Skip to main content
Discerning CultureUncategorized

Discerning False Influencers Among Us – Travis Rymer

On this episode of The Disciple-Making Parent podcast, we embark on a journey through an ocean of ideas, recognizing the importance of discernment in navigating the truths and falsehoods that surround us. As we consider the influence we have on our children’s understanding of the world, we’ll explore the critical role of discernment in their growth.

In this episode I share a thought-provoking sermon from my associate pastor, Travis Rymer, who guides us through the warnings God gives in 2 Peter 2. As the sermon unfolds, he progressively applies biblical insights to the younger generation.

So join us as we reflect on the impact of false teachers and explore how to equip ourselves and our children to discern truth in a world teeming with ideas. 

Be sure to check out my newest book Launch: Biblical Help for Moving Your Teen or Young Adult into the Real World.

Resources From This Podcast

Coming Out Saved My Life, by Mishka Espey
Whoopi Goldberg on meeting the Pope (The Tonight Show)
Episode 8– A Prodigal Teen Repents, with Travis Rymer
Episode 65 Current Issues Teens Face, Part 1, with Travis Rymer
Episode 66 Current Issues Teens Face Part 2, with Travis Rymer
Episode 81 1 Peter 3 and Honoring Christ in your Marriage, with Travis Rymer

 Topics Covered In This Week’s Podcast

04:37 A generation led astray
06:37 God will judge false teachers, and he will rescue the godly
08:01 Keep your godliness in the face of false teaching
20:46 Discerning false teachers
38:27 Keep your confidence in the face of false teaching

Podcast Transcript

Chap: I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children. We swim in an ocean of ideas. Some are true and some are false, and false ideas will ultimately lead to our destruction. So the question is, How discerning are you? How discerning is your teen? 

Hi, my name is Chad Bettis and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. And you know, ideas are all around us. Some of those are presented through teaching and conversation. Others come through the arts and media. Ideas are everywhere. And you know when our children are small and in our home, we control many of the ideas that come their way. But as our children get older, they’re exposed to more and more statements that are presented to them as truth. And they, of course, are able to grasp those statements even more deeply. So what happens is that over time, our influence lessens. Many of those ideas that come to them come through teachers, but they also come through so-called influencers.

So the question is, Are we raising our children to be discerning, to discern between true ideas and false ideas? Well, in today’s podcast, I want to invite you to listen in to a sermon recently preached at my church by my associate pastor, Travis Rymer. In it, Travis walks us through the warnings that God gives in 2 Peter 2. And as the sermon progresses, he gradually applies it more and more to the younger generation. As I was listening to it, I thought, I have to share this with others. Travis’s work has been frequently put up on the podcast, so you can find his testimony as a rebellious teen in episode 8. In addition, he did a wonderful job equipping our church to understand the gender crisis that we’re facing. You can find that in episodes 65 and 66. In addition, just recently, I highlighted his teaching on 1 Peter 3 in episode 81. Travis is a graduate of Gordon Conwell Seminary, and he and his wife, Rebeca, live in Providence and three children. 

Before we start though, I’d like to remind you to check out our newest book, Launch: Biblical Help for Moving Your Teen or Young Adult into the Real World. This is a quick read book. You can cover it in about an hour. And I found a lot of resources helping teens in the later and college years. But I didn’t find any for parents, and I remember that was such a confusing time for me as a parent. So in the book Launch, I lay out some foundations that can guide our thinking in the teen years, and then I apply those to three different scenarios: leaving for college, staying at home after high school graduation, and staying at home when they should not be. I’ve received a number of encouraging testimonies from those who’ve read it and feel like it gives them a little deeper plan for the teen years and then also beyond. So the book is Launch: Biblical Help for Moving Your Teen or Young Adult into the Real World. It’s available in our bookstore at or on Amazon. But for now, let’s think about what God has to say about false teachers and how they can impact you. 

Travis: If you have a Bible, if you would grab it and open with me to 2 Peter. If you’re using a pew bible in front of you, it’s found on page 1079. And it will help you as you look at the text because you want to know whether what I’m saying is true or not. And all that really matters is what does the text say. 

So that’s why you want to have a Bible open in front of you as we look. Let’s pray for God’s help. 

