“False Teachers among You” — Part Two
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“False Teachers among You” — Part Two

2 Peter 2:10–22  (ID: 2310)

When Peter wrote about the false teachers of his day, he used vivid language that may seem to us to be too strong. As Alistair Begg explains, we can best understand this passage in the context of Peter’s role as shepherd protecting the flock of God under his leadership, much like parents protect their children from harm. Believers today must be on guard against error, choosing God’s ways over false promises of “knowledge” that is actually darkness and “freedom” that is actually slavery.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 2 Peter

Growing in Grace 2 Peter 1:1–3:18 Series ID: 16101

Sermon Transcript: Print

Now, let’s turn as we have time now to 2 Peter—one of the most neglected books in the whole Bible and not just in the New Testament. I think the reason that it is neglected is in part because it is so devastating in its terminology. You would sense that from the reading as you paid careful attention to it just now.

The whole theme of 2 Peter is essentially a warning. It’s a warning on the part of Peter, as he says in 2:1, about false teachers who are introducing “destructive heresies.” And this false teaching and destructive heresy obviously was prevalent in the immediate context to which Peter wrote historically. But in the wonderful way in which the Bible speaks to every passing generation, we discover, albeit with sadness, that the kind of nonsense that was pervasive at the time of the writing of this letter is something that is known to us even today. And what he seems to be addressing is a mixture of skepticism and immorality. And they were skeptical about the notion of the return of Jesus; they were skeptical about the notion of the judgment of God. And when that begins to creep into the mindset of men and women, then moral laxity and immorality will almost inevitably follow. And Peter is addressing that.

Our last study—I can’t even remember when it was—closed with the picture of judgment and its inevitably, the essential nature of righteousness, and also of the keeping power of God as we look to the future. We tried to finish last time on that note: God rescuing—verse 9—“godly men from trials” and “hold[ing] the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment”; the reminder that God is sovereign and in control of all of these things. And as he addresses, there in verse 9, this notion of the unrighteous being held in order that their judgment may be executed upon them, he then goes on in verse 10—and this is where we pick it up—to say this is actually “especially true” of these individuals “who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature” and who “despise authority.”

Now, all of the details of what Peter has in mind cannot be immediately known to us, because he is writing to express circumstances which would be within the precinct of the thinking of the people who received his letter and were obviously known to him. But while we may not know the specific details of the issues he addresses, the general emphasis that he brings and the message that he conveys is as clear as a bell. And if you notice his terminology as he describes these individuals in verse 12: “brute beasts”; he describes them in verse 13 as “blots and blemishes”; “accursed brood” of individuals, at the end of verse 14. And you find yourself reading and saying, “Peter, I wonder if you might… Don’t soft-pedal this, Peter. Tell us exactly how you’re feeling about these folks.” It is tremendously powerful, isn’t it? Some commentators said that what we have here is Peter’s “violent[ly] and colourfully expressed tirade.”[1] “Violent[ly] and colourfully expressed tirade.”

Now, just in case we never get to the end of this, let me import the end to the beginning so to give a broader context. When you read this for a moment and when we go through this study, you’ll find yourself, as I have found myself, recoiling at moments from what’s going on: “Does he have to be so graphic? Does he have to be so forceful? Does he have to be so condemnatory in his judgment? After all…” But if you think in parental terms and imagine individuals moving amongst your children—think of your daughters in their tenderness; think of your sons in their growing years—if you imagine people moving amongst your children, drawing them away, teaching them insidious lies, introducing them to filthy practices, there is not a parent among us who does not understand the rightful emotion of arising to defend their children and to dispense with these characters immediately and forcefully. Now, this, you see, is the responsibility of the shepherd of the souls, and Peter is the shepherd of this little group of sheep. And all of these wolves are moving amongst his sheep, and so he is dealing with them in this very striking fashion.

Now, I want to move as quickly through it as I can without trying to skip anything. But you will notice that the slander of these individuals knows no limits at all—that he says in verse 12 that their blasphemy is, frankly, unconstrained. They “blaspheme in matters they do not understand.” In other words, they are so far out there when it comes to denying God that they are beyond the realm of their own capacity to fathom what they’re saying.

