How Can We Recognize These Teachers?
So, how can we recognize these false teachers? After all what Peter is warning us so far is like listening in to a one-way conversation. He states, “Hey, look out there has been and will be false teachers among you! So, be careful!” Approach the teachings of others measuring it against the words and action of Christ and the apostles.
So, how can we recognize these teachers of false doctrines? Peter helps us by giving us five signs to look for concerning when trying to discern if a teacher is a true teacher of God or a false teacher.
1. Their teaching results in licentiousness (verse 2, 3). What is licentiousness? It is one of those words we no longer use. My New King James version uses words such as covetousness. They will exploit you with deceptive words. My English Standard version uses the word sensuality. But lets explore the original Greek word used in verse two which is Aselgeia, which the English Standard correctly states as “sensuality,” but can also mean indecency, vice and is translated as pernicious in the old King James Version and “shameful” in the NIV and licentious in the NRSV. Often when studying the Bible I find it useful to look in Webster’s 1828 dictionary to get a better understand of words that have gone out of fashion.So, here is what Webster’s has to say, “Noun, Excessive indulgences of liberty; contempt of the just restraints of law, morality and decorum. The licentiousness of authors is justly condemned; the licentiousness of the press is punishable by law. Law if the god of wise men; licentiousness if the god of fools.”
2. Verses 10, 11; says that false teachers are not afraid to revile or blaspheme the glorious ones. Who are these glorious ones? Of course, none other than God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They deny the existence of one or two of the Godhead, often substituting another object or person in the place of Christ, or the Holy Spirit.
3. Verses 13, 14; They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime and have eyes full of adultery and hearts trained in greed. Sexual immorality and the gospel of prosperity are among their deceptive teachings. They fail to see anything wrong in a sexual relation outside of the marriage union. They feel it is ok, to cheat someone for personal gain and take that which isn’t theirs. They will even use the scriptures to justify their behavior.
4. Verses 18-22 states that they entice with licentious passions of the flesh, getting believers to return to the very behavior of their previous life they had left behind when they became a Christians. They claim it is acceptable to still participate in the same thought and behavior that one did before accepting Christ as his or her savior. If we are the temple of the living God, then why would we want to continue in the same lifestyle as before. A lifestyle that prevents God from entering your heart and us truly becoming a true follower of him.
5. Verse 19 puts it so bluntly when it states; “they promise freedom of liberty but are actually ensnared in corruption.” If the whole purpose of Christianity is to become more Christlike, why would I want to participate in a behavior or lifestyle that Christ did not endorse or do while he was here on earth. If after his ascension into heaven, the apostles were then his representatives, his prophets to give to us the truth presented to us from heaven through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, why would we engage in any of the behaviors that the apostles warned us to stay away from.
In our next post we will look at some the actual teachings of false prophets.