2 Peter 2:13-14a
(13) And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
(14) Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls…
I said the other day that Peter was calling false teachers out for three things. One of them was their reviling where they showed no respect for authority, not even God’s. The second of the three is their reveling. The lifestyles of these false “brothers” and “sisters” is a corrupting, corrosive influence. It is dangerous to themselves and it is dangerous to others.
There are two words that Peter uses to describe their behavior: “riot” and “sporting.” Both of these terms describe sensuality and extravagance. The most egregious of these false teacher types are in constant need of money for their “ministries” while they live in expensive homes and drive expensive cars many times above the means of their average parishioners. The less obvious types rub shoulders with us in our churches. They’re the ones who like to showcase their spirituality and to let everyone know how godly they are. They try to be discreet, but if you’re mature in the faith, you know the type.
Like the devil himself, they can “prove” that their lifestyle is scriptural but to do that they have to redefine terms and modify clear doctrine to fit the way they live. They deceive themselves. More than that, they deceive others, “beguiling [deceiving] unstable souls” because people like this just have to have followers. They need followers to satisfy their own lusts (see 2 Timothy 3:6); they need them to help line their pockets ( see 2 Peter 2:3 where Peter says they make merchandise of their followers); and they need followers to assure themselves that what they are doing is right. “Look at all these people following me. They can’t all be wrong.”
They preach “freedom” but what they offer is bondage. Peter says they “riot in the day time,” meaning that they themselves are in such bondage to their sinful lifestyle that they cannot set it aside even for a moment. Addicts will tell you this. Most start out just looking for a high, believing that the high gives them freedom. Then the addiction becomes their master and they find themselves enslaved to the demands of their habits. False teachers are little different and like drug dealers, they are always looking to get someone else hooked with promises of freedom and fulfillment and usually their rhetoric involves some talk of breaking free from authority or the old way of doing things.
Real freedom comes from submission to a higher authority. You look at a great quarterback, he is under the tutelage of a great coach. You look at an accomplished musician, he or she has spent – and continues to spend – countless hours in practice and under the instruction of a music master. Yet, at the same time, these people who have submitted themselves to the authority and instruction of another know great freedom. A well-trained violinist can make their violin sing and move whole audiences. A well-disciplined quarterback can lead a team back from the brink of defeat or run rings around an opposing team. That freedom comes from submission. This goes completely against the doctrine of false teachers. Mature believers understand this. This is why false teachers look for “unstable souls” to beguile. It is also why we should be constantly growing in our understanding of sound doctrine and committing ourselves to “coaching up” those who are less mature in the faith. Because the best protection against falsehood is still the truth.
[Photo by Zsolt Palatinus on Unsplash]