Our Father in heaven, we now gather under your word. And we pray that you would speak. God, we pray that you would show us the truth, that you would encourage us in it, build us up in it. Lord, if any in here don’t know you as Lord and Savior, we pray that perhaps today would be the day that they would experience the new birth of the Holy Spirit. Lord, we pray that you would help me to be faithful. In Jesus name, Amen. 

People today are in danger. And I don’t just mean from the impending doom. I don’t mean wars that surround us and flood our newsfeeds. I also don’t mean that people are in danger merely because people are in danger of going to hell. But people are in danger because there are false teachers who are happy to lead people to hell. 

We’re told that young people are leaving the church in droves, and in some cases that’s true. Some say as much as 40 percent of millennials have no relation with the church anymore. As much as two thirds of 30-somethings, one report says, have nothing to do with organized religion. Just outside this very building, I was told someone had come to these conclusions because she didn’t know any young people who still went to church during COVID. A young lady who was visiting Brown to prepare for her PhD was meeting a group of people related to her program on the corner out here. And we were meeting outside at that time. And she was blown away with seeing what she called “young people” at church. Because she said, “I didn’t know people went anymore.” 

What’s worse is that when people often leave, they don’t just leave, but they become spokespersons against the church. They’re not happy enough to say, I don’t believe these things, but they want to tear it down as they go. Many misrepresent God today. Many believe what those who misrepresent God say. And the question is, Will God do anything about it? Will He just let His name be slandered? Well, our passage today tells us that he is and will and has done things about it. And there’s coming a day when he will make it all public. This passage teaches us that God will judge false teachers, and he will rescue the godly. God will judge false teachers, and He will rescue the godly. That’s the main thing that Peter’s driving home to us today. And he does this with two things that we’ll consider. If you take notes, number one is, keep your godliness, verses one through three. Keep your godliness. The second thing that Peter will drive home is that we have to keep our confidence. This is verses four to ten. 

You’ll notice that I’ve left off 11 through 22. And that’s because those verses fill out what he says in the first 10. So we’ll use those to fill out what he says and our understanding of what he’s talking about in the first 10 verses. So let’s think about keeping your godliness, specifically in the face of false teaching. 

Look at verses 1 through 3. “There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with made up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.” 

Now, it’s been a minute, so you may not recall all that Peter has been trying to accomplish in this letter, but let me just remind you, and as I remind you, I’m going to point out some verses, so you might flip with me. There’s only three chapters, so you can’t get too lost here. But Peter knows that his departure is near. This is chapter 1 in verse 14. The time of the apostles is coming to a close. And that generation that was with Jesus is leaving. But they’ve established the churches. And so the apostles are asking, What will we leave them with so that they are ready to survive and to persevere in the faith? So that’s sort of the occasion that he’s writing. And when he writes, he reminds them of their sure faith. Look at chapter one, verse three: “His divine power-“ speaking of God- “has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Verse four, “By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.” 

The churches have come to escape their own evil desires and the corruption in the world through hearing the good news about Jesus Christ and turning to follow Him. He reminds them in verse 19 and in the verses surrounding it that what’s been delivered to them is something that they can have total confidence in. Look at verse 19. He says, “We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” He points us to the prophecy of Old Testament and the fulfillment of that announced in the apostles’ teaching. For us, that’s the New Testament. So he points the churches back to the scriptures, which have been confirmed in time and space and history in their day. And he says, you have a more sure word, a confident word that you can rely on. And he says, so you should pay attention to it. 

Well, he goes on from there and he reminds us of the promises that have been made in chapter 3, verses 1 and 2. Listen to what he says there. He says, “Dear friends, this is now the second letter I’ve written to you. In both letters, I want to stir up your sincere understanding by way of reminder so that you recall the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the command of our Lord and Savior given through your apostles.”  The apostles have delivered the promises that God has made. They have delivered these to the churches, and he wants to remind them of these things. And all of this, you’ll notice at the end of chapter three, shapes the way we live. Look at chapter three, verse 13: “But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth-“ look at this- “where righteousness dwells.” Verse 14: “Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found without spot or blemish in his sight, at peace.” 

