2 Peter 2:1
Now there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies that even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Sermons
Denying the MasterJ.R. Thomson 2 Peter 2:1
Destructive HeresiesThe Study2 Peter 2:1
Doctrinal PoisonS. V. Leech, D. D.2 Peter 2:1
Error in the ChurchJ. Lillie, D. D.2 Peter 2:1
False Prophets and False TeachersThos. Adams.2 Peter 2:1
The Master and His SlavesA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 2:1
The Owner and His SlavesAlexander Maclaren2 Peter 2:1
False TeachersU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 2:1-22
False TeachersR. Finlayson 2 Peter 2:1-22
Neither our Lord Jesus nor his apostles indulged in sanguine expectations and glowing predictions concerning the immediate results of the proclamation of the gospel. It was well understood in the early Church, by all but fanatics, that the difficulties with which Christianity had to contend were very formidable, and that, added to those encountered from without, were others - more insidious and dangerous - arising from within. Of these, false teachers, corrupters of doctrine, and preachers of licentiousness in the name of the holy Saviour, are denounced as proofs of the power of sin, and as signs of a coming judgment.

I. THE WAYS IN WHICH PROFESSING CHRISTIANS DENY THEIR MASTER.

1. Some take an unscriptural and dishonouring view of his nature, and deny him by denying his claims to Divine dignity and authority. From the early Gnostics onwards there were those who assailed Christ's account of himself, and his inspired apostles' account of him. It is well known that many of the early heresies related to the Person of Christ, and that early Councils were occupied with defining dogmatically the Divine and human natures. By way of opposition and correction, it may be said that to errors of the kind referred to we are indebted for our precious heritage, the Nicene Creed, in which orthodox doctrine was finally and sufficiently fixed. Still, the general determination of truth is no bar to the continuance of sin and error; and there has been, perhaps, no age in which there have not arisen either individuals or communities who have denied their Master.

2. Some repudiate Christ's rightful authority. There are many who have not the theological interest which would lead them to discuss Christ's nature, who nevertheless resent the claim advanced on his behalf to be the Legislator and Judge of human society. The Church, on the one hand, the individual reason on the other, may be put into competition with the Lord Christ.

3. Some deny Christ by practically disobeying his precepts. To such as these Jesus referred when he asked, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Profession of allegiance only renders real rebellion the more hateful to our Lord.

II. THE UNREASONABLENESS AND GUILT OF THOSE WHO THUS DENY THEIR MASTER.

1. In view of the claim established by redemption, such are guilty of base ingratitude. The introduction of the clause, "the Master that bought them," gives point to the condemnation. They who deny Christ deny One who lived, suffered, and died for them, and whom accordingly they ought to regard and treat with a tender and reverential gratitude. They are like enfranchised slaves turning round upon their liberator, speaking of him with scorn and derision, treating him with neglect and indifference, if not with hatred and hostility.

2. In view of their own profession of subjection and indebtedness to him, there is gross inconsistency.

3. In view of the doom declared against deniers of Christ, their conduct is the uttermost degree of infatuation. They bring upon themselves swift destruction. The time shall come when they who deny him shall be denied by him. - J.R.T.







But there were false prophets also.
I. A NARRATION.

1. The connection of the words. "Also" implies that there were always true prophets. God never leaves His people without tutors.

2. The corruption of the persons. "False prophets."(1) They that came in the name of God, but were never sent by God (Jeremiah 23:21).(2) They that come in God's name, and are sent, but deliver a false message.

3. The intrusion of their mischief. "Among the people." But durst these black impostors press into so famous a light, and not fear discerning? (1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 22:6.) They say it is half a protection to foreknow a danger: behold the apostle's fidelity, and therein God's mercy.

II. A CAUTION.

1. Who they be that assault us. Falsehood insinuates itself always in the semblance of truth. For error is so foul a hag, that if it should come in its own shape, all men would loathe it.

2. Whither they come. Not to the Turks, or Gentiles, or other heretics only; but to "you "that have the gospel. They seem to come unto you, but indeed they come against you; they promise your good, but they perform your hurt.(1) God suffers these for the trial of our faith (1 Corinthians 11:19).(2) God suffers them, that the true pastors might more patiently exercise their knowledge. Heresy makes men sharpen their wits, the better to confute it.(3) God permits them for men's ingratitude.

3. These false teachers intrude themselves — as sometimes a gamester, being flushed with his luck — and they meet with three encouragements:

(1)The numbers and applaudings of their auditors (Jeremiah 5:31).

(2)The honour and respect that is done them.

(3)Large gifts and riches.

4. Their unavoidable necessity. They will press in, and we cannot easily stave them off. Jesus Christ must enlighten our hearts to decline these false teachers. Now the means whereby Christ teacheth us is the Scripture.

