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Lesson 11: False Teachers *

Introduction: How do you know, when it comes to your understanding of God, if someone is leading you astray? How do you know if I'm leading you down the wrong path in these lessons? If I might put in a word in my own defense: my questions start with you reading the Bible. It is hard to get too far off the path when your point of reference is the Bible! Peter warns his audience that false teachers have historically been a problem and will be a problem in the future. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn to protect ourselves against false teaching!

  1. False Teachers

    1. Read Deuteronomy 13:1-3. What is and what is not a criteria for determining whether a prophet is false? (What is not a criteria is whether the prophecy comes true. What is a criteria is whether the prophet suggests that you follow other gods.)

    2. Read Deuteronomy 18:22. How does this sharpen our thinking about whether what a prophet says comes true? (In this case the prophet is speaking in the name of the true God. But, the prophecy does not come true. We need not be concerned about prophets like that.)

    3. Read Jeremiah 23:30-31. If a prophet gives credit to the true God of heaven, is that proof that he or she is a true prophet? (No. A person can make up his own prophecy, or borrow it from someone else, and still attribute it to the true God. But, that does not validate that person as a prophet.)

      1. Notice again the last part of Deuteronomy 18:22. This, again, is a prophecy that God did not give. Is this a false prophet? (The text says that "prophet has spoken presumptuously." If the penalty is "do not be afraid of him," then this is, at least, an unreliable prophet.)

    4. Have you noticed the "one way streets?" If a prophet correctly predicts the future or gives credit to the true God, that does not validate that prophet. However, if a prophet incorrectly predicts the future or directs people to false gods, then that is a false prophet.)

    5. Read Lamentations 2:14. What other warning sign should we look for in a false prophet? (They do not speak about sin so that we can stay out of trouble.)

    6. Read 2 Peter 2:1. In what way are false teachers like false prophets of the Old Testament? (They deny that Jesus is Lord. They introduce heresy.)

      1. What happens to these false teachers? (They suffer "swift destruction.")

    7. Read 2 Peter 2:2-3. What is another result that follows false teaching? (It brings the way of truth "into disrepute.")

      1. What parallel do we find to false prophets? (False teachers make up stories, just like false prophets made up prophecies.)

      2. If you have a "presumptuous" teacher (compare Deuteronomy 18:22), who is teaching something not from God, is that also a false teacher? (The same "don't be afraid of him" should apply.)

    8. Read Mark 9:38-40. What is not part of being a false prophet or teacher? (Just because you are not part of the "group" (your church or denomination) does not mean that you are a false prophet or teacher. Notice that this person both performs miracles and does it in the name of Jesus.)

  2. Punishment for False Teachers

    1. Read 2 Peter 2:4-6. We are going to stop before Peter finishes his sentence. What does this suggest about the fate of false prophets and false teachers? (God knows how to punish those who do wrong and how to protect those who do right.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 2:7-9. I broke up this sentence because I wanted to focus on Lot. Did Lot have good judgment? (Why didn't Lot move? If he was tormented and troubled by the wickedness around him, why not move? Why let his wife and family be pulled into evil?)

      1. Why does it say that God saved Lot?

    3. Read 2 Peter 2:10 (first part). What are the two evil traits of those who "especially" worthy of judgment (2 Peter 2:9)? (They follow their sinful nature, and they are rebels against authority.)

    4. Read 2 Peter 2:10-12. Think about this. Do people you know "slander" those who live in heaven? (I've heard those who make fun of God.)

      1. Is denying that God is the Creator who spoke the world into existence a "slander?" (If I had created the universe in six days by speaking, and someone said that was a lie, and that everything evolved by chance and natural selection, I would consider that a slander.)

  3. Crime and Punishment

    1. Read 2 Peter 2:13-14. Peter writes that these false teachers "carouse in broad daylight." Are the character defects of these false teachers something that is hard to discern? (No! Peter writes it is plain for us to see. Remember that in 2 Peter 2:10 he called them "bold and arrogant." This is not some secret heresy.)

      1. When Peter writes that their "eyes" are "full of adultery" do you think he is referring to sexual sins? (Read Matthew 12:39, Hosea 1:2, and Revelation 17:1-2. Sexual sins may be included, but I think Peter is writing about unfaithfulness to God. This goes back to our earlier discussion about false prophets directing us to other gods.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 2:15. What do you know about Balaam? (Read Numbers 22:10-12. The Moabite king wanted Balaam to curse God's people as they were on their exodus from Egypt.)

    3. Read 2 Peter 2:16. Did Balaam say, "I would not consider cursing God's special people?" (Read Numbers 22:32-33. The whole story is one of Balaam trying to go as far as possible to win the favor (and the money) of the Moabite king. It was a reckless course, and Balaam was saved by his donkey.")

      1. Are you dumber than a donkey? What is Peter's point? (False teachers want to be part of what wickedness "pays." They want the "rewards" of the world. They go so far that even a donkey can see the problem.)

    4. Read 2 Peter 2:17-18. Do you know teachers like this? (Many years ago, I visited a couple and they asked if I had read the books of a certain religious writer. My answer was "no," but I sat down and read part of the book. It was written in words that sounded religious, but it promoted what the natural heart would want, and not Biblical standards. In my mind it was obvious nonsense. My first thought was that I could write books like that and make a lot of money. My next thought was it would be hard to imagine a greater sin than that! I think this is what Peter is talking about.)

    5. Read 2 Peter 2:19-20. Peter says the promise of these false teachers is "freedom." What kind of freedom does he mean? (Peter uses these terms: "slaves of depravity," "entangled in" and "corruption." What are the sins of the world? What are the sins that entangled you before you were converted? These false teachers argue that you can enjoy the freedom of the sins that previously beset your life while still being a Christian.)

      1. Those of you who regularly read these lessons know that I am a strong advocate of grace. However, grace is not a license to sin. I recall a person speaking about a very serious sin and saying, "God will forgive me." God does forgive sin, but God also died to show that the law is just. We benefit by keeping the law.

      2. Let me give you two examples. A person rides a motorcycle without a helmet because the rider believes in the skill of those working in the local hospital. A person pays no attention to diet and exercise, because of the ability of surgeons to successfully perform heart bypass surgery. Does this make any logical sense?

    6. Look again at the last part of 2 Peter 2:20. Why are these people worse off? (They now feel justified in their corruption. How can they turn to what is right when they believe that God sanctions evil?)

    7. Read 2 Peter 2:21-22. If the dog is back in vomit and the pig back in mud, why would it have been better to never know "the way of righteousness?" (Because of their example to others. Being in the vomit and mud is now argued to be the right thing.)

    8. Friend, Peter tells us that some false teaching is obvious. If a teacher undermines the true God or leads you back into a sinful way of life, then you have to be dumber than a donkey not to see the problem. Will you keep your eyes open and your mind alert when you hear new teaching?

  4. Next week: The Day of the Lord.
* Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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