Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
In the summer months, it seems that news broadcasts are often filled with stories of sharks. We hear of shark sightings near beaches being enjoyed by people on vacation. Pictures taken from the air show sharks swimming in shallows with beachgoers unaware nearby. Not only that, there seems to be an endless supply of close encounters, bites, and attacks on swimmers by sharks.
We are attracted to these stories because they connect with a fear that is likely universal. No one wants to encounter a shark in the water.
Even though we are bombarded by shark stories, the reality is that the likelihood of being injured by a shark in the wild is so small that it isn’t even worth measuring. There are lots of ways to be injured in the summer, but shark attack is among the least likely.
If we are going to be afraid of something, we should be afraid of something that is actually dangerous: the mosquito.
Yes, the mosquito. The mosquito is the single most deadly thing that has ever called planet earth home. One scientific estimate suggests that 50% of all humans that have died throughout history have died as the result of mosquito-borne diseases.
It is comical to think about: Surfers sitting on the beach around the campfire plan the next day’s surf. They do so with some concern about sharks since the news that day highlighted a surfer fighting a shark with his fists somewhere in the world. All the while, with no concern whatsoever, they slap at their forearms as the world’s deadliest creature lands on their skin for a meal!
Fear generally isn’t well reasoned. We worry about things that aren’t that worrisome, and we casually disregard things that are terribly dangerous. We do this in our relationship with God, too.
2 Peter 2:1 says, “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.”
The Bible says false prophets will bring in “destructive heresies.” What are those heresies? We might have a number of things that we worry could be destructive to the body of Christ.
Maybe the way the culture we live in is abandoning the truth of God as an anchor for society will be destructive to the church. Or, perhaps we worry about doctrinal and theological differences among believers will damage the work of God in the world. Some may wonder if the concern should be large religious institutions. Perhaps the danger we face is the power and influence of large and wealthy institutions whose priorities aren’t the gospel.
While these things might be worthy of consideration, they don’t hold a candle to the danger Peter was worried about. The dangerous heresy Peter describes is the error of thinking God doesn’t think sin is wrong; and, if He does, He will not be coming back to confront it. If this destructive heresy is true people can still worship God while in sin.
The reason this heresy is so dangerous is that it seems so harmless. We are experts at justifying our behavior that we know is wrong.
We help ourselves to things that belong to our employer because we feel our compensation isn’t fair.
We gossip about someone because we are upset at how they treated us.
We embellish an account of our success to make ourselves look better than we are.
We lose our temper and blame others for how mad they made us.
This isn’t heresy, is it? It isn’t heresy to sin – it is heresy to say God is okay with it. Notice how the Bible describes people who believe God is indifferent to our sin in 2 Peter 2:14-15a, “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.”
Safety is found in the arms of God through repentance. We all struggle with sin in many ways. To avoid the dangers of sin, we should abandon our expertise at making excuses and become proficient in repentance. When we sin, let’s call it sin and rest in God’s grace.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in 2 Peter 2:1-22.
See you Sunday,