The good news of Jesus Christ isn’t merely that He’s forgiving our sins and bringing us into His eternal presence as His sons and daughters, but it’s total transformation of life that we would live in participation with the divine nature, as he says in verse one, that the character of God would infuse our lives.  And that’s how we would now live in the world while we wait for His second coming. The gospel changes who you are. So knowing all of that, he writes this letter to remind them and to stir them up. 

But in truth, Satan has plans to disrupt all of that. He mentions Satan in 1 Peter, and he reminds us there that Satan is like a lion who’s prowling around looking for every opportunity to devour people. And what better way to do that than to mix in false teachers in the churches? So Peter warns in verse 1, he says, “There will be false teachers among you just as there were in Israel. There will be false teachers among you just as there were in Israel.” Peter makes it a point, and notice this: this is a letter of three chapters. He takes one whole chapter to elaborate on this and to point this out and to give us details that we need to know about. One-third of his whole letter is focused on this. You might be sitting there today and thinking, Well, I came to church today and I was hoping to be encouraged and I’m hearing about false teachers. But look at this. One third of Peter’s letter says you need to know about this. This needs to be put in front of you. That tells you it was a present problem. And it was one that Peter and the apostles anticipated being a problem all the way until the second coming of Jesus. 

And think about what he’s written here. He says that they will be among you just as they were among Israel. So he’s not really talking about those guys out there. He doesn’t really want to talk about other world religions right here. We could classify those as false teachings, certainly. But his point here is that within the community of the faith, within those that profess to follow Jesus, that profess to speak for Jesus, there will be false teachers. These are people who claim to be Christians, and they say Jesus on their lips. And they say that they’re part of it. And they claim that they’re members of the community. But they teach a different gospel. They teach a different Jesus. In truth, they’re fake. The word that he uses is pseudo-teacher. They appear to be teachers. They look like teachers. They sound like teachers, but they’re not. And we need to recognize that culturally, this is something people can be uncomfortable with. Perhaps you’re uncomfortable now, just even as we were saying the phrase “false teacher.” How can you know? Who am I to judge? 

We need to recognize that culturally, this is something that you might be uncomfortable with.

And you need to ask, Where’s that coming from? You might be uncomfortable labeling someone or something as a fake teacher or a false teaching because a core cultural value is not judging and not labeling. But we need to recognize this is something that, in our culture, can prevent us from staying true to the gospel. 

If you are of the younger generation- I’ll let you define where you fall in that classification there- you need to recognize especially that your generation in particular has this as a greater temptation than those who are of the little bit older generation. The little bit older generation didn’t grow up in a time where it was wrong to say that something’s wrong. But today, that’s one of the greatest social faux pas you can make. To make a judgment on something, which by the way, is a judgment to say that you can’t do that. But that’s a cultural pressing point that’s pushing in on you and can keep you from knowing the truth and following Jesus.  When you feel that temptation and that cultural sort of virtue signal that says, I don’t judge. I mean, how often do you hear that? I heard that about parking this week. A guy was telling me where to park. He says, “Hey, I’m sure you can get in there, but I don’t judge.” It’s so powerful in our culture that the thought of judging something as right or wrong seems wrong, but that’s coming from Satan. That is coming from Satan. 

Listen, think about this. It is spiritually healthy to make discerning judgments about truth. I’m going to say that again. It is spiritually healthy to make discerning judgments about truth. So don’t be so quick to say, “I don’t judge.” You should make good judgments, sound judgments, judgments based on true things. This is what Peter is doing here in this passage as a pastoral example. So, in his pastoral care for the church that he’s leaving behind, he’s giving them the tools they need to make judgments, and he’s encouraging them to make those judgments. So if you’re a Christian and you’re following Jesus, this is something you need to learn from this passage. 

