â€œYe therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.â€ (2 Peter 3:17)
Peterâ€™s final epistle, especially chapters 2 and 3, is the classic New Testament passage on the false teachers that would plague the church in the â€œlast daysâ€ (v. 3). In addition to the characteristics listed in the introductory verse, 2:1 (e.g., slipping in surreptitiously heretical teachings, denying the redemptive work and Lordship of Christ), a number of their attributes are predicted for our guidance, as follows:
They will â€œwrest the scripturesâ€ (3:16), distorting their literal meaning to conform to their own philosophical preferences. This involves using â€œfeigned wordsâ€ (2:3)â€”that is, plastic words, with devious meanings to make them say what their users wish to convey. They may well be very eloquent and seductive in their speech, â€œwhen they speak great swelling words of vanityâ€ (2:18).
They will deny the doctrine of special creation and the judgment of the worldwide Flood (3:5-6), teaching instead that â€œall things continue as they were from the beginning of the creationâ€ (v. 4), and will scoff at the Second Coming. They â€œdespise governmentâ€ and are â€œpresumptuousâ€ and â€œselfwilled . . . not afraid to speak evil of dignitiesâ€ (2:10).
They both practice and defend immoral acts, â€œhaving eyes full of adulteryâ€ (v. 14). Yet they maintain their religious ties because they have hearts â€œexercised with covetous practicesâ€ (v. 14), seeing nothing evil in taking money for personal gain from those whose faith they seek to undermine.
This is, indeed, a fitting description of many modern liberal theologians, religious bureaucrats in the big denominations, â€œNew Ageâ€ preachers, college teachers of religion, etc. Although this is not a pleasant subject, Christians urgently need to awaken to what is happening and â€œbewareâ€! HMM