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More Than Words [4-7-24]




April 7, 2024

2 Peter 2:1-3

“More Than Words”


While no longer widely practiced, a Judas goat does what you assume it does. It is trained to hang around with sheep, to be their friend, to do all the things a good ol’ goat would do. Its sinister purpose is to lead sheep to slaughter. The sheep think it’s leading them to food or a place to rest. That’s what it has done before, so they trust the Judas goat. What happens, though, is it leads them down a ramp, where a trap door is opened. The Judas goat slides to safety, while the sheep continue to their slaughter.


I hate it when an animal’s trusting nature is used for its demise.


Let’s now look at 2 Peter 2:1-3:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will 

be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.


Since the birth of the church, there has been the threat posed to God’s people by the enemy of the church. As we’ll see, false leaders pretend they’re friends. But they’re really agents of evil. These teachers of wickedness only want to hurt and destroy. They are immoral and greedy people, who exploit others for their ill-gotten gains.


Here's something you might want to write down:

FALSE TEACHERS USE JESUS AS A PROP.

This makes it easier for them to be trusted and followed. They say the right things. They identify with the right people. They make the right claims. They appear very comfortable operating inside the church.

Here’s the first thing we know about these false teachers. On the surface, they talked a good game. We all know the ploy some people use…they tell you what they know you want to hear. So manipulative. These tactics are especially effective on the emotionally or spiritually or intellectually unstable. They prey on people’s vulnerabilities.


What’s the first charge against false teachers? As verse one puts it, they deny the Master who bought them. Interesting word, translated Master. The Greek word is “despoten.” What does it sound like? Yes…despot…but not in a bad way.


Despoten appears ten times in the New Testament. It always refers to one who has supreme authority. Positive or negative connotations to the word are driven by the actions and attitudes of the one holding the title. What is the largest bedroom in a house called? The “Master Suite.” It’s generally the bedroom reserved for the person or couple who are paying for the house. Makes sense, right? Master of the house…Master of the estate…the person who has full responsibility over something and all the people in it.


Five of the times despoten is used in the New Testament, it is used in a secular application. The other five times despoten is used in the New Testament, it refers to the rulership of God and Christ. It describes the sovereign rule of God.


That’s the meaning of despoten here in verse one.


Here’s Peter’s point. By teaching a false gospel, these wicked people are denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ. By knowingly teaching a false gospel, they are rejecting the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ. That is indicative of the wretched state of their godlessness.


Here’s a sampling of some of these false teachings:

  • Denying Jesus’ sinless life.

  • Denying the virgin birth.

  • Denying the bodily resurrection.

  • Denying his Second Coming.

  • Denying his eternal glory.

What they do is, they use words that sound good; they use phrases that 

make sense; they manipulate people into thinking they are believers. And then they slowly undermine these essential truths. Once they have your ear, they chip away at foundational truth.


Denying an essential Biblical truth is a horrible thing. Peter calls this 

destructive. But there’s something even worse. Rejecting these essential teachings, from our Lord and Savior himself, is tantamount to rejecting Jesus himself. “Denying the Master” is Peter’s way of saying denying the sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ. As John MacArthur puts it, “that is the matter at hand.” These false teachers, in their words, won’t overtly deny the deity of Christ. They won’t outwardly deny that his death on the cross saves us from our sin. Heck, they will probably even claim his name.


Here's how Jesus put it in Matthew 7:15-23:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”


What that means, and you might also want to write this down:

THEY WILL NOT SUBMIT THEIR LIVES TO HIS RULE.


Once, somebody had a profound Biblical theological disagreement with me. A canyon separated where we were at. Someone told this person talk to me about it. To which the person responded, “There’s no use talking to him. He won’t change his mind.”


The issue was same-gender marriage. It wasn’t about marriage equality, which became a reality in Michigan several years ago. That’s not my realm…not my sphere of influence. I’m not going to fight in the secular realm. The only control I have is over what happens within the church. This person wanted me to embrace the church embracing same-gender 

marriage.


Here’s the point. For me to do that would be to deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ. How could I say to the Savior who died on the cross for my sin, so I could have new life in the presence of God in all His Holiness…how could I say that I’m right and he’s wrong on this issue? Jesus said, “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus said, “Have you not heard that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” Jesus said he did not come to change one single teaching of the revealed will of God. Jesus was with God from before the foundation of the world. Jesus was fully present and fully knowledgeable of God’s truth on marriage and gender. So how could I ever say to my Savior that he’s wrong and I’m right?


You see, that’s why you can never get Pastor Richard to change his mind on essential truths. We all must humble ourselves before the sovereign will of our Master, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Social philosopher and economist Thomas Sowell said it best:

“If you care about someone, you tell them the truth. If you care about yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”


The false teachers in 2 Peter would not submit their lives to the rule of Jesus Christ. They told people what would draw them in, and then held them with an appeal to their baser wants. No one ever lost money and power with that strategy.


Make no mistake. True Christians gladly affirm they are bought. With joy and thanksgiving we affirm we have been saved, not with things of the flesh or the material things our culture tells us we ought to treasure. No, we are saved through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As the Bible says, we have been bought with a price…the shed blood of Christ. So he is our Master. He purchased our souls, saving us from hell. Therefore we are his servants. Jesus is our Master. We obey his Word. We affirm all Jesus did and said.


When that person, years ago, said, “There’s no use talking to Pastor 

Richard. He won’t change his mind,” they were affirming a beautiful truth. 

We will never deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Woe to those who, in pursuit of their own wicked agenda, use Jesus as a prop. As verse one says, they bring swift destruction upon themselves.


Next week, we’ll look at how, while false teachers can sound appealing, their morality reveals their true intentions. Until then, let’s affirm our faith together:

“I HAVE BEEN PURCHASED BY CHRIST FOR SERVANTHOOD. HE IS MY SOVEREIGN LORD AND MASTER. JESUS IS ABSOLUTE LORD OVER ALL THAT I AM AND ALL THAT I HAVE. AMEN.”

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