And if you feel that cultural pressure, certainly there’s a way to do it, right? Our tone can matter. Our attitude about it can matter. Self-righteousness can come into play. There’s all of those things, right? So that doesn’t discount any of that. But the example we have in Scripture is that we should make discerning judgments about truth. False prophets existed in every generation wherever God’s Word was present. And so that’s going to be true wherever God’s Word is preached in the world. Think about it. In the wilderness, as soon as the people of Israel left Egypt, they have Moses in front of them and they start challenging Moses and you had the sons of Korah along the way. There were false prophets like Balaam who were hired to come. And he’s mentioned later in this passage and they were, he was hired to come and curse Israel throughout the entire kingdom years. When there was a king on the throne in Israel, there were countless false prophets. We read about some of those in Jeremiah’s day and they swayed the people.  God says, “I didn’t give them a word to say. They dream out of their own minds and they speak peace when there’s no peace. I’m promising destruction. They’re saying peace and the people want peace, so they listen to it.” 

Even in Paul’s day, it’s striking. As he would establish churches, you read in the New Testament letters, as soon as he would walk out the door, they were coming behind him. False teachers. I know Paul said this, but let me tell you something different. Here’s Peter, Jude is a whole letter devoted to the same thing. And all of this has not been changed since the beginning when in the garden there was Satan questioning God’s Word and promising freedom. Wherever God’s Word exists, there’s going to be a false teaching, a false narrative to try and challenge it and pull that Word away from you or pull you away from the Word.  Which means we need to be aware of this, we need to be discerning, and we need to know the gospel well, so that we don’t get pulled into their ways. 

This is one of the reasons we as pastors try to encourage you to read. I know reading is hard these days. Everybody, even the readers in the room, will admit it’s harder to read. But you need to read. If you’re not a reader, read something. You need to read good stuff. We have a whole library full of it. We encourage, we recommend books constantly because we want you to know the truth and have handles on it so that, as things come up, you’re equipped. 

Now, let me ask you this. How would you know a false teacher if you ran into one? How would you answer that? You can think about that for just a minute. What are the tools that you have now that would equip you to make a discerning judgment and say, This is not rightI’m not going to listen to this? Well, Peter gives us at least one really helpful way, and he gives us a profile of the classic pattern of false teachers in each generation. These are the false teachers of his day. But as we look at this, you’re going to see this is a classic pattern for false teachers in every generation. 

There’s five things that he says. I’m going give you those real fast right away. And then we’ll, we’ll look at each one of those. 

He says that they introduce destructive heresies. 

He’s going to tell us that they appeal to sensuality and self-expression. 

They reject authority. 

They’re driven by greed. 

They’re persuasive. 

Let’s look at these. Verse 1 says, “There were indeed false teachers among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies.” Their teachings are erosive to what the apostles delivered to the church. They’re like storms that batter a beach side house, undercutting the ground underneath it so that erosion takes place and eventually the house collapses. They undercut what has been taught by questioning the validity and the utility of continuing to follow the gospel. 

It’s not that they’re necessarily always introducing some strange radical new teaching that happens, but they just start to begin to poke at things and destroy the gospel. They’re trying to undercut it so that everyone begins to question it. Today, this is in the form of deconstruction. People everywhere publicly are deconstructing their faith. And if you’ll notice, they do that through questions; as they question every tenet of the faith through the angle of power and oppression. Having adopted sort of a cultural Marxist view of power and oppression being the primary way that we operate among each other. If someone’s claiming truth, they say, They must be trying to control you. 

And so with those sorts of undermining statements, they cut at the truth. Now, if you listen carefully to those who deconstruct their faith, you’re going to find that they don’t say anything new or offer up a truth that replaces the faith. They only tear it down. That’s their main goal. If I can just erode this and tear it away, then there’s nothing to talk about and now we’re all free.  What do they offer in its place? What they do offer in its place is the same viewpoint of the culture around them. It’s interesting that as people deconstruct their faith, the “faith” they come to is a secularism that’s already been present in the unbelieving world around us.  They mirror what the rest of the world is already doing, and they do it by calling it justice. Because if people who speak truth are oppressing you, then the thing to do is to expose that. And then that’s going to be just for our society as we reject these things. They bring in destructive heresies. 

And as they do that, the second thing he says is that they appeal to sensuality and self-expression. Look at verse two. It says, “Many will follow their depraved ways and the way of truth will be maligned because of them.” Depraved ways or “debauched life.” Or some of your translations might say “sensuality.” 

