I’ll never forget watching a television preacher spend an entire sermon defending gluttony and greed. His sermon was simple: gluttony and greed were sins that were included in the Old Testament Law. They were a way to keep people in check. But now, because of Christ’s life and death, Christians were perfectly free to store up their bellies and bank accounts without concern. After all, “nothing is impossible with God!”
In our passage today, we see a stark warning against false teachers. They come in all theological shapes and sizes, from denying Jesus’s resurrection to claiming that God is essentially an ATM with endless cash for those who pray long and hard enough. This passage seems to indicate another kind of false teaching—some version of denying Jesus’s second coming (see 2 Peter 3) and indulging in sinful behavior.
In the Gospels, Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites and sons of the devil. It wasn’t because they taught the law or expected people to follow certain rules; rather, He scolded them for being a type of false teachers who skewed God’s law in a way that made it antithetical to the gospel. In fact, Jesus compliments some Pharisees for asking the right questions and trying to better understand the law—a law Jesus came to fulfill, not abolish. Here, Peter is chastising counter-Pharisees who seem to think there are no rules that apply to them anymore.
But there is hope for those who follow Jesus. “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (2 Peter 2:9). Those who keep His Word, who hear His voice (John 10:27) will be rescued from suffering and judgment. Why? Because believing in Christ requires certain beliefs and actions. Those who teach against the gospel show that their beliefs and actions are in opposition to Christ. But those who believe in Him also believe and act rightly.
Both extremes—rigid rule-following and unhinged rule-breaking—are simply opposed to the gospel. Praise God that through the gospel we’ve been freed from our sin and the curses that come with it. But let us also praise God that He’s shown us a way of living that honors Him and reflects His image to the world around us.
Written by Matt Redmond