WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
2 Peter 2:1-3
The foundation of the church, the Christian life and the pastor’s study is founded and grounded in the truth of Holy Scripture. Worship is a matter of responding to God, worshipping Him in truth, it’s looking at His Word together because it informs and structures our worship. We worship Him as the God revealed in Scripture. The Scriptures are not myths and fables of old…. but sobering truth about God revealed through the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21. Peter does this by giving us his eyewitness account of the Transfiguration as looked upon the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Peter closes his first chapter by reminding us to test all things, all men, to the Word of God which is carried out, breathed out by the Holy Spirit. (v19-v21) Why is this vital for the Christian life and the church? Because, like in their day Biblical truth matters in every generation. We are living in a time when people are less concerned about doctrine and more concerned about relationships, or offending others. We are living in a time when some are more concerned about the churches finances then spiritual growth and faithfulness and humbleness in serving. We are living in a time when people are more concerned about how they feel over conforming to the Scriptures in their life.
R C Sproul said this in his commentary and I want share it with you because it speaks volumes about the state of the church today. He said. “We are living in perhaps the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Christendom…not anti-academic or anti-scientific but anti-mind. I doubt if there has ever been a time in church history when professing Christians have been less concerned about doctrine than they are in our day. We hear almost daily that doctrine doesn’t matter, that Christianity is a relationship, not a creed. There is not simply indifferences towards doctrine but outright hostility, which is exceedingly dangerous and lamentable. We cannot do even a cursory reading of the Word of God without seeing the enormous emphasis accorded to doctrine and that unsound doctrine and false teaching are not merely errors in abstraction but are profoundly destructive to the life of the people of God.”
Sadly, today’s churches, is common with false teachers who teach false doctrine. Peter warns us by telling us their where false prophets in their day referring back to the Old Testament, as false prophets invaded the community of Israel. The most destructive threat to the people of God in the Old Testament was not the military forces of the Philistines, the Assyrians, but the false prophets within their gates.
If you read the Book of Jeremiah you see an underlining theme as he warns the nations about the false prophets who lived within their gates. “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Stand in the gate of the LORD's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: 'This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.' "For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. "Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!'—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.” Jer 7:1-11
Aaron’s Sons and their antics by calling for strange fire when the Lord commanded them not to. “strange” means “unauthorized, foreign, or profane.” God not only rejected their sacrifice; He found it so offensive that He consumed the two men with fire. God was making a point to all the other priests who would serve in His tabernacle—and later, in His temple—and to us, as well. Since this was the first time sacrifices were being offered on the altar and Israel was getting to know the living God better, when Aaron’s sons were disobedient and profane, God displayed His displeasure in no uncertain terms. God was not going to allow the disobedience of Aaron’s sons to set a precedent for future disregard of His Law. (Found in Leviticus 10:1-20)
Eli’s Sons who desecrated and perverted the House of the Lord with their lust and coveting. (1 Sam 2:12-29)
The Priests when the LORD speaks through the prophet Jeremiah as he rebukes the elephant in the room. "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: "You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.” Jer 23:1-2
False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament. But, unfortunately the people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God’s people….just like today! In the same way Peter understood that, “There will be false teachers among you.” (v1)……..notice the words “among you.” Peter is writing to the church and says, “There will be false prophets among you.” He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation. Just as Jude said, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed…..” Jude 1:4
They are good at sneaking in, they slip in without being seen. They crept in unnoticed refers to “many in church never saw it coming or that they were amoung us, because they lacking a discerning heart. We need to understand! Satan is the counterfeiter, he has a false gospel. “turned to a different gospel” Gal 1:6-9 It’s preached by false ministers….. “disgusting themselves as apostles of Christ.” 2 Cor 11:12-13 It’s producing. false Christians….. “danger from false brothers.” 2 Cor 11:26. Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers. “The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.” Matt 13:38-39
Peter identifies a false teacher very clearly in the text before us this morning. Now! This isn’t easy because many get upset when they hear the name of someone they read, or someone who has influenced their Christian life… But as Michelle Lesley stated, But as Christians, no matter how much we love a certain teacher, our highest love and loyalty must always be to Christ and His Word first. That’s the number one rule which means we must reject anything, even a beloved teacher is at odds with Christ and the Scriptures. Some of the most predominate and dangerous false teachers today go under the radar…..Why? Because they are smooth talkers, they sound knowledgeable; they live large and pleasant to the eyes. People like: Mike Todd, Steven Furtick, Andy Stanley, Beth Moore, Joel Osteen, Kris Valotton, Joyce Myers, T D Jakes, Bill Johnson, Richard Rohr, Sarah Young, to name a few of thousands. ( If you would like to know more about these individuals Michelle Lesley has a wonderful website that goes in detail on these charlatans.
