What Really Happened at Christmas? A Bible Study by Jack Kelley In the past I’ve explained…
God’s Pattern of Judgment (2 Peter 2:3-9)
By Dr. Andy Woods
“Father, we thank You for this evening. We thank You for Your truth. We thank You for Your Word. We thank You for Your church. We thank you for the fact that Your Word is not in chains and we’re still able to teach Your Word with great opportunity.
I pray that You will use the study tonight for those who are watching and those who will be watching later. I pray that You use this time to edify us and fortify us in Your Truth. I ask that Your name would be lifted up and Your truth would be exalted.
I pray for the means of communication. I pray that all the technical issues would go over smoothly. I just ask for Your blessing on this evening, and we lift these things up in Jesus’ name.”
And God’s people said? “Amen!” You guys said that so loud I could hear you right through the camera (being a little facetious there). If you’ve got your Bible with you, can you open it up to 2 Peter 2?
We’ve been teaching this series on 2 Peter. We worked our way through some introductory issues. We didn’t meet last week because it was spring break. We also had, at the same time, the Chafer Theological Seminary conference. By the way, it went really well. Appreciate all y’all’s prayers on that. So we had a one week hiatus.
You’ll remember that we were teaching through 2 Peter. This is our ninth lesson. We learned that 2 Peter was basically a book written to a Hebrew Christian audience seeking to fortify them for the groundswell of false teachers that were about to enter their midst.
Here is an outline of 2 Peter. It has three parts.
- 2 Peter 1 — Call to maturity
- 2 Peter 2 — Characteristics of false teachers
- 2 Peter 3 — Doctrine of the false teachers (uniformitarianism)
Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is seeing all of these things coming in advance, and he’s warning his flock. He’s probably writing from Babylon—literal Babylon (1 Peter 5:13)—to a Hebrew Christian audience in the northern central Turkey area. It’s a Hebrew Jewish/Christian Jewish audience.
We’ve completed chapter 1, which is a call to growth. The basic thrust of chapter 1 is to grow up—to mature. You might ask yourself, “What is a chapter in a book on false teachers doing here, when it’s just about maturity?” The answer is that false teachers prey on the unstable; you see that in 2 Peter 2:14, “enticing unstable souls.” So, what better way to insulate people from false teachers than to get his audience stable and solidified?
So once we finished chapter 1, we then moved into chapter 2. Now we have probably one of the greatest treatments in the whole Bible that I can think of, a description of the characteristics of false teachers. “What exactly are they like? What do they look like? How do they operate? What are their motives?” That’s what we have in chapter 2.
Chapter 2, basically, is a description of the characteristics of false teachers. And I can’t think of a more pertinent or relevant chapter to look at than that one. Because most people would agree that the church of Jesus Christ here in the United States—and certainly worldwide—is being inundated with false teaching. Probably as never before.
You know, when Peter wrote his epistle, he was dealing with one brand of false teaching: Gnosticism. Gnosticism was coming into that northern central Turkey area. Think of all of the false teachings that we are dealing with all over the world coming into the church globally. Quite clearly, false teaching is on the rise and this is why the Holy Spirit gave us this particular book.
Look at the next slide, and you can see an outline of the material in chapter 2. You have the predicted arrival of the false teachers described, the devices of the false teachers, the doom of the false teachers, the depravity of the false teachers, the emptiness of these false teachers, and then the retrogression (or regression) of these false teachers.
We already looked at verse 1 (their predicted arrival) where Peter says, “They’re coming.” You see that in the first part of verse 1. It’s interesting that Jude, the Lord’s half-brother, would write his book roughly six years later. Peter wrote about A.D. 64. Jude probably wrote as late as A.D. 70, maybe a little earlier, A.D. 68. So, 4 to 6 years later Jude says, “They’re here.”
You see that in Jude verse 4:3 and particularly verse 4, “They’re here.” So, Jude wrote to explain how Peter’s prophecies of coming false teachers would have materialized just within a very short period of time.