Just look at a few of these verses in chapter 2, verse 10. You see that he says here, “Especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority.” Look at verse 18. “For by uttering boastful words-“ empty words- “they seduce with fleshly desires and debauchery who have barely escaped from those who live in error.” Verse 14 tells us that they appeal to sexual gratification. Look at verse 14. “They have eyes full of adultery that never stop looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed. Children under a curse!” And all of this is in the name of freedom. Verse 19 says, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” 

False teachers appeal to what feels right. They appeal to what you want from within. The desires of the flesh. The longings of the heart. And they say, Wouldn’t you rather just give in to those things? Well, it’s the gospel that transforms our lives and leads us to live a life that’s in conformity with godliness that tells us not to give in to our fleshly desires. But false teachers seek to erode and with their destructive heresies. They appeal to the flesh. And you see this when people deconstruct their faith today, more often than not, the thing coming right behind it, which is actually driving it. . . They don’t present that as the lead story. What’s presented as the lead story is the way that your pastor is in your, the church is trying to oppress you.  But underneath that, right behind it is the freedom of self-expression. And it’s almost always driven through sexual sin. Don’t be fooled by the arguments that people put up. When someone starts saying things like, Don’t believe what your pastor’s told you, look for what comes right after that. But it will often be a call to live authentically as a free person from your heart. They’re appealing to the desires of the flesh, as all false teachers do.

Pastorally, we’ve seen it more than once. Someone starts to question faith. You begin to say, “Where is this coming from? What’s going on?” Nothing’s going on. I’ve just been doing some research. “But what kind of research? What are you looking at? Can we see it?” You find this convincing, and then it’s not long after that, in a matter of time, either personal sexual sin comes out, or at the least their view on sexual sin becomes open to whatever people want. And you go, Ahh, this is what is behind rejecting the faith. Their motto might be echoed in today’s, “Be who you are. “ False teachers encourage that. 

The third thing is that they reject authority. Look at verse one again, towards the end. He says, “They will bring in destructive heresies-“ look at this- “even denying the master who bought them and will bring swift destruction on themselves.” When he says “the master who bought them,” it’s a little unclear exactly what he means here. Jesus is the Lord of all, and he has the keys of heaven and hell, and he is the ruler of the universe. So in that sense, he is the master of all, whether you acknowledge him or not. But what seems to be contextually here is that what he’s referring to is the way that they claim that Jesus is their Savior.  He is the master, but they deny him through the false teachings. Through the destructive heresies, through the appeal to the flesh. And as a result, they’re rejecting authority. They deny the master who bought them. 

Look at verse 10, the second half of it there, I read it just a minute ago: “Those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority.” They don’t like authority. In verses 10 through 12, they blaspheme other authorities. Now, you might feel like this is somewhat of a exaggerated example because you don’t hear people saying these kinds of things, but they say these kinds of things about any form of authority. Look at the end of verse 10, he says “They are not afraid to slander the glorious ones. However, angels who are greater in mind and power do not bring a slanderous charge against them before the Lord. But these people, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, slander what they do not understand, and in the destruction, they too will be destroyed. They have no shame to revel in the daytime.” Look at verse 13. “They will be paid back with harm for the harm that they have done. They consider it a pleasure to carouse in broad daylight, their spots and blemishes delighting in their deceptions while they feast with you.” 

They’re not ashamed at all. They’re very proud of their sin. And since they despise authority, well, there’s no one who can challenge them. So why should I hide? Why should I do this behind closed doors? Why should I be ashamed of who I am and what I want?  “They speak loudly in public,” verse 18, “for by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce with fleshly desires and debauchery people who have barely escaped from those who live in error.” The people most vulnerable are new Christians, young Christians that haven’t lived the faith long enough, that haven’t been able to see the downfall of false teachers along the way. Who haven’t yet been able to see the destructive nature of their fleshly desires fully lived out. And it just sounds right. They prey on people like that. 

Just this past week, Mishka Espey, an opinion writer for USA Today, who is also a self-professed ex-Christian, described her coming out in this way:

She said, “when I finally looked inward on my own terms, instead of finding filth and sin, I discovered wonder unmirrored by anything external – it was all my own.” She went on to write, “This Pride Month, I’m reclaiming the notion of pride from what evangelicalism taught me it meant.” It’s a false teacher, writing in USA Today, seeking to persuade people to look within and find within the desires that drive you and let those reclaim words like “pride” from what the church taught.  Just as there were false teachers in Israel, there will be false teachers among you. 

