Sermon: Bells and Whistles or Gospel Truth 2 Peter 2:1-3

Truth Taught- False teachers are out to gain a following as they exploit others for personal wealth and fame


Peter has addressed the fact that Christ is returning regardless what the false teachers try to tell the Church.  He told us that the Transfiguration was proof positive that Christ is coming again because he says it’s the preview.  Not only did this preview prove the second coming because he, James and John were eyewitnesses and it is confirmed by their testimony, but the entire Bible is confirmed because Christ the Messiah is the key subject of the Bible.  So, he wrote that the word of prophecy is more fully confirmed by the Transfiguration. 

His point is, that all of Scripture is 100% trustworthy and true.  The Second Coming of Christ is fully confirmed through the eyewitness testimony of the apostles.

Are you fully convinced that the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is God’s inspired, inerrant and authoritative Word?  Peter knows that this is a must if the Church is going to combat false teachers.  If the Church is not convinced then what argument do we have to refute false claims?  We have no foundation and people can say whatever they want and whose to say if they’re right or wrong?  With our being absolutely fully convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture we are ready now to address and combat false teachers.  Peter is going to show us how who they are and what to look for and what to avoid.

The larger section is very close in content to the Book of Jude.  Jude and 2nd Peter are addressing the same issues and we will see similarities.

Please Stand

2 Peter 2:1–3 (ESV)

2 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.

1.  Where False Teachers Come From (2:1a)

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

What Peter tells us with the false teachers he has had contact with is that rather than creeping into the Church, sometimes they are already here.  They arose among the people. 

God’s people have always had to deal with false teachers.  At times they can seem very impressive and persuasive.  Here’s a text that shows a false prophet may even show the people signs and wonders…

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (ESV)

13 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

What I want to make sure we see here is that it does not matter what he does.  He might even go so far as to perform some miracle among the people.  He may give you a sign or wonder but if he proclaims other gods and seeks to get you to follow them rather than the true God, then he is absolutely a false prophet.

Here’s what Jesus said about false prophets and false teachers…

Matthew 24:5 (ESV)

For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

Matthew 7:15 (ESV)

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Jesus warns us to beware, stay away from, avoid, do not listen to false prophets.

Whether from the outside infiltrating or whether someone would rise up from among the members of the Church teaching heresy, we must take care not to be taken in by them.

2.  What False Teachers Do (2:1b)

who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them,

It seems Peter and Jude were dealing with the same false teachers, notice how similar Jude’s remarks are to Peter’s…

Jude 4 (ESV)

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In both texts, Master comes from the original meaning Sovereign Lord. 

Peter tells us that these people who are known by the Church, again not outsiders, however, begin to teach an outside doctrine.  It’s a teaching from the outside.  In Jude, they have crept into the Church. 

In Jude it’s a new person with a new teaching.  In Peter, it’s a well-known person; a person known to all but with a new teaching.  It’s a teaching secretly introduced.  It’s introduced by stealth.  It could be just a little or a lot.  Literally, it’s to sneak in a false teaching under false pretenses or smoothly without being noticed.

The fact that these false teachers do what they do by stealth means that they are not simply mistaken but know full well that what they are teaching is not true.  They do it in a way as to purposely trick their students.

Their teachings are not just wrong but the result of believing their heresy is to be destroyed.  Literally, their doctrine is destructive.  Peter tells us that their heresy damns those who listen and believe.  Logically, their teaching is demonic because while the true Gospel saves its listeners, their gospel condemns and destroys.

Peter is saying that these well-known church goers have exchanged the truth of God for their own destructive teachings.

Church history is plagued with heresies masquerading as truth.

Arianism The belief that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were lesser, created beings and not persons of the Godhead.

Arianism is the idea that Jesus Christ is not equal to the Father by nature, but He is the first creation of God. The founder of Arianism was Arius who died in 336. His ideas would have a tremendous impact on the early Church by causing it to define orthodoxy with a number of creeds. However, his impact continues to this present day with such groups as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Roman Catholicism – Roman Catholicism violates scripture in its doctrine of salvation, its claims about its authority, its apostolic succession, its priesthood, and its claim to have the sole right to interpret Scripture.

No matter if you are watching someone on TV and they seem very nice when compared to the vile God haters, if they are Catholic and believe Catholic doctrine, they are not Christian and the things they believe are destructive heresies.

Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism are theological perspectives relating to the nature of man.  Pelagianism is a heresy, a false teaching.  It is the teaching by a fifth-century monk named Pelagius who taught that man’s nature was not affected by the fall of Adam and that all people are still free to equally choose between right and wrong.  When Adam sinned, his offspring did not inherit the sinful nature.  Pelagianism denies the doctrine of original sin and also denies that people are sinners by nature (Ephesians 2:1-3).  It states that people become guilty of sin only when they choose to sin.  It was officially condemned by the church at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431.

Semi-Pelagianism is a modification of the Pelagianism heresy.  According to this position people are fallen, sinners by nature, that they are not free to equally choose God or not, but they are able to make the initial step towards believing in God.  Along with semi-Pelagianism is the doctrine of prevenient grace which says that God gives grace to a person, enabling the person to freely make a choice of God.  This doctrine was officially condemned by the Council of Orange in 529 A.D.

For us today, it seems these ancient heresies are given new life.  These condemned lies of the past have sprung up among the Churches to the degree that in many cases, they are accepted as truth.  The danger and it is so dangerous that I’m afraid even people sitting here perhaps believe one or more of hundreds of destructive heresies to the damnation of their souls.

3.  To Deny the Sovereign Lord is to Bring Upon Yourself Swift Destruction (2:1c)

bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

When a person’s belief is outside of Biblical Truth, no matter how well they state it or how firmly they grasp it, it will every time send them to hell.

Peter writes here their destruction is swift…literally, quick and imminent.  It will happen and there is no getting out of it.

They teach destructive heresies that destroy them and all who affirm their teachings.

Destruction (apoleia) swift and utter damnation…

4.  Many Will Follow After Them (2:2)

And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.

False teachers with all the smoke and mirrors are found to be successful in gaining a following.  Much of this is because their followers are lost like they are.  Their followers like to be affirmed in their sin like the false teacher does.  Their followers really don’t know their Bibles, Theology, or Church History.  Because of this their followers lack discernment and cannot spot false doctrine and are taken it by these destructive teachers.

This is why we teach from the OT and the NT.  This is why we do doctrinal reading from classic Church statements of faith.  This is why we select biblical songs to sing.  This is why we avoid anything that resembles flashy, new, ingenious, or man centered worship.  Please understand we do this on purpose.  If God’s Word is not enough then I do not want to be part of it.

Peter tells us that there is a sensual aspect to these successful false teachers.  Other translations call this, licentious ways.  What Peter is getting at is that these people do not live the Christian life.  It could also be translated shameful or immoral ways.

Peter’s inclusion of this phrase means that among these false teachers are those who may teach some truth but their lives do not exhibit obedience to Christ.  They are simply pagan in how they live.  This is why to be a teacher within the Church one’s life and conduct must also be looked at, not just their theology.

Romans 2:21–24 (ESV)

21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

The point is that if we believe truth but do not live it out, if that truth does not change us, if we are not being conformed to the image of Christ in our behavior as well as our theology, we are dishonoring God and causing His name to be blasphemed among the lost.

5.  Why Do False Teachers Rise Up Within the Church? (2:3)

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.

Most often the motivation for a false teacher is money and fame.  They desire the things the world views as valuable.  They will exploit you in order to try to get your money and your devotion.  They are deceptive and seek to gain your trust with false teaching and half-truths.  People flock to them because these teachers support their sin.

These false teachers had been accusing Peter and the others of making up human stories or myths…cleverly devised tales.  Now Peter exposes their myths.  They were the ones creating and teaching cleverly devised tales. 

This is not true every time, however, I think it’s worthy to note that Satan and his followers will often accuse others of the very things they, themselves are guilty of.

Acts 20:28–38 (ESV)

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.


We must remember that God’s Word is truth.  Jesus said it’s the truth that sets your free.  We must resist the new and novel.  We must cling to the abiding Word of God taught clearly, consistently and with the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

What do you long for in worship?  Is God’s Word enough? Or do you require Smoke and Mirrors?  Are bells and whistles required to get you to come to Church every Lord’s Day?  Entertainment or truth?


1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Romans 11:3311:36 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Resources Used:

1 & 2 Peter and Jude by Thomas Schreiner

Jude and 2 Peter by Gene L. Green

2 Peter by John MacArthur

The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude by Peter H. Davids

Word Biblical Commentary by Richard Bauckham

1&2 Peter by Alexander Nisbet

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