2021 – The Others
2 Peter 4
The Love Challenge
This morning, we continue with the Others. The Other books of the New Testament which I have not preached here in Los Alamos. By the way, today is our 34thanniversary of working here with you. That is a record for preachers at the Los Alamos Church of Christ! That actually doubles the previous record of 16 years.
Peter explains what it means to be a Christian, in the first 11 verses of 2 Peter. Peter, then, deals with 3 challenges to Christianity; faith, love and hope challenges. Last week, we saw Peter grandiloquently response to the Faith Challenge with two responses… Peter was an eyewitness to the Transfiguration & The prophetic word is witness to who Jesus is. Bam, Faith Challenge handled!
This morning, we listen to Peter’s answer to the Love Challenge… “The Love Challenge” sounds like a TV reality show. It is not. It is the opposite of that. The purity of the church’s love for each other was being perverted by… false teachers.
2 Peter 2:1-3 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. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed, they will exploit you with false words.
Listen to the concern in Peter’s words… false, among you, secretly, destructive, sensuality, greed, exploitation. The last two… false words in the Greek is plastos logos… plastic words… or more accurately molded words…yikes. These false teachers were sneaking plastic words of sensuality which could destroy the love within the church.
There was a challenge to the love of the church. It was a challenge to the koinonia; their partaking fellowship! It was a challenge to the hospitality, they cherished. It was a love challenge!
Much of chapter 2 of 2 Peter was incorporated from Jude. We studied Jude recently. It was great. Peter’s unknown follower thought so, as well. He imported Jude’s words to deal with the same problem. We have already chased down the details of these stories. Instead of going through all of these stories again, let me pull back the curtain in order to explore why this challenge is so dangerous.
2 Peter 2:10-14,18-19 They especially indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 18-19 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.
Let’s move the curtain aside…
Sin does three things…
1) Sin breaks a covenant. Covenants are important. They are precious. Sin breaks.
2) Sin abuses others. Sin is sin because it hurts others. Abuse is connected to sin.
3) Sin creates victims who need justice. The feeling of being wronged is a terrible feeling. There cries within us the need to make things right!
Several years ago, Tanya and I were staying at a hotel in Albuquerque. We were attending a conference. One morning we got up… the car was not where we had parked it. We hunted. We scratched our heads. Finally, we decided our car was stolen.
1) Stealing breaks a covenant of ownership. We all agree we own what we own.
2) Sin abuses others. We were wronged. I had a leather jacket…
3) Sin creates victims who need justice. We were victims. Justice would have been nice. There was none. The car was recovered three weeks later…no jacket.
Let’s go deeper behind the curtain…
Suppose… a married person decides to commit adultery with another married person in a congregation.
1) Sin breaks a covenant – the precious covenant of marriage is broken.
2) Sin abuses others – at least two spouses are abused; kids; all the congregation suffers… there are people wronged!
3) Sin creates victims who need it to be made right. Often creating bitterness which grows like a root which is hard to get rid of.
--Gossip breaks a confidentially covenant.
--Angry screaming breaks a respect covenant… leaving hurt.
--Discrimination - leaves victims who need justice.
Any sin… breaks covenant with our Lord… hurts others… creates injustice.
That is what these false teachers were promoting… “We are all members together in the love of Christ… it’s ok to indulge in any sensual passions of the flesh. If it feels good just do it! Plastic words which could destroy the agapeness of a people!
There was a challenge to the purity of love within Peter’s congregations!
Peter, in response to this challenge, offers two warnings to his churches about not being seduced by these false teachers.
Warning #1: Punishment
2 Peter 2:4-6 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;
YLT 2 Peter 2:15-17 …They did go astray, having followed in the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who a reward of unrighteousness did love, and had a rebuke of his own iniquity -- a speechless donkey, in man's voice having spoken, did forbid the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, and clouds by a tempest driven, to whom the thick gloom of the darkness to the age hath been kept;
Peter’s first warning is simple. God has always and will continue to punish those who break his covenant by abusing others!
--Angels who lusted after humans were cast into Tartarus.