The fourth thing, he says, they’re driven by greed. Verse 3 tells us “they will exploit you in their greed with made up stories.” Verses 14 and 16 give us the example of Balaam. In verse 15, he says, “They have gone astray by abandoning the straight path and have followed the path of Balaam, the son of Besor, who loved the wages of wickedness, but received a rebuke for his lawlessness. A speechless donkey spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. These people are springs without water, mists driven by a storm.” There’s money to be followed in false teaching. 

And the fifth thing he tells us is that they’re persuasive. They’re persuasive. Verse two says, “many will follow their depraved ways.” And look at this. “The way of truth will be maligned because of them.” False teachers stir up an audience that joins in and says, yeah, the church is bad. Yeah. What they say is evil. Many will follow them, here it says. Verse 14, “They entice those who are ungrounded in the faith.” And in verse 18, “Those who are weak in fleshly desires,” new converts who are struggling to overcome the early days of denying the flesh. These are appealed to and they’re persuaded, which is why college students, why teenagers, it’s so powerful when your friends do this. 

Listen, the temptation is real, but the warning is real too. Now if you’ll notice these things, although there’s teaching involved, there’s always teaching involved in false teaching. This should go without saying. Why’d you say it? I don’t know. But you’ll notice the main thing that he’s pointing out here is character. There’s a lifestyle and a character that’s emerging from the false teachers. And you’ll notice that’s one of the themes, both in first Peter and in second Peter, that the gospel does in our lives. It transforms our character. It transforms our lives, the way we live. And as I pointed out, but we’ll see next week in chapter three, he tells us “As you wait, work to be able to present yourself without spot or blemish.” Right, it’s the character. 

And what you’ll find is that if you go to 1st Timothy chapter 3, and you look at 2nd Timothy, and you look at Titus chapter 1, you’ll find that the qualifications of an elder match up just in an opposite mirrored way with the character that you see here with the false teachers. Not lovers of money, teaching sound doctrine, managing a household well, the husband of one wife. The character of godliness comes with true gospel teaching. So I asked you, How would you identify a false teacher? One of the ways is you look at the character, look at the fruit. You may not always be able to say, “I can trace this argument down and I can challenge this argument.“ Sometimes an argument is just confusing. Sometimes you may not have all the knowledge that you need in order to combat something, or you just go blank in a given moment. But you can look at the fruit of teaching and you can say, What do I see here? And that should be enough. When you see the fruit of false teaching, ignore that teaching. 

But when you see the fruit of godliness, lean into that teaching because you’ll know wisdom by its fruit. Peter’s goal is that we’re diligent to confirm our election and live holy lives while we wait. So discerning false teaching is about maintaining the truth and staying steady with a holy life. This is a good reminder for all of us that when we see the fallout of false teachers also, it understandably shakes people and many will say, I knew they were all fake. Verse 2 admits that. They’re going to persuade many people, many people are going to follow, and lots of people are going to malign the way of truth because of what they do. Church, that will shake you every time, especially when somebody that you’ve listened to, somebody that seemed to be living a godly life and gets exposed, that’s shaking.  And so if you’ve been shook by that, I just want to say that that’s very reasonable. That’s why we need to make sound judgments. And when that happens, we don’t need to necessarily defend those who are exposed as false teachers. We also need to take warning of it and ask our own hearts, What’s going on with me? Where am I at these days?

If you’re somebody who’s been persuaded by people, listen, false teachers are persuasive. And you might feel like, Well, I’m such an idiot. I gave in. Listen, lots of people will do that. But if you’re here today and you’re trying to recover from false teaching that you’ve heard and sort of bought into for a season, listen, God’s working in your life. Don’t beat yourself up about that. Take what you’re learning and keep applying it so that you keep growing. God’s not done with you. 

