Tuesday, March 12         2 Peter 2:4-21  Rev. Beverly Springer

God didn’t spare the angels when they sinned but cast them into the lowest level of the underworld and committed them to chains of darkness, keeping them there until the judgment. And he didn’t spare the ancient world when he brought a flood on the world of ungodly people, even though he protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, along with seven others. God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to total destruction, reducing them to ashes as a warning to ungodly people. And he rescued righteous Lot, who was made miserable by the unrestrained immorality of unruly people. (While that righteous man lived among them he felt deep distress every day on account of the immoral actions he saw and heard.) These things show that the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials, and how to keep the unrighteous for punishment on the Judgment Day. 10 This is especially true for those who follow after the corrupt cravings of the sinful nature and defy the Lord’s authority.

These reckless, brash people aren’t afraid to insult the glorious ones, 11 yet angels, who are stronger and more powerful, don’t use insults when pronouncing the Lord’s judgment on them. 12 These false teachers are like irrational animals, mere creatures of instinct, born to be captured and destroyed. They slander what they don’t understand and, like animals, they will be destroyed. 13 In this way, they will receive payment for their wrongdoing.

They even enjoy unruly parties in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, taking delight in their seductive pleasures while feasting with you. 14 They are always looking for someone with whom to commit adultery. They are always on the lookout for opportunities to sin. They ensnare people whose faith is weak. They have hearts trained in greed. They are under God’s curse. 15 Leaving the straight path, they have gone off course, following the way of Balaam son of Bosor, who loved the payment of doing wrong. 16 But Balaam was rebuked for his wrongdoing. A donkey, which has no voice, spoke with a human voice and put a stop to the prophet’s madness.

17 These false teachers are springs without water, mists driven by the wind. The underworld has been reserved for them. 18 With empty, self-important speech, they use sinful cravings and unrestrained immorality to ensnare people who have only just escaped life with those who have wandered from the truth. 19 These false teachers promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of immorality; whatever overpowers you, enslaves you. 20 If people escape the moral filth of this world through the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, then get tangled up in it again and are overcome by it, they are worse off than they were before. 21 It would be better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having come to know it, to turn back from the holy commandment entrusted to them.

When I read these verses from 2 Peter, I had a flashback to about 35 years ago.  One Sunday right after church, our family went to see the new movie “Ghostbusters.”  The theatre was crowded and we had to sit up front on the 1st or 2nd row.  It almost felt like we were in the midst of all that was happening.  At one point there was this particularly intense flurry of ghosts and demons flying around and our youngest son, who was then about 4 or 5 years old, cowered close to me and then pulled a small New Testament Bible from out of his shirt pocket.  He held it up between him and the screen.  Even then he knew that the Bible would protect him.

Peter writes his second letter because false teachers were troubling the church and disturbing the faith of some by their heresy, immorality and greed.  This is as true today as it was in the first century.  Peter warns Christians to be on guard, to resist false teachers and their deception and dangerous practices.  And, most importantly, he pleads with us to be vigilant against personal complacency, which leads to compromised lifestyles and lack of faith.  Only a solid grounding in the truth of God’s Word will protect us in the battle against false teaching.  Let us stay faithful and worship our God, whose truth sets us free. Amen.

Prayer: God, May they find their way back to your Way.