Then we went to the second part of verse 1 and into verse 3 where we began to look at the devices of the false teachers. We saw that they will bring in false teaching (second part of verse 1). They will teach licentiousness (verse 2). I think that’s where we left off last time.
The reason these false teachers are teaching this licentiousness relates to Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught dualism: that the physical world was essentially evil and the spiritual world was good. It was a strange belief system. If you believe that the physical world is inherently evil, then you can blame your sin on your body. “It’s not me gossiping; it’s just this tongue, which is evil.”
So, it was a convenient way to remove moral responsibility. That’s why Peter tells us, “When these false teachers come, they’re going to teach a doctrine of licentiousness.” Which basically means, “It’s okay to sin—sin up a storm! Living the holy life in Christ really doesn’t matter.”
You’ll notice that there are two extremes that Satan pushes the church into. One extreme is legalism, where you put the sin nature (which we all have—even as Christians) under external controls not found in the Bible. And the Bible is very clear that those external controls, absent the internal work of the Holy Spirit, don’t do anything to control the sin nature.
It’s like looking at a sign that says, “Do not touch—wet paint.” What’s your first impulse? If you’re honest with yourself, your first impulse is to touch the wet paint. That’s how the sin nature is. And just putting a sign up that says, “Don’t touch it,” stimulates the sin nature. So, legalism doesn’t work.
Then the opposite, “Well, if I can’t control the sin nature through legalism, then just let it do what it wants to do. After all, I’m saved by grace. So, what does it matter if I go back to the sin nature and live how I want?” That’s a doctrine called licentiousness.
The audience that is about to be hit by false teaching is about to be dealing with that latter concept; they’re going to tempted into licentiousness. So, Peter deals with the licentious teaching of the false teachers in verse 2.
Then verse 3 (which is where we pick it up) continues with the devices of these false teachers. It says, “and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” So, we see another device of these false teachers: it is, essentially, greed. You’ll notice it right there at the beginning of verse 3; it says, “in their greed.”
I’m reminded of Christ’s interaction with the Pharisees who were motivated by money. That’s why they were in the ministry—to get wealthy. Matthew 23:25 says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.” This is the New American Standard Bible. “Robbery” is another way of saying “greed.” Some of your Bible versions may actually say “greed.” And isn’t it interesting? When the televangelist scandals hit—you recall that—in the 1980s, all of the licentious living of these televangelists was uncovered. Impropriety related to finances, the lust for more and more money, and a standard of living far beyond the people was also uncovered.
One individual, I remember, had an air-conditioned doghouse. And all of this was exposed. Isn’t it interesting that Peter spots that? He says, “The way to spot a false teacher is they are motivated by greed.”
Another one of their devices—continuing here with the slides—is their exploitation of the flock. Look at verse 3 one more time. It says, “and in their greed they will exploit you with false words…” Now, “exploit,” basically, is the idea of taking advantage of somebody. In other words, these false teachers are in the ministry not so much to feed the flock but to fleece the flock. In other words, they’re interested not so much in ministering to people; they’re interested in what they can get out of people.
Quite frankly, there’s a lot that can be taken from Christians. You can take their money. You can use them to build your own popularity. So that’s how you spot a false teacher: their motive is not feeding but fleecing; their motive is exploitation.
A great parallel passage on this is the whole 34th chapter of Ezekiel. I wish we had time to read the whole chapter. But verse 2 says, “ ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?’ ”
You’ll see a sign here at Sugar Land Bible Church right when you walk in the door and look up to the right. We have it there on a marquee—a poster—if you will. We have Ezekiel 34:2 which says, “Should not the shepherds feed the flock?” In other words, this is a reminder that the spiritual leaders at our church—whether it’s the pastor, the associate pastor, the youth pastor, the secretaries that we have, the elders, and the deacons—are not here for ourselves.
We’re not here to build our own kingdom. We’re here to minister to God’s people. You see, a false teacher doesn’t think that way. The false teacher is always looking at the sheep for what he—or in some cases “she”—can get out of the flock.