Michael Green says, “They are dominated by lust; their passions are given free [reign], with the result that they behave like animals, while the mental and spiritual sides of their humanity suffer atrophy.”[2] It’s a graphic picture, isn’t it? They behave like animals, but their brains and their spirits are atrophied. They don’t exercise the angelic restraint to which he refers there in verse 11. They choose instead to be “creatures of instinct.” They neglect rational thought. They proceed purely on the basis of sexual and sensual indulgence. And verse [12]: in the end, “like beasts,” they’re going to be put down.

Now, this kind of individual… And remember, what we’re describing here are men living in the first century, in the company of their wives, with their brother-in-law coming over for tea, with their parents concerned about their well-being and their coming and going—individuals with real souls who have slowly but surely turned their backs on all that represents truth and loveliness and goodness, and they find themselves now in the most dreadful of predicaments. William Barclay says, “For a while” such an individual “may enjoy what he calls pleasure, but in the end he ruins his health, wrecks his constitution, destroys his mind and character, and begins his experience of hell [while] he is still [on the] earth.”[3]

Verse 13: “They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done,” or they shall in their destruction be destroyed. As they play the slot machines of life, they anticipate that they can beat the odds, but in the end they’re going to be robbed and not paid.

Now, let me just say a word in passing. Let’s take our first pause and say, “Whoa!” The mindset in which all of us move from day to day is so coerced by the worldview of our contemporary culture that we have now come to the conclusion that no one is justified in speaking like this about anyone. Nobody is allowed to say such things. And anyone who would pronounce such judgment on any group of people or on any circumstances must themselves somehow or another be disengaged from their senses, or at least they are disengaged from contemporary thought forms and mores.

And this, I think, is one of the great challenges that we’re now going to face in the twenty-first century. If we’re going to hold true for what the Bible says, if we’re going to stand for righteousness and for truth, then we are increasingly going to be on the receiving end of that kind of response: “You people are bigoted, you people are this, you people are that.” And as we were reminded again this morning—and it is so apropos that he would be there and we would be here—Rico said, “You know, do you want people to like you in the immediacy and essentially despise you in eternity? Or would you rather have them despise you now for your straightforwardness and rejoice with you in eternity?” In other words: Do you have the courage to be a biblical Christian?

I don’t find this easy. It’d be much easier to do talks on “Seven Ways to Improve Your Finances” and “How to Have a Happy Marriage” and “Getting On with Your Teenage Kids” and so on. And I think we’d fill the congregation. I honestly do. I think if I announced a series on “Seven Tips for Rearing Teenagers That Don’t Embarrass You in Public,” we can add another four or five hundred with great ease. But just to teach the Bible, the people say, “No, we don’t really need any more of that theological stuff. What we need is this.”

Well, we daren’t lose sight of the justice of God, and we need the power of God to speak with conviction in relationship to these matters. Surely that is the only way that Peter was able to do what he did. Look at how he heaps up these phrases. These individuals are doing these things not in caverns, not in caves; they’re doing them “in broad daylight.” They are, if you like, shameless. “Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight.” Totally shameless. The loss of shame in contemporary culture is undeniable. I mean, it is impossible just to flick the buttons on the screen and not be confronted by the fact that individuals do these things in broad daylight.

“They are blots” and “They are … blemishes” is in direct contrast to what he’s going to refer to in 3:12–13, where he says, “In light of the fact that Jesus is coming back again, you should live holy and godly lives, and you shouldn’t be marked by blots and blemishes. You should be found without spot and blameless on the day of his return.”[4] In verse 14, they are insatiable in their pursuit of “unstable” prospects for their dirty deeds. That’s what verse 14 is saying: “With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning;” and they’re always on the lookout for those who are susceptible to their silly stuff. Well, the curse of God is on them.

How in the world does all this come about? What happened? Did something get dropped on their heads? Did they run into a wall or something? And people say, “Well, these people are not… They’re not normal. They’re not sensible to do these things.” No, they’re very normal, and they’re very sensible. They’re very bad. They’re wicked. What’s happened? Verse 15: “They have left the straight way.”

The promises of the Bible are real promises, but the warnings of the Bible are real warnings.

Makes you think of Pilgrim’s Progress, doesn’t it? They were going along for so long, staying on the straight and narrow, moving towards the shining light, moving towards the Wicket-Gate. And then, all of a sudden, one goes off and says, “I don’t think we need to go that way. I don’t think you need to be so straitlaced. I don’t see, Pilgrim, why you’re so strong in your convictions about this. After all God is much bigger than your tiny views.”[5] And off they go. And the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.”[6] And you can get off the path in a moment of inattentiveness, it seems. And unless you’re quickly alerted to your condition, your being off the path may become a fixed condition.

