In verse 10, Peter says God is watching and He will allow judgment, especially for those who despise authority and live an unholy lifestyle. Peter describes them as presumptuous, or going beyond what is right and true. There are so-called teachers that like to expound on truth to the point that it isn’t true anymore. How do we recognize presumptuous doctrine? Compare it to the Word, and ask God what the Bible is really saying. The Word is powerful by itself. We shouldn’t take it beyond what it means.
They are self-willed. They try to do what they want without following the leading of the Spirit or with permission or instruction from their pastor. They are arrogant, disrespectful, and they try to infiltrate the church, cloaked as being good people, friendly and loving people, people who have knowledge. Does this happen today? Yes.
These teachers embraced a sensual lifestyle. Today we may know of spiritual leaders who appear to be one way in front of people, but behind the scenes, all they needed were the few to exploit for money, perversion, or self-indulgent activity. They look for the unstable, the vulnerable. They’re predators.
Those that fall for their deception could be people who love God and love people, but they get twisted up in something that is wrong. If someone leads you to do something that goes against your convictions, run in the other direction. If that person is someone respected, or in a place of authority, it can become church abuse. Don’t put someone on a pedestal. Don’t love anyone more than you love God. Don’t have stars in your eyes for someone because of their influence or position.
Ezekiel continues to describe this millennial temple including the altar, the east gate, admittance to the temple, and laws that govern the priests. This temple is a place where God manifests Himself. In Ezekiel 44:4, the glory of God fills the house, and Ezekiel goes to the ground, either by choice or because the power of God was so strong.