I mean, that is completely contradictory to the life of Christ. In John 10:11 Jesus says, “ ‘I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.’ ” Mark 10:45 (of Christ) says, “ ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’ ” What was Christ’s whole ministry about? It wasn’t to exploit people. It wasn’t to take advantage of people. It was to lay down His life in service for other people. And that’s what ministry is all about. But a false teacher is not that way; they’re exploiters.
Continuing on with their devices—continuing on with the slides—you see that they’re going to be people of false words. Back to verse 3 which says, “and in their greed they will exploit you with false words…” Look up this word “false” in the Greek language. As I articulate this word, try to think what English word goes with this. It’s the word PLASTOS, and you might recognize the word “plastic” from that word.
The English word “plastic” comes from this Greek word. What Peter is saying is, “These false teachers are going to have plastic words—not real words.” In other words, they are plastic preachers because the words really don’t come from God and God’s Word. Their words come from their own wicked minds.
Paul the apostle, towards the end of his third missionary journey, stopped in a port city called Miletus and summoned the nearby elders of the church at Ephesus. He spoke to them in a final address. It’s an amazing address! In the course of that discourse he says to the Ephesian shepherds in Acts 20:30, “and from among your own selves.” I mean, that probably put the fear of God into them! Because he is saying that false teachers are going to arise from within this rank right here—the leadership at Ephesus. I think what he was saying is, “Some of you are going to end up being false teachers.”
“and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things…” That’s the same concept that Peter is using here—plastic words, plastic preachers. For what purpose? “to draw away the disciples after them.” So, they’re going to be interested in ministry for the purpose of building their own personal popularity, their own resume, their own financial base, their own kingdom. In the process, they are going to be teaching plastic words and speaking perverse things. And—my, oh my—do we need to understand what the Holy Spirit said 2000 years ago about these false teachers, because this is a fitting description of so many of the things that we run into today in the body of Christ.
You’ll notice how verse 3 ends. It says, “their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” In other words, they’re not getting away with anything. We’re going to see that in just a moment in verses 4-9. God is going to deal very aggressively with these false teachers under His timetable.
Go through the Gospels and read about the life of Jesus Christ; you see how compassionate Christ was to so many people—the worst of the worst in society—the tax collectors, the sinners, the prostitutes. But there’s one group of people that He reserves His harshest words for, and that was the spiritual leaders who were misleading the nation. He aimed his comments at the Sadducees—but primarily at the group of legalists called the Pharisees.
I challenge you to read Matthew 23 sometime. Boy, oh boy, do you see a blistering denunciation of false teachers. This is why James 3:1 says, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we [it’s interesting that James puts himself into this category] will incur a stricter judgment.”
So, teaching is a wonderful thing because you’re able to sway or direct the thinking of a lot of people. You can use that gifting in the right way. But—boy, oh boy—you can use it in the wrong way too! You can direct a whole lot of people into thinking errant un-biblical thoughts. And the moment someone becomes a teacher is the moment their level of accountability just went up in God.
So, God (through Peter) says, concerning these false teachers, “They’re not getting away with anything.” End of verse 3, “their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” Now, you might say, “Well, do you have some examples of God judging evil? I mean, if God is going to judge these false teachers, are there any biblical examples of God judging evil?”
I’m so glad you asked that question. Look at our outline. We move away from the devices of false teachers to the doom of the false teachers. The doom (or the destruction) of these false teachers has already been hinted at; the end of verse 1 says, “bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
Then, verse 3, which we just read: “their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” Peter takes a general concept of the destruction of false teachers and now gives a historical outworking of it. He gives three examples. That’s why we’ve entitled the Bible study this evening: “God’s Pattern of Judgment.” He gives there three examples (verses 4-9) of how God historically has dealt with evil or false teachers as a reminder that false teachers are not getting away with anything.