The first time that Sue and I drove to Augusta, Georgia, it was a beautiful evening, and we were having a very nice time in the car, just the two of us. (It goes without saying, actually, but I don’t mean without friends; I mean without children.) And we had maps, and we had a clear idea of what we were doing. And somewhere along the line, in that evening, as the sun began to set, I said, “The sun is not setting this evening where it’s supposed to set.” As soon as I said that, I realized, “That’s probably not true.” Well, I won’t bore you with the details, but there is a point on the journey where 77 and 81 part from each other. And I had stayed on 77, I guess, rather than going on 81 or vice versa. I don’t even remember now; I’m dangerous. But it was so pleasant, the conversation was so nice, I didn’t say, “You know, I think I’ll go wrong this evening.” I went wrong. And by the time I discovered that I was wrong, I was fifty-eight and a half miles wrong. No, fifty-nine and a half miles wrong. Is two times fifty-nine a hundred and… Two times fifty-nine is a hundred and nineteen. Yeah, that’s right! Fifty-nine and a half miles wrong. I only know that because when I’d finally clocked from where I was back and I doubled it, it came out at a hundred and nineteen. And so I told myself, “Idiot! I’ll never do that again.” Do you know I did it a second time, at the exact same place, with a lapse of two years?

The thing that should absolutely stand us up on our heels about studying 2 Peter is this: “2 Peter is not about them; 2 Peter is about me.” You see, just go to the very end of the book and look. What is he saying at the end of chapter 3? “Therefore,” he says, “dear friends…” “My friends, you know this stuff.” But listen: “Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.”[7]

The promises of the Bible are real promises, but the warnings of the Bible are real warnings. They “left the straight way.” They may have got up in the morning and said, “Well, that’s fine. We’re ditching this.” But the chances are they didn’t. They simply slipped off. They should have taken 81, and they stayed on 77—theologically, morally, spiritually. And somebody said, “You know, there’s a Bible study going on, and there’s a fellow got a thing going about Balaam the son of Beor. It’s really good. I mean, it’s fairly ordinary, and I don’t think it’s deviant in any way. It’s sort of good stuff. It’s just that it’s got a little Balaam twist to it.” “Oh,” and the person says, “well, you know, I’m getting rather bored with the kind of stuff we’re getting. It’s the same stuff all the time. It’s continually reminding us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.[8] Why don’t we go off? What’s one Bible study going to do to you?” And so off they went, and before they knew where they were, they were sucked in. Because Balaam, when you read it in the Old Testament—we’re not going to it now—had a part at the seduction of the Israelites—seduced them to sin with the Moabite women.[9] And in the same way, these false leaders and teachers were seeking to seduce believers in Peter’s day with this sexually pernicious nonsense and a hedonistic lifestyle.

And what’s more—verse 16—Balaam’s donkey had a better grasp of the matter than Balaam did himself! It’s staggering, isn’t it? Any time you’re thinking that you’re really very good, just remember that one of the best preachers in the Old Testament was a donkey. “A dumb [donkey],” says Barnett, “possessed sounder prophetic vision than a religious official whose moral sense had been perverted by gain from wrongdoing.”[10] See, he thought he could make a buck on the side. Somebody said, “You know, it’s not really that big of a deal. It’s not… You know, it’s not the kind of thing that’ll bring you down. You can…”

And so, who are these people? Well, he describes them in the closing paragraph—verse 17. What are their characteristics? Well, first of all, they’re empty. They are “springs without water.” They’re “mists driven by a storm.” They’re unsatisfactory, and they’re useless. They come and go; they don’t have any settled principles or convictions. “Springs without water … mists driven by a storm.”

[Michael Green], in a wonderfully characteristic sentence or two, says, “You have only to visit a second-hand theological bookshop, with its piles of unsaleable rubbish, once the latest thing in theological audacity, to see the force of this.”[11] In other words, every generation throws nonsense up. Everybody gets alarmed by it, writes about it in Christianity Today, says, “This is going to bring us down! We’ll never survive this one, you know?” And then you go, if you live long enough, and go through the old bookshops, and you say, “Do you remember when that was an issue? Do you remember when people were concerned about that?” Absolute nonsense! Unsatisfactory, empty, “springs without water,” mists in the darkness. Don’t be alarmed by them, but certainly don’t be like them. “Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” Their clouds of obscure, unhelpful nonsense that is represented in their teaching simply casts unhelpful shadows. But the shadows they cast is as nothing compared to the darkness which awaits them.

