But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 NLT
Peter continues his concern about false teachers and false teaching that would try to invade the gospel. Israel of old had false prophets and Peter knew that false teachers were also present among the church. The devil is the master of deception and he knows how to disguise himself in the form of a "truth". The issue lies in the simple, yet often undiscerned reality that the teaching is actually a lie. Many preachers of our time are preaching a compromised gospel and are using the pulpit and the venue of the church as a marketplace for motivational speeches and moneymaking. “These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NLT The gospel needs to be taken to the world and it costs money to do so. Ministers should be well respected and supported (see I Timothy 5:17-19), but they have no business lining their own pockets at the expense of the gospel, the lives of people, and the eternal consequences of souls led astray. The truth is Jesus Christ, Him crucified, buried, and risen triumphant over death. Jesus was God in man's physical form who ratified the plan of salvation for man. He is the only way of salvation!!! There is no other!!! Anyone who adds to that, or takes way from it, is corrupting the gospel. Salvation is found nowhere else. This is the nucleus and central message of the gospel. Positionally, we are made right with God through Jesus Christ. This brings us to the corresponding, important reality. We are now His possession and we are called to live under His Lordship. There are those who would pervert the gospel message and teach that it is ok to live anyway you want and still love Jesus. Yes, we are free from the power of sin, which is the law, and the penalty of sin, which is death, but we are not free to wallow in sin like a pig. We are sheep now. We have been redeemed and transformed by the power of Christ. Indeed, we do still have the potential to sin but we should not use that as an excuse to practice willful disobedience.
Let me outline it for you like this:
1. Power of sin - The law
“For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.” 1 Corinthians 15:56 NLT
2. Penalty of sin - Death
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 NLT
3. Potential to sin
“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.”
1 John 2:1 NLT
4. Practice of sin
“Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.”
1 John 3:4-10 NLT
Our practice of faith demonstrates our position of faith. It isn't appropriate to call Jesus Lord and live under the practice of the devil. If we truly know Jesus Christ, we will truly experience His power working in, and through, us to help us live as we should.
“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone. For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:12-21 NLT
Peter wants the believers in Jesus to stand firm in their faith. He knows his earthly life and ministry is nearing the end. Harsh persecution was being experienced by those who were followers of Christ. He knew, by revelation from Jesus Himself that death was coming soon. Peter was martyred under the Roman Emperor Nero around A.D. 68. This letter was apparently written just prior to that event. A man who knows he is facing imminent death will get very clear in his proclamation of faith. Peter wanted to affirm the certainty and authenticity of the life and ministry of Jesus. He used the experience of Jesus transfiguration as a reference to his eyewitness of Jesus divinity (see Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). Forever etched in his mind and heart would be that grand and glorious experience. He also wanted to admonish the fellow believers, Jew and Gentile alike, to hold fast to the things they had been taught. They must stay the course and not allow false teachers and false teaching to invade their ranks. The gospel of Jesus must be defended, even to death. This was the man who had denied Jesus three times during Jesus trial. Peter would not fail HIs Lord this time. Peter was, now, a Holy Spirit filled man (see Acts 2). He was sold out to Christ. Nothing, and no one, would turn Him away from Christ. In John 21:18-19 Jesus prophesied how Peter would die. ““I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”” John 21:18-19 NLT Peter is traditionally believed to have been crucified upside down. It is said that he would not be crucified right side up because of his earlier denial of Jesus. We aren't certain that Peter was crucified, but we do know that crucifixion was commonly practiced by the Romans and if he wasn't crucified, he was likely tortured and, definitely, martyred for His faith in Jesus. Peter tells us, in today's scripture, that God's word is given to us by inspiration from the Holy Spirit. God's Word, the Bible, is Divine and trustworthy. (see also 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Brothers and Sisters, let's stay the course and trust God and His Word more than anything, no matter what!!
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 NLT
Our daily lives should evidence our professed faith in Jesus. When we display moral excellence, patient endurance, brotherly love, and even love our enemies, we portray our Father and Lord. Living by God's principles (The Bible) helps us stand unshakable in an uncertain world. God's Word is eternal - it will never fail us. “Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.” Psalms 119:89 NLT “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” Luke 21:33 NLT ““Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”” Matthew 7:24-27 NLT Living your life without the principles of Jesus Christ is like building a house on sand knowing that a catastrophic storm will someday come. In just a matter of time, the house will fall. Don't build your life on anything other than Jesus and His Word!! For those who choose to build on Jesus and His Word, a grand entrance awaits you in the kingdom of God! Keep your eyes on eternity, not things that are fleeting and temporary.
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9 NLT
Since Christ has redeemed us from our wicked, sinful condition, we should respond by our allegiance to Him and our desire to please Him. Let me give you an example: a woman should be faithful to her husband and desire to please him because they are married. Why marry someone you don't love and have no desire to please? A woman who loves her husband will prove her commitment by her willingness to understand him. She will seek to honor him. Jesus is our groom. We are His bride. We should seek to please Him with our words, thoughts, and deeds. We are His because He has saved us. Now that we are His, we are responsible for our personal conduct toward Him. We can't treat Him, and His precious grace, carelessly. We are His bride and we ought to strive to honor and please Him in our character and conduct. Our actions should reflect the reality of our marriage relationship. Who, in their tight mind, would think it's ok to run around on their spouse and treat them with ill repute? That would be absurd!! Why, then, do we have this idea that we can trample our Lord's great name in the mud of our own depraved conduct? May God help us!! God is holy! God is righteous! I know that we are sinful creatures, by nature. However, it is high time for believers of our time and culture to get a glimpse of His Holiness!!! Isaiah saw it in Isaiah chapter 6. When he saw the Lord, he had only one response: to see himself unclean (filthy) and his people unclean. Isaiah had an encounter with God that made him see God in His holiness. Isaiah immediately knew his own condition. How can we say we know the Great Holy One named Jesus Christ and live in mud like a pig without a conscience. I say to you, brothers and sisters, God wants moral excellence, biblical-godly knowledge, behavior under His control, patient perseverance in trials that displays His character, brotherly love that is genuine, and love toward our fellow man. It is high time for the those who have received salvation to walk under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Today, let's ask God to help us see Him in His Holiness and respond accordingly.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT
God has provided everything we need to live a godly life. Believers in Jesus Christ have no excuse for living immoral, ungodly lives. The presence and power of God that has been granted to us by His grace is enough. The key to living as we should is vested in God. When we let God live in us, and through us, we are then made capable of living a righteous life. Jesus is our righteousness, both positionally and practically. Galatians 5:16 says it this way: “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” NLT The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus living inside of us. “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.)” Romans 8:9 NLT “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 14:26 NLT Today, let's yield ourselves to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and let's live the way God intended. Let's live like Jesus!!
Rev. Curtis Norris