Notice here the outline of verses 4-9. The thing that I’d like to communicate to you is that in Greek this is set up like a giant “if-then” syllogism. “If these things (three of them) are true (verses 4-8), then there’s an obvious conclusion (verse 9). Verse 4 says, “For if God…” Then the NASB translates verse 6 and says, “and if…” Verse seven, “and if…” Then finally you get to verse 9 and it says, “then…” See that? It’s if…if…if…then. So, it’s a giant “if-then” clause.
I think one of the reasons this is given here is Peter is trying to encourage his audience. Because they’re probably overwhelmed at this point by all of this teaching they’ve been given by the apostle about false teachers coming in among them. And they probably felt defeated. You know, it’s easy when you get descriptions of evil to think, “The world is against me.” But he is saying, “God has a pattern of dealing with evil; and as He deals with evil, He simultaneously rescues the godly.”
So, God is going to do the same thing with you when these false teachers come. God is somehow going to rescue you, preserve you, in the midst of it. At the same time, while He’s preserving you, He’s going to simultaneously bring judgment on these false teachers. That’s why, when you read stories about televangelists buying $50 million airplanes (and all of these kinds of things), there is no need to get despondent about that.
You have to understand that God already has those people under judgment, and He’s going to deal with them very aggressively while simultaneously protecting the godly. So that’s a word of encouragement to us being hit by false teachers. But the point here is that God has a habit of doing this, God has a pattern of doing this, God is good at doing this, and if He’s done it three times in the past, He will do it again.
So, let’s go through these three historical examples. The first example is the fall of the angels. The Luciferian rebellion and the original fall of the angels did not take God off guard at all. God dealt with that very aggressively. Then, the angels got obnoxious again in the Genesis 6 situation which I’ll talk about for moment, and God dealt with them a second time. Notice what it says here in verse 4, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment…” So, example one is the fallen angels.
We see that in 2 Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment…” Now, what event is this speaking of? A lot of people will say, “This was the original fall of Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17), where Satan fell and deceived a third of the angels into falling with him (Revelation 12:3-8). I don’t think that’s what it’s speaking of here, because that original fall never resulted in an incarceration of some of the fallen angels.
I think the best explanation for this is some of those fallen angels that originally fell with Lucifer—a subset of them—became involved in the sin of Genesis 6:1-4. I don’t think I’m going to go into too much detail here, because we’re doing a series in Sunday school on angelology where we’re specifically getting into this issue. I think we’ve taught four lessons, and there are likely a couple more, at least, on the horizon. So, I would encourage you to go to our angelology series to really get our full thoughts on Genesis 6:1-4.
But, essentially, what was happening is some of those angels—that we call demons—began to cohabitate with human women to prevent the birth of Jesus Christ. And those evil angels involved in that sin were placed in a place of incarceration. You see this pie chart where two thirds of the good angels are on our side. Praise the Lord for that—the majority is on our side.
One third of them fell with Lucifer. Some of that number—I don’t know how many—got involved in this Genesis 6 sin. And the ones involved in that Genesis 6 sin did something so heinous (they left their natural abode), that God immediately put that group in jail or in Tartarus. And that’s the only explanation you have, biblically, as to why some fallen angels are free.
Clearly, some are free because we wrestle with them. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age…” But some, like in this passage here, are in prison.
We know from other books (like 1 Peter 3:19, 20) that Peter makes a reference to the exact same thing. We also know from the Book of Jude (Jude 6, 7) that Jude makes a reference to the exact same thing.
Why bring up all of this? It’s easy to get bogged down on the Genesis 6 situation. I don’t mind getting bogged down on that—we’re getting bogged down on that in Sunday school. But for our purposes here this evening, the main point to understand is when evil took place, God dealt it.
When Lucifer sinned, God dealt with it. When the angels fell with Lucifer, God dealt with it—they lost their position in the heavenlies. And when another group of those demons started to contaminate the genetics of the human race, God dealt with it.
