2Pet. 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2Pet. 2:2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
2Pet. 2:3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.
Peter continues his second letter to the local church. He warns them about false teachers/prophets. People who will be loud with their words but their lives will not line up. He specifies two practices of a false teachers personal life, sensuality and greed.
Sensuality- Peter is referring here specifically to sexual immorality. If a teacher has no control over his own sexual desires, it is a red flag that he lacks self-control in other areas of his life. Just like today, in the first century people attempted to explain away their sin. Just like today people in the first century would try to make others believe that which is wrong and sinful is really OK. Sexual immorality is serious to God. It should be serious to us. Peter reminds the church of the Old Testament reality of Sodom and Gomorrah. He uses this story to remind the church of God’s response to immorality. It’s not that God got lighter on his sentence of immorality. Instead he has given people the opportunity to repent through Christ.
Greed- The second practice of a false teacher’s life is greed. If a teacher is consistently wanting more, desiring more, not sensing a level of contentment, there is something wrong. We see this today just like in the first century. When a teacher’s theology is shaped more by a driving desire for abundance and less by a spirit of contentment we know there is a problem. When a teacher leads people to believe that they still need more and that God’s main dealing with His people is to give them more, we can easily recognize this person as a false prophet. Jesus taught more about contentment than He did about abundance.
Leadership matters. As a leader in a local church I am responsible to pursue Jesus and to not lead people astray. Passages of scripture like this are a great litmus test for me. Are their leanings in my life towards sensuality over purity? Are there tendencies to focus more on what I feel like God is holding back from me than expressing gratitude for what He has already given me? Sensuality is centered on the pleasure of the flesh. The reality is that the flesh is never satisfied. We always get hungry and thirsty again. We always will require more rest or more sexual satisfaction. If our flesh is driving us, we will live unsatisfied and always want more. Yet when we operate in the Spirit we function from a place of contentment. The Spirit is fully satisfied. He lacks nothing. Therefore my senses are accountable to the Spirit, not the other way around. This also speaks to the greed mentioned in this passage. As a believer I am filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus actually said in John that it is better that He go to the Father so believers can have the Spirit. I believe that if Jesus were walking with me today I would not be obsessed with having more. Instead I would be passionate about making a difference in the world and helping people. That is what Jesus spent his life doing and I assume if He were with me today in this room as I write this, I would be consumed with doing His will. Now, knowing this to be true, why would the presence of the Spirit lead me to be selfishly obsessed with having more stuff? Why would Jesus leave, say it’s better to have the Spirit, and this result in me lacking more than I would have been if He had stayed in flesh on Earth? It doesn’t make sense. People who masquerade as spirit-led, yet whose theology is centered on gaining more stuff as a sign of blessing are clearly missing the point. When I am more consumed with what I don’t have than I am content with God has blessed me with, I need a heart check.
Father I grasp that sensuality and greed are both a result of lack. The Spirit is He, which ultimately can satisfy my longing for more. You are all I need. Therefore as I walk in the Spirit I will find satisfaction because You are the master of my flesh. My flesh and my desires are subject to You, my God. Lord, let me lead and teach today from a place of fullness, not from a sense of lack.