--The violent people of Noah’s day were destroyed.
--Sodom and Gomorrah became extinct.
--Balaam was rebuked by a donkey. That is embarrassing…
Warning #1: Sin will be punished.
Once again, let’s pull back the curtain to see what is behind this punishment.
I believe God’s punishment demonstrates his love. All those who were abused by the sin of others need justice. God will make all things right. God will fix all the wrong.
Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
God will restore all things! God will punish the offender. We have to trust in His making things right.
I think, God’s punishment goes even deeper.
I believe – note the I believe. I am not speaking for anyone but me. A guy called me the other day and ask me a series of questions about the official position of the church on… I have come to believe, not an official church position, but I have been pushed by scripture, over the last couple years, that God’s punishments are corrective. God’s punishments are rehabilitative. God punishes through his love! Yes! That is the warning here in 2 Peter2. God’s wrath is real. But there is purpose to his wrath, beyond making it right for the victim.
I believe… God is love. God loves all his creation. In thatlove, punishments are designed to bring everyone to repentance! Out study in Romans 5…
NRS Romans 5:17-19If, because of the one man's trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Therefore, just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
I have coined a term, Hell Rehab. God punishes, but even in that punishment there is restoration. Much like the thought of refiners’ fire. One day everything will be made right. My car thieves will be punished, but fairly, not with infinity punishment. The adulterers will be made right. All will, ultimately, be given life by the death of Jesus! All will come to the Father through Jesus Christ! We can leave vengeance to the LORD because we know he will be right in his judgment!
Once again, these are only my thoughts. But let me challenge you to explore them. I have some YouTube videos you are welcome to check out. There is lots more to this thought. But, once again, I don’t want to miss Peter’s #1 warning… I can trust that whatever God does in the next life… it will be right.
For those who challenge the love of a congregation there will be punishment! God’s wrath is real.
There is a second warning…
Warning #2: Dogs and Hogs
2 Peter 2:19-22 For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire."
This may be one of the worse metaphors in 2 Peter, maybe the Bible. The dog eats something nasty. It throws up the nastiness. The dog eats it again. You take Holly Hog out of her pig stie. You get the pressure washer and clean her all up. You put a pink bow on her head and paint her toe nails. Then, you let Holly Hog back into her pen. The first thing she does is wallow in the mud. For those who have tasted the banquet of the divine nature. Their basic faith led them into the banquet; sitting beside apostles, eating peace and glory and life and hope but then if they listen to the false teachers and get drawn back into the nastiness of the world… they are worse off than they were at the start. Terrible warning #2… don’t go back it will be worse for you than before!
Pulling back the curtain…
Sin does another thing… it hardens. Whatever a person gives into… lying, sexual immorality, gossip… all of that starts crusting over a person’s heart. Sin enslaves. Sin causes one to become callused.
I can’t walk on the ground without my shoes. If I go barefoot, I can’t walk on anything but carpet. But the kids can run across the gravel. There is a marathoner who runs barefoot… 26.2 miles. That is what sin does. It gives you the ability to abuse others without thought; without pain. Without your conscious screaming at you. Sin makes you callused to the hurt you are doing… Worse off than at beginning! You tasted the banquet and then went back to the vomit. You were cleaned up sitting beside the apostles and then went back to wallowing with Holly Hog.
A few months ago, an older person I know received a call… It was from a nephew… He needed money… $2,000… Yes, come get it… it was a scam. How does that person sleep at night? Sin has callused their soul! …hell rehab for a long time.
This is an amazingly scary warning. Don’t be the dog returning to the vomit. Don’t be Holly Hog or a barefoot marathoner. Sin not only breaks a covenant, abuses others, creates a need for justice, but it changes you… not for the better!
The love we share within the congregation is a precious blessing. But it can be destroyed by sin. Sinning against each other weakens the bonds of fellowship we share in fellowship. So, Peter offers two warnings…
--God punishes the wicked!
--Sin hardens your heart!
Whenever, our love is challenged we respond with Peter…
NAU 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment!
September 5, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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