So, if God has a pattern of dealing with evil, then why are we so upset about false teachers? God is going to deal with them. If God didn’t deal with them, He would be acting differently than how He’s acted historically. Verse 4, then, becomes the first example of how God is going to deal with false teachers.
The second example is the flood. Notice, if you will, verse 5. Second Peter 2:5 says, “and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly…” Notice that the Bible indicates that the world in the time of Noah was really wicked.
All you have to do is go back to Genesis 6 and read all about it. The earth was filled with violence. The earth was corrupt. Every inclination of man’s heart was perpetually wicked. It got so bad that God grieved that He even made man to begin with.
So, what God did is He preserved the righteous. In this case it was Noah and his family. Notice what it says here, “Noah…with seven others.” Peter’s other book indicates that it was eight persons in the ark. First Peter 3:20 says that there were eight persons total in the ark.
So, there were eight righteous people. Who were those righteous people? Noah and his wife, Noah’s three sons—Ham, Shem, and Japheth—and their respective wives. Everybody else is wicked to the core.
So what does God do? He preserves the righteous in the ark. And He brings, shall we say, curtains—or judgment—upon whom? Upon the wicked world in Noah’s day. So, what we see here is example number two where God deals with evil. First, He dealt with the fallen angels. Secondly, He dealt with the evil in Noah’s day.
Now, there were 120 years of grace, and Noah was a preacher of righteousness. First Peter 3 speaks about how God waited patiently in the days of Noah. So even today, as you see false teachers on the horizon, God is actually being patient with them. But their judgment is hanging over their head in the sense that God is going to deal with them aggressively. And He is going to preserve the righteous—just like He did in Noah’s day.
The third historical example is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. You know that story. It’s recorded in Genesis 19 concerning how God brought fire and brimstone upon the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Let’s read about that; this is example number three. Notice, if you will, verses 6-8. Notice what it says here, “and if…” In other words, this “if-then” syllogism is continuing. “and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter…”
Hope you’re paying attention, United States of America. We are experimenting sexually with every deviant lifestyle that can be imagined—other than the lifestyle that God Himself chose for man and woman (heterosexual monogamy). As we go this direction, I hope we’re paying attention to this historical example.
I think it was the Billy Graham who said something to this effect, “If God doesn’t judge America, then He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.” The fact of the matter is America has something that most nations of the world don’t have—she has spiritual light.
Just study American history. Not the redacted version they get today in the public school system, but American history as it truly exists. Look at the Mayflower Compact. Look at the rules for Harvard University. Look at the Declaration of Independence. Look at the things that Christopher Columbus wrote in his Book of Prophecies as he came to America. You see godliness and biblicism all over America’s foundation.
Look at the Old Satan Deluder Law, which was the beginning of the public schools in Massachusetts in the United States of America. Those schools were set up to teach kids the Bible, to teach kids to be literate. Not so they could pick the best stocks and retire early, but so they could learn God’s Word.
The Old Satan Deluder Law, 1647. I could go on and on talking like this. America has light! And the fact of the matter is, “to whom much is given, much is…” What? “Much is expected.” That’s why American needs to think very carefully about what she’s doing in terms of rejecting God’s principles and God’s rules related to sexuality, abortion, and every other sin that’s come into our country…pornography.
Everybody today is shocked about this coronavirus. How could some force from the outside come into this country? I’m not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, and I don’t have any extra-biblical revelation on anything. But the fact of the matter is, the way this country has treated God, I am not surprised by it at all!
In fact, the only thing that really surprises me is why an epidemic like this didn’t come faster? So this is not a time for games. This is a time to be in sackcloth and ashes, mourning before God. And we ought to be studying this historical record. We ought to be particularly looking at this verse where God dealt with Sodom and Gomorrah as an example. To whom much is given much is expected (paraphrase of Luke 12:48).
We continue in verse 7, “and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)…” This is our third historical example of God dealing with evil.