Well, all of this is sort of a downer, but God lifts us up by reminding us that we have to keep our confidence in verses 4 through 10. I asked at the beginning, Will God do anything about this? Is God just going to let it run? Well, what did he say? Look at the if/then statement in these verses. The if is in verse 4, and then he repeats it with some other examples. And then in verse 9, he concludes his sentence with the then. Verse 4, “If God did not spare the angels who sinned,” so on and so forth, look at verse 9, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” That’s his statement. And the main point of this whole chapter is found right there in verse 9. “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” God will judge false teaching, and he will rescue the godly. That’s his promise. And you say, Well, how do you know?

Well, Peter gives us historical examples that he wants to remind us of. This is his answer to that question. Verse 3 ends with a clear prediction about the future. “Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.” And then he gives three examples, all coming from Genesis, in chronological order, of what God did in the early days of the world, from our perspective, as an example for everybody who would come after. He mentions the angels who left the boundaries that God had set for them and were judged. And he tells us here that they’re kept in utter darkness for the day of judgment. That’s from Genesis 6, the very beginning of it. But then he says the ancient world that existed at the time of Noah. I love this. 3 verse 6, he calls it, “through these the world of that time perished when it flooded.” We suffer from a lack of historical perspective most of the time because we can only see this little tiny short life that we have. But Peter’s telling us that in the time of Noah, there was a whole world of people. There was a culture filled with arts and crafts and sciences. They had music, they had cities, they had language. All of the things that we experience in life, marriages, and so on and so forth, they all existed at the time of Noah. There was an entire world that existed on this earth that God destroyed through an entire flood.  And he reminds us of that. He says in verse 5, “If he didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when he brought the flood on the world of the ungodly. . .” 

And then he goes to that greatest example that’s repeated some 30 times in the Bible of Sodom and Gomorrah, verse 6. He says, “If he reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and condemned them to extinction, making them example of what is coming to the ungodly.” He names these historical references that were well known throughout the region and throughout his day. Philo and Josephus, Jewish historians in the first century, both say that there were evidences of Sodom and Gomorrah still visible at their time, which served as reminders that God had wiped out a whole area.  And you might think it was just Sodom, because Sodom is sometimes used as the one example of the whole thing. You know, Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities next to each other. But what you read when you read in the text, there were surrounding cities and villages around there as well. This is more like God wiping out the Blackstone Valley, where a whole area God rained down and he destroyed.

It says here, “condemn them to extinction in his judgment.” And he says that this is an example that the world is supposed to pay attention to. God is a God who judges. And he consistently judged in the past, he will judge in our day, and he will judge on the last day. The idea that God doesn’t judge is popular today, but it’s foreign to the Bible. And the examples that God gives in his kindness, he gives examples of total devastation. Because he’s warning about what’s coming. On the fruit of false teaching throughout the whole world, in every culture, on every continent, in every people group. And you don’t have to look hard to find this kind of teaching in our own culture.

Whoopi Goldberg was just on the Tonight Show recently, a prophet in our own nation, with Jimmy Fallon. And she was talking about meeting the Pope recently, and she was going on about how excited she was because she’d wanted to do this for a decade because she respects him for how, “he said a lot of things that have upset a lot of people. “And she said the reason is that she likes that he says, these are quotes, “We’re not going to judge you. We want everybody. God loves everybody.” And the audience applauded and cheered in agreement. Now, despite elements of truth, like the fact that God loves sinners and he offers the grace and mercy of forgiveness through Christ, she leaves off the key necessity of repentance. 

Does God want everybody to repent? Peter’s going to say that in chapter three, but he wants them to repent. What did we read in Jeremiah earlier? “The false prophets did not turn the people from their evil deeds and their evil ways.” False teachers have no doctrine of sin. The doctrine of sin in false teaching is to say that you should conform your life to Christ. But that’s the true teaching of the true gospel. 

The desires of the flesh are universal and they’re strong. They’re taken as meta-facts that define reality in our day. Slavery today is defined as letting someone or something outside yourself define you. And we’re told that freedom is discovering who you are inside. But look at verse 19. “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” 

Listen, if you’re told that freedom comes through letting impulses and desires that you don’t control and have control in your life, you’re not free. You’re a slave to impulses. That’s like animal behavior. The false teaching of our day is essentially be like animals. The good news of the gospel is being your right mind in Christ. Understand that God has made you in his image. Understand that he has a purpose for you. He has a calling on your life that he wants you to lift your head up as a child of the King and live in a way that looks like the kingdom. And in this you will experience real freedom. Freedom comes in being set free from sinful desires. 

