Reading the Word
2 Peter 2:1–10 (ESV)
1 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. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 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. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Understanding the Word
Now Peter warns against false teachers who will contradict the word of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:16-21). He says these false teachers will bring in destructive heresies and that many would be fooled by their words. The motivation for these false teachers will be their greed. Be assured, in the end, God will judge those who would lead people astray through the distortion of truth.
Applying the Word
How many times have you heard a teacher or pastor say something you did not agree with? Does that mean the other person is a heretic? How do we make a distinction between heresy and difference of opinion?
When we speak of heresy, we are speaking of the primary tenets of the Christian faith. Some examples include the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, salvation by grace through faith alone, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are teachings that have been the foundation of Christianity for 2000 years. To deny these is to no longer be Christian.
By contrast, we can have differences of opinion on some things. This would be in areas where Scripture is not as clear and where the issues are not primary. Some examples might be end times views, baptism, and predestination vs. free will. If two people disagree on these things, it does not make one of them a heretic.
May we give grace to those with whom we disagree, but may we never be fooled by false teachers who would lead us away from the truth of the gospel. Let us always look to God’s word as our final authority.
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