It is interesting here. Three times in these verses it refers to Lot as “righteous Lot.” To be completely frank with you, if I didn’t have these verses in my Bible and I just had the Old Testament record, I wouldn’t even think Lot was saved. Lot, you’ll remember (Genesis 13:12), is the man who was not walking by faith the way Abram was walking by faith. Lot was walking by sight; he lifted up his eyes and picked the lushest part of the valley he could pick. It says, “he pitched his tent toward Sodom.” That was the beginning of Lot’s deterioration.
When you go out to dinner and they say, “Would you like to order dessert?” and you say, “No,” there’s a reason they say, “Can you at least look at the dessert tray?” I know all about this; I’m “exhibit A” in this area. Because when you look at something like that, it creates an appetite. You end up spending your money on something you maybe shouldn’t spend your money on.
One of the best-kept secrets is that stuff they have that they bring to the table that looks so good, most of the time it’s made out of cardboard. Did you know that? When you stick out your hand to lick the chocolate, the waiter will pull the thing away. Don’t go out and try that tonight. Well, you can’t go out tonight; we’re under social distancing, right?
Lot looked toward Sodom. Therefore, is it any shock that he began to live in Sodom (Genesis 19:1)? He was sitting at the city gates of Sodom; he was in a position of authority. This is the guy who offered his own daughters sexually to the sodomite crowd (Genesis 19:4-6). And then he got serious about God and said, “We’ve got to get out of here.”
But Genesis 19:14b says, “But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.” He had no credibility anymore. And the whole sad story of Lot ends with Lot having an incestuous relationship with his two daughters. And from those unholy unions come the Moabites and the Ammonites who became perennial enemies of Israel (Genesis 19:30-38).
If all of that is true, why is Peter here calling Lot a righteous man? Well, he was a righteous man positionally in the sense that he was saved, but he is an example of someone whose lifestyle was not consistent with his position. Can that happen to people? Yes, it can.
Notice 1 Corinthians 3:15. It says, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” This is talking about someone that is saved, that gets into heaven by God’s grace. But when their works are evaluated at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, everything goes up in smoke! So, they’re saved, but they smell the smoke on their garments.
So, it is possible for a Christian to be a non-persevering believer. That’s what you have in the story of Lot. This is why 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 exhorts us not to be babes (or carnal), but to be spiritual.
In fact, when you look at this pie chart (Four Kinds of People), you can take the world of the saved and divide it into three according to what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. You’ve got the spiritual believers (or the maturing believers). You’ve got the young in Christ (he calls them infants). And you’ve got the carnal Christians who are going to heaven but aren’t going to fare well at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. And that’s where you put Lot—Lot was a carnal believer in the Old Testament sense of the word.
You know, look all the things Lot lost. A lot of people have the mindset, “Well, I’m saved! It doesn’t matter how I live!” This is what Peter’s audience is going to be exposed to when the Gnostics come and teach licentiousness. And Peter says, “You better not go back to that sin nature, because you’re going to lose a lot.”
There are two parts to this chart, which is a description of all of the things you lose as a Christian when you go back to the sin nature. You lose power. You grieve the Holy Spirit. You lose joy. You lose spiritual sight.
You’ll notice, in the right-hand column, all the verses you can look up to back these things up. You lack spiritual growth. You remain carnal. You’re unfruitful. Your life lacks purpose. You lack stability. You come under the conviction of God. That’s what Lot was under. His soul was vexed. The most miserable person in the world is a Christian under the conviction of the Holy Spirit because God loves us too much to see us self-destruct in sin. So He’ll make us feel very uncomfortable when we move back into sin.
So, we should avoid sin just to stay away from that conviction! It’s like walking on a beach and all of a sudden you feel pain in your feet because you’re walking on glass. The glass is just beneath the sand and you can’t see it. The pain there becomes your friend because it tells you to quit walking. If you keep walking, you’re going to destroy your feet. That’s what the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit is like. That’s what Lot was under; that’s why he was vexed.