And that’s what the gospel does for us. Jesus Christ laid down his life in full obedience and submission to the truth so that sinners like us could turn from our evil ways and our sinful desires and come to that savior. and receive full forgiveness, pardon, cleansing, and restoration in holiness. That’s what the gospel is.

If you’re here this morning and you’re not following Jesus, maybe as we’ve been talking about these things, you realize, I think I’m living according to the dictates of the false teaching of my day. You can repent where you sit. You can turn to God from your heart. And God will not only receive you, he will begin to change your life.  I’d love to talk to you at the door about that. If you have questions about this, I want you to just think about this, meditate on the gospel here. Even Jesus’s life was a life submitted to God. Jesus himself, the King said in prayer in the garden, not my will, but yours be done. There, he said, essentially, I don’t want to do this.  My fleshly desire says avoid the cross. But he said, nevertheless, what you want, what is it to be godly? To be godly is to submit your life to the teaching of Jesus Christ in the gospel and to say with your whole life, nevertheless, what you want. Not perfectly. We’re going to fail at that. You’re going to stumble along the way.  You’re going to find yourself having to repent for not saying your will, but instead saying, Lord, I wanted what I wanted. But the fact that you’re there seeing it, acknowledging it, being convicted about it, and turning back to God is all part of the process of God drawing you near and bringing you safely into the heavenly kingdom. 

If Jesus submitted his life to God in every way, in the face of temptations, we can do that too. How do you know? Well, it wasn’t just Jesus. He gives examples of faithful servants of Noah and Lot. Look at what he says about Noah in verse 5. He didn’t spare the ancient world, but what did he do? What did he do? He protected Noah. A preacher of righteousness and seven others. When you read the narrative in Genesis, it took Noah over a hundred years to build the ark. Have you noticed that? Now, I don’t know what pressure you’re facing at work or at school. I bet you haven’t done it for a hundred years. Can you imagine as he’s working on this boat, it hadn’t even rained, it tells us very clearly in those days, water came up from the ground instead of from the sky. And he’s telling them there’s going to be a deluge from the sky and it’s going to wipe everything out, so I’m building a boat. How much did he get laughed at? And you can imagine people saying, let’s go by and see Noah. See what that crazy guy’s up to. Stopping by. Noah’s still working on the boat, I see.

How many years did he go through that? And had to explain himself over and over and warn the people of his day. He was a preacher of righteousness. Not without fault. But he stood with God. And he only had seven others. Look at what it says about Lot. Verse 7. “He rescued righteous Lot, distressed by the depraved behavior of the immoral, for as that righteous man lived among them day by day, his righteous soul was tormented by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.” Lot lived surrounded by cities where there were no other righteous people. How do you know that? Because remember Abraham pleaded with God. He said, God, if we can find 50 people, will you spare the cities? And God says, sure. Sure. Sure. And he counts all the way down. He says, What if we can get ten? Sure. But there weren’t ten. There weren’t even ten people in that whole region that lived godly lives and followed the Lord. And Lot had to do that on his own. He didn’t have a church. He didn’t have a community around him encouraging him. He didn’t have Sunday morning gathering. He didn’t have a synagogue to go to.  He had the words, the little bit of revelation that he had from God, and he held on to it. And when the warning came, they fled. 

If these guys can do that, then we can too. Why? Because God rescued them. Look at his conclusion, verse 9. “Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” Not only has he judged in the past, but he’s rescued all the way through all his people. Church, God will rescue us too. What we have to do is keep our godliness and keep our confidence that the Lord will judge false teaching and He will rescue the godly. And if we do, we’ll stay true to the gospel. 

Amen. Let’s pray. Father, we thank you for these sound words. We pray that you would allow us to hear them in the way that you want each of us to hear and respond. God, we pray you’d help us in Jesus name. Amen.

Chap: You’ve been listening to The Disciple-Making Parent podcast. For more information about the book, The Disciple-Making Parent, visit