“They mouth empty … words,” which are also “boastful words.” They’re big. They sound ponderous. The word in Greek is hupéronka. Their words are hupéronka. It’s a great word, isn’t it? You may want to write that down and use it, at least in your anglicized version. Hupéronka. Sounds like Tonka, doesn’t it? At least, you know, that’s the way my mind works; that’s how brilliant I am. Other people say, “This is an amazing Greek word,” and I say, “This is a Greek word sounds like Tonka Truck.” But Tonka Trucks are big trucks, as far as I know, most of them. I remember Cameron wanted a Tonka Truck when he was small, and it was enormous. Well, it’s the same thing. It’s hupéronka, Tonka. Their words appear to be tremendous. They have a presence to them, but they’re absolute rubbish. They mouth boastful, empty words, they appeal to the “lustful desires of sinful human nature,” and they’re particularly strong with people who are just trying to extricate themselves from the realm of paganism.

Now, again, we don’t have the details, but the chances are that they were teaching some form of Gnosticism. Gnosticism essentially separated the soul from the body, said that God was really interested in the soul. Once you had your soul dealt with, you could do what you like with your body, because your body didn’t really matter—in direct contrast to what the Bible says. The Bible says that we are a unity and what we do with our bodies affects our personalities. So don’t ever have anybody tell you that you can do this with your body; it’s doesn’t matter, because after all, your soul is secure with God.

And often what happens with these groups—and it happens still today—is that they offer to individuals knowledge. They have a leadership structure where individuals have the knowledge. You have to go in the room to meet the leader if you want to get the next stage of knowledge. And if you make it through that stage, then you can go in another room and meet another leader who will give you another little bit of knowledge. And when you interweave that with sexual promiscuity, then you have Branch Davidian.

Do you remember that? What was he saying? “Sleep with me and you will find the ultimate spiritual experience. I’m a holy person. I have the knowledge of God. You can tune into God through me. This is how it happens.” And he seduced unstable women who were interested in all of this kind of rubbish. And I only bring up Branch Davidian because it was his name that came to mind.

And what they were doing in verse 19 is that they were promising freedom. You see, this is the thing. You have to be very, very careful. It’s not that these individuals are saying, “If you come to our study, you’re going to get involved in deep darkness. You’ll become a blot and a blemish. You will be destroyed and…” No, no. They say, “If you come and join us, you can get away from that Parkside nonsense—you know, those people who say what they’re saying about the Bible and Martin Luther and all of that jazz. Get away from that! We can give you freedom over here.” He says, “Well, they promise freedom, but they’re slaves of depravity.”

And then it sounds as though Peter had been listening to Jesus, doesn’t it? “For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” You remember when Jesus says to the Pharisees, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”[12] And Peter must have made a note of that in the back of his mind. He said, “I’ll use that someday,” and there, here, he puts it in his second letter. “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” Like drug dealers who are held themselves in the grip of addiction, they seek to sell others the “wonderfully freeing” experience of getting high, which, of course, they know is the most dreadful bondage. Says Seneca, “To be enslaved to oneself is the heaviest of all servitudes.”[13]

And just one other pause, and then I’ll go shooting to the end.

In a few weeks, the book that you allowed me to write when I was on sabbatical will finally hit the shelves. It has been the closest thing that I could imagine to giving birth to a child to write this book, and I await its arrival with eager expectation, not because it is so good but just because I can’t believe it’s coming. I’m not sure that it’s going to be particularly well received. And certainly, I know it won’t be in certain quarters, because what I’m arguing for in the book is the abiding place of the law of God in the life of the Christian. And the book begins with the call of Nelson to the British fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar ranged against the Spanish Armada and the French boats. And he issues a final call to his troops: he says, “England expects every man to do his duty.”

And the more I move around, this is what I find. People say, “No duty. No duty. You see, you have freedom, and freedom means that you do whatever the Spirit tells you to do.” What I think the Bible says is the Spirit enables us to do the duty to which the Bible calls us. It is not an attempt to make ourselves acceptable to God, but it is to live in the empowerment of God in a way that pleases him.

The Spirit enables us to do the duty to which the Bible calls us.