The believer can suffer divine discipline, sometimes premature death, loss of reward, loss of fellowship, even excommunication from their own church, a host of temporal consequences, unanswered prayer, a loss of testimony. (That’s what Lot lost). Because when he finally got serious about getting his relatives out of harm’s way, they thought he was jesting (Genesis 19:14).
In fact, to my knowledge, that’s the only place in the Bible where the word “jesting” is used. You lose your testimony, and you disqualify yourself from leadership. We’re in the process here at Sugar Land Bible Church of selecting elders and deacons, and we’re looking at the lifestyles of people. Not that they’re perfect—who is? But are there ongoing patterns of sin that would open them up to accusation?
You see, that’s one of the reasons we don’t want to go back into sin as Christians; because we don’t want to lose all of these temporal blessings. And these are all things that happen to Christians! Lot was saved. That’s why he’s called “a righteous man.” So, a good sermon title that I’ve heard is as follows, “Are you a lot like Lot?” Because, as Christians, we can get that way when we go back to the sin nature.
But what is the central point of this passage? Here is the central point of the whole thing: even though Lot was in that state, God removed Lot from judgment before judgment fell. Do you see the pattern? The days of Noah—God takes out the righteous and He destroys the world of the ungodly in the pre-flood world.
Then, in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, the exact same thing happened. God brought judgment upon that wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah. But He got out of the way His own. Even Lot, in his state of wickedness, was removed.
In fact, in Genesis 19:22, an angel was commissioned by God to destroy the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. The angel said something very interesting in Genesis 19:22—to Lot. It says, “ ‘Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.’ Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.”
It’s interesting that the angel, when he came to destroy the city, did not say to Lot, “I will not do anything.” He says, “I cannot do anything until you’re removed.” So, God’s people had to get pulled out of there before judgment fell—and that included Lot, even in his non-persevering, carnal state.
So, God did this once with the angels and judged them when they sinned. And God did this the second time in the days of Noah; He brought a global flood on that pre-diluvian society but saved eight in the ark. And God did it a third time with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed that wicked city but—at the same time—preserved even a carnal Christian like Lot. Can’t God do that again with these false teachers? Can He ultimately protect you from their negative influence and simultaneously destroy them in the process? That’s the point.
As we’ve looked at this, it’s been “if,” verse 4, “if,” verse five, “if,” verses 6-8. Now we get the conclusion of the whole thing, verse 9. How does this whole thing end? Here is the conclusion, “then…” See that? In the New American Standard Bible, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment…”
So, the conclusion of this whole matter is that God will similarly rescue Peter’s audience from false teachers and simultaneously destroy these false teachers. “Well, can we really trust God to do that?” You bet you can if you understand the historical record! In fact, God is quite good at this historically.
Now, one of the thing that’s hotly debated in the Christian world today is the whole concept of the Rapture. I hope you believe in the Rapture—and not because I say, “Believe in the Rapture”—it’s in the Bible!
There’s a debate concerning, “When does the Rapture happen?” Does it happen before the Tribulation? Those are called pretribulationalists; that’s the viewpoint we represent here at Sugar Land Bible Church.
Midtribulation, “The Rapture is going to occur in the middle of the Tribulation.” Post-tribulation, “The Rapture is going to occur at the end of the Tribulation.” There is a view called “pre-wrath Rapturism,” and these guys have been very aggressive lately. The fact of the matter is their view is basically three quarters Rapture. They think the church is going to be here for three quarters of the Tribulation period.
Which of these views is correct? We believe the pretribulation view is correct. You can see it here in chart form; the pretribulation view on top—that the church is going to be removed from the earth before the Tribulation period occurs. That’s why you know, for example, that the coronavirus, as severe as it is, is not the apocalypse. Maybe it’s some kind of precursor to the apocalypse, but it’s not the apocalypse. Because if it were the apocalypse, we wouldn’t be here, according to the pretribulation view.