III. A DESCRIPTION of these pernicious liars, concerning whom we find a threefold mischief: one that issues from them, another that abides in them, a third that is inflicted on them.

1. Their seminary mischief, offensive and noxious to others.(1) The matter, what they bring in — "damnable heresies."(a) Heresy is that which doth diametrically oppose the truth, and set up an opinion against it. Error is when one holds a wrong opinion alone; schism, when many consent in their opinion; heresy runs further, and contends to root out the truth.(b) "Heresies," in the plural, to point at a multitude. The troubles of the Church seldom come single; but either unite their forces, as the five Amorite kings combined against Gibeon (Joshua 10:5); or separately they vex her on every side, as Solomon was assaulted by Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11.).(c) They "shall bring in." Here is the necessity. "Shall"; though provision spend all her wit, and prevention all her strength, yet no avoiding it.(d) The malignity of them. "Damnable heresies."

(i)Because they are reprobated of God.

(ii)Because pestilent to the kingdoms or nations where they are admitted.

(iii)Because they bring destruction to all their followers and defenders.

2. The causes that produce such inevitable effects.

3. The manner of their induction: underhand, "privily."(1) Their subtlety, whereby they insinuate their unseen poisonous seeds (Ephesians 4:14).(2) Their vigilant care to spy out the opportunity, how they may privily bring heresy in (Micah 2:1).(3) Their hypocrisy, with the covertly carriage of their intended plagues (Romans 16:18). Vice dares not walk without a borrowed shape.

4. Their criminal evil.(1) They "deny." It were bad enough to slight Him, worse to forget Him, yet worse to forsake Him; but to deny Him is fearful.(2) "The Lord." Not a creature, not a man, not a father, not a friend, not an angel, not themselves; but the Lord, this is more fearful.(3) "That bought them." It is much to deny a benefactor, more to deny a parent, more to deny a Creator; but yet there is a step higher: to deny a Redeemer. Denial of Christ is of two sorts — either in judgment or in practice; denial in faith or denial in fact. The latter is of infirmity, the other of infidelity.

5. The punishment.(1) They "bring upon themselves."(a) The wicked are the causes of their own condemnation (Isaiah 50:1; Proverbs 5:22; Psalm 64:8; Jeremiah 2:17).(b) God is not the cause of man's transgression or damnation (James 1:13; Romans 9:19).(c) They themselves bring it; therefore not any fatal necessity out of themselves, but their own malice within them.(2) "Destruction." This is the measure of their punishment — total ruin.(3) "Swift." Man may shoot and miss, or his arrow be so slow of flight that it may be avoided; but if God shoots, He hits and kills.

(Thos. Adams.)

1. The futility of insisting on having even now what might be called a pure Church. "It must needs be," said our Lord, "that offences come."

2. It is none the less the duty of the friends of truth and righteousness to maintain the spirit of a vigilant and strenuous resistance to the assaults of error and corruption.

3. That a doctrine or a practice has many followers, even among church members, affords but a poor presumption that it deserves to be followed (Matthew 24:5, 10-12).

4. The certain and irretrievable ruin of ungodly men.

5. finally, let us bless God that, through the waste wilderness of obstruction, deceit, and delusion, His own holy Word has clearly marked for us "the way of the truth."

(J. Lillie, D. D.)

The poison that ended the life of Alexander VI. of Italy was no less destructive because it was concealed in a glass of wine. The virus that sent to the grave Sir Thomas Overbury was not the less fatal because it was hidden in a jelly handed to him by ,. fascinating lady. The bite of the asp that closed the career of Cleopatra was not the less deadly because the reptile rested on roses. Doctrinal poison is none the less mortal because the pen of a prince in erudition inscribes on it the word "scholarship."

(S. V. Leech, D. D.)

Damnable heresies
The Study.
1. It is a destructive heresy for a man to think that he can be saved without faith in Christ, while ignoring, or, it may be, denying the redemptive work of Christ.

2. It is a destructive heresy for a man to think that he is safe and in the way of salvation while yielding to corrupt passions and living a careless life.

3. it is a destructive heresy for a man to regard himself as a Christian, and think he is right for heaven, while possessing nothing of the mind and spirit of Christ.

4. It is a "heresy of destruction" for a man to think that if he abstains from great and glaring transgressions he may safely indulge in sins of the heart, and need no be over particular about what has been called "the minor moralities of life."

5. It is a "heresy of destruction "for a man to think that he is a Christian sheltered by the blood of Christ while he consciously and continually disregards the commands of Christ.

6. It is a "heresy of destruction" for a man to boast that Christ is all in all to him while he withholds himself and all he has from Christ.