When I had finished everything, too late I went to a book given to me by a friend, The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse, and found a poem by William Cowper entitled “Love Constraining to Obedience.”

Incidentally, “How did I even get here?” you’re saying. “This is a strange departure. How did he get off on this?” Well, what is being addressed here is actually antinomianism. Nomos is Greek for “law”; anti is “against law.” And these individuals are lawless individuals. They’re the kind of individuals who say, “You don’t have to pay any attention to the Ten Commandments. That was in the Old Testament. You don’t have to pay any attention to anything that anybody ever tells you about duty in the Christian life. Those individuals are legalists. Have nothing to do with them. Come and join us in the realm of freedom.” Well, of course there is legalism—an attempt to make ourselves more acceptable to God by the deeds we do. That is legalism. But the antidote to legalism is not to fall into the antinomianism of license such as is propounded here but is to live on the narrow pathway to which James refers as the perfect law which gives liberty.[14]

Now, in the midst of all of that, then, Cowper. Listen to this carefully:

No strength of Nature can suffice
 To serve the Lord aright:
And what she has she misapplies,
 For want of clearer light.

How long beneath the Law I lay
 In bondage and distress;
I toiled the precept to obey,
 But toiled without success.

Then to abstain from outward sin
 Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its power within,
 I feel I hate it too.

Then all my servile works were done
 A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
 I freely choose His ways.[15]

Now, for those of you who come from a Roman Catholic background, this is what you tell me: “We grew up ‘Ten Commandments, Ten Commandments, Ten Commandments.’ And we discovered that we couldn’t keep the Ten Commandments, we discovered that we were dreadfully sinful, and we discovered that there was no hope for us at all.” You should be very thankful that you discovered that. Because that’s exactly what you needed to discover! You were sinful, you are sinful, you couldn’t keep the Ten Commandments, and you couldn’t put yourself right with God. What you didn’t get was that the answer lay in a once-for-all atoning sacrifice for sin whereby you were put right with God. But having been put right with God, you are not then set out on a pathway to do whatever you like, but you’re set out on a pathway to do what God designs. “Then”—back then—all the “works were done, a righteousness to raise,” trying to make ourselves more and more acceptable.

Now, freely chosen in the Son,
 I freely choose His ways.

‘What shall I do,’ was then the word
 ‘That I may worthier grow?’
‘What shall I render to the Lord?’
 Is my inquiry now.

And then here’s the whole book, you know—seventy-five thousand words summarized in four lines. I wish I’d found it at first; it’d save everybody a lot of difficulty:

To see the law by Christ fulfilled,
 And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child,
 And duty into choice.[16]

Sobering conclusion.

One of the most unsettling sections is 20 to the end. I’ll just mention it and make a run for it: “If they[’ve] escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they[’re] worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” Now, before you all descend on me at the end and say, “There you are, you see: it’s possible to be a genuine Christian and then not to be a Christian. It’s therefore clearly possible to lose your salvation”—what are we to say to this?

Well, Peter is describing those who at some point have made an escape from the corruption around them. They said, “I’m not going down there anymore. I’m not doing drugs anymore. I’m not going to hang around with those people who are doing that filthy stuff anymore. I’m going to go to Bible studies at Parkside now. I used to stay out until four o’clock in the morning on Saturday. I’m going home at eleven o’clock, and I’m going to get up, and I’m going to go to the eight-fifteen service, ’cause I believe there are more points the earlier you go, and if you show up in the evening, you get it supersized, and it is a fantastic opportunity.”

And when they meet their friends, their friends say, “So, what’s up with you now? I didn’t see you down at the such and such.” “Oh no,” you say, “I don’t go down there anymore. No, I have escaped all of that. I’ve escaped all of that. I’m into a Jesus thing now. I go to the eight fifteen, and then I stay in the Commons as long as I can, and then I do another little bit in the afternoon, and then I stay in the evening too.”

And then, all of a sudden, three or four months have elapsed, and the fellow’s back exactly where he was. His friend said to him, “What in the world happened to you? I thought you escaped the corruption that was in the world?” He said, “Well, I thought I did, too, but I clearly didn’t. Now I know what I did: I exchanged one set of external circumstances for another set of external circumstances.”

It appeared to others—perhaps it even appeared to themselves—that they were the real deal. But something somewhere along the journey attracted them, twisted them. The pull of self-indulgence, it won out over the demands of holy living. They discovered that they were either going to have to stay the course and alter their lives, or they were going to have to turn back to where they’d been.