Now, why do I believe in the pretribulation view? Lots and lots of reasons! But one of the reasons that I believe in it is what has been expressed here in 2 Peter 2:4-9, God’s pattern. Do you see a pattern here? Before judgment hit Sodom and Gomorrah, the destroying angel said, “I can’t do anything until even carnal Lot is removed.” Before the floodwaters hit planet Earth, Noah and his family were tucked safely and securely inside the ark.
Jesus said, in Luke 17:26-30 (paraphrasing), “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be… As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be…” What do the days of Noah and the days of Lot have in common? The paragraph we’re working in here, 2 Peter 2:4-9, brings the commonality together. In both circumstances, God took His own people out of harm’s way before judgment hit. And if God has done that twice already, that pushes me in the direction of pretribulationism: God is going to remove the church from the earth before the Tribulation period comes.
Now, I know there are some wise guys out there, and they’re going to say, “Gee-whiz, what about Israel being put into the 70 year captivity? What about Daniel being put into the lion’s den?” What you have to understand is those examples relate to God’s dealings with Israel.
God has a separate plan for Israel. Israel is going to be converted through a time of distress, Jeremiah 30:7. But that’s not what God said to the church. What did God say to the church? Revelation 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Romans 5:9, Romans 8:1, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 (we could go on and on), that the church will be removed before the Tribulation even occurs.
So, the typology for us is not Israel—we’re not Israel—but it is these two individuals: Lot and Noah. Noah, of course, was Gentile; there were no Jews when the story of Noah took place. The story of Israel doesn’t begin until Genesis chapter 12.
I’m almost out of time. Let me just communicate one more idea. I find this very interesting at the end of verse 9. Again, verse nine says, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation…” Look at the end of verse 9 very carefully, “and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment…”
“Keep” there—and I’ll probably have to double check this—is in the present tense. In other words, God brings judgment on the false teachers and brings them down as they await the Great White Throne Judgment. (Because the presumption here is that Peter’s audience is saved but the false teachers are unbelievers.) As they await that final judgment, they are under judgment.
Look at it very carefully. It says, “to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment…” In other words, these false teachers are kept—present tense—under judgment as they are waiting for judgment. Now, that is reminiscent of Luke 16:23, 24. Do you remember when the rich man died in unbelief? It says this, “ ‘In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.” ’ ”
Now, this is immediately upon death, as the Great White Throne Judgment hasn’t even happened yet. So, you’ll notice what’s happening here is that he’s in torment…waiting for torment. A lot of people dismiss this and say, “That’s just a parable. Luke 16 is just a parable.”
It can’t be a parable for the simple reason that when Christ tells parables He says, “Learn the parable of such and such.” He doesn’t do that here. And Jesus never uses proper names in parables. Here He uses three such names: Lazarus, Abraham, and at the end of Luke 16 you’ll see Him using the word “Moses.”
Was Moses a parable? No, Moses was a real person. This was a real place that this unbeliever went to, awaiting final judgment. So, in essence, that is what happens to these unbelievers, these false teachers.
I think on that note we’re ready to close. Amen? I know I’m tired. We appreciate you guys joining us as we continue to teach through God’s Word on Wednesday nights in spite of all of these social distancing requirements. We will pick it up next week there at 2 Peter 2:10, rounding off our discussion of the devices of the false teachers. Then, in verses 4-9, we’ll deal with the doom of the false teachers. We know that they’re doomed because of God’s three historical patterns of judgment.
So, keep us in prayer during this tumultuous time. We’ll keep you in prayer. And all things being equal, we’ll be back here exactly the same time Wednesday evenings.
We’re hoping to see you Sunday at 9:45 AM for Sunday school and then the main service that follows around 11:30. We are finishing up, God willing, the Book of Revelation this Sunday and continuing to deal with the Genesis 6 issue in Sunday school. Let’s close in a word of prayer, and them we’ll dismiss for this evening.
“Father, we’re grateful for Your Truth and Your Word even though some of the things in it are difficult, and harsh, and hard. But these are things we need to learn to understand what You have to say about these false teachers.
Help us to be good stewards of this portion of Your Word. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.”