7. It is a "heresy of destruction" for a man self-complacently, to suppose that he may "gird up the loins of his mind, be sober, and hope unto the end" while he is conscious of no love to God, and while cherishing hatred of his fellow-man. Let us examine ourselves, lest we should —

(1)Endanger our own soul's salvation.

(2)Endanger the souls of others.

(3)Deny the Lord that bought us.

(4)And so dishonour God, bring upon ourselves "swift destruction."

(The Study.)

Denying the Lord that bought them
There were three great stains on the civilisation of the world into which Christianity came — war, the position of women, and slavery. The relation of the New Testament to the last of these great evils naturally connects itself with the words before us. This same wicked thing, slavery, is used as an illustration of the highest, sacredest relationship possible to men — their submission to Jesus Christ. With all its vileness, it is still not too vile to be lifted from the mud, and to stand as a picture of the purest tie that can bind the soul. The word in our text for "Lord" is an unusual one, selected to put the idea in the roughest, most absolute form. It is the root of our word "despot," and conveys, at any rate, the notion of unlimited, irresponsible authority. Nor is this all. One of the worst features of slavery is that of the market, where men and women and children are sold like cattle. And that has its parallel too, for this Owner has bought men for His. Nor is this all; for, as there are fugitive slaves, who "break away every man from his master," and when questioned will not acknowledge that they are his, so men flee from this Lord and Owner, and by words and deeds assert that they owe Him no obedience, and were never in bondage to Him.

I. CHRIST'S ABSOLUTE OWNERSHIP. To material things and forces He spake as their great Commander, saying to this one "GOD" and he went, and showing His Divinity, as even the pagan centurion had learned, by the power of His word, the bare utterance of His will. But His rule in the region of man's spirit is as absolute and authoritative, and there too "His word is with power." Loyola demanded from his black-robed militia obedience so complete that they were to be "just like a corpse," or "a staff in a blind man's hand." Such a requirement made by a man is of course the crushing of the will and the emasculation of the whole nature. But such a demand yielded to from Christ is the vitalising of the will and the ennobling of the spirit. The owner of the slave could set him to any work he thought fit. So our Owner gives all His slaves their several tasks. As in some despotic Eastern monarchies the sultan's mere pleasure makes of one slave his vizier and of another his slipper-bearer, our King chooses one man to a post of honour and another to a lowly place; and none have a right to question the allocation of work. What corresponds on our parts to that sovereign freedom of appointment? Cheerful acceptance of our task, whatever it be. The slave's hut, and little patch of garden ground, and few bits of furniture, whose were they — his or his master's? If he was not his own, nothing else could be his own. And whose are our possessions? If we have no property in ourselves, still less can we have property in out" properly. These things were His before and are His still. Such absolute submission of will and recognition of Christ's absolute authority over us, our destiny, work, and possessions, is ennobling and blessed. We learn from historians that the origin of nobility in some Teutonic nations is supposed to have been the dignities enjoyed by the king's household — of which you find traces still. The king's master of the horse, or chamberlain, or cupbearer, becomes noble. Christ's servants are lords, free because they serve Him, noble because they wear His livery and bear the mark of Jesus as their Lord.

II. THE PURCHASE ON WHICH THAT OWNERSHIP IS FOUNDED. This master has acquired men by right of purchase That abomination of the auction-block may suggest the better "merchandise of the souls of men which Christ has made when He bought us with His own blood as our ransom. First, then, that is a very beautiful and profound thought, that Christ's lordship over men is built upon His mighty and supreme sacrifice for men. We are justified in saying to Him, "O Lord, truly I am Thy servant" only when we can go on to say, "Thou hast loosed my bonds." Then consider that the figure suggests that we are bought from a previous slavery to some other master. He that committeth sin is the slave of sin. If the Son therefore make you free, you shall be free indeed.

III. THE RUNAWAYS. We do not care to inquire here what special type of heretics the apostle had in view in these solemn words, nor to apply them to modern parallels which we may fancy we can find. It is more profitable to notice how all godlessness and sin may be described as denying the Lord. All sin, I say, for it would appear very plain that the people spoken of here were not Christians at all, and yet the apostle believes that Christ had bought them by His sacrifice, and so had a right over them, which their conduct and their words equally denied. How eloquent that word "denying" is on Peter's lips! It is as if he were humbly acknowledging that no rebellion could be worse than his, and were renewing again his penitence and bitter weeping after all those years. All sin is a denial of Christ's authority. It is in effect saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us." It is at bottom the uprising of our own self-will against His rule, and the proud assertion of our own independence. It is as foolish as it is ungrateful, as ungrateful as it is foolish. That denial is made by deeds which are done in defiance or neglect of His authority, and it is done too by words and opinions.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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