And he says strikingly in verse 21 that ignorance would have been preferable. Ignorance would have been preferable. It really “would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and … to turn their backs on [it].” You see, to know the gospel, to come to Parkside or any other gospel-teaching church regularly, to begin to change your external circumstances, and then to turn your back on it all is to be found in an actually unforgivable position—not because God is unwilling to forgive but because when a man or a woman persists in that kind of self-delusion, they leave themselves with no way of escape.

It is hard to tell the true from the fake, the real from the false, and for the most part, we should leave it to Jesus Christ to judge the issue.

And what they do is they “turn their backs on the sacred”—the “sacred command,” which is really shorthand for “the message.” They turn their backs on the gospel that was passed on to them. And what a horrible picture at the end of chapter 2: a scavenging dog eating its own vomit and a pig wallowing in its own mud—revolting, vivid pictures of the destiny of these brute beasts. Oh yes, there was an initial display of repentance and reformation, and they returned to what they hadn’t really left.

You see why I said I would have changed passages with Rico? I remember doing Luke 16. It was tough, but it wasn’t this tough. These are disturbing, troubling verses. Therefore, when you come to disturbing, troubling verses like this, you must always study them in the light of what we know.

What do we know? With this I conclude: that the ground of our salvation that is full and final and free is in the work of Christ upon the cross. So when the Evil One comes to say, “But you made a hash of things, you have not repented enough”—as we began with the quote from Spurgeon—“you’re never really forgiving enough, you’re never that enough,” or whatever else it is, then all of these are thoughts about ourselves. The ground of our salvation is not in ourselves. It’s outside of ourselves! It’s in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Also we know that within the visible professing church, there will always be those who are false professors. There will always be those who are false professors. Also we know that it is hard to tell the true from the fake, the real from the false, and for the most part, we should leave it to Jesus Christ to judge the issue. When blatant disobedience emerges in the framework of the church, then discipline is the key. Hearing the Word without doing it, professing it without practicing it, singing “Jesus is King” and pleasing myself is an indication of the fact that I have never truly trusted in Christ. And therefore, we must examine ourselves and run afresh to Christ.

I would think that most of us find this section a little too strong for our palates. There’s some cheese, when you open the thing, it’s like “Oof! Oof! No, I don’t think so. Not this evening.” If you take the lid off 2 Peter 2, the end of it’s “Oof!” But imagine false teachers going amongst my children, catching them out, ensnaring them, putting them into their lust-laden dens. Wouldn’t we be justifiably angry? You bet your life you would! You would do everything in your power in order to secure them in the path of righteousness. That is all that Peter is doing. And you don’t have to be particularly brilliant to recognize that if this was a word for the first century, it is surely a word for the opening days of the twenty-first century. So let us pay attention to it.

Father, I pray that out of all of these words tonight, that we will be confronted by the authority and power of your truth, the Bible, not what I have to say about it or quirky insights. Write your Word in our lives. I pray for those for whom the gospel is just unknown to them. I pray that tonight may spark in them a desire to get to grips with the Bible, to find out about Jesus, who he is, and why he came. I pray for those of us who are dillydallying around on the fringes of sin and thinking that we can believe one thing and do what we like, that it doesn’t really matter what we do or where we go, and we’re not going to be constrained by anybody’s rules. Well, Lord, show us that to choose your path is actually the greatest freedom of all. And grant that when we declare you as our King, we may live as your loyal subjects. Help us to do so now, for your name’s sake. Amen.

[1] J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and of Jude, Harper’s New Testament Commentaries, (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 337.

[2] Michael Green, The Second Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude: An Introduction and Commentary, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1984), 105.

[3] William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, 2nd ed., The Daily Study Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 391.

[4] 2 Peter 3:11–14 (paraphrased).

[5] John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678). Paraphrased.

[6] Proverbs 14:12 (paraphrased).

[7] 2 Peter 3:17 (NIV 1984).

[8] See 2 Peter 3:18.

[9] See Numbers 25:1–3.

[10] Quoted in Green, Second Epistle, 114.

[11] Green, 114.

[12] John 8:34 (NIV 1984).

[13] Quoted in Green, Second Epistle, 118.

[14] See James 1:25.

[15] William Cowper, “Love Constraining to Obedience,” in The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse, ed. Donald Davie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 195–96.

[16] Cowper, 196.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.