False Teaching Distort The Interpretations Of Scripture To Fool Those Not Firmly Established In The Truth With Destructive Heresies. (v1)
The seek a Different Source….false teachers preach a different message. Peter said earlier, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 1:16. And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up.” (v1). So the true teacher sources what to say from the Biblical text of Scripture. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message. They do this by “who secretly bring in” they secretly and deceptively enter the church posing as pastors, teachers, and evangelists. They proclaim a Different Message….For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. “We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him.” 2 Peter 1:3. For the false teacher, Jesus is a foot note, “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (v1). Notice the word secretly……it’s rare to find someone in church to openly deny Jesus, and no says, or does anything about it.
It’s a destructive movement that steers away from the centrality of Christ and they take you done the road to self-joy, self-fulfillment and self- happiness. Its offering what the natural sinners already wants and desires. Offering worldliness to worldly people and that’s easy because it’s what we naturally seek after already. The false teacher will deceive you by saying “If you do A, B, C, it will change your life” But if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message, it’s all about making you better. This can be dangerous for a season for the child of God. As Jesus said, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
What Jesus is saying is…. The deception will be so strong, the miracles will seem real, and the intent will be to mislead everyone, including the elect. But God’s grace will prevail. His chosen ones will not be drawn away into deception. Also, the Bible firmly speaks to the fact that the elect are protected by God from deceptions that would result in eternal separation from Christ. Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Eph 1:3-4. Being deceived is a mark of the unregenerate as Paul wrote, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” Titus 3:3
After salvation, we may stray from the truth at times, but the Bible makes it clear that the elect of God cannot be deceived to the extent of being finally lost. Peter says they will introduce destructive heresies “Destruction” refers to “utter ruins” this is what we would call eternal condemnation of the wicked. In other words they have destructive ends and disastrous consequences both to them and those that follow them. “Heresies” denotes “an opinion” especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for the truth of God’s word. This here is referring to the worst kind of deviation and deception, teaching that claims to be biblical but actually the very opposite. They exchange the truth with a lie that fits their desires or narrative.
Heresy is not the same as error, it’s the choice to abandon the widely accepted teaching on an essential doctrine and embrace one’s own view. They do this by distorting the truth of God Word by teaching and convincing the gullible to believe their lies. Examples of this….. Easy believism that embracing unbiblical, watered down gospel “Say this prayer and repeat after me”.
The broad acceptance of the Alphabet group as being part of the church. Hell isn’t a real place because how could a loving God create such a place to torment His creation for all eternity. The Trinity is a false doctrine, One God who wears many different coats and forms. Everyone is saved in the end and doesn’t matter what path or religion you belong to. Jesus isn’t God, His death was a fable, the virgin birth is made up, as so were His miracles. You must work your way to receive forgiveness and heaven. The health and prosperity gospel is what Christ came to bring to us. Scripture is not inerrant, infallible and Authoritative.
As one popular false Teacher Richard Rohr said about the Scriptures, “The Jewish Scriptures, which are full of anecdotes of destiny, failure, sin and grace, offer almost no self-evident philosophical or theological conclusions that are always true. . . . We even have four, often conflicting versions of the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is no one clear theology of God, Jesus, or history presented, despite our attempt to pretend there is.”
See! False teachers don’t openly oppose the gospel outright; some actually believe they have the true interpretation. And what’s worse is that they do the unthinkable through their arrogance and pride by denying the very one, they claim to know and love. “Denying” is a strong term meaning “to refuse” to be unwilling” or to “firmly say no!” This denotes a habitual pattern of refusal, indicating they truly hate Biblical doctrine, biblical truth….the One True God. As Jude says they reject divine authority, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.” Jude 1:7-8. We see this rejection here as they deny the Master who bought them. “Master” means “sovereign” or “Ruler or Lord” this word is used 10 times in the New Testament referring to Supreme Authority, which all points to supremacy of Christ.
They reject the supreme authority of Christ and the Scriptures. They reject the gospel and the Master who draws sinners to Himself to find redemption through His Son’s atoning work on the cross. This is terrifying because the Hebrew writer says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:31. The Master, who by His grace, purchases a sinner out of the slave market; out of the slave market of sin and destruction. Something Peter so clearly explained in the opening of his first letter. 1 Peter 1:3-5
Christ is our Redeemer, yet they refused to accept His sovereign Lordship, thus revealing their true character and deceptive heart. And because of their deception they will face swift (quick) destruction (eternal; damnation) if they do not repent from such rebellion. This horrible fate is coming at death or Christ’s return. There is no escaping this swift destruction for the unregenerate false teacher and his followers. The false teacher reveals that they are unregenerate enemies of God.
False Teaching Preys On The Spiritually Immature And They Will Follow In Their Destruction. (v2)
They are good at what they do, they are an Abuser……using his position of leadership to take advantage of other people.
Usually, he takes advantage of them to feed his sexual lust as Jude calls the abuser, “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4. Both Peter and Jude were aware of the Abuser’s destructive behavior and that many will follow after them. (v2) Just as Jesus said they would, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” Matt 7:13-16. The broad way is easily entered because sensuality is a distinguishing mark of these spiritual counterfeits. This is a habitual sexual immorality and unrestrained, corrupt conduct. It’s a sexual lewdness that is unrestrained as Jesus said, “So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matt 23:28
Recent example of today’s sensual
debauchery by these charlatans is:
Brian Houston founder of Hillsong Church has resigned following an internal misconduct investigation that found merit to two women’s years-old complaints that he committed “indiscretions” with them while under the influence of pills and alcohol.
Carl Lentz Pastor of Hillsong New York City Church was fired for admitted to an extra-marital affair and now has been hired onto the team of Transformation Church under the heretical teaching of Mike Todd. Whose church recently had one of their co-pastors say in a sermon. “The only stripper I am in love with is Jesus. The one who got buck naked and hung on a tree.”
Bruxy Cavey former pastor/leader of the Meeting House in Oakville, who denies the penal substitution atonement Christ; was removed from church leadership for allegations of sexual abuse, conduct revealed two allegations of sexual abuse by a church leader and the third allegation of sexual misconduct involving an underage victim at the time of the alleged abuse. Some of these allegations were confirmed by multiple independent investigations commissioned by The Meeting House.
False teachers may claim to be God’s spokesman, but if his life is characterized by corruption, lust and immorality, this proves that they’re frauds. Just like Sodom and Gomorrah as Jude wrote. “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7. This ultimately leads to what Peter says next that exposes false teachers. “Because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” “The way of truth” refers to right doctrine and the accurate proclamation of the gospel. And because of their charlatan ways “True Christianity” will be blasphemed.
“Blaspheme” literally means to “malign, slander or defamed the gospel. R C Sproul wrote, “Every time there is a scandal in the church the moral failure of a priest, minister, or teacher…it is delicious food for unbelievers and skeptics. They say that Christians are hypocrites, which is an unfair evaluation because Christians do not proclaim the sinlessness of clergy. We do not hold up the sinlessness of the pastor but the sinlessness of Christ. Christianity must, in the final analysis, be evaluated not on the basis of us but on the basis of Him. However, the reality is that because of heretics and immorality within the church, the truth itself is blasphemed.”
The false prophet and the false teacher use people to his own advantage. You are supposed to be able to trust your pastor, your elder in the church. And when that trust is violated, God promises swift judgment, it may be tolerated for a season but not forever. This is how Satan seeks to undermined the church from the inside by introducing deceptive heresies and false doctrine. And when Satan is doing this on the inside he tarnishes the reputation of the church on the outside by unmasking false teachers before a watching world. See, false teacher craves popularity and praise from the world and to maintain his follower’s respect, he preaches only the parts of the Bible they deem acceptable. He speaks much of happiness but little of sin, much of heaven but nothing of hell. He gives them only what they want to hear. He preaches a partial gospel which is no gospel at all. As Paul said, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Tim 4:3-4
Tim Challies wrote in his book “False teachers & Deadly Doctrine” this, “Satan’s greatest ambassadors are not pimps, politicians, or power-brokers, but pastors. His priests do not peddle a different religion, but a deadly perversion of the true one. His troops do not make a full-out frontal assault, but work as agents, sneaking into the opposing army. Satan’s tactics are studied, clever, predictable, effective. Therefore, we must always remain vigilant. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” Matt 7:15-16.”
The quickest way to prevent heresy is to teach all truths, this is the most certain way of refuting and expose false teachers. If someone asks you……How do I find a church today if so many are being deceived? The simplest answer to that question is! Where the truth of Scripture is faithfully proclaimed. Why is this right answer? Because Luther said “When doctrine goes, the church goes with it.” This is the warning Jeremiah cried when we abandon Biblical truth and follow after the lies of Satan…..”Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Jer 8:11. There just smoking mirrors that lead to destruction and eternal torment. We are always to be on alert to those who try to destroy what we know is true, holy and pure in Christ. “Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Eph 5:7-14